I’m watching election results come in while planning the discussion for Saturday’s class on power and politics. We’ll be covering the Stanford Prison Study and Milgram learning experiment. Both were landmarks in our understanding of the power of organizational design on human behavior -- and the humans don’t come out looking so good. The Stanford guards mistreated their prisoners and the teachers shocked their learners to lethal levels. My closing question will be on whether we should expect different results given todays’ increased transparency and connectedness. I’m thinking about it this way: Both the Stanford and Milgram studies show us that people will do what they are told, especially if the person doing the telling is wearing a uniform or other insignia of authority. However, in all versions of the studies I am aware of (including a recent replication of the Milgram experiment at my own university), the participants were cut off from all but the organizational leaders or other members of the simulated organization. What happens if you allow communication with the outside world into the study’s design? That is, what happens if you live in a world of always-on communication, inside and outside the organization? Is the power of organizational structure and organizational dilluted or otherwise reduced? I have some examples prepared for class and I’ll share them after Saturday’s discussion -- but for now, what do you think? In 1961 (Milgram), 1971 (Stanford), and 2008 (Milgram replication), power corrupted. What about 2010?