R and linux play on greed?

#21
Thank you for this fascinating discussion.

I think that there are issues not addressed above. The developers of R and Linux probably have a fairly narrow range of motivations, explicit or hidden. And I suspect that TheEcologist is largely correct. But as Dason points out, there are some who ride the Open Source coattails hoping to gain some financial reward at a later date.

Another set of interests, though, are the users. And I'm pretty sure that the less-than-noble sentiments trinker brings forth do apply there. Some users like free stuff; some balance the work required to use Linux and R against the expense of commercial product and make ends-based decisions. Others are clearly political and want to avoid big business. And others use them for purely egoistic purposes (of course, the same can be said for many [TEX]\sout{Apple}[/TEX] commercial product users.

You guys have made my morning. Thanks.

John
 

noetsi

No cake for spunky
#22
Weagmans is another example of a company treating it's workers right and expecting great outcomes
The real question is whether companies like Google are treating their employees right or simply manipulating them. Doing extra, free, work for the company because they wired your van arguably is not doing anything for the employee.

Hiring based on trait, personality, is a very old policy. It was much debated particularly in the leadership literature. It fell out of favor because there was no clear evidence that traits in fact existed or were useful generally. Additionally, after the passage of discrimination laws in the sixties companies were cautious about it because it is difficult to making human resource decisions (and not lose in court) based on things such as personality that you can't objectively show exist.
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#23
The real question is whether companies like Google are treating their employees right or simply manipulating them. Doing extra, free, work for the company because they wired your van arguably is not doing anything for the employee.
Are you sure about that? I mean just because the computer is there doesn't mean they have to do work. But from what I can tell people actually do enjoy the work they do there so the employee is getting to do something they enjoy as opposed to... driving themselves and doing nothing?
 

noetsi

No cake for spunky
#24
I am not sure in anything in organizational productivity, unlike stats it only lends itself to guesses not certainties:p

The question is whether the employees really do enjoy the work they are doing in the van or whether they would do something else if they had other options. Like listen to music, self help tapes etc. And whether they realize they are doing essentially free work for the company.

Still the real point is that the company (returning to an old methodology more common before the sixties) is taking actions that appear to be aimed at the individual's good when the real purpose is to improve the corporate well being - and in ways that might not actually benefit the employee (or which they would do if they were aware they were being manipulated).
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#26
I find a false dichotomy in the "treating them right or manipulating them." There is no reason to expect that Google is trying to do something out of the shareholders goodness of heart. They want profit and results. It just so happens that they also understand that a certain company culture and well-being of its employees garners those results. Most interactions are, in some form, "manipulation." A regulation may be passed in the hopes of saving lives (a good), even though it prohibits absolute freedom (possibly a bad to some), by altering their incentives (manipulation). There is no reason to see "right" and "manipulating" as either opposing or competing each other. The question is what is right and what do you mean by manipulation. Any guided choice to alter incentives can be considered a form of manipulation, so that can be applied quite broadly.
 

Outlier

TS Contributor
#27
". . .a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics.[1] By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at the other's expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive."
 

trinker

ggplot2orBust
#28
What if both a desire for profits and a desire to do good by employees are happening. So long as these are in balance both can happen. Author Guinness was a master of this. If you read about him (and family) they both produced a sizable profit but also tried to take very good care of it's/his employees. I think there's a battle between these two innate desires that isn't irreconcilable. I don't know google's intentions nor the people running it but it may be possible that the people running the show both desire to make money and desire to take care of people "Don't be evil!" and are following through on both, each end serving the other. If either end tips too far one way the other will be engulfed. I think this theory applies to our country's political system too (just realized that I need to say the US's political system). It's the basic premise behind the liberal conservative debate. One wants to take care of the citizens one wants to take care of the money. Each telling the public the other is trying to break the system. Truth is if either gets out of balance too far it's bad for the system.

My rambling $0.02 x 1000 worth :)
 

noetsi

No cake for spunky
#29
Manipulation means, in the productivity literature, that you are getting people to do something that they would not do of their own choice essentially by deceiving them. If you don't think that is occuring then you don't believe it is manipulation. It is certainly true that some actions might benefit both the organization and the individual. The question is if that is happening or not. For example, if you manage to allow the parents to essentially never see their children through child care so they can work 80-100 hours a week are you actually benefiting them.

To some extent this is a judgment call - that is subjective. A central point of this literature (now dated as this model was abandoned by most US companies during the reengineering era in the eighties where reduced cost became the central goal not productivity per se) is that behavior potrayed as humanistic was really intended to benefit the bottom line. And on the manipulation of symbols and culture which is common at Google.
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#30
That statement "of their own choice" is entirely ambiguous. They would not be doing any work "of their own choice" if they didn't have the very job they possess. The connotation with manipulation (which isn't implicit. It is with things like exploitative or deceptive) doesn't mean "against the intentions of the employee." If that is how you want to perceive manipulation, then I would say that there are plenty of cases in which firms are not manipulative, because there are many instances in the very nature of employer-employee relations where the employee intends to do the work that they do. They are not held captive in their job, and even if we say that social pressures (they can't find another job, they cannot risk the financial insecurity to job search, etc) oppress some of their possible choices, that is by far not due to the employer, so it would be a stretch to say that the firm was being manipulative.

