Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Your Boss Is White, Middle-class And A Show-off

Date:
October 13, 2008
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
The way male managers power dress, posture and exercise power is due to humans' evolutionary biology, according to new research.

Prehistoric behaviours, such as male domination, protecting what is perceived as their "turf" and ostracising those who do not agree with the group is more commonplace in everyday work situations than many of us want to accept.
Credit: iStockphoto/Ferran Traite Soler

The way male managers power dress, posture and exercise power is due to humans' evolutionary biology, according to research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Prehistoric behaviours, such as male domination, protecting what is perceived as their "turf" and ostracising those who do not agree with the group is more commonplace in everyday work situations than many of us want to accept, according to the research which was carried out in hospitals.

"This tribal culture is similar to what we would have seen in hunter gather bands on the savannah in southern Africa," says the author of the paper, Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, from UNSW's Institute for Health Innovation.

"While this research focuses specifically on health care settings, the results can be extrapolated to other workplaces," says Professor Braithwaite.

"Groups were territorial in the past because it helped them survive. If you weren't in a tight band, you didn't get to pass on your genes," he says. "Such tribalism is not necessary in the same way now, yet we still have those characteristics because they have evolved over two million years.

"It's a surprise just how hard-wired this behaviour is," says Professor Braithwaite. "It's predictable that a group will ostracise a whistleblower, for instance. It's not good, but it's understandable in the tribal framework. It explains all sorts of undesirable behaviours, including bullying."

Professor Braithwaite's research is based on hundreds of interviews and observations of health workers over a 15-year period. He used an evolutionary psychology approach – incorporating archaeology and anthropology of the earliest known humans – to compare with modern behaviours.

It is hoped the research can be used to develop strategies to encourage clinical professionals to work together more effectively.

"We need to stop being simplistic and realise that changing behaviours and encouraging teamwork is much harder than we think," says Professor Braithwaite. "Getting different groups together and talking through some of the differences, and appreciating some of the unwritten rules which drive people, are crucial steps in improving trust.

"We also need to re-think education. We train doctors in a completely different arena from nurses and allied health staff, then we bring them together in the workplace after they graduate and expect everyone to be team players," he says. "We need to bring them together much earlier in the educational process."

Other features include:

  • Meetings are held in the most senior manager's office, who typically dominates proceedings
  • Managers do not spend as much of their time as people think sitting reading quietly, or attending to paperwork in front of a computer. They are out there manoeuvring and positioning at meetings, one-on-one encounters and coffee cliques.
  • Managers rarely take lunch or tea breaks
  • Non-managerial staff regularly take an allocated period of time for breaks

The paper has just been published in the Journal of Health Organisation and Management.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Why Your Boss Is White, Middle-class And A Show-off." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081003122543.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2008, October 13). Why Your Boss Is White, Middle-class And A Show-off. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081003122543.htm
University of New South Wales. "Why Your Boss Is White, Middle-class And A Show-off." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081003122543.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming

AP (July 28, 2014) AP Investigation: As the Obama administration weans the country off dirty fuels, energy companies are ramping-up overseas coal exports at a heavy price. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

The New York Times Backs Pot Legalization

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The New York Times has officially endorsed the legalization of marijuana, but why now, and to what end? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins