I mentioned earlier in the year that there’s some interesting academic research on the correlation between the order in which candidates appear in a contest, and the likely result. I’m not sure whether it applies directly to the world of bids and proposals, but it’s certainly given me some food for thought.
Wändi Bruine de Bruin of Carnegie Mellon University has written a couple of papers now on the theme “Save the last dance for me”. She’s studied the outcomes of figure skating competitions, the Eurovision Song Contest (!) and reviewed other research into contests as varied as gymnastics, classical music and synchronized swimming.
The results aren’t entirely clear cut, but some strong patterns do emerge which tend to back up our “last or first” philosophy.
Broadly speaking, if candidates are judged via a step-by-step approach – that is, each individual entrant is scored and discussed immediately after they’ve taken their turn – then the data suggests that it’s better to go last:
contestants who performed later in the sequence generally received better scores.
one may expect judges to give higher scores to contestants that are remembered better. Research on free recall suggests that first and last appearing options are more likely to be remembered.