The observable examined

We are Oh! so predictable

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Imagine a banyan tree full of monkeys. There are some monkeys at the top, some at the bottom, and many more at varying heights. The monkeys from the top look down at smiling faces…but  all the ones below can look up and only see a**holes!!

– Adapted from The Jokecenter

Actually, this is an old joke that pokes fun at management  in organizations. But as someone noted long time ago , the truth is often said in jest.  Matt Ridley’s piece – Now You Know Why Your Boss Is Such An Ape – is a nice review of a new book out called “Games Primates Play” by Dario Maestripieri. There are interesting analogies of how dominance hierarchies amongst humans parallels what we see in the ape world. Only we have a huge repertoire of dominance behaviors ranging from the subtle (corporations) to the not so subtle (school bullying, extortion, threats etc.,). In fact, many of our dominance behaviors are culturally sanctioned. When I visited Paris, I learned that, for a powerful person, it was ok to arrive late to an appointment. In fact, how late you arrive is an index of your power. Business school professors also study power in organizations. I attended a brilliant lecture on this topic and wrote about it here.

I have always held the belief that we are fundamentally animals. We are fooled into thinking otherwise because societal norms impose a veneer of sophistication on our behaviors. Probably the best example is territorial fights (homes to nations – only group size differs). I will explore this topic in greater detail in a future blog.


Written by asterix98

April 24, 2012 at 6:54 am

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