Category: Business


Attitudes towards work and the workplace through the theme of business

The first video is Google employee Chade Mang Tan’s short presentation titled ‘Everyday Compassion at Google’. It was an insightful and philosophically informed speech. Tan draws upon the wisdom of famous Buddhist monks like the Dalai Lama and Mathieu Ricard in decoding the keys to happiness. Based on FMRI scans on these long term meditators’ brains, Tan is able to show the neurobiological basis for happiness. More importantly, he illustrates that the practice of compassion meditation can effect such changes to the brain. Far from being an esoteric spiritual practice, compassion can actually prove to be an effective business tool. Using his first hand experiences from Google, Tan shows how the quality of compassion can help build strong team ethic and trust. In terms of effective leadership, too, compassion is of paramount importance. Many inspirational leaders across the world possess two important qualities – ambition for greater good and humility. Acquiring compassion . . . Read More

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The growth in the concentration of media ownership around the world: A Case Study of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp

Concentration of media ownership is a serious problem across the world. Since the media is considered the ‘Fourth Pillar’ of democracy, it is imperative that it remains diverse and free of commercialization. Unfortunately, the reality is quite the opposite. In this context, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, stands as a symbol of this dire imbalance. News Corporation, under the leadership of Rupert Murdoch, has unparalleled power and reach in the news media industry. The Murdoch Empire spans several continents, with significant footholds in Australia, United States and the United Kingdom. Founded and headquartered in Australia, the company now boasts of being the number one newspaper publisher in the world, with a cumulative daily readership of 14 million in these three countries alone. Murdoch has a near monopoly in the media space in Australia, owning two-thirds of all newspaper circulation in the country. Across the Tasman Sea, in New Zealand, he owns nearly half. Further, he . . . Read More

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Difference between descriptive ethics and normative ethics

What is the difference between descriptive ethics and normative ethics? What role do values play in each of these two approaches to ethics? Provide examples to illustrate your points.

Descriptive ethics is founded on the belief that humans are ‘hard-wired’ to be selfish. That is, they are for the most part absorbed in fulfilling their own desires and goals. The capitalist economy is a good example of this instinct in humans, whereby, ‘greed is good’ is an accepted mantra for business corporations and individuals alike. Descriptive ethics promotes a ego-centric decision making model, whereby, an individual is morally entitled to pursue his own happiness through independent action. Cultural relativism is another term coupled to descriptive ethics. This school of thought contends that what is right or wrong is specific to the particular cultural milieu. Normative ethics, on the other hand, takes a more didactic approach to human action in that it . . . Read More

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Select Summary of Berkshire Hathaway Annual Reports

Berkshire Hathaway uses debt quite sparingly. Even when it does borrow, the company tries to structure its loans on a long-term fixed-rate basis. Adopting a conservative approach, the company will rather reject interesting opportunities than over-leverage its balance sheet. While this policy may have moderated the profits over the years it is the most prudent option. This is so because, the company cannot afford to forsake its fiduciary obligations to stakeholders who are heavily invested in it. (2012, p.98)

Compared to most other investment firms, Berkshire has access to two sources of low-cost, non-perilous leverage options – deferred taxes and ‘float’. These allow the company ownership of far more assets than its total equity capital would permit. As of 2012 these funding sources have grown to an impressive $117 billion. (2012, p.98)

Berkshire has long invested in derivatives contracts which are found to be mispriced, just as the company invests in mispriced . . . Read More

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The Origin Story of a Transformative Idea

The late Steve Jobs is one of the prominent inventors and pioneers in the field of information technology.  Some of his creations such as the iPhone speak highly of his vision in recognizing technologies of the future.  By introducing products such as the iPhone, he took Apple Computers to new heights through its exceptional performance and features. It is interesting to study the origin and development of a mass phenomenon like the iPhone in the backdrop of Malcolm Gladwell’s and Steven Johnson’s ideas on the subject. The rest of the essay attempts to tie in the ideas of these two scholars into how Apple products came into being and how their appeal spreads among consumers.

