pfeffer corrupts, and absolute pfeffer corrupts absolutely
In a recent Bloomberg column, orgtheory gawd Jeffrey Pfeffer talks about how power persists in the “don’t be evil” culture of modern Silicon Valley:
Yes, I hear the stories about how companies want diverse opinions and diverse workforces, but the data belie this. Recent research shows that, despite the younger generation’s supposed egalitarian values and ready acceptance of workplace diversity, women from leading MBA programs continue to be offered lower salaries and to progress less rapidly in their careers than their male colleagues.
When status hierarchies exist, people naturally prefer to be at the top rather than the bottom. Rewards accrue disproportionately to those at the top—witness the recent pay kerfuffle over Larry Ellison’s package at Oracle. Control over one’s job also rises with hierarchical rank, and as British epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot has found, job control is positively related to health and longevity. So there’s inevitably competition for promotions.
People like to think well of themselves and also want to be sure they triumph in contests for organizational survival. They tend to believe they are above average and seek to associate themselves as closely as possible with success—basking in the reflected glory of prosperous organizations and leaders. Therefore, what matters most in attracting allies and support is winning, or appearing to win and to be successful. Ends trump means. Witness among many other examples the veneration of Steve Jobs, even though the latter was well known for not being the nicest of bosses. And as for his truthfulness, just consider the phrase “reality distortion field,” as well as the FBI report released after his death that detailed his penchant for not telling the truth.