Study Attributes a Boss' Typical Domineering Behavior to the Prehistoric Era

by Tanya Thomas on Oct 6 2008 12:28 PM

An Australian study has opined that the typical dominating behavior of a boss in the workplace can be attributed t o a part of humans' evolutionary biology.

The research conducted by University of New South Wales (UNSW) suggests that the way male managers dress, posture and exercise power might be linked to the prehistoric behaviors, such as protecting what is perceived as their "turf" and ostracizing those who do not agree with the group.

"This tribal culture is similar to what we would have seen in hunter gather bands on the savannah in southern Africa," said the author of the paper, Professor Jeffrey Braithwaite, from UNSW's Institute for Health Innovation.

This kind of the behavior is common in everyday work situations.

"While this research focuses specifically on health care settings, the results can be extrapolated to other workplaces," said Braithwaite.

"Groups were territorial in the past because it helped them survive," he added.

"Such tribalism is not necessary in the same way now, yet we still have those characteristics because they have evolved over two million years."

"It's a surprise just how hard-wired this behavior is," Braithwaite said.

"It's predictable that a group will ostracize a whistleblower, for instance. It's not good, but it's understandable in the tribal framework. It explains all sorts of undesirable behaviors, including bullying," he added.

The study has just been published in the Journal of Health Organisation and Management.