The 150-Employee Tipping Point

The 150-Employee Tipping Point

Oxford evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar is most famous for his theory that humans can only maintain personal relationships with about 150 people at any given time, so much so that the figure is referred to as “Dunbar’s number.” Quartz’s Kevin Delaney explores the application of Dunbar’s number to management in the context of growing startups:

“There is no question that the dynamics of organizations change once they exceed about 150 or so,” says Dunbar. “The [Hutterite faith group] deliberately split their communities at this size in order to avoid having to have both hierarchies and a police force. Keeping things below 150 means you can manage the system by peer pressure, whereas above 150 you need some kind of top down, discipline-based management system.”

At a startup, once the staff exceeds 150 people, employees are no longer the single, cohesive, culture-reinforcing unit they were during the company’s earliest days. Staffers become more specialized and entrenched with their teams, which are probably sprawled across an office, perhaps on multiple floors or in several locations.

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Bulking Up Around the Middle Market

Bulking Up Around the Middle Market

Midsized organizations in the US are in the midst of an expansion, growing in both number and size, Julie Ritzer Ross reports at Chief Executive:

About four in 10 firms across all middle-market revenue segments queried by the National Center For the Middle Market have added to their employee ranks over the past 12 months, according to executive director Thomas A. Stewart. In a video report, Stewart noted that 34% of small and middle-market businesses expect to add to their payroll in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, the Middle Market Power Index report, compiled and released by American Express and Dun & Bradstreet, indicates that while the total number of all commercially active firms declined between 2011 and 2016, the number of middle-market companies in existence has nearly doubled (up 87%). Middle-market companies have led job growth over the past five years, the report said, employing nearly 53 million workers. This is more than double the number of workers employed by such entities in 2011, according to the report. …

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