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Unhappy with your life? Start another! February 28, 2007

Posted by Meg in Internet, social capital, Technology.
5 comments

Our discussion in class regarding a website with which I was unfamiliar called Second Life sparked my interest. So I did some research and, “Oh my God!” This website enables people to truly create their own fantasy worlds in which they are who they want to be and acquire what they want to have. The virtual people of this world are called avatars. One particular Second Life member, Ray Jay Edwards, is a single, master control operator for a website who lives with his brother. His avatar, however, Rufusing (no typo), is a successful, newlywed architect. As a result of Second Life, Edwards is able to create his own world in which he is everything he may have once dreamed of being in reality. In addition, he is able to meet, date, and marry other avatars. To see the entire news story, visit .

In addition to living in this utopia, Second Life members can actually earn money. We discussed in class how the currency of this world is called linden. One dollar is actually the equivalent of 10,000 lindens. Thus, people are spending and earning actual money via Second Life. $1,391,143 were spent in the past 24 hours.

I’m trying to remain open-minded about this innovation. After all, it appears to be (life-changing?) for some individuals. Yet, how can this lifestyle be healthy? How do members eventually separate the virtual world from the real one? Users must continue living in the real world because a certain amount of dollars are required based on the virtual lifestyle you desire. I, personally, cannot imagine taking part in this creation. I prefer human contact and non-technological things like books. Simply writing this blog is even making me somewhat nautious. I’d like to hear others opinions on this website and in what direction you feel our society may be headed as a result of such innovations.

New Home Sales worst in 13 years-Ouch. February 28, 2007

Posted by breichen in Housing.
3 comments

The sales of new homes have decreased more in this past January than they have in 13 years. The average price of a new home also decreased in January, at a rate of 16% less than the average price of a new home in December 2006. This decline is sales is not particular to any regions in the country either, as home producers are suffering across the country.

“This speaks volumes about the ongoing weakness in the housing sector. Inventories remain elevated. Housing affordability remains low, historically speaking,” Larson continued. “And now, mortgage lending standards are tightening. All of this bodes ill for the 2007 spring selling season. I don’t expect a true, lasting rebound in housing until at least 2008.”

Some speculate that this severe drop in the sale of new homes could be do to elevated sales numbers in the warmer months, most economists think otherwise. The biggest problem seems to be that the market is being flooded with an excess of homes, resulting in a postion that can be described as supersaturation or as CNN.com puts it, “glut.” 175,000 new homes were produced in January 2006, which is a record for new home production. Added to this increased production, the previous 8 months were also record months in new home production. The surplus of all new homes available for sale is at 7.7 months, an increase from the 6.9 month supply in December.

The new home industry and the organizations need to rethink their business plans, clearly. The market is not increasing, yet the new home surplus continues to rise and new home production is at an all time high, with an eight month streak in record production. While production is good, sales are not, which is a bad combination. Perhaps new-home builders should begin to expand on new facets of their organizations like home renovations, home improvements,etc. Otherwise, they will face a serious problem when they will be forced to stop building house because there are simply too many sitting empty and unsold.

Osama bin Laden and Kim Jong Il, watch out. February 28, 2007

Posted by breichen in Finances.
1 comment so far

The financial system is said to be the newest front in modern warfare. With the existence of such a distinctly globalized economy, money resulting from all sorts of transactions flows instantaneously and anonymously across all borders. This is said to be a significant benefit to low-brow money movers including but not limited to drug-lords, terrorists and rogue nations that need quick cash such as North Korea.

Kim Jong Il has a penchant for fine wines and Hollywood blockbusters.

Keeping these customers out of the global financial system is becoming increasingly difficult.

Transactions of this type do not result in the transmission of “tainted” money but is said to result in financial crises as well. The difficulty that arises here is that it is becoming harder and harder for financial institutions to know where financial risks lie, a big reason being that a great deal of this money is “hidden away on islands with variable supervision.”

The biggest problem that such fluid and mobile financial flows presents governments is that when the money is transmitted over borders and out of country of origin, these flows take potential tax revenues with them. An example of the problems this cause would be rich Western countries such as the United States that have large portions of their populations approaching retirement and requiring support, i.e. Social Security.

These countries have recently been taking initiatives to make the global financial system impervious to the debilitating side effects causd by this global system including: tax evasion, financial contagion, and financial crime. These countries are working together to force international financial centers to adopt policies of practicing bank supervision, collection of all financial information of customers and the institution, and to enforce money-laundering rules in order to limit money-laundering. This would result in more difficulty in sending so-called tainted money to offshore financial institutions to avoid scrutiny.

