We, human beings have a tendency to duck and move out of a meddling situation. We do it all the time. We used to do it in school, to avoid the punishment. We used to run away if we break our friends toy. We even do it at home, when we accidently eat our siblings’ ice cream.
So this is no new syndrome. Corporate world is not untouched by this syndrome. We can see the symptoms of the syndrome if we unintentionally put an extra comma at the end of code, and our colleague take a day to debug it. But you can see different degree to which people show its symptoms. The degree of symptoms might also vary from region to region. I will mainly focus on the regional differences here. The Asian countries (Except japan, we will come to Japan later) are more prone to the syndrome. A company with office in India, UK and the US, the employees in Indian office will show this symptom more often than UK or the US. If you raise a question to employees in India, the first reply you are most likely to get is extra explanation that we did not fuck it. You will have to read the email twice and wonder, where in your email you actually asked that! Due to this there will be calls which will lead to no conclusion. After a day people will actually acknowledge your question, if you are lucky, if not, your original question will be berried under the heap of baseless discussions. Japan is a different breed, they usually know the question and also its answer, they also know who fucked it up. They will choose a color and font size that will attract audience and very brutally announce who is the culprit and the story behind it. So the discussion will not go onto calls.
This leads to a very important question, why this syndrome is wide spread in India. I would say its the management who plants the seeds of the syndrome. the competition among employees is higher than UK or the US in the kind of jobs are off shored in India. The race of getting good rating, higher increment and big bonuses employees want to proof themselves as error free. In this race they forget the ownership of work, instead loosening their ownership gives them insurance of average rating. In UK or the US, either you are dealing in real money so the competition can be easily mapped to money or you are the only person in the team to own the job so you automatically become the owner and your sole purpose is to get the job done.
Its time that management of these companies should realize the roots of the syndrome are deep and to cut the roots they need to nurture the employees by showing them the bigger picture and expanding their role. Clear objectives, sense of ownership and the likeness towards the job should drive the employees. So that the time they invest in Saving their own Asses can be put into other use.