When The Powerful Behave Badly

As shareholders were coming to terms with the implications of last week’s shocking disclosures about phone-hacking at NewsCorp, Simon Caulkin, former management correspondent at the Observer tweeted a thought-provoking observation:

Re Murdochs of the world: “Our only chance of having powerful be good is to have more good become powerful” JPfeffer/HBR ow.ly/4ZM5i

The link is to an article published by Jeffrey Pfeffer a Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University at the end of May. Although primarily discussing the then evolving Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegations and the revelations about former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the point Pfeffer makes is that “power protects, albeit not completely, those who have it from the consequences of their actions”.

His essay ends on a key issue for the Stewardship & Governance community: ‘attaining power matters because once in power that power becomes self-reinforcing and protective. That’s why I have written, “seek power as if your life depends on it.” Our only chance of having the powerful be good is to have more of the good become powerful.’

Follow Simon on Twitter at @nikluac or visit his blog at www.simoncaulkin.com



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