Many of our modern management practices have a direct lineage through slavery.
Here’s something I didn’t know before: http://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2013/01/16/the-messy-link-between-slave-owners-and-modern-management/
While this is startling research, I’m not sure how surprising it is. For those engaged in the despicable and horrific practice, slavery was a business. Owners were looking for ways to maximize their “assets” in much the same way contemporary managers are interested in getting the most out of their human “resources”.
Of course, context is everything. Nevertheless, there is something eerie about how soul destroying many people report their workplaces can be and this historical connection to management practices.
As a result of her provocative research, Caitlin Rosenthal raises a couple of very important questions: If today we are using management techniques that were pioneered and tested on slave plantations, how much more careful do we need to be? How do we need to think differently about our responsibility to the people working in organizations?