Working Notes: Business Week on workplace bullying, a “New World” concept paper, and a blog facelift

Some items of note:

1. Business Week on “Taming the Workplace Bully” — Adam Piore’s article examines the topic from a business standpoint — it’s even filed under the heading of “Competition” on the magazine’s website —  and closes with an anecdote about a bullying target befriending her aggressor. Still, it covers a lot of ground and presents a variety of perspectives, including the legal aspects on which Gary Namie and I were interviewed.

Here’s a snippet:

For decades researchers have used questionnaires known as Machiavellianism (or Mach) scales to measure an individual’s capacity to engage in the manipulative, amoral, and deceitful behaviors espoused by the 15th century ends-justify-the-means diplomat. Recently psychologists found that those who score high on the 100-point Mach scale are also among those likeliest to engage in office bullying.

2. Evelin Lindner’s 2008 concept paper on societal transformation — In December 2008, Dr. Evelin Lindner, social scientist and founder of the Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (HumanDHS) Network, presented a terrific think piece paper, The Need for a New World, that calls for a global society grounded in sustainability and human dignity. Here’s the lede from her concluding section (p. 25):

The problem of our time is that the emperor has no clothes, that we, humankind, are the emperor, and that almost nobody dared, until recently, to admit to our nakedness. It needed an economic meltdown to expose this nakedness in shocking ways. Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan said that he was “in a state of shocked disbelief” and had been wrong in thinking that relying on banks to use their self-interest would be enough to protect shareholders and their equity. Still, many don’t see the emperor’s nakedness even now.

Evelin gave this paper just months after the economy imploded, at the annual HumanDHS workshop on Humiliation and Violent Conflict at Columbia University in New York. Four years later, with so many people still hoping that things will return to some form of “back to normal,” it remains a very relevant piece of commentary. Evelin will be talking about her book, A Dignity Economy, at an open program offered as part of this year’s workshop, on Thursday, December 6, at 5:00-8:00 p.m (flyer here).

3. A new look for the blog — I gave the blog a quick facelift. WordPress.com offers a variety of themes for its blogs, and I found this one, titled “Elemin,” and thought it would provide a crisp and appealing new look. I hope you enjoy it.

4 responses

  1. I know that your field is law and that you are supportive of keeping unions alive and powerful, as am I. I don’t know how much management theory you have or haven’t read but you might like some of Drucker’s work if you aren’t already familiar. He was a tenured Harvard Professor until his death and is widely considered the greatest management theorist that ever lived. In “The Practice of Management” he expresses outright contempt of the idle pursuit of a profit, and even more contempt for those who would pursuit a profit by taking advantage of their customers or employees. His argument is that profit should be the desirable effect and reward for providing opportunity to employees, as well as products and service of real value to clients and customers. Obviously, credit default swaps don’t meet this standard! And, I’m paraphrasing badly here, but it’s something that might interest you, I think.

    • Yes, I like Peter Drucker! Though I won’t claim to be a student of his writings, I’ve found them useful for a couple of my law review articles. He wrote some great stuff about the importance of encouraging employee input in organizational decision making.

  2. Yes he is huge on that! And, it’s dualistic. For one thing he just believes in respect of people, plain and simple. Listening is an element of respect. But, it’s also practical. It’s common that team members who are not in top level management, or even management at all, recognize problems and opportunities first. Individuals interacting with clients and customers are frequently the first to notice a shift in competitive conditions. Without getting that feedback from team members changes like that will only become apparent after causing a noticeable profit loss and opportunities will be missed. That’s the great thing about Drucker. He always combines doing the right thing and making a profit, effectively.

    And, I should explain that I studied English not business. But, I was taught management by someone who studied business at U Mass Amherst. In fact, I worked in Cambridge, right across the river from you. Unfortunately, like many of your readers I was the target of bullying and mobbing that hit the latest stages. However, I’m luckier than many targets because I’m in my thirties and will be able to rebuild professionally. So, I’m passionate about the anti-workplace bullying work also.🙂

    Thank you so much for hosting such an excellent site and for all of your amazing work in this area!

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