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Montessori management: The backlash against running firms like progressive schools has begun

Montessori management: The backlash against running firms like progressive schools has begun

Sep 7th 2013 |From the print edition

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“THE INTERNSHIP”, a film about two middle-aged no-hopers who land work experience at Google, is a dire offering even by the standards of Hollywood summer comedies. But it does get one thing right: that it is rather absurd for a technology firm to provide slides for staff to play on, and to let them wear silly propeller-hats. Google is not alone in its juvenile tastes. Box, a Silicon Valley company, has installed swings in its headquarters. Red Bull, an energy-drinks firm, has a reception desk in the shape of a giant skateboard in its London office. Businesses of all types have moved towards sitting workers in groups in open-plan rooms, just like at nursery school. Time was when firms modelled themselves on the armed forces, with officers (who thought about strategy) and chains of command. Now many model themselves on learning-through-play “Montessori” schools. Read more of this post

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The Lewis Model Explains Every Culture In The World

The Lewis Model Explains Every Culture In The World

GUS LUBIN 7 MINUTES AGO 0

A world traveler who speaks ten languages, British linguist Richard Lewis decided he was qualified to plot the world’s cultures on a chart.  Many people think he nailed it, as his book “When Cultures Collide,” now in its third edition, has sold more than one million copies since it was first published in 1996 and was called “an authoritative roadmap to navigating the world’s economy,” by the Wall Street Journal. Lewis plots countries in relation to three categories:

Linear-actives — those who plan, schedule, organize, pursue action chains, do one thing at a time. Germans and Swiss are in this group.

Multi-actives — those lively, loquacious peoples who do many things at once, planning their priorities not according to a time schedule, but according to the relative thrill or importance that each appointment brings with it. Italians, Latin Americans and Arabs are members of this group.

Reactives — those cultures that prioritize courtesy and respect, listening quietly and calmly to their interlocutors and reacting carefully to the other side’s proposals. Chinese, Japanese and Finns are in this group.

He says that this categorization of national norms does not change significantly over time:

The behavior of people of different cultures is not something willy-nilly. There exist clear trends, sequences and traditions. Reactions of Americans, Europeans, and Asians alike can be forecasted, usually justified and in the majority of cases managed. Even in countries where political and economic change is currently rapid or sweeping (Russia, China, Hungary, Poland, Korea, Malaysia, etc.) deeply rooted attitudes and beliefs will resist a sudden transformation of values when pressured by reformists, governments or multinational conglomerates.

Here’s the chart that explains the world:

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The Internet Is Having A Field Day With This Gigantic Billboard Of Angela Merkel’s Hands

The Internet Is Having A Field Day With This Gigantic Billboard Of Angela Merkel’s Hands

MICHAEL KELLEY SEP. 6, 2013, 7:24 AM 1,942 2

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A giant mosaic showing the hands of German Chancellor Angela Merkel is seen on September 5, 2013.

Eyeing re-election, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader put up a new billboard next to Berlin’s main train station. It immediately became a meme. The giant mosaic shows Merkel’s hands composed of smaller photographs of hands. The orange banner on the left reads “Germany’s future is in good hands.” The tumblr Merkel-Raute or “Merkel Hash,” has been compiling them under the tag “The hands of the Merkel – Germany’s future is in good hands” in German.

Here are a few:

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The Fatal Human Flaw That Keeps Us From An Economy Based On Happiness

The Fatal Human Flaw That Keeps Us From An Economy Based On Happiness

In theory, happiness is a better indicator of prosperity in a country than traditional economic measurements. But human psychology has a tendency to get in the way. Measuring and comparing the overall happiness of societies has become a pop discipline that we’ve covered more than a few times (see here and here). Bhutan, with its “gross national happiness” indicator, helped kicked off the trend. But what if a country like Costa Rica (number six on this list of the world’s happiest countries) suddenly got competitive and wanted to raise its overall happiness? You’d think it would make sense for the government to start implementing policies–whether in education, taxes, or crime–that maximize the total happiness in society. What portion of ‘happiness’ can be attributed to living in the smog of Los Angeles versus the pristine air of Honolulu? In fact, this is exactly what a growing number of “happiness” economists think about. Traditionally, economists assist policymakers in deciding how to make tough policy tradeoffs by trying to put a monetary value on people’s preferences: how much taxpayer money they should spend to, say, make the air a bit cleaner or the crime rate lower. Happiness economists are taking a slightly different approach. They ask a large number of people about their overall happiness, and by comparing the answers, tease out what portion of “happiness” can be attributed to living in the smog of Los Angeles versus the pristine air of Honolulu versus, say, getting a lower tax rate or a raise at work. The tactic can be used to help answer policy questions like: How much parkland should a city provide? Or, is it worth investing public resources in sports teams? Do the benefits of increased police patrols outweigh the costs? One of the first studies to use this kind of happiness analysis found that, for people living near an airport in Amsterdam, a 50% increase in noise reduces well-being by “as much as a 2.2% drop in income.” If you ask people about their long-term outlook on life on sunny days, you’ll get happier answers. A new paper by Georgetown University economist Arik Levinson points out some major problems with using “happiness” as a way to answer these questions. The two biggest are the flip side of the same coin, and have to do with underlying aspects of human psychology: Read more of this post

Stagecoach in America: How one British company helped persuade Americans to ride buses again

Stagecoach in America: How one British company helped persuade Americans to ride buses again

Sep 7th 2013 | PERTH |From the print edition

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FEW people like long bus journeys. For many, they involve cramped seats, tiresome fellow passengers and hanging around empty stations in the early hours of the morning. Unsurprisingly, then, in America the number of bus services has been falling for many years. But this is starting to change. And a British company is helping to lead the way. Stagecoach Group is currently the largest bus operator in Britain. Based in Perth, a city in Scotland, its revenue was £2.8 billion ($4.4 billion) up to April this year. Each year 980m passengers are carried around on its British bus network. The company also owns 49% of Virgin Rail, one of the largest train operators, and runs the South West Trains service, a busy commuter franchise in south-west England. Read more of this post

Interstate pollution: How much should upwind states care if their filth blows next door?

Interstate pollution: How much should upwind states care if their filth blows next door?

Sep 7th 2013 | WASHINGTON, DC |From the print edition

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“ON SOME days even if we shut down the entire state, we would be in violation of some health standards because of pollution coming over from other states.” Thus the late Senator Frank Lautenberg griped about foul air blowing into New Jersey. For years, upwind states could dump part of the cost of pollution onto their neighbours, while reaping all the benefits of the factories that caused it. Though banned by the Clean Air Act, such smother-my-neighbour policies persist. Read more of this post

To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

To Reform or Not Reform?—Echoes of the Late Qing Dynasty

A ChinaFile Conversation

ORVILLE SCHELL, JOHN DELURY, JEFFREY WASSERSTROM, PETER C. PERDUE, JOSEPH W. ESHERICK, ROBERT KAPP

Orville Schell:

It is true that China is no longer beset by threats of foreign incursion nor is it a laggard in the world of economic development and trade. But being there and being steeped in an atmosphere of seemingly endless political and economic tension where questions of how far the leadership is willing (able?) to go in making reforms does make one think back to the end of the Qing, China’s last dynasty, during its waning years at the end of the 19th century. While the analogy is not perfect, one is left to ponder whether Party General Secretary Xi Jinping might end up being the Empress Dowager Cixi of the Communist era, a victim of the same wager: Fail to reform rapidly enough and risk stasis. Reform too rapidly and risk instability and even upheaval. Read more of this post

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