Power + Incompetence = A Bullying Boss


 Michael Albert drew my attention to Participatory Economics with his talks about the workplace hierarchy.  Speaking as someone who has always been low (very low) in the corporate hierarchy, I was fascinated by his talk about balanced work complexes.  I enjoyed imagining a workplace where I might have an input into decisions in relation to the amount that I was affected by them.

When I stumbled across this article on the Internet, I decided to share it here on ZSpace.  I suspect that ZCommunications prefers original articles, but I think the article is relevant.  There are so many changes that need to be made in our society, and I just don’t see how verbose articles on foreign policy are going to bring about those changes.  So I offer this in hopes that someone will read it and agree with me when I say that I would like to see more discussions on Parecon. 
 
 
 
Here’s some gratifying news for any employees out there who are feeling bullied by a tyrannical boss:  That aggressive behavior may have little to do with you, and a lot to do with your boss’s feelings of incompetence. 
A newstudy in Psychological Science found that when managers are made to feel insecure about their job performance, their aggressiveness skyrockets.  “Power holders feel they need to be superior and competent.  When they don’t feel they can show that legitimately, they’ll show it by taking people down a notch or two”, says study coauthor Nathanael Fast.
The researchers got 410 volunteers from various workplaces to fill out questionnaires about their position in the workplace hierarchy, how they felt about their job performance, and their aggressive tendencies. They also conducted a series experiments on the volunteers.  In one, they manipulated the subjects’ sense of power and self-worth by asking them to write about occasions when they felt either empowered or impotent and then either competent or incompetent.  Previous research has suggested that such essays cause a short-term bump or drop in feelings of power and capability.  Next they asked the volunteers to set the level of punishment for (imaginary) university students who got wrong answers on a test. Those people who felt more powerful and more incompetent picked the harshest punishments, the study found.
 

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