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What every American should know… May 4, 2007

Posted by Janine in Cases, civil society, Class announcements, Government, Military, Public Interest.

Here is a link for a documentary on the 9/11 incident. 


Now it is about an hour and a half, so watch it when you have some time.  This does not really apply to organizational theory or practice, but I think that this is a video that we as Americans should watch and know.

 Now, after having watched it, you are entitled to make your own judgments and form your own beliefs and opinions, but please if you have time, watch it and let us all know what you think.  I know I am very curious to hear what you all have to say!


U.S., EU Link on Trade, Split on Climate May 3, 2007

Posted by silviamocanu07 in civil society, Government, Public Interest.

The article that I found on BusinessWeek relates to different kinds of organizations, namely state and supre-state: the U.S. and the E.U. Policy coordination between the two economic spaces has long been under negotiation(Link: http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2007/gb20070502_918558.htm?chan=globalbiz_europe+index+page_top+stories) . However, some the ideas that are most valued in Europe, do not seem to make the priority list in the U.S., namely taking steps toward the looming issue of climate change.

Despite the fact that both entities are able to agree on the regulatory framework regarding intellectual property and financial services, an agreement is still pending with issues relating to the environment. The U.S. has a long-standing history of not being proactive with regard to environmental issues, as was clearly demonstrated through the fact that the U.S. did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

“Mr Barroso said “We agree there is a threat, there is a very serious and global threat. We agree that there is a need to reduce emissions. We agree that we should work together.” But both sides remain split along familiar lines on how quickly developing nations should react, with the EU arguing richer nations need to take the lead before asking poorer states to move and the US refusing to budge until emerging economies like China and India come on board.”

There is a clear bridge between the two approaches to the climate change problem, with the U.S. trying to evade its responsibility, as having the world’s highest emissions levels. Do you agree with the U.S. approach that they will not take action until other significant Asian economies are on board? Do you think that this is merely an excuse to avoid tackling the problem?

Being Rich is Not An Easy Goal April 17, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Consumers, Finances, Public Interest.

I have heard once that the majority of adolescents had said that their ultimate goal is to become rich in life. So many people have the same goal, yet only a certain percentage are ever able to achieve this. I came across an interesting article that features a young couple, both earning a combined six-digit income. They want the typical American lifestyle, get married, buy a house, and put money away for their kids’ education. These hard-working Americans however, only have a few hundred dollars in their savings account and approximately $40,000 in debt.

This is the normal trend for people these days. With the ability to “buy now, pay later,” credit accumulates tremendously. Everyone wants the American life with their own house early on in their lives, and hence, they spend and buy things on credit.

CNN money gives us advice on how to prevent this crisis. Start saving early. It seems like common sense, but it is actually much harder than it sounds. Most people spend their money on things, and leave their “leftovers” in their savings account. This is apparently the wrong way to go about it. We should put a set percentage in our savings account, and then pay off other things. If we invest $10,000 at age 30, it will grow to $100,000 by retirement. If we waited to invest this $10,000 at age 40, it will only grow to about half of that.

This article makes me think that it is never too early to start saving. It sounds like a foolproof plan, but do we have the discipline as American consumers to do so?

Citigroup April 11, 2007

Posted by collage9 in Finances, Organizational Design, Public Interest.

Citigroup, the nation’s biggest bank, just announced that it will be cutting 17,000 jobs.  About 7,300 of these job cuts will occur within the U.S.  The bank is doing this in an effort to dramatically decrease costs, which have been growing much faster than revenues recently.  Citigroup says that $10 billion will be saved through the domestic job cuts alone.  This is of course an enormous amount of money and seems as though it should help the company.  Especially due to the recent presuure they’ve been receiving from shareholders to improve their bottom line.

But, I wonder if this is indeed the best move for the company.  The article also went on to say that perhaps Citigroup should be more concerned with increasing revenues rather than decreasing costs.  It seems as though it is just sending a message to their investors that they are attempting to do something to fix the problem.  I think they should definitely be concentrating on increasing revenues as opposed to simply decreasing costs.  The cost cutting seems more like a temporary remedy to the problem, a problem that won’t go away until the bank makes other changes.  Citigroup claims that the job cuts will increase efficiency and eliminate overlapping jobs, but critics continue to be skeptical if this appraoch will actually work.

Even our trusted doctors have a price? March 21, 2007

Posted by Meg in agency theory, Business-Society Issues, pharmaceutical, Public Interest.

A set of records from the state of Minnesota show that certain pharmaceutical companies are paying high profile doctors and making substantial donations to clinics throughout the United States. This information became apparent due to a Minnesota law stating that drug companies must disclose all payments made to doctors. Patient advocacy groups are concerned about this revelation and the influence that various drug companies may, in fact, have over doctors.

Since 2005, drug companies have paid health care workers $57 million in the state of Minnesota alone. Most doctors, however, assure the public that these payments do not influence their treatment of patients, but are merely to give marketing talks. Some even state that close ties between doctors and drug companies enable those in the medical field to be more educated about various prescription drugs and more able to advise their patients on whether or not and how to use these drugs in a healthy way.

