Friday, February 01, 2008

Does an individual's upbringing REALLY matter?

When I was reading "Persons of the Year 2002, The Whistleblowers: Cynthia Cooper, Coleen Rowley, and Sherron Watkins," I was surprised towards the middle of the article when it stated:

"What more do they have in common? All three grew up in small towns in the middle of the country, in families that at times lived paycheck to paycheck. In a twist that will delight psychologists, they are all firstborns. More unusually, all three are married but serve as the chief breadwinners in their families. Cooper and Rowley have husbands who are full-time, stay-at-home dads. For every one of them, the decision to confront the higher-ups meant jeopardizing a paycheck their families truly depended on."

This struck me as strange because it seemed out of place in the article. For one thing, why did the interviewer think it was relevant to find a commonality among the three women? Why couldn't they each be recognized for their specific actions?

I was also surprised when the similarities went back to their childhood upbringing. (Specifically when it noted that they were all first borns.) I am not trying to say that their backgrounds do not have anything to do with their actions in the future (because they do), but do you believe it holds a SUBSTANTIAL part of the positions they are in now -- as whistleblowers? They could have had a poor childhood and done the same thing within their company...right?

2 Comments:

Blogger Lilly said...

I actually thought that it was interesting that the author included this in the article. I didn't feel that it was an all-inclusive statement as to insinuate that all whistleblowers have similar backgrounds, but I did find it interesting to note their similarities in general.

In another LAMP class I’m taking (X333) we are reading a book entitled “Why Smart Executives Fail,” and it’s about what all these businesses and executives had in common. By studying this, I feel that it helps to understand how to avoid the same mistakes.

Perhaps I digress, but as a psychology major, I think that it would be very interesting to examine the backgrounds of many whistle blowers to see if there is, indeed, a commonality in their backgrounds, personalities, etc.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous cv1080 said...

When I read the case for my grad Ethics course, I found the comment about small town upbringing/backgrounds interesting. It alludes to the fact that they did not grow up in big cities where most people have no identity and allegedly nobody cares about anyone.
In that sense, growing up in a small town provides people with a sense of belonging and community. In other words, you have more of a sense for the greater good of your immediate community, meaning you develop ethical behavior faster than big city people. This does not mean that there are no ethical people in big cities.

12:24 PM  

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