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7 Examples of Internal Competition

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Internal competition is a rivalry and struggle to outcompete between teams or employees in the same organization. This may be encouraged and specifically introduced by organizations or managers as a means to improve performance. Internal competition can also emerge in negative ways and result from unintended consequences of organizational structures and policies. The following are common examples of internal competition.

Formal Competition

Competitions that are openly planned and administered by an organization such as a sales contest.

Silo Culture

Organizational silos whereby entire departments or teams demonstrate low cooperation out of a sense of competition.

Catfish Management

Catfish management whereby managers believe that competition between employees increases performance. This term is based on an old Norwegian story that claims sardines in a barrel are more likely to survive if they are chased by a catfish.

Limited Opportunity

Competition for limited opportunities such as management positions in a small firm that are only vacated once in a while.


Meritocracies that hand out promotions, awards and recognition based on merit are more competitive than other types of organization such as those that base promotions on seniority.

Performance Cultures

Workplace cultures that expect very high performance such that employees must compete just to meet minimum expectations.


The inherent nature of people to tend to compete for social status and resources.


Internal competition can be open and intentional as a means to boost performance and achieve goals such as sales targets or cost cutting objectives. It can also be used as an unofficial management strategy to prevent mediocrity and complacency amongst employees. Internal competition can also be unintended by management and emerge in negative ways such as kingdom building and low levels of cooperation amongst teams or employees.
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