Monday, April 19, 2010

Doppelganger Update

A while ago I wrote about the similarities between Apple and the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century. Steve Jobs holds a tight grip on the company and to outsiders it appears that decisions come down from the top, as in totalitarian governments. There is little to no input on overall strategy from the rest of the masses working below management - as there would be in a democracy.
Robin Hanson provides an explanation:
The key thing to understand is: governance is hard, especially in a democracy.  Fundamentally, this is because coordination is hard.
It can be very hard for even a single owner to coordinate with a dozen subordinates that each coordinate with a dozen employees in an ordinary firm to achieve a simple clear goal like making and selling a simple product at a profit. Organizations fail at this task all the time, and for thousands of different reasons.  Most new organizations attempting this fail, and most that are succeeding now will fail in a few decades.  When they fail, they will fail so badly that it will not be worth trying to save them; better to throw them away and start anew.
Once one appreciates the difficulty of coordinating even small organizations, and that bigger coordination is harder, one can see why it can be extremely difficult to manage the vaster coordination required by government.  How can ordinary citizens continue over centuries to coordinate to support interest groups that coordinate to support politicians who coordinate to approve and manage policies that empower agency heads to coordinate to manage thousands of agency employees to achieve the vague incoherent goals of many millions of citizens?
A structure like this one simplifies things immensely. When Steve Jobs or senior management say something, that's what goes- there is no consensus- which, as in a totalitarian regime, trades the satisfaction of everyone involved for efficiency.

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