Category Archives: Business

A Clutch of Random Goodies- finance, net neutrality, deficit…

Here is just a clutch of good randomness that has been accumulating on my desktop…

PS featured image is Simon Johnson.

Bucknell and Truth

Bucknell gets unexpected reward for being honest about a mistake.  Is this worthy of an ethical snap?

Net Neutrality?

What the hell is net neutrality?  Baratunde Thurston  one of our tech/no speakers, explains it so well, it got picked up by Raw Story.   I love how Bucknell can be a producer of information and wisdom and not just a user. 

Organization Theory is Cool

A book review about organization theory I really need to read.  Orgtheory.net is the one blog I wish I read more.

Learn from Nice Rich People

Lessons for failure and management from philanthropists.

We are drowning in deficit! (are we?)

Compare your answers to the US public and, um, the reality.

Change Doesn’t Happen.  Until it Does.

From AFL-CO vs Home Depot, through Frank-Dodd, to Citigroup.  Is corporate governance and executive compensation changing?  Maybe.  Read abotu some pretty big changes at the link.

Is a Tax Better than Regulations?

You want policy ideas?  You like finance? You dislike “regulation” that tries to dictate firm behavior?  Try this one.  Instead of trying to tell financial firms what they can or can’t do, how much capital to have on the books, and so on, how about you tax a vice- like we do with alcohol and tobacco- and simply tax financial transactions to make trading for the sake of microscopic gains on immaterial price shifts non-economic?  Read. here about Europe’s experiment with a different, and I would argue,  less intrusive form of regulation to change financial markets and firms.

You want even more financial regulation news?

You are really, really troubled.  I hope Vinny, Loukas, Mike, and… (who else are finance jocks?) are reading this. Simon Johnson.  yes, THAT Simon Johnson, had this blog post about the 12 “angry bankers” of the Fed and their ideas to push for transparency in money market fund valuations as part of the (yes, that same one) Frank Dodd bill reforms that created the systemic risk council.  In a nutshell, the financial industry does NOT WANT such valuation while the regulators do.

I am never surprised when practicing “capitalists” fight against actual free markets (with liquidity and transparency).  Businesspeople are often, perhaps usually anti-capitalist if you define capitalism not as maximum wealth accumulation, but as free markets that expand the prosperity of a society.  Am I alone in seeing this?

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Filed under Business, Government, innovation, macroeconomics, management, organization theory, policy, Political Economy, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship [SiSe]

Ideas for Questions and Themes for Arianna Huffington

Today, as part of the tech/no Forum series at Bucknell, we are hosting Arianna Huffington.  I had imagine I would do some deep research on her background, her role as founder of HuffingtonPost, her role as CEO of the merged AOL-Huffington company  her ideas on the relationship between media, democracy, and profit, the death (?) of the newspaper, and so on.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ll have to generate some from what I have in my head (as opposed to research-based).

If you are coming to the afternoon session, feel free to read these, use these, modify these, and so on.

Business and Technology

* Is the content-for-eyeballs formula of the Internet dying?  Are advertisers not willing to pay?

* Are we at the end of an innovation burst as the Internet and mobile platforms are merging?  Is the heady period of “social media” and its rapid expansion done?

* Who are HP’s or AOL’s competitors?

Media and Profit

* Is it the responsibility of the media company to provide what “customers” want or what they need?  Does a media/news company create its own demand and then project that onto the audience.  “See, they want _____________ (tits, blood, murders, horse-race politics)?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business, economics, Future of Technology, higher education, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, Media, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Networks, sociology, technology, Technology history

Gamers OUYA

Gamers OUYA – http://www.ouya.tv/gamers/ Reminds me of the joy of early Apple with the openness of the DROID platform.

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Filed under Business, Gaming, technology

Natural Capitalism

I am just now picking up Lovins, Hawken,and Lovins Natural Capitalism book.

I am wondering if I could use it in a module on alternative perspectives on capitalism module. I also was wondering what has happened since it was published in 1999.

There is a is a website called natcap.org.

Here I found a more recent edition with a new introduction. http://www.naturaledgeproject.net/NatCap2005.aspx.

What I like best about it is the focus on solutions. I feel like that would mitigate people who dismiss change as naive idealism.

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Filed under Books, Business, Great Companies, management, Political Economy, social innovation

Labor Day Thoughts

This post is mostly for my students (and myself)  since the unyieldingess of the academic calendar means we are in class on labor day.