Furthermore, take your final use of manipulation: "the manipulation of symbols and culture ..." Okay, how does that square with your first regarding "that they would not do of their own choice?" If Google changes the company culture to inspire their employees to choose to do things, where does the requisite "against their own choice/will/intentions" come in? That was my point. Google knows how to use incentives to drive people to do things that they can enjoy, choose, and desire, while at the same time improving their own productivity as a firm. Thus, the dichotomy between being manipulative in the last sense you use it does not oppose the first with regard to what people choose to do. If we look at the counterfactual that "would not do of their own choice" by suggesting "if we took away those incentives through the manipulation of symbols and culture..." it entirely poisons the discussion. There is no comparison to be made. It's like saying "if someone didn't have the incentive to act, they would not act." Well, yeah. That's the whole point of incentives. It is moot whether or not that incentive is self-inflicted. Often our incentives are beyond our locus of control. That does not make them manipulative in the exploitative connotation.
 

noetsi

No cake for spunky
#31
No it is very objective. To use my example: Would the parents chose on their own never to see their children if google did not provide it. Or if google did not stress the value of them doing so.

It is not how I perceive manipulation. It is the way it is defined in the organizational literature.

An example of manipulation of symbols broadly known are politicians using flags to stir up nationalism and thus provide the basis for support for wars. Or stressing differences between populations to do the same. Google manipulates symbols by seeking to convince everyone that it is doing things for the benefit of the individual and ipso facto what it provides must be a benefit for that individual.

Using the child care example. Would people want to spend time with their children (and spend less time at work) if google did not stress the really nice thing it was doing by providing "free" child care and carefully ignoring what that resulted in.

The central point is that choice can be manipulated by policy and symbolism - that is not the same thing as making a free choice free of such manipulation.
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#32
Yeah, but you assume that "free choice without manipulation" actually exists. What is the substantive difference between someone doing X and wanting to do it, and someone doing X, wanting to do it, and their job encourages it? To use the flag example you alluded to, where is the manipulation in that? Are you suggesting that without the motivation by symbolism that these people would not have supported the war? I think that on the contrary, the vast majority supported the war. The politicians merely played on those desires to give people an incentive to express their feelings of support. It polarized the issue, and would certainly have more effect on those at the fringe. The fact still remains, is doing that somehow contrary to what is right in our treatment of people? I don't see it as definitive, and I still doubt that anyone makes free choices. As institutionalists tend to view it, we live in a world full of values that impact our decisions. This notion of manipulation seems to suggest people are isolated from the institutional fabric of our social reality.
 

noetsi

No cake for spunky
#33
Yeah, but you assume that "free choice without manipulation" actually exists.
Absolutely.

The question is fairly straightforward one. Would you engage in combat, or vote for a war, if you reasoned through the process based on your own values if someone did not provide you with incomplete information or deliberately try to sway you with emotional arguments. If you believe it is impossible to do this then of course manipulation is impossible. My own understanding of human reasoning suggests that such manipulation is common and has a real impact on decisions.
 

bryangoodrich

Probably A Mammal
#34
You're missing the point. The very "on your own values" is not independent of the "sway you with emotional arguments" unless you've lived in a vacuum your whole life and were never exposed to anything beyond yourself that could influence your values. Just because one may come at a closer point in time than earlier exposure is irrelevant. People are not free of influences, and it comes as contrived to use arbitrary measures to say which influences are manipulative and which are not.
 

noetsi

No cake for spunky
#35
You're missing the point. The very "on your own values" is not independent of the "sway you with emotional arguments" unless you've lived in a vacuum your whole life
This is where we disagree. I believe people have a utility to maximise distinct from such. One they can reason to, but which is distorted from manipulation. This is the normal assumption in the management literature and undergird my comments. As I noted above if you don't believe that then of course manipulation can not occur.
 

Dason

Ambassador to the humans
#37
I miss the days when we would go on a 36 post streak about some random topic...

I don't really have much else to say but I'm bumping this thread in hopes that somebody else will and it will get reignited again.
 

TheEcologist

Global Moderator
#38
Hi Guys,

I am at the most fantastic all expenses paid conference were I just gave a very well received talk about computations. We were discussing similar things to this thread, so I thought I might look it up again - thats for sending in those links trinker! Super :)

Soon I will post my (scalable vector graphics) talk, in the hope of starting a thread on computational speeds ups :)