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The Stupidity Paradox - Book Review

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Table of Contents

1        Introduction        2

2        Setting        2

3        Genre        2

4        Tone        3

5        Key Concepts        3

5.1        Stupidity        3

5.2        Functional Stupidity        3

5.2.1        Leadership induced stupidity        3

5.2.2        Structure induced stupidity        3

5.2.3        Imitation induced stupidity        4

5.2.4        Branding induced stupidity        4

5.2.5        Culture induced stupidity        4

6        Summary        4

7        Analysis        6

  1. Introduction

The Stupidity Paradox- The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work is written by Mats Alvesson and Andre Spicer. Mats is a professor of Business Administrations and has published a wide range on Organizational Behavior topics. Andre is a professor of Organizational Behavior and he is also known for his work on business culture and behavior at work. The authors’ backgrounds are related to Organization studies, so this book revolves around that. The idea of working on this book popped up when they were discussing about different organizations and their practices, how some way or the other each one of them have become engines of stupidity. Moreover, this stupidity may be rewarded in the short run but in the long run there may be serious consequences.  This stupidity could be as simple as the top management depending on the analysis of consultants who just make fancy power point presentations but may miss out on useful analysis. Or at student level where they are given useless tasks which add no value to their knowledge. The concept the authors are trying to convey is that people with a high IQ are not stimulated to think and reflect at work.

  1. Setting

The book is primarily aimed at business users and discusses the concepts of Functional Stupidity as experienced in organizations. Therefore, there is a dominant organizational and business setting that the authors have maintained throughout the book.

  1. Genre

The book is primarily based on research conducted by the authors to understand Functional Stupidity and aims to benefit organizations and businesses. Therefore, the book conforms to the following genres:

  • Non-Fiction
  • Business
  • Behavioral Studies
  • Psychology
  1. Tone

The overwhelming tone in the book is analytical, whereby the authors critically analyze the types and implications of the subject matter. Since the findings are based on research, there is also a narrative tone specially where findings of the research are explained

  1. Key Concepts

  1. Stupidity

The core of this book is stupidity which is basically thoughtlessness or doing something without thinking it through or putting no thought in the outcome and result of anything you are doing. Identifying stupidity is very easy, just see if the person performing the task is reasoning it or not.

  1. Functional Stupidity

One entire chapter is written on Functional stupidity. Functional stupidity is the key concept highlighted in the book with various examples. The author has defined Functional stupidity as narrowing or tapering down your thinking and not reflecting up on any work that you are doing. You tend to get so much caught up in the narrow vision that you are unable to see the broader picture. It basically shrinks your thinking and you only focus on obeying commands. Functional stupidity has its advantages also, it can help you climb the corporate ladder steadily and helps you in managing your doubts by not reflecting on them hence it portrays you as a positive happy person.  The authors have explained five different kinds of functional stupidity with various examples and explanations.

  1. Leadership induced stupidity

The authors just want to specify not to foolishly follow leaders. Leadership has a positive impact on an organization, but at the same only banking on leadership is stupidity.

  1. Structure induced stupidity

The authors have stated that for an organization structure is very important in fact it’s the basis of an organization but at the same time eyes and brain should be kept open. An effort should be made to help people understand that structure and having an outlook based on future should go hand in hand.

  1. Imitation induced stupidity

The authors believe that this type of functional stupidity is directly related to image building and blindly following what looks good and what other managers and organizations are doing. It could be as simple as senselessly copying system adopted by its competitor organization (Hospital reference page 107)

  1. Branding induced stupidity

The authors have explained this type of stupidity in detail. It is a very different concept. To some extent they are right in their claims that stupidity is brand induced also. Organization’s central focus these days is to make their customers happy by satisfying their needs and wants how they want them. The marketing perception that the customer is always right is limits the thinking and questioning of managers related to any product or service they want to offer. Their central focus becomes the customers thinking (needs and wants) and to satisfy them they are caught in it. This reduces their sphere of thinking and reflecting on broader aspects of any product or service.



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