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
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
The consumer car industry is always brimming with competition. Cars are a unique consumer good, in that, people develop a strong attachment to their cars. After all, it is like living in a home away from home when one is travelling in one’s car. For this reason, car manufacturers tap into deep-rooted psychological hooks and insecurities to impress their brand image on customers. We can witness in all car advertisements how marketers try to tap into a car user’s psychology to create brand equity. The same is true of the ad chosen for this essay. It is a 30 second Audi commercial accessible at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=350tD8E7htM>. This essay will argue that the ad is brilliant in conception, optimal in its audio-visual expression and delivers a powerful message to the audience.
The ad runs for a mere 30 seconds but it encompasses layers of meaning and connotations. Using four car keys as the only props, the ad illustrates or interprets the meaning of the logo . . . Read More
The chapter takes the reader through an imaginative journey of medicine in the future. Although some of the possibilities proposed appear like material from a science fiction novel, they are based on emerging scientific breakthroughs. One of the themes discussed in the chapter is the increasing mastery of human beings to ‘play God’. Evolving new technologies allow the medical professional to perform astounding feats of genetic engineering. This could happen at various stages of life – from neonatal to palliative. With this capability, people can augment their life spans, develop immunity to various viruses and even thwart cancer using nanotechnology.
In chapter 3, Michio Kaku makes predictions and depictions of future of medicine in all its possible manifestations. We read of ‘nanobots’ that would operate at sub-molecular levels in dealing with infections and diseases. The author also envisions advancement in stem cell extraction and utilization, whereby, new organs . . . Read More
Malcolm Gladwell has attempted to create a unique style of scholarship that navigates between science and popular culture. As a result he has earned the wrath from both quarters. For example, scientists accuse him for being simplistic or lacking in rigor. On the other side, commentators from mainstream media accuse him of bringing esoteric scientific concepts to popular discourse. Yet, his book The Tipping Point has sold more than a 3 million copies. His other titles such as Blink (2005), Outliers (2008), David and Goliath (2013), etc, continue to fascinate and provoke in equal measure. Despite the controversies surrounding some of Gladwell’s inferences, his ideas and philosophies have become assimilated into popular discourse. It is an interesting exercise to study how the most important social movement of recent times – Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS) – measures up in relation to the author’s theories. This essay endeavors to perform the same.
The Occupy . . . Read More
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
Moments of truths are those brief periods of communication between the customer and a service provider where either a positive or negative response is generated. For example, in a retail store all points of contact between the customer and service personnel are considered moments of truth. These include check-in, enquiries about products, bill settlement, check-out, etc. Hence, understanding the concept of moment of truth is essential for good customer service.
One of the ways in which customer goodwill can be generated is by anticipating points of interaction and developing protocols for the service team to follow. By paying attention to service design a business can convert accumulative moments of truth into brand loyalty. In the service industry the customer experience is usually not based on tangible factors. Instead they are constituted by first impressions, feeling of trust and confidence toward the service provider, etc. In other words, the customer . . . Read More
With businesses ever more dependent on streamlined and efficient processes for success, the role of forecasting has come to the fore. The first step in developing a forecasting system is Problem Definition. This is the most important step for it sets the agenda for the forecasting system. The scope, range of utility, accessibility and function of the forecasting system is outlined herein. Following this is Information Gathering, whereby the sources of data collection are identified and statistical tools are devised to analyze the data. Rich historical and archival data add credibility and soundness to the eventual forecasts. The next step is making a Preliminary Analysis of the forecasting methods and techniques. This involves experimentation and verification. The next step is Choosing Models, whereby complex mathematical concepts like regressions, exponents and neural networks are integrated into the forecasting system. The final is Evaluating and Fine Tuning the system . . . Read More
- 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
- Should the headquarters of U.S.-based multinationals promote diversity initiatives in their worldwide subsidiaries? If so, what’s the best way to accomplish this?
There is nothing wrong in U.S.-based headquarters taking the initiative for diversity promotion across other locations in the globe. The thoughts and measures of Brody and Shoemate are instructive, for they provide a framework that all MNCs could follow. Since American business culture and social values are somewhat different to that in the rest of the world, the HR Manager taking decisions from U.S. headquarters will have to be culturally sensitive. The HR Manager will also be cognizant of the fact that the definition of diversity is not constant across locations. Moreover, the HR Manager will have to heed to what configurations of diversity ideally suit local teams. Actually, Bestfoods’ diversity program is a good starting point for any company trying to achieve similar . . . Read More