During the happiest weeks of the year, people vacation and disengage from markets and competition. None needs to seek approval among friends and family. One knows each other. In the mountains, on the beach or in the long queues in front of museums’ entries, all people are (nearly) equal. Traveling as a counter program. Relaxation and staring into space.
For the rest of the year our everyday life looks more like an Olympic competition: top performance on the job, footraces to a new apartment, international comparison testing in schools, contributions to excellence-initiatives from ministries of science and science foundations, senseless competitions in weird casting shows. This all adds up to a lot of unhappiness, serious studies show. Competition usually creates one winner and many losers. Already the silver medal is worthless. Not to mention the armada of faceless helpers and service personal which prepare the stage and the rent for today’s winners.
Still, superstars from global companies, world-champion sports clubs and from the entertainment industry are suffering from massive pressure. Expectations are gigantic. International competitors are not sleeping. Also, excessive payments, boni and absurd profit participation do not promise lasting satisfaction, research demonstrates.
Global competition is becoming surreal, particularly at the top of the pecking order. When millions are luring, bribery (#Siemens), sexual harrassment (#Metoo), fraud (#Fan BingBing) and corruption (#FIFA.) not far.
Has market competition as an order mechanism failed? No, but we need to think more thoroughly about the conditions under which we should compete. Let’s look back to our vacation experiences. We push ourselves and experience joy when we compete in guest ski races during our winter vacation or when we struggle t in the volley tournament on the beach. Collective effort, hedged consequences and rewards, second and third re-entry chances and transparent measurement provide competition its legitimate power as a market principle and still provides happy moments. Let’s think about it!