How Becoming Aware of Self-serving Bias Can Help Companies Succeed
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How Becoming Aware of Self-serving Bias Can Help Companies Succeed

By Mainak Biswas June 17, 2013 - 2,472 views

Self-serving bias is a situation wherein, the failures in an organization are credited to external factors rather than focusing on the failures in the organization itself. It is a complex caused mainly because of self-esteem, in a bid to protect or enhance it. This situation is psychological in nature and if left unattended can cause severe harm to your business. There are motivational and cognitive processes that affect self-serving bias.

The factors and variables causing self-serving bias are:

1.  Motivation

There are two types of motivation: self-enhancement and self-presentation. Self-enhancement upholds own self-worth and credits successes internally and failures externally, whereas self-presentation is an act done to manage impressions.

Self-serving bias caused by self-enhancement can be conveyed to the uninitiated via this analogy: If in a school, a kid’s performance becomes considerably low or poor, such as the kid failing in a number of subjects, the doting parents put the blame on the school’s administration or facilities by branding them ill-equipped. They refuse to believe that their child lacks cognitive abilities, which in most cases, is the right direction to put their efforts in, in order to make the most out of their school’s services and resources.

Instead, they keep changing the schools in the hope of their child excelling in studies and the real problem hampering the intellectual development of their child is left unattended. This is a cause for grave concern and it compromises on the holistic development of the child too.

2.  Locus of control-

There are external and internal loci of control. In internal locus of control, individuals believe that they have complete personal control over situations and that their actions matter. Those with an external locus of control believe that outside forces, chance and luck determine the outcome and they don’t have a say in anything.

The best example of self-serving bias caused by internal locus of control is the one that follows: The US Government is the best example of how an administration exhibiting signs of believing too much in its staff and turning a blind eye to the areas that need improvement and attention, can affect the end result. This also showcased the perils of underestimation.

The US military establishment made nearly a score and a half attempts to assassinate the Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, but never succeeded in this operation. This happened as the administration developed a kind of complication by overtly and profusely justifying itself in overthrowing the leadership in Cuba. They were led to believe that they were fighting the bad guys and were blinded too much to keep an eye on the areas that needed improvement and were lacking. They underestimated the military capabilities of Cuba and were running in blind to attack them. This was a result of the above mentioned complex of profusely justifying itself.

This operation left an irreparable dent on the reputation of the establishment and a lot of lessons to be learnt from the glaring mistakes. It still is used as a case study of what not to be done in the successful management of a large company. As they failed miserably in a number of attempts, this example is of utmost importance to your deemed business, in your quest for the right prerequisites for success.

How companies can be affected by self-serving bias?

Self-serving bias needs to be avoided in order to make way for the success of your deemed business, as the imperfections within your business are overlooked and this surely poses great risks to your business. Companies adhering to this bias can result in sluggish growth or arrested development in their success graph, which if avoided, can keep it from posting great losses to their businesses, which otherwise, can exhibit promising growth.

Clearly, this is detrimental to the growth of your business and is worth every bit of your money to be looked into. After all, the huge capital that you have invested in your business is very dear to you and you should strive very hard in order to achieve the goal of making your business a success. A prosperous business is worth every bit of your penny and the tireless efforts you have reined in to make it a successful one should be brought to fruition.

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