Tag Archives: culture

Why Most Government Reform Plans Die

BOOK REVIEW

Working With Culture: the Way the Job Gets Done In Public Programs, Author: Anne Khademian.

By Howard Risher – “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast.” That quote is credited to the father of modern management, Peter Drucker. He was saying that leaders need to understand and address their organization’s culture in their planning.

Writers tell us that culture encompasses the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people. It sets forth the rules—unspoken and unwritten—for working together.

It’s relevant to reform because it governs behavior in work groups. It influences virtually every interaction of people in performing their jobs. It affects the time they start work, their tolerance for sexist comments, the way they deal with customers—everything.

Culture plays an important role in every successful organization. More than a few writers have argued that it would be great if government could develop a performance culture. That’s one where employees are committed to achieving results. Employees in high performing companies are energized by the culture. It’s reinforced by their reward and recognition practices. more> https://goo.gl/AiEOKL

How the end of democracy made the Greeks more polite

By Eleanor Dickey – ‘What’s the magic word?’ Any English-speaking toddler knows the answer to this question: ‘please.’

The word is now considered essential for normal interaction between civilized people, and those who fail to employ it are seen as rude.

‘Please’ is by no means the politest way of making requests in English: compare ‘Please pass the salt’ to ‘Is there any chance you could help me with this computer problem? Pretty please with sugar on it?’ Politeness has degrees, and in most cultures you need to use more of it in some circumstances than in others.

To this rule, the classical Greeks were no exception. This situation came to an abrupt end in the late fourth century BCE, when Greece was conquered by the Macedonian king, Philip II. Philip, his son Alexander the Great, and their successors enormously expanded the number of Greek speakers by making Greek the language of government and elite culture all over the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek culture spread by Macedonian conquests lacked the element of democracy and equality, for it was attached to a hierarchical social system: not only a king and group of Macedonian nobles at the top, but below them a highly stratified society, often one surviving from the pre-Macedonian social structure of the conquered areas. more> https://goo.gl/IrwTws

How the Languages in Game of Thrones, Defiance, and Thor Were Created

By Claire Cameron – It is three different processes depending on what you are evolving. The sound system is pretty simple.

We have a very clear idea of how a sound can change over time. We have plenty of examples within our languages to work with. So once you have an idea of how sounds change and know what you want, then you can go back and settle on a sound system that is going to evolve to what you want it to be. This also naturally produces irregularities, which are a fundamental aspect of language.

Meaning changes can be taken care of once the grammar is done. Evolving a grammar is very difficult and requires a lot of specialized study and skill. You need to know what you are looking for.

For example, a lot of future tenses in the languages that we speak—you can see exactly where they came from if you go back in history. There are certain words that will glob on to verbs; affixes that will come to indicate a future tense. And so if you know some lexical sources, then you can produce your future tense and have a natural, semantic result. more> http://goo.gl/l9MqBb

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Our fear of death

BOOK REVIEW

The Denial of Death, Author: Ernest Becker.

By Sheldon Solomon – Contemplation of death can give rise to potentially paralyzing terror.

Humans typically manage that terror by embracing cultural worldviews that give us a sense that we are valuable individuals in a meaningful universe.

This might mean subscribing to a religion or political affiliation, affiliating oneself with the values of a particular nation or region, or identifying with another subculture, such as yoga practitioners or New York Yankee fans.

People are highly motivated to maintain faith in their chosen worldview. And when people are reminded of their mortality, they become even more fervently committed to their cherished cultural beliefs and strive to boost their self-esteem. more> http://goo.gl/byB451

Clinton, Sanders, and the Value of Borrowing Policy Ideas From Other Countries

BOOK REVIEW

The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts, Author: Dominic Tierney.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Author: Marie Kondo.

By Dominic Tierney – Why are Americans often skeptical of learning from policy solutions implemented elsewhere?

U.S. identity is founded on a sense of political exceptionalism. The United States is seen as a unique repository of ideals under God’s watchful providence—the city on a hill.

