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February 25, 2011 1:02 pm

Something for the weekend

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Winning the award for best actress at this weekend’s Oscars may herald a further life-changing event according to research from the University of Toronto and Carnegie Mellon University.

Academics have examined the impact that a sudden status shift can have on a marriage and discovered that female actresses who win an Academy Award for best actress can subsequently experience a greater chance of divorce.

They cite former winners such as Halle Berry, Kate Winslet and Joan Crawford who all experienced a divorce soon after receiving their award.

Colleen Stuart, a post doctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon, Sue Moon, a PhD student and Tiziana Casciaro, an assistant professor of organisational behaviour, both at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto looked at the so-called Oscars’ curse. They examined all Academy Award winners - male and female - who received an Oscar from 1936 to to 2010.

Their results revealed that for women, a sudden shift in status, such as winning an Oscar, corresponded with a greater chance of their marriage foundering. But they stress that their results only hold true for actresses. Academy award winning male actors did not experience the same propensity for divorce.

The academics suggest two possible reasons for the correlation between winning best actress and a subsequent divorce. Husbands they say may well be uncomfortable with the perceived sudden change of status and thus press ahead with a divorce. However, a second possibility is that the women concerned, having received a boost to their status and confidence are more willing themselves to press ahead with ending their marriage.

The full paper: The Oscar curse: status dynamics and general differences in marital survival is available at the Social Science Research Network.

Conventional wisdom has always suggested that companies need to hold onto their most renowned and valuable employees. To lose them it is thought puts the company at a disadvantage as years of in-house knowledge, experience and contacts disappear.

However, professors from Insead have suggested an alternative theory, that in fact it is beneficial for a company to lose even its star employees from time to time.

Insead academics at Fontainebleau in France Andrew Shipilov, an assistant professor of strategy, Kim Claes, a PhD student in organisational behaviour and Frédéric Godartis a post doctoral fellow looked at creative industries, specifically the fashion industry. They have found that when designers leave a fashion house to work elsewhere they maintain their links with their former employers as well as creating new connections. In this way the “source” fashion house can find out what is going on at its rivals which will in turn spark new ideas and collections. The writers say that this holds true in other industries such as global consumer products with companies maintaining strong links with former employees.

A second benefit say the academics is that star employees who then move to another company “can be a basis of influence in the industry”. For example designers who move from Prada to a smaller fashion house will spread “the buzz” about their former employer and help to expand their influence within the industry.

The writers also point out that employee departure leads to organisational turnover - bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives into the organisation.

How to make friends and gain influence... by losing employees can be found on the Insead website.

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