Pfeffer on power in organizations- the”just world” hypothesis in B2B and Supply Chains

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Jeffrey Pfeffer has a new book out on Power  and you tend to listen to Pfeffer given his huge eminence in the field of power in organizations. This blog's  interest in Pfeffer really goes back to how power works in B2B,Distribution Channels and Supply Chain relationships.In this latest book, the most fascinating point to me was the "just world" hypothesis. We tend to believe that if you do your job well, are fair in your dealings – the system will take care of you- and you'll be all right i.e. you'll get promoted, keep getting business or supplies  etc. etc.

Pfeffer argues that this "just world" hypotheses is simply wrong. But let us consider what this means first for the B2B marketer and then the buy side Supply Chain manager in these two scenarios:

  • A B2B marketer may be just doing a great job- great quality,great price, on time delivery when one day he/she receives the thunderbolt news that the whole assembly will be sourced from China/Mexico  for the usual low cost reasons. Doing a great and reliable job was simply not enough – perhaps some heads up on the client's plans might have allowed the marketer to at least try and set up a joint venture in China/Mexico. So did the marketer expect a "just world" heads up from the buyer ? Perhaps, but even the buyer did not know till last week ! If only the marketer firm developed the JV enquiry from China last year…
  • The supply chain side seems powerful in the US during a slow economy for US suppliers. Not necessarily for example  when the supply chain manager is completely blindsided by a strike in the sole suppliers factory. Should the marketer have told the supply manager ahead of time? Perhaps the  salesperson,being on the road did not know that the union negotiations  at the factory was  breaking down. If only the supply chain manager had revved up the second supplier in time….

Both the above scenarios have one party trusting the "just world."  So how would you resolve the B2B "just world" false hypotheses problem?  Probably you need to be more pro-active, watch the world around you and address potential issues well before they become a real problem.

In other words try to shape the "just world" from your point of view in the B2B or Supply Chain!

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