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January 18, 2015


Matt Moore

Good post.

It occurs to me that this is not unrelated to Bastiat's parable of the broken window - the individual effect of the glazier's enrichment is noted, but the aggregate effect of disperse wealth destruction is ignored.

One problem with moving away from individualism is that aggregation brings a host of other, and probably more serious problems. Once we suppress the individual, we start to forget to whole point of the endeavour (to improve people's lives) and start to worry about raising aggregates.

A focus on the links between individuals is normally enough to take into account the effects you suggest (peer effects, institutional effects), without focusing on a blob.

* Impersonal things, such as markets cannot be irrational. Similarly impersonal things such as the emergent distribution of income, cannot be immoral. Only individuals can act rationally or morally.


The fact that "collective entities can have a property (likeability) that its component individuals do not" is actually consistent with complex methodological individualism, as explained by the most important sociologist of this field: Raymond Boudon. Indeed, individuals acting under limited, strategic rationality (i.e. for reasons that are legitimately theirs but that can be circonstancially mislead) spawn "composition effects" that may turn out to produce "perverse effects" (Boudon, Effets pervers et ordre social, Paris, PUF, 1977) contrary to the initial goal of the action; Boudon analyses specifically the example of financial panics in this light. These phenomenons are often also understandable under the ligh of mimetic desire (Girard) and its resulting imitation behaviors.

One thus does not need to disregard the individual, only entity capable of agency and conscious thinking, to analyse complex, macro-level phenomena. (And for the little story, from this insight, Boudon and his students went on to debunk most of the politically-motivated-but-scientifically-unsound work of his great nemesis: Bourdieu, which greatly pissed off the structuralist, heavily left-leaning French intelligentia who then "preferred being wrong with Bourdieu than being right with Boudon", to their own admittance).


"The most successful football managers have a collectivist mentality".

Unlike most of the post, which is speculative and links to theoretical modeles that are mostly nontestable, this is an empirical statement. If a database of football compensations is available, one could try to identify a relationship between team performance (which is easily measured) and compensation dispersion (which proxies well the orientation of management toward superstars or team players), controlling for average level of compensation.

There is a direct corrispondence to firms, of course. For firms, this empirical study (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00036840500142101?journalCode=raec20#.VLvQp0fF_-Q) contradicts your hypothesis. I would expect the results for sports teams more conclusive though, since a sport team is a simpler entity than a firm

Dave Timoney

Mind you, this could just be an example of Mourinho's eccentric English. What he might have meant is "I like my team more than my players do". They do look remarkably glum when interviewed.


@ Giuseppe - this paper is relevant:
"high pay dispersion has a detrimental impact on team performance"


"think of England in the 00s."


This is example of so many of the biases you (quite rightly) draw our attention to on here.

Group think, bubbles (a la Westminster), media driven hyper realities (see best league in world)... etc-and-so-on.

Lots of love, Scotland (at least we know we're shite)


IMHO it take a lot of courage and maturity for a manager to seek a collective view and really involve the team. Not often seen and possibly inhibited by peer pressure from above. The necessary confidence and experience may only come long after the manager has moved up the ladder. Slow down the promotion of managers?


Thanks for the link. There is enough literature out there to attempt a survey.
This is the link to the final version of the paper, btw:

Consider also this: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1710080

The results seem not very conclusive. Bucciol's et al for example find a negative dependency or a weak positive one depending on the definition of team; Franck and Nuesch find a U-shaped relationship. The paper I initially linked to finds a positive relationship. The only point in common among all papers is that the relationship is not very strong.

I would not state as a given that "The most successful football managers have a collectivist mentality". I believe that there are important and non-quantifiable aspects related to culture that are not modeled.

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