Omertą

In my previous posting Corruption and the power of networks I discussed the research made in Finland concerning the good old boy network. One solution presented in the research was a rating system. But would it really work? Or should we try to invent something else, more efficient?

The ‘modus operandi' in this kind of network is based on reciprocity and debt of gratitude.

So, the problem with rating systems can be portrayed as Martin Luther King said long ago that it was not the bad Americans, it was the good ones who did not do anything even if they had been able to. They chose silence.

I referred to a research made by Marti & Fernandez (2013), which is a great review on oppression and resistance. Research subject is Holocaust, but the basic principles can be applied in contemporary organizations as well.

In order to make the phenomenon more familiar to modern organizations, it can be done by drawing an example of bonuses, some extra, luxury and special attention by which it is very easy to get people to behave in whatever way one wants. (also Clegg 2006)

Mafia is an example of a very efficient network.  They have created the concept of Omertį, the law of silence, which can be interpreted as a common feature with old boy network. The major difference with mafia and the old boy network, however, is that you cannot resign from mafia but from the old boy network you can.

“There are things that have to be done and you do them and you never talk about them. You don't try to justify them. They can't be justified. You just do them. Then you forget it.”

Mario Puzo, The Godfather

A Finnish novelist Ilkka Remes has written a fiction of Omerta union (2013) which is a thriller about European Union and mafia. I am not sure if it has been translated to English.

One solution effort, for a start, could be that the ones building a composition of Board of directors, e.g. executive search companies, would be audited; the contacts, CVs, the selection criteria etc. 

In addition, placing more women in top positions could mitigate the problem. There is an ongoing debate about the matter in Finland.