Monday, August 24, 2015

The cult of overwork is a collective action problem

The New Yorker has a curious article describing how the long-hours business culture is essentially a sub-optimal equilibrium, i.e. a collective action problem:
In other words, the long hours may be neither the product of what we really want nor the oppression of workers by the ruling class, the old Marxist theory. They may be the byproduct of systems and institutions that have taken on lives of their own and serve no one’s interests. 
I think this is mostly correct - in the abstract nobody would like to work super-long hours, but the cultural and financial payoffs are such that most people find it worthwhile to play the game. In fact, I would suggest that this article's title, You Really Don't Need to Work So Much is a bit off. Changing it to Some People Really Don't Need to Work So Much might be a more accurate description of the article's jist. Suggesting that individuals working in a long-hours business culture should unilaterally start working less probably wouldn't be the best move if they value their careers and status.

No comments :

Post a Comment