Leadership's online labs

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Multiplayer online role-playing games are sprawling cybercommunities that offer a sneak preview of tomorrow's business environment. Players who lead teams in these online worlds hone the skills that they will need as business leaders in the future. Games also provide an environment that makes being an effective leader easier and that today's businesses might try to replicate selectively in their own organizations. Those are the principal findings by Reeves, of Stanford University; Malone, of MIT's Sloan School; and O'Driscoll, of North Carolina State. As part of an analysis conducted by Seriosity, a company that develops game-inspired enterprise software, the authors studied people who headed up teams in online games. They also sought the insights of gamers who have led real-world business teams at IBM. The authors identified three distinctive characteristics of leadership in online games that, as workplaces and the overall business climate become more dynamic and gamelike, will be essential for tomorrow's leaders: speed, risk taking, and acceptance of leadership roles as temporary. The most important finding, say the authors, is that getting the leadership environment right can be as important as choosing the right leader. They point out two aspects of game environments that companies might consider adopting: One, nonmonetary incentives built into a game economy strongly motivate individuals to accomplish group aims. Two, hypertransparency of information about, for example, team members' capabilities and teams' real-time performance makes it simpler to match people with tasks and to empower individuals to manage themselves.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Reeves, B; Malone, TW; O'Driscoll, T

Published Date

  • May 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 86 / 5

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0017-8012

Citation Source

  • Scopus