Research exists, however, to indicate that doctors with a close relationship to various drug companies often prescribe more modern (as well as expensive) drugs that may not be in the best interest of patients. Due to public scrutiny of various pharmaceutical companies and the FDA as well as reasonable evidence indicating that numerous medications are over-prescribed, these records may concern more patients who wonder whether their doctor’s advice is in the patient’s best interest or the doctor’s.

Its necessary to eliminate the middle man. March 20, 2007

Posted by Abby in Government, Public Interest, social entrepreneur.

In many cooperations these days, to save money, they choose to outsource. I found an example where outsourcing, in fact, harms the goal.

The US Embassy in an African country had a project. Every year, the US Ambassador is given a certain amount of money to put forward to a cause of his choice. I’m not sure of the specifics, but let’s say the amount was $15,000. At a meeting, the people who usually handles this says that they would like to contact some people they’d worked with before who specialize in ‘grading’ a charity and calculating its needs. To have this meeting with these people, they would have to fly them to the country, have them stay in a hotel, and hold the discussion over a day or twowith lunch and dinner. This could come to maybe $8,000 if not more.

One officer, however, decided that it wasn’t necessary to use this company at such a cost. Why not instead, look himself. So there was a school in great need in the area. This officer researched, and found that several schools in the United States were upgrading their computers, and throwing away perfectly good ones. He asked for them – practically free! Then he talked to the US Postal Service about how they might transport them to Africa – for a charity. If the school waited for a month, they said, it could be transported for free out of good will, as there was another shipment that would be travelling at the same time and had room for the computers. The schools needed internet, with little negotiation, the local phone company was willing to give the school a low monthly rate for access.

After computers, and internet – it still left most of the money. The school itself was run by nuns, so the Embassy asked who were the most needy children – these were quite obvious in the bunch. The Embassy paid for each child’s school tuition for the year, then purchased uniforms for each of them. They also gave the school enough money to provide a small meal for these children when they arrived at in the morning. Many children have to walk several miles, and because their families are so poor, they can’t afford to have breakfast, and their only meal everyday may be the lunch provided at school. This lack of food affects their concentration and motivation.

After all this – they were also able to build a small building to expand the school. How far money can really go if a single person puts in some effort – and it was by no means alone, the school was able to provide a lot of extra information too, as to where the money should go. Its amazing to think how closed minded some can be…

Business Week’s 50 Top Performers March 20, 2007

Posted by Stephanie in Customer Service, Finances, innovation, Internet, Manufacturing, media, pharmaceutical, Public Interest, Retail, Technology, telecommunications.


Business Week recently announced its yearly 50 Best Performers article in the March 26, 2007 edition of the magazine. When first looking even at the title of the article I was skeptical about how these companies were selected. It seems impossible to compare every company in every sector and rank their performance. I was pleased however to find their criteria for making the selections seems to be as fair as possible.

Financially they use specific criteria and what they look for in companies when making this list. The two principal financial figures Business Week uses in its analysis are average return on capital and sales growth over the past 36 months. They also consider the importance of examining sectors separately, as factors within one particular sector may inflate or deflate the appearance of a company’s performance unfairly.

Specific quotations I highlighted when reading the article regarding what BW determines as strategies for success:

“…rewriting the rules of engagement in their industries.”

“…a deep understanding of customers, a competitive advantage that has enabled them to sell more good and services than rivals.”

“…work hard to anticipate and head off potential problems well before outsiders are even aware of these looming challenges.”

Details about all 50 companies are included in the compilation of roughly 40 pages of discussion. One particular company I had not heard of before, ranked 31 is Stryker. The company manufactures artificial joints, such as knees, shoulders and hips. Part of their success is due to the baby boomer generation who show no signs of slowing down in retirement even as natural aging takes is toll. Anther interesting aspect of the company is its preparation in changing CEO’s. As the current CEO, John Brown is planning on retiring, COO, Stephen MacMillan has had roughly 4 years to shadow and plan the transition. Both the process the company has developed for the transition and the mere fact that the CEO is not being forced out of the company it seems are two incidents not seen as often anymore.

I am still hesitant to agree that companies covering the full spectrum of all organizations and industries can not only be compared but ranked in a hierarchy. Business Week does an excellent job at attempting this challenge but I feel that some subjective factors weigh into the decision, especially between close rankings, say between spot 8 and 9.


1 Google

2 Coach

3 Gilead Sciences

4 Nucor

5 Questar

6 Sunoco

7 Verizon Communications

8 Colgate-Palmolive

9 Goldman Sachs Group

10 Paccar

11 Amazon.com

12 Cognizant Technology Solutions

13 Avon Products

14 Varian Medical Systems

15 Bed Bath & Beyond

16 CB Richard Ellis Group

17 Robert Half International

18 Chicago Mercantile Exchange Holdings

19 Adobe Systems

20 EOG Resources

21 Sempra Energy

22 Sherwin-Williams

23 Lehman Brothers Holdings

24 Rockwell Collins

25 IMS Health

26 Allegheny Technologies

27 Oracle

28 Starbucks

29 Moody’s

30 PepsiCo

31 Stryker

32 Best Buy

33 United Parcel Service

34 Apple

35 T. Rowe Price Group

36 Valero Energy

37 Constellation Energy Group

38 TJX

39 Morgan Stanley

40 Paychex

41 Coventry Health Care

42 United States Steel

43 United Technologies

44 Hershey

45 Black & Decker

46 Synovus Financial

47 Linear Technology

48 AT&T

49 XTO Energy

50 PNC Financial Services Group

Walmart An Environmentalist? March 19, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, Consumers, environment, monopoly, Public Interest.

