Give two examples in your life: one where you have seen…

Give two examples in your life: one where you have seen or experienced “functional ownership” and one where you have seen or experienced “cumulative causation” of power.  Do you think that either one of these was “fair”?  Explain.

Functional ownership refers to a situation where individuals or groups hold power or control over specific functions or areas within a larger system. This form of ownership is often seen in organizations, where different departments or teams are responsible for managing and making decisions within their respective areas of expertise. In my life, I have observed functional ownership in both academic and professional settings.

In an academic context, I have seen functional ownership in the form of departmental autonomy. Each department in my university has its own faculty members who are experts in their respective fields. These faculty members have the authority to decide on curriculum content, teaching methodologies, and assessment methods. For example, the Computer Science department has the functional ownership over designing and delivering courses related to programming, algorithms, and computer networks. Similarly, the English department has functional ownership over courses related to literature, writing, and language studies. This functional ownership enables departments to specialize and excel in their specific disciplines.

In my professional experience, I have observed functional ownership within project teams. In a previous job, I worked as a member of a cross-functional team that was responsible for developing and implementing a new software platform. Each team member had a specific role and area of expertise, such as software development, user experience design, or project management. Within the project team, functional ownership allowed individuals to take ownership of their tasks and make decisions related to their domain. For example, the software developers were responsible for coding and implementing certain features of the platform, while the user experience designers focused on creating a user-friendly interface. This functional ownership contributed to the overall success of the project as each team member was able to utilize their skills and knowledge effectively.

When it comes to fairness, functional ownership can be seen as both fair and unfair, depending on the perspective. On one hand, functional ownership allows individuals or groups to specialize and become experts in their respective domains. This expertise and ownership can lead to efficiency, productivity, and innovation. For example, faculty members in different academic departments can contribute to the advancement of knowledge and research in their specific fields by focusing on their areas of expertise. In a similar vein, project teams that have functional ownership over specific tasks can work efficiently and effectively without unnecessary conflicts or overlaps.

On the other hand, functional ownership can lead to power imbalances and inequality. For instance, in an academic context, if one department receives more resources and support compared to others, it can create an unequal distribution of opportunities and resources for faculty members and students. Similarly, within a project team, if one member or department has more decision-making power than others, it can result in the marginalization or exclusion of certain perspectives or ideas.

Cumulative causation refers to a concept where power or advantage tends to accumulate and reinforce itself over time. This can occur in various domains, such as economics, politics, or social hierarchies. In my life, I have observed cumulative causation of power in the social and economic realms.

One example of cumulative causation of power is the growing income inequality in society. Over time, individuals or groups who have higher incomes have more resources and opportunities to invest, save, and accumulate wealth. This wealth accumulation leads to increased power and influence, providing further advantages in accessing education, healthcare, and political representation. Meanwhile, those who have lower incomes find it increasingly difficult to break free from the cycle of poverty and deprivation. This cumulative causation of power exacerbates social and economic inequalities, making it harder for disadvantaged individuals to overcome their circumstances.

Another example of cumulative causation can be seen in the political sphere. Those who hold positions of power or have access to resources and networks often find it easier to maintain and reinforce their power over time. They can use their existing power to shape policies, make decisions, and influence political processes in their favor. This perpetuates a feedback loop where those in power consistently consolidate and increase their influence, making it harder for others to challenge or replace them.

The fairness of cumulative causation of power is a complex and contentious issue. On one hand, it can be seen as unfair because it perpetuates inequalities and restricts social mobility. Individuals who are born into disadvantaged backgrounds or marginalized communities face systemic barriers that prevent them from accessing power and opportunities. This unequal distribution of power goes against principles of fairness and social justice.

On the other hand, some argue that cumulative causation is a natural outcome of individual efforts, talents, and choices. They argue that those who accumulate power and advantages have done so through hard work, talent, and strategic decision-making. From this perspective, this accumulation can be seen as fair and deserved, as it rewards individual effort and merit.

In conclusion, functional ownership and cumulative causation are two concepts that can shape power dynamics in various aspects of life. While functional ownership can lead to both fair and unfair outcomes depending on its implementation, cumulative causation tends to perpetuate inequalities and can be seen as unfair. The fairness of these concepts is a complex issue that requires careful consideration of the factors influencing power distribution and the impact on individuals and society.