Tag Archives: Business

Why Cities Shouldn’t Bend Over Backwards for Corporations

By Rick Paulas – In early 2010, the city of Topeka, Kansas, was in trouble. The city’s unemployment rate had risen to unprecedented levels. Some in the mayor’s office thought that a lack of affordable broadband Internet access wasn’t helping. Mayor Bill Bunten tried to remedy the situation by changing the city’s name to Google.

“There was a feeding frenzy, so Google was in the position to say, ‘If we don’t get what we want, we’ll go elsewhere,'” says Tony Grubesic, a professor of policy analytics at Arizona State University who has studied Google Fiber’s effects on Kansas City. “Google was in the driver’s seat.”

Corporations pitting cities against one another to get the best deals won’t stop anytime soon. Cities are currently courting Amazon in hopes of becoming the site of the company’s second headquarters.

Tucson sent a 21-foot cactus to Amazon chief executive officer Jeff Bezos; Birmingham built huge Amazon boxes downtown; Stonecrest, Georgia, voted to give the corporation 345 acres that it’s dubbed “the city of Amazon“; and New Jersey is trying to push through a $5 billion tax break. more> https://goo.gl/Yxj2sA

The only job a robot couldn’t do

By Daniel Carter – The gig economy is growing rapidly, but it’s also changing how we think about what it means to work. Uber and other online platforms are making the case for a future in which work happens in little on-demand bursts — you need a ride, and someone appears to give you that ride. Instead of a salary and benefits like health insurance, the worker gets paid only for the time they’re actually driving you around.

I’m a researcher who studies how people work and I have a hard time endorsing this vision of the future. When I see Favor delivery drivers waiting to pick up a to-go order, I imagine a future in which half of us stand in line while the other half sit on couches. And then I imagine a future in which all these mundane tasks are automated: the cars drive themselves, the burritos fly in our windows on drones. And I wonder how companies are going to make money when there are no jobs and we can’t afford to buy a burrito or pay for a ride home from the bar. more> https://goo.gl/gXoUXd

This striking feature of Manila makes it an emblematic global city

BOOK REVIEW

A World of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid, Author: Nancy Kwak.

By Nancy Kwak – In our urbanizing world, Manila, and a few other rapidly growing world cities, are not only just helpful in understanding how global cities work; they are indispensable.

The most striking aspect of life in Manila, however, lies not in physical attributes but rather in the legal status of the communities living above and around these waterways.

A city can be predominantly informal with lively black markets and mostly unregulated labor and housing. Informality does not have to occur on the margins of everyday life

Even a casual look at Manila, and other burgeoning global cities, shows that the functioning of the urban economy depends on informality. Informality allows workers to subsist on marginal incomes.

Informality provides homes where the formal market does not. Despite or perhaps because of their meager pay, these workers’ role in the global service economy is anything but marginal.

A shoe repairman sets up a roadside station where he fixes the shoes of the restaurant worker who in turn serves food to visiting investors and local business-people. Workers rest in informal settlements before getting up to drive the jeepneys that transport young men and women inexpensively to Makati’s call centers. There, they will answer questions and complaints from customers of global firms headquartered in New York, London, and more. All for a low wage.

Informality provides the foundation for local and global profits. more> https://goo.gl/T7ba1y

How The OECD Wants To Make Globalization Work For All

By Ronald Janssen – In its key issues paper for the Ministerial Council, the OECD recognizes that the frictional costs of opening to world trade have been much higher than so far assumed.

Workers losing their job because of competition with low wage economies were supposed to find new jobs elsewhere and do so quickly because the same process of globalization would be pushing up overall national income.

The OECD now openly admits that this assumption was wrong.

A second critical stance is taken on what the OECD calls a ‘plausible’ link between globalization and rising inequalities. Here, it explicitly admits that globalization has weakened the bargaining power of labor in advanced economies, invoking the threat of cheap import competition from low wage countries as well as that of moving investment and production there.

Trade and investment deals are often rushed through parliaments when all details have been negotiated, thus providing big business the opportunity to weigh on decision-making by massive lobbying of governments in the preceding trade negotiations themselves. The OECD specifically adds that ‘the cost-benefit balance of provisions such as ISDS look increasingly questionable, especially when both sides are advanced economies with low risk of discriminatory treatment of foreign investors and reliable judicial systems.” more> https://goo.gl/TM76h7

Our illusory sense of agency has a deeply important social purpose

BOOK REVIEW

The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia, Author: Chris Frith.

By Chris Frith – We humans like to think of ourselves as mindful creatures. We have a vivid awareness of our subjective experience and a sense that we can choose how to act – in other words, that our conscious states are what cause our behavior. Afterwards, if we want to, we might explain what we’ve done and why. But the way we justify our actions is fundamentally different from deciding what to do in the first place.

