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To all the young people, ‘Be the big fish in a small pond’2015-03-10Hit:2680

         In Korea, there is a saying ‘Send people to Seoul and horses to Jeju Island’ which conveys the meaning that there is more to learn when experiencing the bigger world. It may provide an explanation on why intellectuals in Korea are being more reluctant to work in the provinces, resulting in fiercer competition to work for the giant firms and a shortage of labor for medium and small enterprises. So, what is more beneficial in the long run: being a small fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a small pond?

To answer this question, Professor Gong Jie of Singapore University analyzed the career of English professional football players until 2012. Every professional football club in England faces fierce competition regardless of the division. For instance, in the English Premier League, the three teams at the bottom are relegated to the lower division, and the top three teams in the lower division are elevated to the top division. In general, a club suffers from financial pressures since the advertisement revenue falls by about 40% once it is relegated to the lower division. Hence, the pie of money available for scouting players gets smaller and the average competence level falls. Players who want to stay in the top division usually demand a trade.

As a result, the players who remain in the relegated team gets more playing time. The number of appearances of players who were mere substitutes increases by 7.5 percent once their team is relegated. The more appearances, the higher the competency of players.

For a more precise analysis, ten years of a career for each of the players in clubs which were almost relegated and those which almost remained in the upper division were compared. For instance, the teams in 3rd place and 4thplace are seen as equal in terms of the players’ ability. The players who remained in the relegated team showed higher probability of getting scouted by the higher division and had 30~50% higher salary than those who were almost relegated. However, these effects only appear for the players under 24.


This research implies the importance of career management. The younger one is, the more he should try to be the big fish in a small pond. Going into a medium or small enterprise and accumulating experience can be more beneficial in the long run. Furthermore, those who want to become CEOs should work abroad when they are young; departments abroad are smaller in size and give more authority to the workers compared to the head office.

When one starts from a small pond and gradually increases the size of the pond, will one day become the big fish in a big pond. Competent CEOs do not come from nowhere. Fostering future CEOs is one of the important jobs for present CEOs.



Link: http://biz.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/02/27/2015022701953.html


Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )
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