Thursday, 31 May 2012

UNESCO: Transforming technical and vocational education and training

This UNESCO study looks in depth at the major trends and policy developments in technical and vocational education and training (tVet) since the second International Congress held in Seoul in 1999. This work has two main objectives.

The first is to analyse world trends in tVet in the context of wider development trends since the second International Congress.

The second is to advance conceptual and policy debates on tVet to address persisting challenges and to proceed towards future frontiers.

The work takes stock of the current situation and asks what policy measures might now be taken, in times of economic uncertainty, to facilitate tVet learning and skills progression by more young people and adults.

This study is available here for download in all the 6 UN Official Languages: English (PDF 28pp), French,  Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.
Note: I don’t know whether the internet was on a go-slow but that took ages to download in order to check link and number of pages! Interesting read if you can get it.
via UN Pulse from U.N. Dag Hammarskjöld Library

The Psychic Cost of Doing Wrong: Ethical Conflict, Divestiture Socialization, and Emotional Exhaustion

an article by John D. Kammeyer-Mueller and Lauren S. Simon (University of Florida) and Bruce L. Rich (California State University, San Marcos) published in Journal of Management Volume 30 Number 3 (May 2012)


Many employees feel ethically conflicted at work, but research has yet to identify the specific mechanisms that give rise to this sense of ethical conflict.

The authors propose that ethical conflicts occur when companies encourage employees to behave counter to their own sense of right and wrong during the process of organizational socialization. Employees who are subject to these pressures experience psychological distress.

The authors’ study of 371 early career lawyers found that divestiture socialization was positively related to ethical conflict and that ethical conflict was related to higher emotional exhaustion and lower career fulfilment. Ethical conflict partially mediated the relationship between divestiture socialization and emotional exhaustion.

Narrative comments provided by respondents reinforced the relationship between divestiture socialization and ethical conflict.

Hazel’s comment:
I wasn't sure about the phrase “divestiture socialization” and found this article by Van Maanen, J. and E. H. Schein from 1979 helpful. I hope you do to (or maybe you didn’t need it!)

Social media: back to the roots and back to the future

An article by Andreas M. Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, (ESCP Europe, Paris, France) published in Journal of Systems and Information Technology Volume 14 Issue 2


The purpose of this paper is to provide a viewpoint on the historical roots and future evolution of social media.
This paper provides a summary of the authors' previous research and experience in the area of social media.
This paper contains practical insights on the consumer use and business potential of social media applications.
This viewpoint provides insights to anyone who is interested in researching consumer use of social media or using social media in a managerial context. It will be particularly helpful to business leaders who are looking for answers in the fast-moving area of social media applications.

Can Facebook be an effective mechanism for generating growth and value in small businesses?

an article by John L. Hopkins, (School of Management and Information Systems, Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia) published in Journal of Systems and Information Technology Volume 14 Issue 2 (2012)


Online social networks (OSNs) offer organisations direct access to a plethora of information about their networks of connections and provide the means by which to create two-way, business-to-consumer (B2C), information channels. Instead of traditional impersonal and one-direction advertising, organisations can establish a personal and two-way communication medium, by accepting members and having friends on these platforms. This paper aims to discuss the phenomenon of OSNs, and in particular Facebook, and examine whether they can be employed by small businesses as a resource for growth and adding value.
A case study is presented that examines how a small business in New Zealand, specialising in the distribution of products that help babies and toddlers sleep through the night, has adopted Facebook as a tool for engaging with its largely stay-at-home customer base. This examination of The Sleep Store is an impartial study based on findings collected over a period of several months, via a series of interviews supplemented by telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges, with representatives from the case organisation.
The Sleep Store’s adoption of Facebook was found to offer the business both direct and indirect value. That is direct value, based on the value of transactions, quantified by the increase in turnover experienced through connecting with new customers, and organisational growth; and the indirect value of word-of-mouth, positive recommendations and the relative influence that Facebook community members exert on each other, which enable valuable new insights to be made into their business ecosystem.
Research limitations/implications
While the adoption of Facebook in this instance has been found to be an undoubted success it does not, however, suggest that such impressive results would necessarily be expected by all small businesses adopting Facebook in this way. The nature of this business, and their customer base, are an important contributing factor to the overall success of this project.
Practical implications
The findings of this study highlight potential opportunities for small businesses adopting Facebook as an additional sales channel or tool for leveraging new information about their market.
This is original academic research, designed to make a valuable contribution to the growing body of literature, on how small businesses are benefiting from the availability of OSNs.

