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Although I do support the thrust of this good article I do find it frustrating when practitioners and managers only trust academic research that backs up their current thinking. I tend to believe the only way to improve my thinking is to read and challenge research that is counter to my current thinking.

Academics are required to follow the scientific method in their published research, unlike consultants, who have been known to shade their conclusions and recommendations to maximize their income opportunities. That said, it is always a good idea to challenge assumptions (you know what they say) and test "proven" hypotheses.

Ivory tower environments frequently produce different experimental results than the real world, as seen all too often in populist circles. Check the process methods, consider the variables and see if the tested conclusions prove valid under all circumstances. Academics are required to do that, while many others are not; so professionals are well advised to take any research for what it is worth.

'When all employees know only the top 10% of high performers will ever be eligible for recognition and associated rewards, the “mighty middle” – the 70% of employees in the middle of the performance bell curve who are consistent performers day after day – become discouraged and disengaged. Who can blame them? In such a structure, they often come to see themselves as “losers.”'

It's interesting to juxtapose this thought with exhortations about how we need to manage "merit" pay to ensure that the highest performers receive dramatically larger salary increases than everybody else.

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