Schrödinger's company is an experiment in small business, often described as a paradox. The experiment presents a company that might be alive or dead, depending on multiple unknowns.
Much like subatomic particles living in a state of quantum superposition, small companies can exist in a strange state of economic superposition. This superposition undergoes collapse into a definite state only at the exact moment someone looks at the company bank account.
The experiment goes like this...
An employee is confined and caged to their work area (for example, chained to their desk). The worker's paycheck comes from an unstable bank account that decays at some unknown rate. With each pay period, the worker has no idea if payment will arrive or not. Word from management may be that the company is making money and/or is well funded. It may be said that there is money in the company account but that unseen forces are not allowing that money to be accessed. Despite everything being fine, the employee is rarely paid on time or in full. This leaves the employee struggling to determine if the company is in business or out of business.
Schrödinger's company poses the question: when does this superposition stop existing as a mixture of states and become one or the other?
The Copenhagen interpretation of economic meltdown implies that the company is considered to be simultaneously in business and out of business until an observer performs a wave function collapsing hopes and dreams into reality.
It has been observed in practice that most workers can tolerate up to 8 weeks without payment. In a standard bell curve fashion, around 10% of employees barely notice not getting paid while around 10% snap and go postal
. Everyone else maintains somewhere between apathy and financial frustration.
Worker 1: If we don't get paid next time, I'm going to ask to be laid off again. Last time they said no but I won't give up so easily this time.
Worker 2: We're only one month behind. That's not bad. Some guys haven't been paid in three months.
Worker 1: Dude, are we even in business still?!? No one comes to work anymore except us... and f--- this. It's almost noon. I'm leaving.
Worker 2: I hear you. This place fits all the signs of Schrödinger's company. Someone with half a brain needs to look at our books, sac up
, and end this misery.