January 12, 2006

What they don't teach you at MBA school

A reader writes:

A few years ago, I worked for a "crisis management" security company which sent some of us to Watsonville, California, the "strawberry capital" of the world. Our function was to keep two mutually antagonistic groups of Mexican migrant pickers from killing each other. The groups were from and represented two different areas of Mexico.

After awhile we figured what it was all about. A group of young MBA types had worked out a business plan of taking over the strawberry business, and perhaps the other produce businesses in the area. First they bought the largest strawberry ranch. They willingly called in the UFW to organize their pickers. Why? Because they were going to "give" them all kinds of benefits such as healthcare, retirement, etc.. This would cause all the pickers working for the small mom and pop ranches in the area to succumb to the UFW organizing efforts, and hence drive the small ranches out of business because of the benefit costs. Then the bright young guys would swoop in and buy them all out for a song, and create a semi-monopoly in the strawberry business.

One group of pickers wanted this, and one wanted to keep the old system of a company union which offered no benefits, but fairly steady work. The two groups' originating regionalism played a big part. As fate would have it, for the second year in a row the latter group prevailed in the state supervised elections. When I left the hotshot guys and the UFW were outfoxed by a bunch of poor campesinos.

Having gotten an MBA a long long time ago, this just reminds me of all the things they don't teach you. B-school is great for learning about how to calculate a stock's beta, but not for this kind of thing.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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