The late Steve Jobs is one of the prominent inventors and pioneers in the field of information technology.  Some of his creations such as the iPhone speak highly of his vision in recognizing technologies of the future.  By introducing products such as the iPhone, he took Apple Computers to new . . . Read More

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Deming’s 14 Points: Continuous Improvement, Prevention of Defects and the SDSA and PDSA cycles

Deming’s 14 Points for Leadership in the Western World is a well rounded guide for achieving excellence in management. The 14 points or guidelines are applicable to any domain or industry.  One of the key insights offered by Deming is how a high level of quality (or even a zero-defect production record) does not pre-empt the scope for improvement.  The very first point talks about creating a “constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service”.  This indicates how improvement is an ongoing engagement that is detached from prevailing production quality.  Deming makes clear that ‘defect detection’ and ‘defect prevention’ are preludes to the continuous improvement process.  An optimal defect detection system would not operate on the misplaced assumption that increasing the quantity of tests (mass inspection) would automatically “decrease the variability of the quality characteristics of products and services.”  Likewise, a robust defect prevention . . . Read More

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Sewing for Millionaires: Rawlings’ operations in Costa Rica

  1. In your opinion, is Rawlings exploiting its Costa Rican employees? Explain your answer.

In my opinion, I don’t think Rawlings’ operations in Costa Rica are exploitative.  The very nature of capitalist enterprise is such that cost efficiency is a major driver of business.  To criticize Rawlings for doing what it is legally mandated to do (namely, to seek profits for is shareholders) is quite unfair.  Moreover, critics are not appreciating how Rawlings has created jobs in the Costa Rican economy. Companies such as Rawlings have helped consolidate Costa Rican economy.  It is in recognition of this fact that the Costa Rican government has offered special economic zone status to Rawlings and other MNC manufacturing units.

Even when one looks at wages and employee benefits, Rawlings has done nothing illegal.  The company has adhered to minimum wage standards of Costa Rica.  Further it complies by paid-leave and medical insurance . . . Read More

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Code of Ethics Case Study: News Corporation

Introduction:

News Corporation, under the leadership of Rupert Murdoch, has unparalleled power and reach in the news media industry.  The Murdoch Empire spans several continents, with significant footholds in Australia, United States and the United Kingdom. Founded and headquartered in Australia, the company now boasts of being the number one newspaper publisher in the world, with a cumulative daily readership of 14 million in these three countries alone. Murdoch has a near monopoly in the media space in Australia, owning two-thirds of all newspaper circulation in the country.  Across the Tasman Sea, in New Zealand, he owns nearly half.  Further, he is the owner of two fifths of the Australian Associated Press. (Knowlton & Parsons, 1995, p. 200)  These holdings are notwithstanding his considerable market share in Britain and the United States. These statistics bear testimony to the Murdoch’s media monopoly. Between the lines one can read the dangers . . . Read More

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‘Two Cheers for Materialism’ by James Twitchell & ‘Profiles in Splurging’ by Randall Patterson : A combined overview

In “Two Cheers for Materialism,” James Twitchell posits that “We live through things, we create ourselves through things and we change ourselves by changing our things.” When we look at this claim by the author, it sounds like a veiled criticism of a materialist culture. But through numerous apt examples and nuanced explanations, Twitchell comes around to acknowledge the power of consumerist impulses and seeks to explain what drives them.  He also argues that capitalist consumerism is not something that is imposed on people as academic critics often claim. Instead, the continued thriving of consumerism is due to our own innate needs, desires and aspirations. The article by Randall Patterson titled ‘Profiles in Splurging’ complements Twitchell’s core thesis.  This essay will qualify the aforementioned working thesis by considering all the facts and arguments presented in these two articles.

To a great extent, the claim in the working thesis can be viewed as a . . . Read More

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Case Study: How the new HR strategy makes Lloyd’s one of the best companies

Summary:

The case study highlights a major recent transformation underwent by Britain’s global insurer Lloyd’s.  The appointment of Suzy Black as HR Director in 2009 was unprecedented in the history of the company. It indicated a new competitive branding for its HR practices, breaking away from traditional personnel office style of functioning. Though there was initial apprehension from senior managers in the company, Black skillfully managed to get them on board to be part of her HR vision. In the milieu of an ever growing global presence for Lloyd’s, Black was able to create a challenging work environment, healthy incentive programs and meaningful community outreach programs. Black’s approach is flexible enough to modify HR programs to suit specific locations across the globe.  Black was successfully able to pull off a balance between efficiency and team spirit which accounts for Lloyd’s ranking high in recent polls in the list of most . . . Read More

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