I know as a kid growing up with two professional, salaried parents, I had no concept of labor day aside from that three day weekend.  I wonder how many of my students have a similarly hazy and immaterial understanding of the “labor” part of labor day.

So, how is the state of our workforce?  Not good. 

Official unemployment is at 9.7%.

This number of course, due to how it is measured (those actively looking for work in last four weeks).  That doe snot include discouraged workers, those who are marginally attached (would work more), or who have dropped out of the labor force.  This NY Times article nicely adds a human face to those categories.

They were left out of the latest unemployment rate, as they are every month: millions of hidden casualties of the Great Recession who are not counted in the rate because they have stopped looking for work.

And it has pictures!

This discouraged worker carpenter fills his time by cutting grass with clippers.

This discouraged worker carpenter fills his time by cutting grass with clippers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has a very broad category to capture these various situations people find themselves in.  In August, the u6 measure, as it is known, came in at 16. 8 million. That was a 6 million increase over the year prior.  At 155 million in the labor force, that is an unemployment rate of 10.8%.  Throw in the number of people dropping out of the labor force all together, and you can  add another % point to get to an unemployment rate of around 12%.

Over at CalculatedRisk, the following chart captures the way that unemployment is steeper (big drop) and longer (more time to recover) than most recent recessions.  In short, this is a whole new world and historical analogies are rough at best.

Click to enlarge.

Well, there are bound to be bumps when you unleash the creative, destructive forces of capitalism, some might say.  Overall, we do better if we take the long view.

This is not a jobless recovery, it is a  jobless economy.  The amount of job growth since 200o is essentially zero. This graph shows that the ten year change in private employment is almost zero.

Edit

UPDATE: Here is a small glimmer of good news.  While labor-managemment, or labor unions in general, are usually seen in pretty negative terms, I am happy to share this little list of organizations acorss sectors that are successful and rely on collaborative organizaed labor partnerships.

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Filed under Business, economic sociology, economics, Political Economy

Ethics Pledge at Harvard BS

A Promise to Be Ethical in an Era of Immorality – NYTimes.com
What happened to making money?

I should write more, but a few issues come to mind.  First, it is a student-led program to take an ethics pledge.  Maybe this is a furhter data point of a generational value shift from Gen Xers to Millenials.  Second, surely it has the backing of faculty and administration, so Paris 1968 it is not.    Third, while I agree business should be couched in alrger discussions of common goods and shared prosperity, I am unsure how much tnagible difference a pledge makes.  Is there accountability?  Is there a community of conversation about what it means to enact this pledge to not advance “narrow” self interests?  I have the sense that it adances  a notion of ethical behavior as noble choices to choose rightly between A and B, where A helps starving orphaned baby seals and B is to make $100,000 for the shareholders and $10,000 for ego.

If you want to work to avoid narrow self interests in your company, rather than wiat for forced choices between altruism and enrichment, why not work to change the mission, compensation system, and culture of openness about how to make decisions?

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Filed under activism, Business, higher education

Network Liabilities- Citigroup Pays for a Rush to Risk

The Reckoning – Citigroup Pays for a Rush to Risk – Series – NYTimes.com
But many Citigroup insiders say the bank’s risk managers never investigated deeply enough. Because of longstanding ties that clouded their judgment, the very people charged with overseeing deal makers eager to increase short-term earnings — and executives’ multimillion-dollar bonuses — failed to rein them in, these insiders say. [my emphasis]

This NY Times article points out that the normal risk management controls at Citigroup that should have reined in exposure to CDOs [collateralized debt…] were thrwarted.

By?

“ties that clouded judgment.”

I suppose that is a network liability.  Every organization is cris-crossed  with network ties.  The question is why these had such an impact.  Org Culture?  Greed?  Something structural in the network?  The technology of communication?

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Filed under Banking, Business, Social Networks

Research ideas for Six Degrees Students

Research Ideas for My Students

Hello folks. This is by no means a comprehensive set of resources. It more reflects sources that seemed to be of interest to two or more of you AND that I thought might not jump out at you as pertinent. It is a mix of search terms, blogs, alternative media, as well as books and scholars.

For a few of you, I had specific ideas and those are at the end.  So read through to the end. If I did not comment on your specifically all it means is that your topics are either covered below, or, I don’t have any special suggestions.

General Ideas

The FIRST place for everyone to start if they are basing their paper on a topic in Six Degrees or Tipping point is to look at the references in the back of each book.  Watts provides a guide to different topics, and Gladwell has notes with references.

