For work instructions to be useful, on some level you have to assume it comes from a place of insight or good judgment. Maybe, as a contributor at a large firm, you don't care about the firm's success. But surely then at least the supervisor imagined that the order was good judgment, and in our conception of all employees as agents of the firm, we should anticipate consensus about this as a goal. But if there's a conflict between two ideas of what you should do, the manager wins, eventually. That's what modern management means – one party subordinates, the other supervises.

Yet the very virtues we seek from a market tell us that more local knowledge should work better. The manager knows less about your work than you do. In many ways, this is precisely what the dual virtues of humility and wisdom are: being able to do better with less knowledge, and being able to notice someone else does better than you, even when it's an attack on your ego.

Basic market theories predict, in these disagreements, local knowledge should be better more often (assuming bosses aren't systemically more wise). Which means resolving it the other way every time seems like a bad system for handling disagreement. I think we live in a world where people just assume bosses are more wise – a well-incentivized position for an employee, who knows that they can be fired, but perhaps shockingly arrogant and value-destroying for the boss (for senior management, when they capture the value of the firm, it could even be self-destructive pride).

This poses the obvious question, when we look at this in the light of shockingly low new firm creation numbers: does America have too much humility? Schools beat any fragment of pride out of kids, and I'll admit it's hard to imagine something more formative than being trained to follow orders your entire life before entering the economy – to the extent that almost everyone is entering the job market, not really the market economy.

Humility is a virtue. But when applying humility, you'd expect type 1 and type 2 errors, just like everything else. Charity is a virtue, but giving money to a grifter is a false positive, no less of a failure in judgment than failing to save the life of someone you could. We've learned humility so well that, perhaps, we are now all specialists in it, and the low firm creation numbers are indicative of a larger, and more complicated, moral failure.

Different jobs take different virtues. Maybe the value of a firm isn't "coordination", as you typically hear in theories of the firm (to non-eggheads – we know free markets are great and central planning stinks, so why do firms use central planning inside the organization? This is an important academic question, despite it sounding like someone being surprised the sky is blue, because different answers mean different things about the shape of the economy). What if the process of creating a firm provides value through virtue mixing? A boss needs wisdom. A coworker needs humility. Perhaps the firm exists because pure market interactions don't allow people to specialize in their strongest virtues? If you engaged in market-style interactions inside a firm you'd still need humility, but you'd need wisdom as well, the ability to gainsay others when you've used judgment, and to put real stakes behind your choices. That might be too much to ask of a normal person. Perhaps that's why so many famous entreprenuers were complete dicks – they didn't need those other virtues we prize as a society, to accomplish what they did.