In a surprisingly relevant study from Stern (NYU’s Business School, aka the NYU I/O rivals), we find out that our bosses really don’t listen to us:
Kelly See, an assistant professor of management and organization at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, was curious about these sorts of scenarios, so she put together an in-depth study of the extent to which people in power take advice from knowledgeable colleagues. Together with NYU Stern’s Elizabeth Morrison, Naomi B. Rothman of Lehigh University and Jack B. Soll of Duke, See ran a research project over two-and-half-years that examined advice-taking in some 1,500 study participants. The conclusion: The more power managers have, the less likely they are to take advice. “Once you’re in a position of power, it tends to make you more confident in your decisions,” explains See.
To test her hypothesis about the detrimental effects of power on advice-taking, See and her colleagues conducted four different pieces of research. In one study, they did online surveys of 208 incoming business graduate students who had been working as junior to mid-level managers at a range of companies, including health care, finance, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. They asked these managers about their level of responsibility over resources and staff. Then they asked each of them to name 2-5 colleagues who worked closely with them and could rate their behaviors. Next they gave those co-workers an online survey about the extent to which the managers took advice. The results supported See’s hypotheses about power and advice-taking: The more power the managers perceived they had, the more confidence they had in their own decision-making prowess, and the less likely they were to take colleagues’ advice.
I’m going to read through the whole journal article before I pass judgement, but it looks like Stern might have actually done something, well, experimentally real, for once.