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Murthy

Hi Professor Sutton,

Congrats on the HBR article and the obvious domino effect of other references to this idea as well!

I had one question about the Baboon theory though: to what extent is the Baboon theory a general metaphor about the relationship between leaders and followers and to what extent is it an explanation of the unique behavior that derives from tough economic times? Another way of phrasing my question: is Baboon theory only relevant during tough times or does it play out with equal effect during good times also?

I think one of the other posters suggested that tough times make people revert to cro-magnon instincts - perhaps they are more territorial, more protective, more competitive, less collaborative, etc? I totally buy that environmental conditions influence how an individual relates to their peers.

But exactly how do environmental conditions influence your relationship with your boss? Am I less concerned about performance or management cues during good times than I am during bad ones?

I'm just trying to dissect the orthogonal components: what part of Baboon theory is about organizational structure/power and what part of it is about environmental conditions?

Project Management Tools & Techniques

I think that's a great analogy. I've always been interested in mining scientific fields (like biology) for answers that can be applied to management. The Baboon Theory is definitely a good one, too. In tough times, especially, we're more likely to respond in an instinctive way -- when the economy is good, we can afford to act more like humans, but when things get tough and we're worried about losing jobs (or homes!) those old cro-magnon instincts return to the surface.

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