Hal Pepinsky responds to disturbance


As I read the article on factory leadership on CSG-L yesterday, I was
struck by a seeming paradox. Management wants to maintain production
schedules and build profits. Management has to reckon with the fact
that workers don't respond mechanically to carrots and sticks, but
respond in terms of the control referents they rather than management
have chosen. But if the managers learn what PCT says they need to know
about workers, and thereby succeed in appealing to workers to meet
production schedules and profit targets, has not managers' control
superseded the workers'?

If workers regard their interests as apart from management's, I infer it
is because workers remain that management's interests or goals are
independent of worker welfare. Workers are wary of being wooed into job
satisfaction out of fear of dependence on those who might just as
readily move the factory and hire another workforce if the current one
doesn't serve production and profit goals well enough. Even profit-
sharing arrangements prove unsatisfactory where workers remain aware
that management maintains an agenda in which workers are tools to
management's ultimate ends.

There is no more inherent imperative for an enterprise to turn a profit
or meet someone's preset schedule than there is for any of the goals or
referents any of us chooses. If workers' control of their perceptions
is not to be subject to management's control of theirs, then the
reference systems of the two sets of persons must undergo simultaneous

My wife has been away at a leadership workshop. Reading the materials
for the workshop, she was found the definitions of leadership overly
restrictive. To her as a radical feminist for instance, a leader does
not set the agenda for others, but facilitates the creation of
interactive agendas among a community of actors--in effect gives
leadership away as a successful hunter in the US Northwest might conduct
a potlatch.

A similar issue arises in the case of the disturbance caused Bill Powers
and others by my CSG-L postings. I acknowledge that I come as a guest
to your list, and am not out to divide your house. Another part of me
doesn't want just to walk away from a disturbance and "lump it." From
my perspective you, Bill, took the initiative in criticizing my work. I
read yours and tried to deal with the issue you raised. My subscription
to CSG-L was entered for me. I've picked up an awful lot of self-
congratulation about PCT, and like another new subscriber, gotten
feedback that anything beyond PCT is phony or ephemeral. Of course my
theory of the beyond is neither phony or ephemeral to me. I don't mind
having that questioned, but I do look for a little reciprocity. That
means to me an attitude that one's own theory remains tentative, rather
than fully developed as an all-truthful package to sell as is or leave
unsullied. It feels as though I am being called upon to convert to
someone else's faith, rather than exploring the limits which any theory
must be presumed to have by those who believe in falsifiability. I
don't see how disagreement over the generalizability of one's theory
(and in PCT terms which I do accept, every person's theory must somehow
significantly be personal to him- or herself) has to be divisive;
friends can agree that they are interested in exploring a theory without
having to accept the ultimate truth of it. And I think that if PCT-ers
want outside acceptance, they need to enter dialogue with the
presumption that their own theory is as open to question as anyone
else's. I have acknowledged that PCT occupies an important place in my
own thinking, but I can no more accept my inquiry being bounded by its
terms than I could join a cult. Are you equally open to giving my
thinking credit for informing yours? Unless you enter dialogue
believing that you have as much to learn from other theorists as they
have to learn from you, I don't think you stand much more chance of
drawing PCT into outside use than management has of putting its
objectives over onto skeptical workers.

And yes, I accept that I don't know as much as I propose. We're all in
that boat aren't we? Or is it a given that you know what you're talking
about, and that I question your world view only because I haven't
studied it hard enough? Is it a given that I have more to gain by
reading more of your work than you have to gain by reading more of mine?
Some of you have been praising each other for the eloquence of your
explanations to me of why PCT has none of the problems I raise. Why
should this or that book respond to my questions more cogently than your
direct (and sometimes article-length) responses to me?

I confess that if my bid for continuing dialogue meets silence or ad
hominem attacks on my competence to talk with you, I won't persist. In
my world, I won't know when I've decided to get off the net until I get
there. I'm tempted, just as some of y'all seem to be inclined to get
rid of my intrustion into your world. But I know you also want us
outsiders to attend more to what you're doing, and for now I'll try to
sustain the engagement.

[From Oded Maler (930826)]

The point is simple. This list has some implicit agenda, namely
to discuss a certain approach to the analysis of behavior. People
deviate, of course, from time to time to side remarks, wild
speculations and generalizations, but this is done usually for
short periods and posts. I try to follow these rules although
I'm not a (certified) PCTer.

On the other hand, what you started to post (although one may agree
with some observations and disagree with others) touches (to my mind)
topics which are beyond the applicability of scientific PCT.
In other words, it was an unscientific and long discourse, which
could find its natural place in political and other newsgroups,
but has nothing to do with PCT, albeit borrowing some terminology.

I recognize everybody's need and right to express herselves
in electronic media, but not every forum is appropriate for
every kind of topic.

Best regards




Oded Maler, VERIMAG, Miniparc ZIRST, 38330 Montbonnot, France
Phone: 76909635 Fax: 76413620 e-mail: Oded.Maler@imag.fr