Catfish Effect definition


The catfish effect refers to the motivating effects of strong competition on weaker individuals. It’s named after a story, perhaps apocryphal, regarding the transport of live sardines in Norway. Transporting live sardines is very difficult but one Captain discovered a method; he kept a catfish in the same tank to keep the sardines active to avoid potential confrontations.

Organisations may take steps to ensure a level a competition in the workplace, such as sales leader boards, to make beneficial use of the catfish effect to encourage productivity across all employees. Gamification in the workplace, an increasingly popular method of encouraging productivity, exploits the catfish effect.

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