Tag Archives: culture

Negotiating With Power?

By Santosh Desai – In most cases, the nature of the intervention was either to ensure that the rules that already existed were followed, or to step in and help break the rules using one’s privileged position.

The legislative and administrative systems in India are subservient to the social ecosystem, and work within its ambit. Power thus becomes a social instrument that needs to be brokered keeping the dominant interests in mind.

The disinterested application of the law is not possible in a context where these interests take priority. Hierarchies are respected, networks are nurtured, money speaks loudly, and settlements are negotiated.

The idea of the ‘settlement’ which finds a measure of mutual self-interest being catered to is only thinly related to abstract notions of justice. The poor and weak ‘accept’ an unfair resolution because the alternative is much worse.

What are otherwise their rights become favors that they seek from the powerful for a price. The powerful build constituencies by creating a cumbersome system and then offering a way to navigate the same.

The ability to negotiate a solution to mutual advantage is a mark of a functioning social system, but when the same occurs under the threat of the use of power, it serves often to perpetuate a skewed and unjust arrangement.

A system of governance must provide instruments of continuity and change. Currently, there is too much of the former and too little of the latter. more>


Leaders Focus on the Trends, Not the Data Points

By Scott Eblin – One of the reasons annual performance reviews suck so much is that they too often deal in data points, not trends. Too many managers don’t provide meaningful performance feedback on a real-time basis so when performance review time rolls around (as it always and predictably does), they find themselves scrambling for points to make in the review conversation. That’s where the data points come in.

In the absence of any meaningful thought or preparation, whatever happened recently suddenly becomes a trend. That meeting you nailed? Good job on that—you had a great year! That presentation you muffed? You know, I’m not sure you’re really a good fit for us.

A data point does not a trend make. It’s a cognitive bias. Don’t fall for it. Great leaders assess on the trends, not the data points. more>


The tech bias: why Silicon Valley needs social theory


Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine, Author: Jess Bier.
Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies, Author: Charles Perrow.
Living a Feminist Life, Author: Sara Ahmed.

By Jess Bier – Social theorists in fields such as sociology, geography, and science and technology studies have shown how race, gender and class biases inform technical design. So there’s irony in the fact that employees hold sexist and racist attitudes, yet ‘we are supposed to believe that these same employees are developing “neutral” or “objective” decision-making tools’, as the communications scholar Safiya Umoja Noble at the University of Southern California argues in her book Algorithms of Oppression (2018).

In many cases, what’s eroding the value of social knowledge is unintentional bias – on display when prominent advocates for equality in science and tech undervalue research in the social sciences.

Science and tech are viewed as revenue-generating down the line, but the cost-saving benefits of improved social understanding, and the benefits that go beyond costs, tend to go underappreciated.

Ironically, the same discriminatory systems targeted by social theory end up blocking underrepresented groups from getting a toehold in academia, the very seedbed of these ideas. Sexual harassment and racism are much more than individual incidents; they’re institutionalized mechanisms for maintaining systemic barriers. more>


Trump is showing us that dictatorships and democracies can feel remarkably similar

By Noah Berlatsky – What would American authoritarianism look like? How will we recognize the collapse of democracy, and what would life be like under the new regime? And—perhaps most chillingly—would authoritarianism be equally oppressive for everyone? Or might we fail to notice when creeping fascism comes because it come creeping for someone else?

These questions have taken on renewed urgency this week as we move into the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“It’s a mistake to think a dictatorship feels intrinsically different on a day-to-day basis than a democracy does,” writer G. Willow Wilson noted in a thread on Twitter. Authoritarianism doesn’t necessarily slam down all at once. It often is a slow erosion of norms—a law enforcement agency corrupted here, the self-censorship of media there. It can sneak up on you. And that’s especially true because authoritarianism is not egalitarian. It doesn’t affect everyone in the same way.

American democracy has always existed alongside American totalitarianism; liberty for some sits comfortably beside authoritarian violence for others. more>


Retooling Social Europe Via Charters Of Rights

By Maria Bafaloukou – The European Union’s fundamental goal, projected in the Lisbon Treaty, was to create a “social market economy” with a clear commitment to full employment, social protection, and effective anti-poverty policy. Although principles such as non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality are referred to in Article 1a (Treaty on European Union), the EU’s social status has been seriously undervalued during times of crisis.

The European commitment to social rights is essentially rhetorical in nature, being through the years the Achilles heel of “Social Europe”. On that basis, the political and economic conditions may be propitious to reversing the downturn of the social rights.

Given that the ultra-critical UK is no longer an “antagonist” of Social Europe owing to the recent Brexit vote, concrete measures via the ESPR could erode the economic and social divergences between Member States that have put Europe’s political cohesion at risk. Finally, this and the threat posed by the rise of extreme-right parties should motivate Europe to rethink its geopolitical role – and, indeed, its very nature. more>


The Missing Role Models

Public officials used to be worthy of being looked up to – not anymore.
By Kenneth T. Walsh – Where have all the role models gone?

