Iyengar Management

April 14, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

I think it came up in a discussion of culture and the observation that American culture generally values rationalism over traditionalism.* I was reminded of this anecdote that Sheena Iyengar tells in her TED talk (it’s also in her recent book The Art of Choosing).

That in turn reminded me of the famous** diner scene from “Five Easy Pieces.” The conflict is similar – individual goals in conflict with rules, though in this case the rules are bureaucratic regulations rather that cultural norms.

These clips relate to other issues besides culture and bureaucracy – social class comes quickly to mind – but also occupational roles , the self and presentation of self, and of course, conflict resolution (I can’t imagine Prof. Iyengar sweeping the crockery off the table).

* From Robin Williams (no, not that Robin Williams, not the one of “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Flubber”) American Society, first published sixty years ago.

** Or maybe not so famous. None of my students had heard of it (the movie was made twenty years before they were born). They did, however, recognize a very young Jack Nicholson.

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