Remuneration & The Feeling of Being Robbed

You have a good idea. You want to implement this brilliant idea. You pass this gem up the line to get the necessary approvals. You go to the meetings to get people on board. You improve/ change/ adapt the idea based on external input. The idea comes to fruition. The announcement congratulates your boss. Frustrated you turn to your boss who explains that you should be focused on the work not your own gain.

Does this scenario sound familiar? The issues of credit and appropriation of labor are common problems in non-profit and academia. For example, academic settings, like a university laboratory, have a hierarchical, credit-based credit system. The head of the lab gets credit for the work done in the lab. Fellows and grad students are willing to do this, as they get a foot in the door through networking and co-author credits. Eventually, these grad students will become the head of a lab, and their years of laboring for someone else will be worth it. One’s current labor is worth the risk as the future gains will be exponential, like investing today for a future payout.

This system of work and credit is at essence like a workshop, where an apprentice is trained to eventually become a master. Yet, historically a true apprenticeship system has a number of benefits. Apprentices had the support of a guild, basically a type of union that looks out for the welfare of its constituents. Guilds not only controlled prices but also the workforce system. The apprentice system also controlled the number of people trained in each field, so the job market and the trained labor force are fairly comparable. The guild system ensures that people get paid for services, that there are the right number of trained people for jobs, and an even quality of services/ products across the sector. While the apprentice painter might not get credit for painting the foliage behind the Master’s image of Diana, the apprentice has other forms of remuneration, job security and career security.

Credit Comes in Many Forms

  1. security
  2. salary
  3. credit
  4. good vibes (the least fulfilling)