I think it is fair to say that since the early 80s, Western economies and management culture has gotten a lot more ruthless, especially against slackers and the merely good enough, which would have been tolerated in the softer and kinder period before the 80s in the West, but this has resulted in Western economies becoming a lot more efficient than they were in the 60s and 70s, whole in the same time the compensation and rewards for the go getter type A social climber personality has increased immensely, is this a good this a good thing, or is the genteel period in Western countries and corporations before the 80s better for society social cohesion as a whole, and on a related question, is social cohesion heavily overrated, especially when there are competitive and efficiency gains to be made in a more hobbesian gladiator like ultracompetive environment?
I would also suggest there are different kinds of efficiency, for instance long term vs short term. Over the past forty years Western corporations have become too fixated on short term success at the expense of long term goals or even the health of their own organizations. For instance, corporate spending on research and development is way down compared to forty years ago. Rather than develop new products and services, corporations are more dependent on accounting tricks, like tax avoidance or stock buy backs, to increase share holder value. The practice of shipping jobs overseas has resulted in a shrinking consumer base here at home. Corporations have gotten very good at shifting their costs off of their own books and onto society at large. Just because corporations are now run more efficiently, it doesn't mean that corporations are healthier, stronger, or more productive today than they were forty years ago. Nor does it mean that society at large is run more efficiently. Your so called "slackers and the merely good enough" are still out there. The only difference is that they used to have jobs. Now they're on welfare.