You and your line managers want employees thinking about what they’re doing all the time, right?

Not according to a new paper from Mats Alvesson, an organizational studies professor at Sweden’s Lund University.

The paper, published in the Journal of Management Studies, says blocking communication and discouraging critical reflection by employees “may oil the organizational machinery and contribute to harmony and increased productivity.”

‘Functional stupidity’ and its uses
Alvesson says this “functional stupidity” makes people “concentrate enthusiastically on the task in hand.”

But it also leaves an organization open to the potentially devastating risks that arise when people don’t pose critical questions about what they’re doing.

Takeaway: That old command-and-control management style, where employee input isn’t welcomed, may still have its uses, especially when what’s needed is fierce concentration on specific objectives. But managers who use it all the time may be clouding the organization’s vision and jeopardizing its future.


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