Cory Leonard

Of Luck and Success — Economic View – NYTimes.com

In career, politics on August 7, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Its good to be talented, but better to be lucky.  Or is it?  Answering a very wide divide between liberals and conservatives (hard work pays off and rewards the talented v. luck favors a few) Robert H. Frank explores the implications for each view on public policy:

IN their experiments, the sociologists showed how feedback could be a vitally important random effect. And it can be seen in many other situations: it’s often hard to find information about the quality of a particular product, so we rely on the reactions of friends and acquaintances who’ve already tried it. Any random differences in the early feedback we receive tend to be amplified as we share our reactions with others. Early success — even if unearned — breeds further success, and early failure breeds further failure. The upshot is that the fate of products in general — but especially of those in the intermediate-quality range — often entails an enormous element of luck.

We always knew that it was good to be smart and hard-working, and that if you were born or raised with those qualities, you were incredibly lucky, just as you were lucky if you grew up in the United States rather than in Somalia. But the sociologists’ research helps us understand why many people who have those qualities never find much success in the marketplace. Chance elements in the information flows that promote that success are sometimes the most important random factors of all.

via Of Luck and Success — Economic View – NYTimes.com.

 

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