What Rebekah Brooks can teach us about power

Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer, the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, believes that women in the workplace do not need to be likeable in order to have a likelihood of professional success, provided they demonstrate a capability to do their work well and the people they work with need their respective positive workplace contributions. Professor Pfeffer contends that the studies he has read on this issue which conclude the opposite are incorrect, and are a result of a mistake in the parameters of the research. Specifically, he argues that the mistake stems from the low risk the study has on the individuals participating. When people participating in such studies are asked, only hypothetically, if they would be amenable to working with an individual or to assess her, their ratings demonstrate a greater value placed on likeability than in instances in which the participants rely upon the other individual for her ability to accomplish something. He believes that the latter instance is the trend within actual workplaces.  Professor Pfeffer also notes that he and a PhD candidate at Stanford have a forthcoming manuscript discussing three studies which demonstrate this latter finding.

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