Friday, January 19, 2007

Fear and Loathing at the Office

Here is another "meditation" on the state of business, and its relation to higher education.

Charles H. Green, has a fun post on the role of spite. Reading this, I was reminded of certain departmental tiffs I'd observed over the years.

Many academics like to idealize our lives in higher education, as though we were somehow un-corporate... But in many cases, the academic life is just a mirror of the broader culture:

It’s a fun read, dishing classic stories ranging from how Cornelius Vanderbilt got even (“I won’t sue you, for the law is too slow. I’ll ruin you”), to Katzenberg vs. Eisner (Hollywood dustups are the most entertaining) to Michael Dell vs. Steve Jobs (the jury’s still out on this one, though as of today Jobs has the edge).

There are a few insights: "The simplest way to create a culture is to pick an enemy," says Garnett [CEO of Ingres, and one of many enemies Oracle’s Larry Ellison appears to have crated over the years.] "We have an enemy: It's Oracle."

And, “Revenge is a response to a perceived injustice or what psychologists call narcissistic injury, known to you and me as a wounded ego. This reaction is often acute in entrepreneurs or members of family businesses, whose sense of self-worth is bound to their businesses.”

But for the most part, this article describes, rather than diagnoses. But that’s not because the topic is without implication.

The incidence of revenge, and its motivational power, stand in contradiction to what business education describes as the way things get done.

Read the full article here.

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