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Monday, October 5, 2015

Using Social Norms in Subconscious Organizational Management

Bare with an idea for a minute and lets get unique without making judgements. Do you believe that you can manage a company subconsciously? I picked up a study from 1994 that discusses Japanese inter-organizational control through subconscious normative and symbolic inducements. They had less need of utilitarian methods often utilized in current human resource practices.

Sounds crazy doesn't it?

Think for a moment about the design of organizations and how it uses incentives and punishments to coerce behavior. If you do something right you get rewarded with praise while if you do something wrong you get punished with chastisement or fired. The mechanisms of control are overt and part of the official management practices of an organization.

As long as a person believes in these mechanisms they have power (conscious).

There is also stronger internal, deep seated, subconscious mechanism based on our social upbringing and value systems. These are often symbolic by nature and are culturally laden. They are what makes us connected to a particular society through our shared value systems. If the Japanese are good at anything it is symbolism.

We conform to certain rules and values because we are have subconsciously pre-programmed ability to accept social structures. We can't live and be in a society unless we accept certain values and norms as part of who we are. Not only do we learn these values through interaction with others but are born capable of connecting to other people.

As long as we are connected to society we have certain norms and values we accept (subconscious).

Creating a subconsciously motivating business, in this case as found in a Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, is by perking cultural values and using symbolism. The person comes willingly, or at least unknowingly, to accept the values of the organization because they fit within the cultural context of society. They act and work in a way that is drawn from their subconscious desire to be connected to others and be accepted by a greater social network.

Nussbaum-Gomes, M. (1994). The subconscious in organizational control. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 35, 1/2.

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