Isolated, unprotected, and scared to speak out

In case you are able to engage your students to read longer texts, I would like to recommend the following one that I found in the Guardian online the other day:

How the most vulnerable workers are targeted for sexual abuse

This text and the personal story that it tells, exposes students to one of the dark sides of the contemporary world of work. Telling about sexual harassment, labour immigration, low-wage immigrants, and labour exploitation, it puts a sharp contrast to the colourful world of Google, Apple, or Microsoft that conventional OB text tend to portray.

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Posted in Critical thinking, emotions, Harassment, inequality, Modern day slavery, workers' perspective | Leave a comment

Hungry Students Could Help Fighting Food Waste

Students are usually expected to absorb knowledge in huge quantities. No wonder that many of them end up being fairly hungry after a long day at the university. The TooGoodToGo-App (https://toogoodtogo.com/) could help students to get good food from well-established restaurants at a reasonable price. Using this opportunity, students could at the same time contribute reducing food waste because the restaurants connected to ‘toogoodtogo’ (the firm behind the app) strive to avoid throwing food into the bin at the end of a day. Hence, a win-win situation is created: Good food for students and less food waste! But hey, there is another win. Students, who get good nutrition might also be more engaged and active during their study. Thus, we as teachers could benefit as well. 😉

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Leadership and the Role of Followers

Select any OB textbook from your shelf and read the chapter(s) on leadership. You will quickly notice that the leadership research that is presented in these chapters is essentially leader-centred research. This admittedly is not a new insight. Much of the traditional and some of the so-called contemporary leadership research address leaders, their characteristics, competencies, skills, behaviour, influence and so on. Followers are usually neglected, rendered as passive, and/or depicted as the ones, who need someone to show them direction and provide guidance.

The video below is called “The first follower”. You may argue with some of what the commentator says but the video could serve as a demonstration of how important followers are for leadership.

Essentially, one may be inclined to state that they are the ones, who decide to follow another person and to accept this person to be the leader (at least for some time or in a particular situation). They are, hence, active and some may say the decisive element for our understanding of leadership. Again, this not a particularly new insight. However, many OB textbook writers seem to frequently (and somewhat systematically?) neglect the role of followers. Even the more sophisticated OB textbooks tend to fail addressing concepts such as leadership as an attribution, leadership as a credit given to one person of the group, or leadership as a function of the group, not individuals. Followers are routinely stripped of their needs, interests, motivations, and their longing for contribution, participation and development.

However, what happens to our students’ understanding of leadership, if we continue telling them that the person or the behaviour of the leader constitute the only aspects that matter, that leaders are the real movers and shakers of the world, and that consequently followers are just passive participants in the leadership. Marginalising followers renders them as less significant for our understanding of leadership and, more importantly, for the practical accomplishment of leadership. Leaders, in turn, become heroes, everything that counts, and the stuff that successful leadership is made of. So, it may be unsurprising that many (if not most) of our students want to become leaders (hence, heroes) and not followers. Moreover, assuming that they end up in a leader position, they may regard and treat followers exactly the way, the textbook has told them – human material that waits to become shaped according to the leader’s discretion.

Posted in Followership, Leader, Leadership | Leave a comment

Isolated, unprotected and scared to speak out

In case you are able to engage your students into reading longer texts, I would like to recommend the following one that I found in the “Guardian online” today:

How the most vulnerable workers are targeted for sexual abuse

In this text and the personal story that it reveals, Bernice Yeung exposes readers to one of the dark sides of the contemporary world of work. Telling about sexual harassment, labour immigration, low-wage immigrants, and labour exploitation, it offers a sharp contrast to the often colourful world of Google, Apple, or Microsoft that conventional OB texts tend to portray.

Posted in capitalist economy, Critical thinking, dirty work, Harassment, inequality, precariat | Leave a comment

So what are emotions and how do we feel and talk about them?

Tiffany Watt Smith introduces us to the social nature of our way to experience emotions. She challenges the existence of a set of basic and universal emotions and, at least a bit, the commodification of emotions in our time and age. She invites us to think of emotions as culturally and historically shaped and that there is more than the physiological aspect of emotions. Emotions are complex and, as she tells, ‘elastic’ systems that refer to both the biology and the culture that we live in.

I believe that this presentation could be used as a starting point to establish a powerful counterpoint to the often universalistic, functionalistic and, in a way, simplistic conception of emotions in traditional OB textbooks. Emotions are not simply reflexes. Rather the way we feel is informed by the way we make sense of what we feel (hence, culture, history) and this sense making, for example the terms that we use for our emotions, in turn inform our feelings by telling us what we can actually feel. I know that asking students to watch a 15 minutes video might constitute a challenge (for them and us). However, if we formulate a couple of questions that students should answer while watching, we might offer them a guide for understanding the video and in this sense perhaps motivates them to actually watch it and to engage in thinking about emotions differently.

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Merry Christmas to All of You

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Rebalancing society

”Enough of the imbalance that is destroying our democracies, our planet, and ourselves. Enough of the pendulum politics of left and right, as well as the paralysis in the political center. Enough of the visible claw of lobbying in place of the invisible hand of competing. Enough of the economic globalization that undermines sovereign states and local communities. Have we not had enough exploiting of the world’s resources, including ourselves as “human resources”?”, writes Henry Mintzberg in his pamphlet “Rebalancing Society” that was later published as a book by MacGraw-Hill.

Henry Mintzberg calls for a radical renewal of society beyond what he refers to as the left, the right and the centre. He sees the plural sector, i.e. the community, as the major driver of this renewal as the private sector and the governmental sector have done well proving their incapability to do so. I would recommend referring to this book when setting the scene for a more critical approach to teaching Organisational Behaviour. I believe that Henry Mintzberg offers an appropriate interpretation of the imbalance that we observe in many of the so-called Western societies where the private sector is given priority and thereby assigned the authority to determine how societies are supposed to function. Addressing the imbalance in society, Henry Mintzberg takes a critical stance towards, for example, resource exploitation, the neglect of the externalities caused by human activities, growth for the sake of growth, the power of big corporations (which apparently are not only “too big to fail” but also “too big for jail”), and relentless individualism with “every person and every institution striving to get the most for him-, her-, or itself, over the needs of society and a threatened planet” (p. 20). He also refers to social initiatives emanating from the plural sector as being the ones, who have the capacity to bring about change in society.

The following YouTube-clips may serve as a teaser for the book. The full manuscript is available online from: http://www.mintzberg.org/sites/default/files/rebalancing_society_pamphlet.pdf

Posted in alternatives, Change, Critical thinking | Leave a comment