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New Generation of Workers Have Made Corporate Paternalism a Thing of the Past

September 06, 1987

I read with interest the Aug. 9 column by Paula Bernstein, "Getting Hired: It's a Family Affair."

As one who has studied the organizational communication climate in more than 200 companies, my assessment differs from that presented in the column.

The desire by executives to hire employees in their own image or in the image of a "son" or "daughter" is a paternalistic notion and a thing of the past. Most astute executives know that today's employees, particularly those who are about 45 years old or younger, are not interested in working for a paternalistic boss. These people are of a generation that is glad to be out of the grip of their real parents and are usually not interested in forming "parent" relationships with bosses at work.

Additionally, astute executives know that while it is nice to hire people with pleasant personalities and who "fit in," the important thing is to hire someone who can get the job done. This may be someone with certain strengths that the boss does not have.

It was David Ogilvy, founder of the Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency, who once said the way to run a successful company is to hire people who are better than you are and let them get the job done. This concept is accepted by most of the secure executives I have met and is the antithesis of the paternalism that the article suggests is a growing trend in corporations today.


Department Head, Graphic Communication

California Polytechnic State University

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