And America’s national success has only reinforced popular resistance to looking abroad for inspiration.

But here’s the catch: Shunning overseas policy innovation is dangerous. The United States is an incredibly successful country in many domains, and has an enormous amount to teach the world. Yet Americans also have a great deal to learn.

Given that only 5 percent of the world’s population is American, is it possible that the other 95 percent have a few smart ideas Americans could use? more> http://tinyurl.com/nao7ab4

Stop Capitalizing the Word Internet

By Adam Nathaniel Peck – “I doubt many of us think of it as a proper noun anymore (if many users ever did), but it is one,” said Emily Brewster, an associate editor at Merriam-Webster.

“Someone could find another way to connect us all to cat videos and personality quizzes, and then we’d have an Internet alternative.”

Joseph Turow told the New York Times in 2002 that changing the capitalization would signal a shift in understanding about what the internet actually is: “part of the neural universe of life.”

The usage of “Internet” was twice as frequent as “internet” between 2000 and 2014. But since 2012, “Internet” outpaces “internet” by just 54 percent to 46 percent margin. more> ttp://tinyurl.com/pwpdj87

Updates from Chicago Booth

BOOK REVIEW

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Author: Max Weber.
Underdevelopment is a State of Mind, Author: Lawrence Harrison.
Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, Editors: Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington.
Notes on a New Sociology of Economic Development, Author: Jeffrey Sachs.

To understand the eurozone crisis, consider culture
By Séamus A. Power – They call it the Kissinger Question. “If I want to call Europe, who do I call?” Henry Kissinger reportedly remarked in the 1970s, when he was US Secretary of State.

At the time, there was no European Union, and there was far less economic, fiscal, and political integration than today.

The Kissinger Question is a good one. The expanding political and fiscal union in Europe, motivated by a desire not to repeat the mistakes leading to the two world wars, rests on centuries of interrelated but distinct national beliefs, values, desires, and morals—factors that lie at the foundation of economic practices.

For example, the cultural psychological differences across the EU reveal some foundational issues at the heart of the current eurozone crisis. more> http://tinyurl.com/pwtwnf5

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The Meme as Meme

BOOK REVIEW

The Selfish Gene, Author: Richard Dawkins.

By Abby Rabinowitz – Memes were originally framed in relationship to genes.

In The Selfish Gene, Dawkins claimed that humans are “survival machines” for our genes, the replicating molecules that emerged from the primordial soup and that, through mutation and natural selection, evolved to generate beings that were more effective as carriers and propagators of genes.

Still, Dawkins explained, genes could not account for all of human behavior, particularly the evolution of cultures. So he identified a second replicator, a “unit of cultural transmission” that he believed was “leaping from brain to brain” through imitation.

He named these units “memes,” an adaption of the Greek word mimene, “to imitate.” more> http://tinyurl.com/l83rutx

The false theory of meritocracy

By Nigel Nicholson – In many organisations we are playing a game that disadvantages women subtly but powerfully – I call it “the false theory of meritocracy”.

Here’s how it goes. We have an orderly world of hierarchy to get things done efficiently, on to which we attach a system of layered merit, run like a market for talent, to get the best people at the top, to be achieved by periodic tournaments to test people’s worth. The best advance and the worst are relegated.

Sound familiar? And, indeed it is a game! more> http://tinyurl.com/l3cr7nt

Ferguson: America’s cultural segregation fault lines

BOOK REVIEW

Habits of the Heart (pdf), Author: Robert Bellah.

The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart, Authors: Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing.

By Neal Gabler – We don’t live in America anymore. We live in thousands of Americas, many no farther away than our computer screens and the Internet. These are self-identified Americas.

But there is another, more pernicious effect of cultural segregation. It shrinks the world rather than enlarges it — reinforces what already is, circumscribes people within their own worldview.

In a segregated world, especially the virtually segregated world we now have thanks to the Internet, we need never leave our own cultural ghetto. more> http://tinyurl.com/kewk6pl