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BAD BOSSES: TOP MANAGEMENT SEE MERIT

Pay cuts, layoffs and unemployment – recession couldn’t have been worse. On top of this, if you have a bad boss you might have a tough time surviving. But, an expert is claiming that bad and evil bosses are better suited for recession.

Scott Adams, the Creator of Dilbert, the cartoon strip that adds a comic element to 2,000 solemn newspapers across 70 countries, has discovered merit in evil bosses. Adams is convinced that difficult bosses can be good, as they help spawn entrepreneurs. “The worse bosses are, the better it is for the economy. In the old days people were born entrepreneurs, but today people are forced into entrepreneurship whether they like it or not,” he told Economic Times in an interview.

His comments might be based on the U.S. economy and its worst recession since Great Depression, but California resident Adams could well be looking at India and Indians from the same entrepreneurial prism going forward. And future Dilbert strips could see India and Indians depicted differently. Adams says that Indians have moved far ahead of the image of the smart, yet inexperienced office intern Asoka, who is one of Dilbert’s colleagues. An IITian by qualification, Asoka has been bestowed with psychic powers but continues to work for someone. But this might change soon. “He’s the most confident person with the least power. Maybe, I’ll have him strike out and be an entrepreneur some day.”

“Trouble is that in order to be a good boss you got to be kind of a jerk, you got to be selfish and be willing to hurt other people to advance your own cause. I’m not like that. People try and take advantage of me pretty easily,” says Adams, who has for years entertained millions every morning with his wit on employer-employee relationships. Asked about the impact of the U.S. recession on Dilbert, Adams has his own and distinctive take.

“There are two things going on in the U.S. right now. If you don’t have a job, and that’s a lot of people, then things are pretty bad obviously. But those people who have kept their jobs, what they’re finding is that the price of stuff is lower. When you order something that used to take a lot of weeks to be built and get shipped to you, you’re getting it in a month. In a weird way, there are a lot of people who are moving into houses they couldn’t have afforded before the crash,” Adams added.

From a Dilbert point of view, the U.S. recession has done some good. “There’s a period when everything is great and it’s an employee’s market and they ask for more money or they’re going somewhere else. But right now we’re in a period, where obviously you want to keep your employer happy because finding another job is going to be hard,” says Adams. And this new insight has a source. Adams, who is building a new ‘green’ home in Pleasanton, California, is seeing attitudes change first-hand.

“You’ve never seen such good cooperation from all the sub-contractors. Everybody shows to work because there isn’t that much work to have. It turned out to be the very best time to build a house because everybody’s so eager to work. It’s strange because usually the upside is not very obvious. I’m sure during the Great Depression there probably wasn’t anybody who was better off.”

For the past 20 years Adams’ cartoons have ridiculed corporate workplaces and the ‘Cubicle life’ and everything around it, from management fads to consultants to evil bosses. But he says the central character of Dilbert borrows a bit from his own personality. “I certainly have shared some of his traits. I’m socially awkward and had trouble getting dates when I was his age, and a bit nerdy, so there’s a lot of me in him. But I am more of Dogbert, the side of me that has a running conversation in my head saying inappropriate things. I use Dogbert as the character who says out loud the things I’m thinking.

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