Or is it? Most of the time our perception of conscious control is an illusion. Many neuroscientific and psychological studies confirm that the brain’s ‘automatic pilot’ is usually in the driving seat, with little or no need for ‘us’ to be aware of what’s going on. Strangely, though, in these situations we retain an intense feeling that we’re in control of what we’re doing, what can be called a sense of agency. So where does this feeling come from?

Humans are social animals, but we’d be unable to cooperate or get along in communities if we couldn’t agree on the kinds of creatures we are and the sort of world we inhabit. … more> https://goo.gl/yohWCj

Updates from Aalto University

Collaboration and partners

By Pia Kåll – When I was still in high school and even during my matriculation exam, I was convinced that University of the Arts was the place to be for me. However, at the time of applying I changed my mind and applied to Aalto University to study applied physics because it sounded challenging. It also felt like the right thing to do – to let art be a hobby and get a job from another field.

After I graduated, I started my dissertation. However, I didn’t finish it because I visited a McKinsey recruitment event and decided to grab the opportunity to influence the development and strategy of large, global companies as a consultant.

When I was offered a seat on the Executive Board of Outotec, I just couldn’t decline the challenge. At first, I led Strategy and M&A and later on broader responsibilities including product development and development of business processes and operational models.

In that position I realized that I enjoy working in different situations and with different people in as many different fields, and among as various questions as possible. In private equity , these sides are combined. When I transferred to CapMan, I first worked as a Partner in Buyout, and starting from June 2017 I have worked as a Managing Partner. more> https://goo.gl/DzM5Na

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Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict

By Steve Ranger – At its core, cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks by one country or nation to disrupt the computer systems of another with the aim of create significant damage, death or destruction.

Governments and intelligence agencies worry that digital attacks against vital infrastructure — like banking systems or power grids — will give attackers a way of bypassing a country’s traditional defenses.

And unlike standard military attacks, a cyberattack can be launched instantaneously from any distance, with little obvious evidence in the build-up, and it is often extremely hard to trace such an attack back to its originators. Modern economies, underpinned by computer networks that run everything from sanitation to food distribution and communications, are particularly vulnerable to such attacks, especially as these systems are in the main poorly designed and protected.

Attacks by individual hackers, or even groups of hackers, would not usually be considered to be cyberwarfare, unless they were being aided and directed by a state. more> https://goo.gl/U3S5Ds

Updates from Adobe

Jennifer Kinon On Taking Chances
By Serena Fox – Jennifer Kinon loves to build big identity systems. “The bigger, the better,” says Kinon, who with partner Bobby Martin co-founded New York-based Original Champions of Design as a firm that specializes in creating cohesive visual identities for brands.

Recently, Kinon embarked on the biggest and most high-profile identity campaign of her career when she took a 16-month hiatus to serve as design director of Hillary for America. Despite the outcome of last year’s presidential election, Kinon and her team of 16 designers were widely lauded for applying a rigorous brand strategy that produced a memorable and unified branding and social media campaign. more> https://goo.gl/tMnXKr

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Where Friedman Was Wrong

A new paper by Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales argues that a company’s objective should be the maximization of shareholders’ welfare, not value.
By Asher Schechter – In 1970, Milton Friedman famously argued that corporate managers should “conduct the business in accordance with [shareholders’] desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”

Since then, Friedman’s view that the sole social responsibility of the firm is to maximize profits—leaving ethical questions to individuals and governments—has become dominant both in finance and law. It also laid the intellectual foundations for the “shareholder value” revolution of the 1980s.

Friedman’s position has been attacked by many critics on the grounds that corporate boards should consider other stakeholders in their decisions.

Yet, if the owner of a privately held firm is under no obligation to care about anybody’s interest but her own, why should it be different for a publicly traded company? more> https://goo.gl/8y3wWZ

Are corporations becoming the new arbiters of public morality?

After Charlottesville, CEOs have become our public conscience. Here’s what that says about capitalism in America.
By Tara Isabella Burton – The CEOs’ resignations are part of a broader trend of major corporations taking a public stand on issues of social justice. Web hosting site GoDaddy took down neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer after the Charlottesville violence, and Google later declined to host the site.

(It reappeared, briefly, on the dark web, then subsequently with a Russian address.)

Airbnb deleted the accounts of members it deemed to be white supremacists looking for Charlottesville accommodation. GoFundMe took down a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for the legal fees of the white nationalist who killed counterprotester Heather Hayer with his car.

“There is nothing on the internet,” Ridge Montes says, not a forum, a comments section of a news site, or a social media platform used to coordinate political protest events, “that isn’t owned by somebody.” In other words, political discourse and discourse about social goods is shaped at every level, for better or for worse, by companies with a financial interest in that discourse.

We affirm our values — and identity — at the shopping till as much as, or more than, the altar. more> https://goo.gl/kP9BJG