The Ringelmann Effect Shows Groups Become Less Productive as They Grow

An inverse relationship exists between group size and productivity which shows that group effort does not necessarily lead to increased effort from the group members.

In an experiment, a group was asked to pull a rope. As more people were added, the average performance significantly decreased. This seems to show that each participant felt their own efforts were not critical and further studies showed that motivational losses were largely to blame for an individual’s decline in performance.

See also:

  • Baumol’s cost disease is similar in that salaries can rise without any material gain in productivity simply salaries of other roles went up.
  • Larger informal groups can have other negative consequences such as opaque decision making and lack of accountability.