Monthly Archives: April 2007

Home Depot Ups the Ante on Green Labeling

Does the success of deep environment-human change hinge on winning the hearts (do they have nay?) and minds of the Fortune 500? Here is another example of corporations finding two kinds of green.

Home Depot to Display an Environmental Label – New York Times
The initiative — which is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12 percent of the chain’s sales — would become the largest green labeling program in American retailing and could persuade competitors to speed up their own plans.

I am curious to see what this does to pricing and also cost structure for Home Depot.

How will Lowe’s and WalMart respond?  Who is going to certify the labeling?

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College Loan Program Stinks of Corruption

Lenders Sought Edge Against U.S. in Student Loans – New York Times
President Bush’s budget reports that in 2006 for every $100 lent by private lenders, the cost to the government of subsidies, defaults and other items was $13.81, while the same amount lent through the direct loan program cost the government $3.85. The battle for dominance in the loan market has escalated as tuitions have soared and students have borrowed more

Lovely. The formula: corruption + free market ideology=fleecing of public.

Its in full swing. I want to find out if Bucknell participates in the direct loan program which allows the Federal Government to make direct loans to students. The article reports that some schools withdrew under pressure from private banks looking to force more loans their way.

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Organization Science Winter Conference

Back in February, I went to OSWC XIII.

This is one of my favorite conferences. This was my second time. Two years ago I went and saw Stewart Clegg preside as the “judge” in a mock trial of epistemology and objective knowledge with Bill McKelvey arguing for realism and Ralph Stablein arguing for the reflexive skepticism of a post-modern/constuctionist perspective. I remember it being utterly playful and profound.

The conference focuses on dialog and relationship-building. For example, breakfast, lunch and dinner are with participants. The main presentation are poster sessions from 6-9 with lots or hors d’oeuvres and an open bar, and there is lots of skiing and chats on the ski lifts. At my poster session, people stayed until 10 chatting while the bulletin boards were being pulled down.

The focus this year was on technology and innovation. I did a poster about using SIENA to study idea diffusion and idea quality conjointly with endogenous network effects (like reciprocity). I’ll blog more about this one of these days.

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Filed under conferences, epistemology, Network Dynamics, Social Networks

Wolfowitz’ Hypocrisy

Paul Wolfowitz, apparently a genius, “architect” of the Iraq policy,  former Deputy Secretary of Defense, placed fighting corruption at the top of his World Bank Agenda.  And I agree with him.  Corruption weakens the institutional framework for democracy and effective markets.  Too bad he is bald-faced hypocrite:

Wolfowitz Apologizes For ‘Mistake’ – washingtonpost.com
World Bank President Paul D. Wolfowitz publicly apologized yesterday for the “mistake” of personally orchestrating a high-paying job and guaranteed promotions for a bank employee with whom he is romantically involved, as new details of his role in the arrangement emerged and staff members angrily demanded his resignation.

Will his super star status among the media and policy elites finally come down a notch?  Not only do his actions smack of nepotism and corruption, but he arrogantly commanded the World Bank to guarantee  her the highest possible performance review.  Is this the kind of meritocracy and integrity he learned in that vaunted temple of free market economics, the Univeristy of Chicago?   I hope not.  The best we can hope for is he developed this coat of slime in the normal gutters: government and politics.  What a great choice to have to make (sarcastically).

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Divide and rule – America’s plan for Baghdad and the role of integration

An editorial piece in the left-leaning Independent in the UK documents a new plan for security in Baghdad that will have at least 9 of the 30 districts walled off, gated, with US-Iraqi joint forces controlling security within and between them. ID cards will be issued for each resident, and will be necessary to enter or leave. One of the possibilities within these gated communities is organizational integration of military and civiilan activities. The argument is based on a a reading of the new army Field Manual on counter-insurgency which:

While not specifically advocating the “gated communities” campaign, one of its principles is the unification of civilian and military activities, citing “civil operations and revolutionary development support teams” in South Vietnam, assistance to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq in 1991 and the “provincial reconstruction teams” in Afghanistan –

This is a cross-fuctional integration. Why would it be a good design? If the task needs of these units or teams require the sharing of tacit infomration, if they have to jointly solve problems with uncertain or unknown solutions, if innovation is a priority. What are other reasons to pursue cross-functional structure?

Why would it be a poor design? Will the effectiveness of both be compromised by being joined? The author suggests that it is not as similar organizational designs failed for the French in Algeria and the Americans in Vietnam. I don’t know the specific history of these, but it is easy to see how the desire to be open and engage with people for civilian projects would be a t odds with the security and fighting concerns of the military.

There is a larger question, hard to divorce from our own domestic politics, of whether the larger gated community idea would work. But, it represents a kind of differentiation of civilian authority and space. Would this also decentralize decision-making for military adn police forces? For various insurgent groups?


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Quick updates

From an email to an old friend…

But, important updates about me and good description of kids.

Quick updates on me:  Got a tenure track job here at Bucknell.  It is shared with Virginia (we each teach 70%).  They essentially created a line for me to keep her.  Meanwhile, got green light from Spanish committee to move to defense stage of PhD.  Now starts a long, slow process through bureaucracy.  Whew!  Next year I will teach one semester and have off other to do some research.  Tenure track starts Fall 08.

Children are wonderful, wonderful (except when they are little shits!).  Elijah is a great big brother to his sibs.  He is in first grade and reading up a storm.  Wrote a play (on his own) about leprechauns last week.  First two lines: “It was a normal morning in a normal town.  It was not  a normal morning for Sasha.  It was his first time hunting leprechauns.”  haha!  English professor mom gushes over literary structure.  Alex loves music and moves to the beat of his own, very slow drummer.  Its usually good to help the rest of us enjoy life, but maddening when trying to get him to preschool.  Thea is all hugs and hopping and orders her ice cream according to color and then swipes my chocolate which she actually likes better than whatever “pink” is.  So, that is a keyhole view of life with our kids.

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