234. The Corruptible Career and its Friends

The bot­tom line in most orga­ni­za­tions is that if you don’t at least appear to be cor­rupt­ible, they don’t want to have you there. Hmm, that sounds extreme, doesn’t it? The HR euphemism is that you should “fit the com­pany cul­ture”, and they’d be shocked to hear it put another way. The real mean­ing is that you shouldn’t think too care­fully about “the com­pany cul­ture”, and of course most peo­ple don’t. They are too busy with their Face­book page, or pay­ing off a mort­gage. Well, 3,877 busi­nesses in 78 coun­tries said they had been vic­tims of fraud in 2011, from a report by Price­wa­ter­house­C­oop­ers (PwC). 72% suf­fered direct theft by employ­ees (AFP, 30 Novem­ber 2011). Have the hir­ing gurus stuffed up some­where? Not at all in their terms. They got exactly what they chose to select, and that was uncrit­i­cal minds (most of the stiffs they hire), plus a siz­able selec­tion of oppor­tunists of the worst kind, not just among the jan­i­tors, but in the exec­u­tive suites too. The ten­dency has always been there to exclude the alert, the irrev­er­ent, the crit­i­cal, the cre­ative and uncon­ven­tional minds. It is just that the selec­tion of like-minded clones has reached indus­trial lev­els of effi­ciency, a kind of inbreed­ing guar­an­teed to viti­ate orga­ni­za­tions. There is a close ana­logue with sim­i­lar effects achieved his­tor­i­cally by fas­cist dic­ta­tor­ships (includ­ing their ‘com­mu­nist’ alter egos) and theoc­ra­cies.

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