New Conditions May Ease XM-Sirius Merger February 28, 2007

Posted by silviamocanu07 in Merger, Organizational Environment.
1 comment so far

I found this interesting article on Businessweek (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2007/tc20070228_918698.htm), which talks about the proposed merger between satellite radio players XM Radio (XMSR) and Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI). In the piece, it is argued that thsi merger would not be in accordance with current government regulations. However, the two companies appear to be very confident in obtaining approval for the merge to go through. Their main claim is that the market has undergone substantial changes with the past decade, with new products such as iPods coming into the market. Given the changing environment and new competition, XMSR and SIRI are confident that regulators will grant them approval.

I believe that this relates directly to our class discussion on how the external environment affects organizations and how these must respond and adjust to these changes in order to remain competitive. In addition, it is not only the companies themselves that must adjust, but also regulations that no longer apply to the current market environment, in order to prevent unfair competition from emerging.

In this particular case, despite the fact that the two companies appear to be over 60% sure that the merger will be approved by the regulators, I believe that the process could be quite lentghy and its results uncertain. What do you think? Do you believ that government regulations are changing quickly enough to match emerging issues in the today’s dynamic market environment?

The Big-Car Problem February 28, 2007

Posted by breichen in Auto's, Consumers.
2 comments

Germany is a country known for producing some of the finest automobiles in the world, regarding both performance and luxury. Top German automotive brands include Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche. Problems may be on the horizon for these automakers however. Earlier this month, the European Commission proposed a new set of emissions standards. This announcement resulted in a great deal of uproar, especially from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. The emissions ceiling was raised to 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer, which would have to be met by these automakers by 2012.

What is problematic about this change in emissions standards is that the organizations responsible for producing these fine German Automobiles have a lot of work to do. Within in the European Union there are only six car models made by German organizations that meet the new target, but 34 models made by competitors in other European countries already do meet the standards.

The automobile industry is Germany’s biggest, employing 1 out of 7 members of the manufacturing workforce. Germany is also a country that prides itself on the attention paid to environmental affairs, leaving the country in a bit of a bind. It is speculated that German carmakers should benefit by “spreading their escalating research and development costs across a greater volume of vehicles,” although German attempts to delve into the mass market have been relatively unsuccessful as DaimlerChrysler is facing collapse and the takeover of Land Rover by BMW had horrendous results.

Don’t fear, the German car market does not seem to be suffering yet. Volkswagen recently announced a 52% increase in operating profits for the 2006 fiscal year, not too shabby. German cars undoubtedly dominate the performance parts of the luxury market, although it is clear that buyer’s tastes are evolving, especially with aspects of cars that affect the environment. This can by seen in the American market with a decline in the SUV market, which can be attributed to Chrysler’s decline.

[Audi,Porsche, BMW and Mercedes Benz thrive in a domestic market where almost one out of every three cars sold is a premium model. This compares with little more than one in ten cars sold in America.

It will be interesting to see how the luxury German automakers react to these requirements in the near future, and the effects that they will have on the Brands and organizations themselves.

American soft drink companies enter Iranian market February 28, 2007

Posted by Meg in Business-Society Issues, Consumers, Organizational Environment.
2 comments

Recently, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have entered the Iranian market, a marketplace prohibited from most American companies as a result of Washington-based sanctions. These two companies, however, are food. So, they have been able to not only enter the market but flourish as well. Their biggest competitor aside from each other is Iranian cola, Zamzam named after a well in Mecca, the holiest place according to Islam. As a result, most of Iran’s conservatives prefer that citizens choose this particular soft drink over those supplied by the rather despised United States.

One of the political issues regarding the U.S. that particularly angers many Iranians is the relationship with Israel. Many conservatives believe that the profits generated by both Coke and Pepsi are supporting Israel. One particular prominent Iranian declared that Pepsi stands for “Pay each penny to save Israel.”

But, the majority of the population is tired of the tension that exists between the Iranian and American governments, and purchase either Coke or Pepsi simply because they prefer the taste. The products origins are of little concern to them. All I have to say is that if Coke and Pepsi can lead to peace between the U.S. and Iran, maybe they should enter the Iraqi market.

Toyota: Soon to become the World’s largest automaker? February 28, 2007

Posted by Bertan in Auto's, Consumers, Manufacturing.
4 comments

Toyota Motor announced yesterday that due to increasing consumer demand, they will be building their 8th North American Assembly plant. The factory will cost approximately $380M and it will be located in Mississippi since it is a relatively low-cost state.

Toyota motor, trailing only GM in the U.S. in the car industry plans to produce 150,000 Highlander Sport vehicles per year, a big favorite in many states. Due to increased demand and incredible growth of 13% in the last annual report, GM is starting to get worried and many government executives are talking about a US political backlash over imports.

The past couple of years have been very successful for Toyota. For example, they overtook DaimlerChrysler in 2006 and Toyota sales included 1.18 million vehichles.. Many competitors fear that Toyota Motor will become the world’s largest automaker this year. Investors, realising the growth, have bought many shares over the past year raising the market share by 2.1 points.

