Monthly Archives: September 2016

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    What would surprise early Victorian market players if they came alive today?

What would surprise early Victorian market players if they came alive today?

A picture of Leadenhall Street, London, c. 1837, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
What would early Victorians make of today’s markets? Such questions are more than just idle curiosities. For example, the recent wide acceptance around the world of negative interest rates was a surprise. Why didn’t the money go into cash? Yet observers should not have been startled by this development. In […]

Quotas have led to more women on corporate boards in Europe

A woman in a business meeting, by CDC/Dawn Arlotta acquired from Public Health Image Library, Public Domain licence
In the last decade, a number of countries adopted legislative actions to promote gender balanced representation on corporate boards. Norway was the first country to do so in 2003. Following the Norwegian example, some EU countries (Spain in 2007; Belgium, France, Italy […]

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    Why there will never be a robot-entrepreneur and why it’s important

Why there will never be a robot-entrepreneur and why it’s important

Robot by geralt, Pixabay, under a CC0 licence
The debate is quite old. Machines, and then robots, have always brought fears and fantasies about unemployment and the brutal disappearance of skills and meaning.

With the rise of the so-called industry 4.0, fear is back. I believe that more than ever, it is a justified fear. Technology has never been more likely […]

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    New online live music agencies have oversized power over musicians

New online live music agencies have oversized power over musicians

North Charleston 4th of July Festival, by North Charleston, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
The impact of the internet on recorded music is well-known, as are its effects on elements of live music such as ticketing and broadcasting of performances. But here I will write about something that has been less well-documented: the way new web platforms affect the labour market for […]

Does profiling employees online overstep the boundaries?

Desk-office-working-computer, Pexels, CC0 licence
A new study has revealed that 27 per cent of employees have witnessed their employer using online information to ‘profile’ job applicants. Approximately 55 per cent of organisations now have a policy about profiling. Despite its increased practice, however, most employees are not comfortable with being profiled. Over 60 per cent believe they have a right […]

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    Mining causes infrastructure bottlenecks that hurt nearby manufacturers

Mining causes infrastructure bottlenecks that hurt nearby manufacturers

Shaft #1 at Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Ömnögovi Province, Mongolia, by Brücke-Osteuropa, own work, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain
The last two decades have witnessed an extraordinary expansion in global mining activity, an increasing share of which was concentrated in emerging markets. The world’s largest mines can nowadays be found in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This mining boom has reinvigorated the […]

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    Mechanical clocks prove the importance of technology for economic growth

Mechanical clocks prove the importance of technology for economic growth

Salisbury Cathedral clock (the oldest surviving functional mechanical clock in the world), © Copyright by Hywel Williams under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
“Remember that time is money.” Already in 1748 Benjamin Franklin underlined in a short contribution to a business manual that the temporal aspect is a pivotal variable for the economy. Such a statement is even more important for today’s […]

The malling of America may be history

Mall of America interior, James Patterson, under a CC BY 2.0 licence, via Wikimedia Commons
Is the great American suburban shopping mall a dinosaur?

If you visit the site of Northland Center in suburban Detroit, you come away thinking so, because Northland was a trend-setter throughout its life cycle. It was the world’s largest shopping center when it opened in 1954, just as […]

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    Hinkley Point C nuclear station: an expensive solution to a cheap problem

Hinkley Point C nuclear station: an expensive solution to a cheap problem

Colour Scheme, by Mark Robinson, under a CC-BY-NC- 2.0 licence
The UK will soon break ground on its first new nuclear power plant in more than 20 years now that PM Teresa May has signed off on Hinkley. While clearly a political decision, given the involvement of both French and Chinese companies, my colleagues and I at Bloomberg New Energy Finance […]

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    Managed care models are hurting the UK’s mental health system

Managed care models are hurting the UK’s mental health system

Smiley emoticon, by geralt, Pixabay, CCO licence
Although neoliberal economic theory purports to promote equality through unfettered free enterprise, this is based upon a false premise. We are not ‘all in it together.’ The inequality between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ means that everyone does not start from the same position. In fact, as many eminent economists, including leaders at the […]

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    Redesigning Life: How Genome Editing Will Transform the World – Book Review

Redesigning Life: How Genome Editing Will Transform the World – Book Review

Redesigning Life: How Genome Editing Will Transform the World. John Parrington. Oxford University Press. 2016.

