Consider this: Sometimes it can be in a company’s best interest to promote the wrong person for the job.

Yes, that sounds counterintuitive, and a new blog posting based on research by Daniel Barron and Michael Powell, assistant and associate professors, respectively, with the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, asserts as much. But the gamble, they say, can pay off.

Why would promote the wrong person? The pair believe it is the right thing to do because the particular party has performed well before.

In other words, promoting the wrong person can be for the greater good: Communicating the message that fantastic work gets rewarded in the future. By doing so, a company and its executives develop their credibility with employees, the pair said in the Kellogg Insight posting,

It is true, that promoting the wrong manager can have consequences, including actually turn off the employees that person will lead. But the greater good means that promoting someone who has performed well is a good risk, they said. By doing so, other employees are also motivated to excel, and the ones who would not be motivated, at least respect that good performance was honored with a promotion.

For the full Kellogg Insight posting, click here.