There’s a fascinating report by Paul Solman about new research from the University of California, Berkeley on how wealth and inequality affects us psychologically. Originally broadcast on June 21, 2013 at PBSNewsHour.com one of the conclusions derived from the experimental evidence is rich people (those earning $150,000+ per year) are more likely to lie during negotiations and endorse unethical behavior.
Given the frequency and degree of intense labor disputes in the orchestra field over the past few seasons and the associated lack of stakeholder trust and good faith bargaining, the study (co-authored by psychology professor Paul Piff) could provide some insight on one reason why the field is experiencing such an uptick in what some might define as self destructive behavior.
To be fair, using the report’s own parameters for what constitutes being rich, that threshold shouldn’t be restricted to only orchestra board members since a handful of the professional orchestras in this country (less than five percent) pay the lion’s share musician employees an annual wage. That being said, the economic gaps referenced in Piff’s study do encompass most professional orchestras. Moreover, Piff’s study concluded that there was no significant separation in behavior between rich liberals or conservatives.
It is even more interesting when considering the recent commencement speech given by Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher during the school’s 2013 Convocation. In that speech, Fletcher indicated one of the fundamental problems contributing to so much labor unrest is “one or more of the ‘sides’ in a dispute is saying that they can’t, or won’t, recognize another side’s good faith…”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the quandary here is whether a reliable way to determine if a good faith threshold exists in a practical sense beyond the established guidelines by way of the National Labor Relations Act and subsequent National Labor Relations Board rulings.
The bit about lying during negotiations is at the 1:38 mark but the complete report (transcript) is worth your time so make sure you find a way to watch the entire 8:56 segment.
At the very least, it should get you thinking so feel free to leave your thoughts in a comment.