Also, you can get a one on one appointment with BU librarian once you have your topic.

EVERYONE should make an appointment with a Bucknell research librarian.

You are welcome to search my blog.  You can search or simply use the tag cloud to clickt hough to a set of posts.

Also, I use a social bookmarking service called del.icio.us.com. Basically it is like a big scrapbook of links I collect.  You are welcome to look there for any tags that match your research keywords.

http://delicious.com/jordisunshine

Click on “all tags” on the left to see my tag taxonomy.  For example, Jen mentioned technology and the presidential election in her topics.  I have a politics tag, and when you click on that, you can see what are “related” tags to narrow it down.  Politics+ technology has three links. One of those, to a book called “Netroots Rising” might be useful.

How to use blogs I recommend: browse them.  Use them to identify key ideas.  Use them to look for book, or article suggestions from more reliable sources (scholarly journals, mainstream press).

How context shapes roles

Stanford Prison Experiment

□ Look for social psychology on the impact of groups or roles

How social network affects a company

□ Work by Rob Cross

David Krackhardt

David Obstfeld

How breakthroughs happen…

Mob Mentality or “Wisdom of Crowds”

□ See Swarm intelligence as a search term. Also this book and tool.

□ See Smart Mobs as a search term. Also, this site and book.

Internet and Society

Pew Research Center on Internet and American life

Financial Bubbles…

Bill Moyers with Kuttner

Interviews with Greenspan

Greenspan debate Naomi Klein, a critic (bubbles and feds role comes up)

□   Planet Money Blog

□   Big picture blog

□   Brad DeLong Blog

Fanatic communities

MeetUp

Org theory post

Size of communities (Rule of 150)

□    Gore-Tex maker

□   More on Gore

□   Another article.

□   Leaderless organization

Advertising and Marketing

Changes that the internet has brought about

Viral garden blog

□   Any search on word of mouth or viral marketing

□   Paradox of Choice.

General blogs on organizations, networks, and sociology: Search them for your topics.

Orgtheory http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/

Complexity

Connectedness

Visiblepath

Jen:

About politics and technology.  The Dean campaign of 2004, and also the Bush Campaign of 2004, started the use of web 2.0 technologies as political organizing tools.  I think this book could be useful.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594514852

Will:

It would be interesting to look at the distribution of hit records over time.  In other words, what proportion of records sold are just a few?  Were the Beatles bigger superstars than a recent “big act” measured as % of all record sales?  How has shift to consuming songs as downloads changed that perception?  Are there fewer superstars now?  What does that mean for music as a business and as a cultural activity?

Charlie:

About diseases: it would be interesting to compare biological and social factors in contagiousness of diseases.

Jeff G:

In terms of channel capacity and music: this reminds me of research now on the cognitive structure of experts vs amateurs.  An expert musician can distinguish more than 7 tones, I think.   What is the evidence that we can increase channel capacity?

Kayla

I am not sure what the best search term for outside-in emotion is.

Emma:

You can do a special kind of search called a cited reference search with a database called Web of Science.  Basically, it tells you who cited a work.  You could look at original article “The Strength of Weak Ties” and see what more current research is saying.  The reference librarians can show you how to do that kind of search.  There will be thousands of articles, so you will need to use narrowing terms.

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Filed under Business, economics, innovation, organization theory, Politics, Power, Activism, Research, Social Networks, sociology

The Reckoning – Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt, and Risk – Series – NYTimes.com

The Reckoning – Agency’s ’04 Rule Let Banks Pile Up New Debt, and Risk – Series – NYTimes.com
In loosening the capital rules, which are supposed to provide a buffer in turbulent times, the agency also decided to rely on the firms’ own computer models for determining the riskiness of investments, essentially outsourcing the job of monitoring risk to the banks themselves.

I am glad the NYT is talking about this.  Why did the SEC rely on the banks’ models?  Ideological blindness or simply the complacency of being amongst familiar faces?  Or perhaps simply ignorance in the face of complexity leading decision-makers to rely on proxies of sound choice.

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Filed under Banking, Business, Government, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies)

Business Optimists Rediscover Society!

A somewhat structured web surf about organizational change lead me to this site about the book/project called:

Megacommunities.

Which includes this amusing graphic.

I think that web od dense relations in the middle also has an older name: society.

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Filed under Business, humor, social theory, sociology