They certainly are vanishing from politics and government, at least based on the seemingly endless series of accusations and admissions involving famous politicians and public officials who have been engulfed in the swamp of alleged sexual misbehavior.

Now the media are investigating public figures more thoroughly than ever, and are more willing than ever to expose the flaws they find. And people with grievances against public figures are increasingly willing to go public.

Trump, at the top of the political pyramid, has been widely condemned for failing to live up to the standards of civility, decency and honesty that have been expected of presidents for many years. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CNN recently: “The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues….I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does.”

Questioning Trump’s “stability,” Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump is not a “role model” for the world and for America’s children, and added: “I think at the end of the day when his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, just the name calling, I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for, and that’s regretful.” more>


Moral Life in the Global City

By Ian Klaus – Commerce depends on trust, civility, people doing favors. The bodega on the corner is not just a retail outlet. It’s a place where people in the neighborhood slowly get to know each other.

The ordinary virtues are things like trust, forgiveness, resilience, the basic honesty of ordinary life, a certain basic decency and civility that you see in ordinary life. These are the not-heroic virtues. Courage would be a heroic virtue. Self-sacrifice would be a heroic virtue. In a decent society we shouldn’t ask people to be heroes.

Globalization impacts every second of our daily lives. But the people we justify ourselves to, the people we care about when we exercise these virtues, are very local: Mom, Dad, family, kin, our neighbors, our workmates. When you display the virtues of decency, you’re not displaying an abstract commitment to treat all human beings decently. All you’re doing is treating the human beings you interact with every day decently. The ordinary virtues don’t generalize, they particularize. They don’t universalize. They are all very local. more>


How Does Fascism Sneak Into Pop Culture?


Against the Fascist Creep, Author: Alexander Reid Ross.

By Elizabeth King – Donald Trump’s rise from real-estate businessman and washed-up reality television star to United States president has many people thinking anew about fascism.

The fascist tradition of using the arts as vehicles for expanding the movement is visible in the U.S. today, in some cases in eerily similar ways to the original rise of European fascism in the early 20th century.

In Futurism, we see some early examples of “cultural fascism,” if you will. Filippo Marinetti, founder of the Futurist movement, would be a good place to start. Futurism was founded in Italy in the early 1900s, and was one of the earliest proto-fascist and, in some cases, fascist movements. The idea [of Futurism] was to return to the noble myth [of] the new man who stands for family and tradition, but in a super-powered world of dynamism and adventure.

But if you look at the emergence of fascism and the development of fascism in its original form, one of the interesting things that you see in cultural avenues is that they are often primarily interested in disruption.

And, inevitably, there are liberals in mainstream institutions who accept the expressions of [fascist disruptors] insofar as it is expression, and insofar as it’s good to explore the arts and humanities. So there’s a tendency to accept these movements to some degree, and perhaps even adopt some of their mindsets under this position. This is incredibly dangerous, because fascism is so vitriolic and mercurial that it’s difficult to contain. more> https://goo.gl/gSRBwt



updates from GE

How I Remade GE
By Jeffrey R. Immelt – I led a team of 300,000 people for 6,000 days. I led through recessions, bubbles, and geopolitical risk. I saw at least three “black swan” events. New competitors emerged, business models changed, and we ushered in an entirely new way to invest. But we didn’t just persevere; we transformed the company. GE is well positioned to win in the future.

The changes that took in the world from 2001, when I assumed the company’s leadership, to 2017 are too numerous to mention. The task of the CEO has never been as difficult as it is today. In that vein, my story is one of progress versus perfection. The outcomes of my decisions will play out over decades, but we never feared taking big steps to create long-term value.

For the past 16 years GE has been undergoing the most consequential makeover in its history. We were a classic conglomerate. Now people are calling us a 125-year-old start-up—we’re a digital industrial company that’s defining the future of the internet of things. Change is in our DNA: We compete in today’s world to solve tomorrow’s challenges. We have endured because we have the determination to shape our own future. Although we’re still on the journey, we’ve made great strides in revamping our strategy, portfolio, global footprint, workforce, and culture. more> https://goo.gl/L9nX1b


Updates from Chicago Booth

When making a profit was immoral
By John Paul Rollert – Take the system of beliefs we commonly associate with capitalism. However familiar they might seem to us, if we date capitalism’s founding moment to the publication of Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations in 1776, the free-market nostrums that shape our views of business today are not even 250 years old.

In Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, a magnificent book that deserves to be better remembered, the English social critic and economic historian R. H. Tawney describes how the work of Catholic theologians in the late Middle Ages provided the “fundamental assumptions” that shaped Robert Keayne’s world and that capitalism’s proponents would later have to reinterpret, if not displace outright. Tawney said there were two central precepts that guided commercial activity: “that economic interests are subordinate to the real business of life, which is salvation, and that economic conduct is one aspect of personal conduct upon which, as on other parts of it, the rules of morality are binding.”

Taken together, these precepts are directly at odds with the central organizational assumption of capitalism, namely, that we should be guided by self-interest in commercial pursuits. more> https://goo.gl/72gRfL