This is actually dated two months back, but it’s relatively new news to me. Apparently Walmart is trying to clean their image up as a unmitigated, corporate evil into.. an environmentalist leader. In the works are the plans to become the largest user of solar energy. More than a year ago, Mr. Scott, the company’s chief executive, began reaching out to some of environmental groups, telling them that Wal-Mart, long regarded as an environmental offender,

Wanted to become a leader on issues like fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions.

Walmart is trying to put energy efficient light bulbs into 100 million homes. These bulbs use 75 percent less electricity, lasts 10 times longer, produces 450 pounds fewer greenhouse gases from power plants, and saves consumers $30 over the life of each bulb. The only problem is that these bulbs are eight times as expensive as a regular light bulb, and it also gives off a harsher light. As of today, only six percent of American households use these energy efficient bulbs.

Walmart is such a powerful company that it has a lot of say in what it wants to happen. General Electric expressed their concern regarding these light bulbs and told Walmart to take this revolution slowly. Walmart’s buyer responded, “We are going there. You decide if you are coming with us.” Not a lot of companies can get away with being so snippy to General Electric, the second largest company, but Walmart got its way and are now a strong advocate of these energy efficient bulbs. It is even working with Yahoo and Google to see how they can help promote these bulbs.

How do you feel about this situation? Is this an effort to improve Wal-Mart’s appeal to the more affluent consumers the chain must win over to keep growing in the United States or is this a genuine attempt to help our environment?

I believe Walmart is trying to promote its image, but at the same time helping out our ecosystem. They cannot possibly be making much profit off these energy efficient bulbs, but they are pushing for its success anyways. It is their first step in taking a positive direction.

Trust insiders, not shareholders March 16, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Business-Society Issues, corporate governance, Public Interest.
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Dean Baker  discusses the buzz saw whiplash coming from following this spin: shareholders can not be trusted to ste CEO copmensation becuas etehy don’t have the right interests in mind.  OOOOOOOKAYYYYYYYY.

Beat the Press
Representative Barney Frank has proposed a law that would require corporations to have non-binding polls of their shareholders on CEO compensation packages. According to Marketplace Radio, the opponents of this measure claim that shareholders have diverse interests and aren’t in a position to properly assess CEO compensation.

It would be helpful if the media teased this one out a bit further — the shareholders aren’t qualified to determine the pay of their top employee, but the insiders (a corporate board that usually owes their position primarily to the CEO) somehow can be trusted to act in their interest.

The original marketplace story has the full quote from Barney:

BARNEY FRANK: This lack of confidence in shareholders when it comes to CEO compensation greatly contrasts with what we’re told we should impute to shareholders on every other issue.

That seems like a polite understatement.   Intellectual property strangleholds, rolling back Sarbanes-Oxley, high CEO pay(!), stock options, the “free”trade agenda, and widespread outsourcing for low labor costs are all justified on behalf of shareholder interests.

Baker also rightly calls foul on the notion that this is government interference.  Hogwash.  Corporations are creatures of government policy, as are all coporate governnace rules.  This is a question of the best rules for corporations.

Internships- Get your Hands Dirty in the Public Interest March 6, 2007

Posted by Jordi in Class announcements, Public Interest.
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The career center has a program, BPIP, m to highlight Public Interest internships.

@BPIP’s goal is to keep you updated on events and information pertaining to the non-profit / public interest sector that will help you prepare for your next step, whether it is landing an internship, a full-time job or going on to graduate school.

Reasons to look into these:

  1. You can pursue an interest of yours or develop a new one.
  2. The size and nature of these organizations  means you are likely to get much more intense experience.
  3. The issues of power, organizational politics, and change are throbbing in public interest organizations.
  4. They make you more distinctive in interviews for jobs or graduate schools.  They reflect someone who has a developed sense of self and of public engagement.  Every employer wants someone who can work for the greater good.
  5. There has been huge growth in civil society/public interest organizations.
    1. There has been a dramatic expansion in the size, scope, and capacity of civil society around the globe over the past decade, aided by the process of globalization and the expansion of democratic governance, telecommunications, and economic integration.  As an illustrative example, the number of international NGOs was reported to have increased from 6000 in 1990 to 26,000 in 1999.
    2. One study estimates that about 8.8 million Americans work in the non-profit sector.  This is 8.2% of the labor force, more than work in financial services and transportation and about the same as in durable goods manufacturing.

I would be happy to talk/persuade more of you about this.  For example, the current BPIP newsletter has an internship at the NY Museum of Television and Radio.