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‘Divide and Rule ‘is a strategy or policy of maintaining control over a group of people by encouraging divisions and conflicts between them. This tactic is often used by those in power to prevent unity among the subjugated group, making it easier to maintain their control.

Divide and Rule in business comes from two sides: one, business owners; two, senior managers. Business owners have an innate desire to keep tight control over the organization.  Most of them suffer from insecurity, domination, and desire to show who rules the roost.

Insecurity arises from several factors which we shall discuss here.

Every business everywhere carries certain crimes. Large businesses commit large crimes on a large scale, small business work within their scale. Tax management (read evasion) is prevalent worldwide. If you happen to know how google and Microsoft and Apple size companies manage (evade) taxes, you will be amazed.  In small to medium organizations, these are open secrets, and the owners also know that. They maintain a profile in which they appear aloof and powerful, but they are insecure inside.

Most business owners are not highly qualified but are street smart entrepreneurs. They do hire qualified people to run the show, but they carry a tinge of distrust about them. This becomes more acute when the managers ask to do some innovative changes. The element of distrust compels the owners to build a network of low-profile informants who report to them about every little, small thing that happens in a day. The irony is that these low-profile informants can only work with the knowledge and wisdom they have, thereby relying on exaggerating things to keep their job secure.

Every business has some trade secrets which they guard jealously. Coke and McDonalds do not share their recipes with anyone. The basic ingredients are created with utmost secrecy. A large confectionery company in Pakistan guards the recipe of their huge selling ‘supari’. It is said that for every production batch, the owner(s) would come and add ingredients even if they have to come from abroad. This is a big source of insecurity.

Though the laws dictate that all transactions must be done through banks, most businesses carry on with the cash dealings which is not shown anywhere in the books. The system is managed well, but it is in public knowledge. The owners know that they can collude with the government officers to handle these issues, but it is still a source of insecurity.

Government departments and their officers are among the most unwelcome people, and it is largely due to their own dealing. Firstly, there are too many of them. Someone I knew put up an electrical appliances unit and told me that 23 agencies came to the manufacturing unit. Each one of them wanted to be gratified, and no one wanted the plant to be fully compliant with the rules. If the plant followed compliance, they would lose income. However, regulators and inspectors know how to handle people who are keen on going to pursue full compliance. These people will make lives miserable if their demands are not met. This is another cause of insecurity which is perpetual

Not everything is done by the book; plenty is out of books. In small to medium firms, many people know precisely what happen. Though employees know these things, but they do not blow the whistle for two reasons: potential loss of job, and that nothing will come out of it due to the omnipresent system of palm-greasing. The owners remain wary, nonetheless.

Last reason is even more interesting. Some of the managers who stay longer gain the trust of the owner finally. It is due to their hard work in pleasing him, and because the owner has to have someone to work with. These managers become powerful due to their closeness with the owner and because they know things others do not know. The owner is trapped here, he does not like their power, but he does not want to let them go because they could do lot of harm. This is another cause of insecurity.

The urge to dominate is also based on several factors, the first of which is inferiority complex.

Most businesses start small and grow big with hard effort over time. The entrepreneurs are rarely wholesome people because it is a well-known fact that self-made people would always have rough edges around them. They would find some of their employees to be more refined and well-rounded in comparison and it creates a sense of inferiority in them. They counter this feeling with a show of superiority.

Ownership is a killer instinct. The sense it generates is hard to resist. I have seen very sensible people falling in this trap. When we own, we get the right to do what we do. Go back many centuries and see the culture of slavery which had been running even before the recorded history. It is still there in modified forms. Just look at how people treat domestic servants although they do not ‘own’ them. Office staff is treated grade wise; lower grades are mistreated by the owners and seniors alike. Domination comes insidiously.

To be Concluded……

Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

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