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Baby Boomers Running In Place

December 16, 1990

If one considers popular beliefs that fuel ambition, one sees that most people associate higher levels of authority with higher levels of pay. In fact, it is more or less a universal managerial dogma in this country.

Even though, intuitively, it seems an obvious principle, it is not necessarily rational. It stands in opposition to the market principle of supply-and-demand. The market value for a particular type of supervisor may be lower than for the employees he supervises. So organizations often create unnecessary credentials or work-experience requirements to justify higher pay.

The traditional system incorrectly presumes that supervisorial and management skills are of greater value to the organization's effectiveness and profitability than are the skills being supervised. The value of a skill in one organization may far exceed the overall market value for that same skill. And the contribution of a supervisor is often measurable and less than the overall market value for that skill. But, of course, an organization needs to at least match the market or lose its employees.

It may be time that the rule of higher authority/higher pay change in the big corporations. When it does, then "dead-ending" will no longer warrant discussion.

W. SNOW HUME

West Hollywood

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