Since blogging about the science of motivation, my interest in removing the confusion, lack of trust and bad behaviour caused by financial incentives within organisations has been renewed. I’m not alone. The Science of Motivation article has been one of the most read on the stop doing dumb things to customers blog in recent weeks, Charlie Duff has highlighted the spooky work going on at Innocent on this site, and I’ve discovered and enjoyed reading lots of creative action ideas by Derek Irvine on this subject.

We often hear criticism aimed at the very top of the organisation. They set the agenda, the tone, if only they would behave, set the right example, do the right thing etc., then everything would be alright. It’s easy to point the finger of blame at a somewhat distant figure. I was heartened to read an interesting study from the Academy of Management which indicates that a CEO with a strong sense of connectedness to the organisation, is much more likely to behave in a sustainable, inclusive way, than one who is not. What follows is a a short extract from the Academy of Management article, more stuff is available at stop doing dumb things to customers should you wish to take a look.

“One might expect that a CEO who identifies strongly with his or her firm will see nothing wrong with using the company resources for personal use, but our findings suggest the opposite to be the case,” comments James Westphal of the University of Michigan, a co-author of the study with Steven Boivie of the University of Arizona, Donald A. Lange of Arizona State University, and Michael McDonald of the University of Central Florida. “What we found instead,” he adds, “is that such executives tend to shun lavish perquisites that shareholders and the public resent, perks which, in fact, have been shown to be associated with significant underperformance of company stock.”