Toyota Motor makes safe, reliant cars and lately they have also focused more on efficiency and design, creating great cars which attract the attention of many people. Which goes to show why they sold 663,948 vehicles just this January…

Britney in REHAB February 28, 2007

Posted by Bertan in humor, media.
6 comments

I know this has nothing to do with business or organization, but I was shocked to know that this star that we all hear about and either hate/love, checked herself in to rehab last week.. Yep, Britney Spears. They wanted to keep the location secret but of she was of course found, in California. Photos of her smoking and drinking were taken by the paparazzi.
One thing I found really interesting was, it apparently cost her around £40,000 to check herself into rehabitilation. Does that make any sense?? I don’t know maybe I am being naive but I feel that it should be a merit good funded by the government, or at least it should cost MUCH less than that to get your life back in order.
Another ridiculous but incredibly interesting rumor was that Britney shaved her head because Federline, her ex, threatened to get her hair tested for drug use, in order to gain custody of their sons. Another rumor is that Brit she went bald because she was suffering from terrible head lice, which is just gross.
Alright please don’t get me wrong, I have no interest in her life, but I just find it funny that the same girl who was claiming she was innocent and who was part of the mickey mouse club when she was young, ended up like this. Which goes to prove that star life is not that sweet.

The Bucknellian – A Student Organization February 28, 2007

Posted by Brian Mulligan in Networks, Organizational Culture, Organizational Design, Workplaces.
6 comments

I decided to take a look at the connections between the different editors at the student-run newspaper, The Bucknellian. I have had direct interactions with all the students on the Bucknellian editorial staff being a Sports Editor in charge of layout. The relationships between all of the students on the paper are very unique and actually fairly interesting.

At the top of the heap is the Editor-in-Chief. He has last say in anything before it heads out to print and is in charge of maintaining the quality of the layout and content in working with associate editors of content and layout. Additionally, he works hand-in-hand with the business arm of the paper that is charge of the ads and finances of the paper.

  1. Editor-in Chief
    1. Associate Editor of Layout
      1. Layout Editors
        1. Sports
        2. News
        3. Features
        4. Opinions
        5. Arts & Entertainment
    2. Associate Editor of Content
      1. Assigning Editors
        1. Sports
        2. News
        3. Features
        4. Opinions
        5. Arts & Entertainment
      2. Chief Copy Editor
        1. Assistant Chief Copy Editor
          1. Copy Editors
    3. Business Manager
      1. Office Managers
      2. Advertising Managers

The Business Manager overseas how ads are placed and seeks out new businesses to place ads in the paper. He overseas all the finances of the paper and where we can and can’t spend money. Underneath him are the office managers who help with the general upkeep of the office and records and the advertising managers who design and size the ads.

The Associate Editor of Layout is the specialist in layout. She has final approval and is the most trained out of all the layout editors. Additionally, she is the resource if you’re in a bind for layout as well. Underneath her are all the section layout editors and section assistant layout editors.

The Associate Editor of Content is responsible for what is written in the paper. He has the last say on what can and can’t be said in the paper and can make changes accordingly. Below him are two different divisions. The assigning editors are responsible for assigning articles to the writers and assist in titles and captions for layout are under the Associate Editor of Content.  Also, the copy editors are below him as well and they correct all the mistakes in the article before publishing.

That’s basically the make-up of the paper’s hierarchy for layout and content.

There are also many connections between the different positions in the paper.  The Editor-in-chief has to work closely with the Chief Copy Editor and the two associate editor to coordinate a smooth paper production.  Also the different layout editors work together to squeeze in article by swapping ads or even pages, so the paper has all of the white space covered.

Another layer to this organization is who gets paid or not?  The business branch are all paid along with the copy editors.  Everybody else is unpaid.  Do think that this makes sense?  Should some of the people who invest more time get paid for their hard-work?

Amazon is Beginning to Lose Customers February 27, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Internet.
2 comments

E-commerce is trade that takes place between companies, and between companies and individual costumers, using IT and the internet. Amazon used to be known as the prototype in e-commerce, now, Amazon’s web pages are becoming overwhelmed with useless information and advertising. Amazon’s product pages are covered with unrelated features, ranging from a gold box over a wish list spree to promotions for reading glasses and other extraneous products. The page was so chaotic that key product information like publication date, page count, and average review rating was three screensfulls below the fold. Why is it important to use the internet effectively? 

“This brings up the total Internet usage estimate to 1,102,844,956 people in the world, and a global penetration rate of 16.8%.”

 http://www.internetworldstats.com/blog.htm

 Most people on the internet are looking for products to buy and those who are not as computer savvy as others might just say forget it and find a place to shop that is more convenient. Cluttered pages might work for Amazon because its users are typically long-time customers who know the features and can easily screen them out. Although first-time visitors are no doubt overwhelmed, by now they account for a tiny percentage of Amazon’s revenues. Amazon needs to fix this problem before it gets out of hand, and they start to suffer financially because of it. If they would cut out all the extra advertisements the new costumers that they would bring in would make up for this lost of revenue and probably exceed it.