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January 25, 2006



"most bosses of large firms aren't entrepreneurs - they're just bureaucrats"

I once saw an ethnographic study of people in upper management roles in privatised utility companies, before and after privatisation. Before, their job titles included words like 'administrator'; after, they had different titles, they were paid a lot more and they held forth at great length about how their role in management required them to be *leaders* and *motivators* - which several of them explicitly contrasted with the bad old days of management as *administration*.

Otherwise, nothing much had changed.


In reference to the media, of course the prevailing myth is the presumed power of the Murdoch press during elections aka 'it wos the Sun wot won it'.

The one thing that is rearly, if ever, noted is that The Sun, in particular, does not openly declare for a particular party until polling day itself, which raises the question of whether it really does exert an influence or whether it is merely reflecting the opinion polls and 'backing the winner'.

Perhaps the test of this will come at the next election, which psephologists are already expecting to be close enough to potentially result in a hung parliament, a useful exercise being to track the content of paper, particularly its editorial line, going into and through the campaign to the point where it declares to see whether it follows a consistant line in supporting a particular party throughout or actually hedges its bets until the last minute.

A 'too close to call' election would be an excellent test of the idea of media influence as there would be both the prospect of the Sun either calling it wrong - blowing the myth - or failing to make a call either way out of uncertainty as to the outcome.



Luis Enrique

flat non-oil profits do not speak against 'good' managers, because the advantage may just have been competed away between good managers.

Have you ever worked in a team that needed co-ordination and direction? They do exist. If you've ever been in that position under a bad manager, then I think you'd know there is such a thing as a good manager, and they do make a difference.

I very much like the analogy with the placebo effect. I reckon a great many things only work because people believe in them. This does not mean that the power is not real, though.


argh! there is no placebo effect! it's a myth:

"Placebo Effect Is More Myth Than Science"


In my own industry (telecommunications), this is observable in the astonishingly steep clue gradient between the engineers and the assorted accountants, lawyers, and PR men who make up the "management". A similar gradient exists between the carriers, manufacturers, professional services types on one hand, and the "content" people.

Depressingly, the managers love to talk about "getting away from being a dull engineering-led business"..

James Hamilton

This reminds me of the tale told me by an American hypnotherapist who, hearing that the placebo effect worked even when the patients knew a placebo was being administered, wanted to market a placebo openly. He and his partner proposed a pill called "Placebo Plus! Now with even more inert ingredients!". But the scheme died when the FDA declined to allow a drug that professed to do nothing to go forward for safety testing on technical grounds. Which I can't help feeling is a bit of a shame.


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