Is competition always desirable?
The activity of striving to gain or win something by establishing superiority over others, competition is highly prevalent in today’s fast paced and at times seemingly unforgiving society.
To do well for this question, there is a need to compare the benefits of competition to collaboration. Which one is actually more desirable? Students can approach this question from a cross country comparison, and decide which country culture is actually more inclined towards competition and which country is towards collaboration.
It is true that competition can be unhealthy as it inevitably invokes stress, which in healthy amounts has the potential to not only decrease morale but also productivity. Some may also suggest that an overly competitive mindset deters collaboration and hence may even compromise on potential outcomes. However, I hold my stand that competition is mostly desirable. Competition compels us to work harder and strive further, empowering us to achieve levels of productivity and achievement which would otherwise be impossible. Also, competition ensures that the leaders who govern the way we live and consume products are optimal and behave in the best interest of society. As pointed out by Vince Lombardi, “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to is.” As long as one does not get too fixated on the idea of ‘winning’, a healthy competitive mindset would most definitely generate the best results.
(Counter) Argument 1
Critics argue that competition can be unhealthy as it inevitably invokes stress which has the potential to not only decrease morale but also productivity.
Elaboration: This is in fact true, as an unhealthy obsession and mindset towards competition can prove to be counter-productive and ironically compel us to underperform. Rather than focusing on doing one’s best, an obsessive fixation on eventually winning and being the best is an unhealthy way to compete. The pressure to win rather than optimize the learning experience distracts individuals from placing full emphasis on doing quality work and bitterness with the knowledge that others may be currently ahead of them lowers morale which would in turn lower productivity.
Example: In Singapore’s highly competitive educational landscape, more and more students are being subject to psychological disorders as they are unable to cope with the mindless scramble to outcompete their fellow batch mates. Evidently, such unhealthy levels of stress has impeded their learning capabilities and has defeated the purpose of healthy competition altogether.
Link: Competition can become undesirable if the environment and competitive mindsets become too hostile and unhealthy.
(Counter) Argument 2
Some may also suggest that an overly competitive mindset deters collaboration and hence may even compromise on potential outcomes.
Elaboration: This is based on the premise that rather than trying to out compete each other, people should gather their resources, knowledge and talents together and achieve a better outcome via collaboration, especially if they are after the same mission. This results in lesser resources spent collectively to achieve the same goal.
Evidence: In the search for a cure for cancer, two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and Merck, have entered a strategic partnership. The two competitors will pool resources in order to bring new cancer treatments to market faster.
Link: Collaboration is more desirable than competition in some cases.
Competition can empower us to achieve higher levels of productivity and achievement which would otherwise be impossible
Elaboration: Competition, by compelling us to set our competitors as standards to beat, constantly sets new feasible and progressive benchmarks and milestones for us to overcome. Empowered by a heightened sense of motivation to work harder in order to not fall behind the rest, we naturally do and achieve more.
Example: In the past, American miners had produced two tons of iron ore per hour for decades. When Brazilian iron ore suddenly became cheap enough to import in 1982, everything changed. In the span of five years, the miners doubled their productivity to four tons per hour.
Link: Competition is desirable as it increases productivity.
Competition ensures that the leaders who govern the way we live and consume products, be it in politics or business, are optimal and behave in the best interest of society.
Elaboration: As one would have to emerge victorious from stringent competition in order to receive the recognition necessary for one to be considered a true winner, the product of competition would be of the highest caliber possible and would have to function to society’s best interest.
Example: Highly evident in business, companies continue to relentlessly work hard to outcompete competitors by delivering the highest quality goods and services at the lowest possible cost. The consumer benefits from such competition, as the majority are inclined to purchase from the leading and most worthy competitor.
Link: Competition is desirable as it ensures optimum output and influences business and political leaders to function at society’s best interest.