It can't be a new phenomenon for managers to try and play mind games with the people they supervise to get better productivity out of them. Must be the 3rd oldest profession, or something near :)
No doubt some managers (and there are too many of them) would read that sentence and scoff, thinking "Just try supervising people's work" (I have done so a couple of times, though not on a level of huge responsibility) They would argue that it is incredible how hard it is to reliably get people to do their work
Perhaps they might also secretly wonder at just how stupid some of the people they supervise seem to be (I'm just guessing here) I recently talked to a lecturer talking about his 1st year students - they were astoundingly lacking in initiative it has to be said, but they are just out of school, so ok. I envisage a manager giving instructions to someone - then disbelieving the level of misunderstanding that has occurred.
Of course this is best done by email or paper, so everyone can check what was said and which side misinterpreted or whatever. Trouble is when a lot of management is done by word of mouth and it's hard to tell your manager he/she remembered that wrong!!!
But I get the impression of an army of managers in the UK all working on their careers and having a real wheeze organising other people's work. Apparently they can't be relied upon to organise themselves - we're all too thick so we need MORE MANAGERS to sort it all out, run our lives, decide where our careers go etc.
Why have we forgotten that giving people responsibility oft times brings out the best in them? rather than spending vast amounts of money on bickering, career-centred managers on an ego trip