about me
art
biz
Chess
corrections
economics
EconoSchool
Finance
friends
fun
game theory
games
geo
mathstat
misc
NatScience
... more
Profil
Logout
Subscribe Weblog

 
Harvard Business Review (print edition): Mentors, say those who study the development of great executives, managers, and entrepreneurs, are crucial to a successful business career. But below the celebrated top rungs, and apart from certain obvious high-skill specialties, how important is mentoring really? Judging from how rarely seasoned employees are paired with those from the rank and file, you’d think the verdict was in—there’s little to be gained in mentoring the masses.

Carlo Morselli and Pierre Tremblay of the Université de Montréal and Bill McCarthy of the University of California at Davis attack the question in a novel way in their recent study “Mentors and Criminal Achievement,” published in the journal Criminology.

“Our analysis,” they write, “focuses on the effects of mentors on two aspects of criminal achievement: illegal earnings and incarceration experiences....Protégés with lower self-control attract the attention of some criminal mentors, who provide the structure and restraint that lead to a more prudent approach to crime. This approach involves fewer and more profitable offenses that lower the risks of apprehension and, perhaps, promote long-term horizons in crime.” The data, Morselli and Tremblay say, do show that earnings are higher for criminals who had mentors. “Our findings,” they conclude, “suggest that strong foundations in crime offer an advantageous position for continuous achievement, and the presence of a criminal mentor is pivotal for achievement over one’s criminal career.”

When deciding who in your organization would benefit from a mentor, consider looking beyond the usual suspects. Who among middle management, or even on the shop floor, might blossom with a little “structure and restraint” administered by a colleague who knows the ropes? You might be profitably surprised.

MARC ABRAHAMS is the editor and cofounder of the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research. In his regular Forethought column, he unearths studies that shed the oblique light of multidisciplinary research on the science of management.