Management expert says The Apprentice exposes qualities that are not fit for the business world

Posted by pt91 at Oct 14, 2014 05:05 PM |
‘Greed is not an attractive emotion, or a sensible strategy for survival’ says Professor Martin Parker of the University of Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 14 October 2014

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A Management expert claims ‘ruthless narcissists’ churned out by The Apprentice aren’t fit for the real business world.

Martin Parker, Professor of Organisation and Culture at University of Leicester, has hit out at ‘Alan Sugar’s parade of narcissism’  as the 10th series of The Apprentice gets under way.

Professor Parker, of the School of Management, wrote in The Conversation: “I teach management studies to undergraduates. I try to teach them that businesses need to be responsible and sustainable, that motivation isn’t only about money, and that monomaniacal leadership styles don’t work. I lecture about the importance of democracy and consultation, about the importance of ethics and values in producing the sort of business world we need in the future. And then, on their televisions, they see The Apprentice and all my work is for nothing.

“My problem is twofold. First, the show presents a largely false depiction of the business world which shows a kind of moral emptiness as a condition of being successful. At least, I hope it’s a false depiction, because if it’s an accurate one, then I wouldn’t want to meet any of these people on a dark night. The implicit message of the programme is that ruthlessness is rewarded with skyscrapering views of London, champagne and big cars. And, if you are the chosen one, you are rewarded with a job working for the boss of bosses.

“Second, and because business is supposed to be red in tooth and claw, the behaviour of potential recruits is best described as sociopathic. No doubt egged on by glistening eyed producers, the shiny suited contestants are encouraged to describe themselves as hungry winners with no tolerance for failure. They spit up half-digested lumps of the latest management cliches, sounding for all the world as if they would sell their grandmothers for a fistful of stock options.

“I know that this is “just entertainment”, and I’m sure that Lord Sugar is really a kindly gentleman who gives to charity, but I really do worry about the effect that this sort of programme has on the way that young people think about business. Together with Dragon’s Den, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, The Hotel Inspector and others, my undergraduates must get the impression that arrogant bullying and endless self-aggrandisement is what makes you successful in business. It’s enough to make you think that banging the table always does the job.”

Professor Parker adds: “Business, like all other parts of human endeavour, is best conducted in a spirit of intelligent scepticism and a fair dose of humility. And if we want to continue living on this planet, it must be conducted with some real thought about the consequences of our actions. Greed is not an attractive emotion, or a sensible strategy for survival.”

Ends

NOTE TO NEWSDESK: You can interview Professor Parker on mp431@leicester.ac.uk

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