Find this book: 

Playing God

‘Scientists don’t ask what we should do. Instead we think: what can we do?’  This was the response of a cell biologist when I asked him what he thought of CRISPR/CAS9, the gene editing technique than in just four years has transformed […]

Brexit was a rational vote by the losers from global trade

Waiting in a breadline beside the Brooklyn Bridge during the Depression. Photo: pingnews.com. Public domain
Britons voted to leave the EU by 52% to 48%. The EU is a borderless area for the movement of goods, services, investment, labour, and more across 28 European countries. Those who voted for Brexit were often described as angrily rejecting the national and international […]

Cash is an emotional topic

“Cash”, by Ted Van Pelt, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
In The Curse of Cash, I make a serious case for phasing out the bulk of paper currency, particularly large denomination notes. Since pre-publication copies started floating around just a few weeks ago, a number of engaging, thoughtful reviews have published (for example, here, here, here, here and here). But mere rumors […]

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    ICT skills are substantially rewarded in modern labour markets

ICT skills are substantially rewarded in modern labour markets

Laptop mobile, Pexels, CC0 licence
“The new literacy” is the term Neelie Kroes, former Vice President of the European Commission, uses to describe an individual’s skill in mastering information and communication technologies (ICT). She continues to explain that “the online world is becoming a bigger part of everything we do. No wonder these [ICT] skills are becoming central in the […]

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    Working from home: idea that workers who aren’t visible are slacking off is outdated

Working from home: idea that workers who aren’t visible are slacking off is outdated

Pexels, under a CC0 licence
Long commutes are a bleak fact of working life – but do they have to be? The laptop in your bag and phone in your pocket are sufficient for most kinds of office work. Even so, we insist on carting our devices with us, through rain and traffic, just to sit at a desk that’s […]

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    Women scientists differ in how they see the role of gender in their careers

Women scientists differ in how they see the role of gender in their careers

Biotechnology Research, by Idaho National Laboratory, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
“I am a little more open, polished, quick-witted, talkative, a little … more arrogant, pushy… Moreover, I am a woman. That means, I have simply a lot more ambition, and I am substantially more communicative.”
This is Irene. She is a biochemist at a prestigious university for Science, Engineering and Technology. In […]

Do immigrants enjoy working more than British natives?

TQ2262: Bosman, Ewell, by Colin Smith, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
A growing perception of risks related to immigration is bringing many European countries to question the free mobility of workers. Particularly critical is the position of the UK, after voting on exiting the European Union, the so-called “Brexit”.

These episodes reveal a very pessimistic and negative view about migration, which does not consider […]

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    If you do not have a unique insight, you do not have a strategy  

If you do not have a unique insight, you do not have a strategy  

008/366 – Einsichten / Insights, by Boris Thaser, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
A famous philosopher once said that if you do not know who the patsy is at a poker table, you are the patsy.  In card games, relying on maximising your winnings when you are dealt good hands and limiting your losses when you are dealt bad ones serves […]

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    An entrepreneur’s quest to build an EdTech product out of her invention

An entrepreneur’s quest to build an EdTech product out of her invention

Children eating lunch at school, by USDA, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
The purpose of education is to produce happy, healthy, impactful lives, and let society reap the benefits. At first glance, this may not seem controversial, but taken to its radical extreme, this purpose statement — the core tenet of my company, Socos — leads to a fundamentally different approach […]

What gets measured gets distorted

Real Leadership

Something strange is happening to leadership at work. The old truths don’t seem to work anymore. Today’s leaders are not really sure which way to go. It used to be seen that every ‘leader’ needed ‘followers’, a hierarchy where people saw their future in the organisation and compliance was the order of the day. When insecurity crept in, […]