The pyramid of business culture has been around as long as business. There are the people in charge and the people giving orders. Modern culture dictates that, at least to some degree, that anyone in an executive or management position, the Donald Trump type dictators not withstanding, not be too overbearing. They do teach interpersonal skills to business majors. Some people like business to be structured this way. A few businesses, mostly smaller companies have experimented with the team concept. ideally people in a team are self managing. If there is a personal or work problem, team members are expected to engage in constructive conflict resolution. In a traditional setting people go to a supervisor or to human resources to complain. That team can provide of interesting insights into people’s real personality. many of those who like to think of themselves as easy-going – a highly rated quality in the U.S. can be among the first to appeal to authority to settle conflicts. In order to retain their easy-going status they have to avoid conflict and let someone else do it for them. That, among other phenomenon is one reason the team concept has not spread very far. That is a shame because the traditional hierarchy of business and large corporations in particular runs, but day-to-day getting things done, the right things done the right way, is a never ending uphill battle. Naturally there have been the crusaders and reluctant acceptors of the traditional hierarchy. They believe we have this pyramid model because it is a model we naturally gravitate to because of some intrinsic efficiency. The fact that most human resources departments are consumed with conflict resolution says the opposite. Middle managers who have to be part psychologist, part babysitter and part prison guard would at least agree something is wrong. Experimental evidence shows that hierarchical organization is more inefficient than generally realized
Ernst Fehr and colleagues got subjects to play an authority-delegation game, in which subjects were divided into principals and agents, and then asked to work on selecting projects with varying payoffs. They made two important discoveries.
First, subordinates put in less effort than you’d expect rational income maximizers to; depending on the treatment, up to half put in no effort at all, even though this was almost never the income-maximizing option.
This corroborates Jeffrey Nielsen’s claim that rank-based thinking demotivates ordinary workers – and is consistent with the BBC’s Newsnight fiasco.
One reason for this, says Fehr, might lie in regret aversion. People have an aversion to being treated unfairly – which is why they reject unfair but wealth-enhancing offers in ultimatum games – and the fear of not getting a fair reward for their effort makes them loath to work.
This suggests that the trade-off between the allocation of control rights and provision on incentives is greater than conventional theory (pdf) predicts.
One common archetype in the work place is the control freak supervisor/boss. casual observation has probably told many of us that many, if not most of them are engaging in couter-productive behavior. This study bears that out,
Some two-fifths of principals did not delegate even when income-maximization required it. This suggests that people get a non-pecuniary buzz from being in control, and seek this benefit at the cost of economic payoffs to themselves and others.
And of course those who are pro hierarchy would never admit that they engage in behavior that costs time, money and human resources. There are a few barriers standing in the way of changing business culture. There is the ego issues at the top of the pyramid, but there is also a large issue at middle to bottom. That is having a certain level of self directive drive and maturity. They have to stop looking at work as an extension of high school, where they try to get away with as much as they can before being called into the principal’s office.
I stop by a site called The Society Pages two or three times week. It features articles, opinion and research papers bu sociologists and philosophers about almost every aspect of society – gender issues, homophobia, health care, violence, movies, demographic trends. They’re generally pretty good. Though this article might be a little weak on the kind of hard evidence one would require of an academic paper. I enjoyed the great old photographs and they do suggest that America was not always so guarded about male affection in the context of friendship, Male Affection in Vintage Photos
Over at the Art of Manliness, Brett and Kate McKay have posted a fantastic collection of old photos showing men posing in ways that show a high level of comfort with physical contact between men. Many of them show men posed in ways that would be unacceptable among straight men today. Here are just a few; I highly recommend looking at their entire post:
The McKays point out that sitting for a portrait required men to go to public businesses and openly pose for a photographer. These poses were quite common for men at the time and wouldn’t have been read through the lens of potential gayness that viewers today would likely apply.
This is a link to the blog post they’re referring to – A Photo History of Male Affection (this link has more photos). In that post they did make this observation,
When the author of Picturing Men, John Ibson, conducted a survey of modern day portrait studios to ask if they had ever had two men come in to have their photo taken, he found that the event was so rare that many of the photographers he spoke to had never seen it happen during their career.
Some of the photos would probably set off the homophobe alarms today, but as they say, more for middle-aged and older men, than high school and college aged.
beer buddies c1900. this is from my collection of old photographs.
Only 12? That seems low, 12 Unbelievably Awful Things Fox News Did This Year
Beware of conservative Republican math when discussing the national debt – The National Debt? Republicans Built That
Texas Conservatives Pushing Health Care For Women Back to the Dark Ages. Along with the low national average of wages, science and history text books that read like freakish fantasy, I wonder what kind of dystopia that state will be in 10 years. That is not to say everyone in Texas is awful, it is mix of good and not so great people like anywhere else. Though they might have some of the most misguided politicians in U.S. history.