Monday, 17 June 2013

Would managers be paid more than workers in a perfect world?

I posted recently about product legislation in a perfect world, and have subsequently found that the concept of a perfect world is a useful one for exploring logical extremes without immediate ridicule, such that they might then be translated back to our world.

Today's perfect world thought is on managers. Perhaps in the perfect world then would be no individuals, only a collective mind with a single purpose - not the myriad of competing forces we have today. But if we don't go as far as a hive mind, and retain individuals, then it's likely we'll need managers and leaders.

A brief note on managers vs leaders: managers manage things (whether those things be people or other resources), making sure they're in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing. It's a logistics game. Leaderships is about people and motivation, about inspiration and empathy.

Back to our perfect world, where we're not a hive mind and we do have individuals. Another assumption is required before we consider pay differential for managers and leaders: whether we're in a communist or meritocratic regime. In some conceptions of the former (arguably all true conceptions of the former) pay differential would be nil.

So, we're in a non-hive mind meritocratic perfect world: should managers be paid more? Actually, one last thing to clear up before we answer this question: are we in a world that considers one's genetics and upbringing a form of merit, or just working harder?

A supply-and-demand based meritocracy (like those that exist in the Western world today) would value genetics and upbringing as a form of merit. As such, the capabilities of good management and leadership, if sufficiently rare, would command a higher price in the market. Are good management and leadership rare? The answer is probably "yes", although this is the point at which evidence-based research should step in. Arguably, there is much highly paid management and leadership in this world that is not "good", and those with good management and leadership skills not in such positions.

A hard-work based meritocracy would currently be, and would have been before now, impossible to implement in practise due to the difficultly of measurement. However, with advances in monitoring technology (monitoring body and brain) effort may become measurable, and hence a pure hard-work based meritocracy possible. Do managers and leaders work harder than their minions? In some cases "yes", but there are many workers who put in more effort than their managers/leaders. Again, this is the point that evidence-based research should step in.


You can disagree with highly paid management and leadership if:
  • You advocate a hive mind (albeit technology permitting);
  • You advocate communism;
  • You advocate hard-work-based-meritocracy (unless you genuinely believe management works harder); OR
  • You advocate genetics-and-upbringing-based-meritocracy AND believe the supply of good management and leadership does not justify the market price
You cannot disagree with highly paid management and leadership if:
  • You advocate genetics-and-upbringing-based-meritocracy AND acknowledge a constrained supply of good management and leadership

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