July 21, 2014
GM’s CEO: Ridding GM of Its Dysfunctional Culture or Enabling It?

I suspect that we tend to vastly underestimate the amount of energy, or raw force, sufficient to rectify an organization’s dysfunctional culture. The typical assumption is that replacing the CEO is not only necessary, but also sufficient. “A fish rots from the head down,” one might say. However, the head of a fish cannot necessarily stop, not to mention reverse, an infection spreading somewhere in the body. A sordid mentality can easily spread once it has taken hold in an organizational body. Indeed, such a pathogen can develop defense mechanisms geared to the standard antibiotics. To rely on the body to heal itself involves considerable naiveté. Relying on GM’s CEO Mary Barra to exculpate the mentality behind the faulty ignition-switch lapse and ensuing cover-up is thus arguably based on a faulty assumption of sufficiency.

July 20, 2014
Philomena

In the film, Philomena (2013), the audience is confronted with the spectacle of unjustifiable cruelty committed under religious auspices. Philomena is this victim, and she must struggle to come to terms with her past ordeal as a young mother at an Abbey as she goes on a search for her son in America. Her traveling companion, Martin, is a journalist writing the story from his perspective as an ex-Catholic. Philomena defends her faith against Martin’s sarcasm even as she comes to terms with just how cruel the nuns had been to her. In the end, she and Martin confront the nuns. The question is how, by which I mean, from what direction? The answer has value in demonstrating how outwardly religious hypocrites can be put in their place. 

July 16, 2014
"I only wish I were a pragmatist; Instead of being an assiduous idealist from Yale, I would most probably be rich, had my well-tailored MBA from a top ten school sufficed."

July 15, 2014
Wall Street’s Maker-Taker Rebate: An Inherent Conflict of Interest

Brokers and stock exchanges are tilting trades through inefficient routes at the expense of the investor. The inherent conflict of interest lies in the rebates that wholesale brokers and exchanges pay to retail brokers. Is more disclosure sufficient, as Sen. Levin suggests?

July 14, 2014
Hardly a Fair Fight: Israel and Gaza

In line with the very nature of occupation, the superior power is especially inert to any normative constraints. That such power blatantly broadcasts an instance of unfairness as if it were fair (i.e., two commensurate offenses) demonstrates just how much cognitive dissidence a human brain consumed with the allure of pure power over other people can muster as if in self-defense. It would appear that human rights still face an uphill battle, given the effect that the elixir of power has on the human brain. So smart are we, and yet still so very primitive, thanks in large part to the incredibly slow pace of natural selection even amidst huge changes in social arrangements over a relatively short time. Hence we are the most dangerous of the species, especially unto ourselves.

July 14, 2014
Business Leadership Wading into Partisanship in Politics: Howard Schultz of Starbucks

Did you know that Starbucks’ CEO waded into partisan politics? It is a path that can be treacherous for any manager who naturally does not want to lose customers. Here’s how he did it.

July 12, 2014
An Expanding Business Encounters a Hometown's Dysfunctional Culture

Expanding into a city whose culture is dysfunctional means having to add a cross-cultural component to a management’s tasks.

July 10, 2014
Labor and Stockholders: Applying Locke’s Notion of Property

John Locke’s view on how something becomes a person’s property could fundamentally alter labor-management negotiations in companies. Moreover, our assumption that management participates in the discussions may be upended. The key, I contend, lies in how we classify labor. I submit that the paradigm that has been handed down to us is deeply flawed in its fundamentals, and yet strangely we do not even question its contours.

July 7, 2014
On the Political Power of Nuclear Power in Japan after the Meltdown: A Radioactive Plutocracy

Reversing his campaign pledge to reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power even as he had just been elected as prime minister of Japan in 2012 (Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant meltdown having occurred in 2011), Shinzo Abe announced that he would have more nuclear reactors built in Japan. “They will be completely different from those at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” he said in a television interview. Adding a silver lining on to a rather gray, radioactive cloud, he said, “With public understanding, we will be building anew.” This change in policy is dramatic, for the previous government, that of Yoshihiko Noda, had sought to phase out nuclear power in Japan by 2040. In fact, Abe’s own party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), had in its platform the goal “to establish an economy and society that does not need to rely on nuclear power.” That the shift took place within the LDP suggests a shift in its power-dynamics, with the pro-nuclear sub-faction astonishingly having gained the upper hand over its rival while memories of the tsunami-triggered meltdown were undoubtedly still fresh.

July 7, 2014
Can the Euroskeptic States Topple the E.U.?

Can we say that an E.U. state is Euroskeptic? If so, Britain would be a consistent candidate for the label. Yet what about when Tony Blair was the prime minister? Poland and the Czech Republic have also swung back and forth in line with the electoral winds within those states. If states are less fixed than typically thought with respect to being Euroskeptic, then what looks like intractable skepticism may in fact be more easily overcome at the state level. It follows that the E.U. itself has more chance than typically presumed to obviate its own decline and dissolution.