International trade and global growth with capital accumulation, heterogeneous households and elastic labour supply

an article by Wei-Bin Zhang (affiliation not provided with abstract) published in International Journal of Society Systems Science Volume 4 Number 2 (2012)

The purpose of this study is to build a multi-country growth model with endogenous labour supply, capital accumulation and heterogeneous households, basing on the Oniki-Uzawa trade model.

We show that the dynamics of the world economy with any number of countries and any number of household types in each country can be expressed by a set of differential equations. We simulate the global economy with three countries and two household types in each country, specifying the production functions with the Cobb-Douglas form.

The world dynamics has a unique stable equilibrium point. Our model demonstrates, as Grier and Grier (2007) empirically show, that the global economy exhibits absolute divergence in output levels if some determinants of steady state income are also divergence. As our model allows any number of household types in each country, we can explain some distributional issues in international trade which the traditional neoclassical trade theory fails to explain. We also carry out comparative dynamic analysis with regard to productivity level and propensity to save.

The Landscape of Family Business Outcomes: …

A Summary and Numerical Taxonomy of Dependent Variables

 an article by Andy Yu (University of Wisconsin–Whitewater, WI, USA), G. T. Lumpkin (Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA), Ritch L. Sorenson (University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN, USA) and Keith H. Brigham (Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX, USA) published in Family Business Review Volume 25 Number 1 (March 2012)


To promote theoretical development in family business research, this research identified 327 dependent/outcome variables used in 257 empirical family business studies in 1998-2009.

In four studies, the authors categorized outcome variables, developed a numerical taxonomy with seven clusters (performance, strategy, social and economic impact, governance, succession, family business roles, and family dynamics) plotted along two dimensions (business–family and short-term–long-term), validated their research, and identified missing outcome variables and variables that deserve more attention.

Experts agree that family business roles, succession, and family dynamics make the family business domain unique and that noneconomic performance and family-specific topics deserve more attention.

Survey reveals trust in careers services

via AGCAS Community – Careers Advice and Guidance

High Fliers, in association with The Times, has released its annual review of students’ perceptions of careers, career expectations and future aspirations. Over 17,000 final-year students from 30 of the country’s higher education league table leaders took part in The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2012. The data shows how trusted careers services are, with 93% of finalists surveyed having used the service. It also suggests more and more students are undertaking work experience and internships, supported by their careers service.

The AGCAS blog post is here and the full document (PDF 34pp) is here [and it is very readable].

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

UK chief executives: paid for performance?

an article (CEPCP373) by Brian Bell and John Van Reenen published in CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance (May 2012)

Does it matter whether you work for a successful company? And if so, does it matter who you are?

To answer these questions we construct a unique panel dataset covering the pay of all CEOs, senior managers and a fully representative sample of workers for a large group of publicly-listed companies covering just under 90% of the market capitalization of the UK stock market.

We show that senior management appear to have pay that is strongly associated with various measures of firm performance (such as shareholder returns and quasi-rents), while workers’ pay is only weakly associated with such measures. A 10% increase in firm value is associated with an increase of 3% in CEO pay but only 0.2% in average workers’ pay.

Falls in firm performance are also followed by CEO pay cuts and significantly more CEO firings. This is essentially a result of the responsiveness of flexible pay to performance and only senior executives have a large enough share of pay in bonuses to generate a sizeable overall effect on pay. External control matters for pay – firms with lower levels of institutional ownership have smaller pay-performance elasticities for CEOs and do not cut their pay when performance is poor.

Full article (PDF 1pp)

This article summarises Firm Performance and Wages: Evidence from Across the Corporate Hierarchy (PDF 48pp) by Brian Bell and John Van Reenen, Centre for Economic Performance Discussion Paper No. 1088, May 2012

OECD launches updated version of Your Better Life Index

The OECD released a new version of its pioneering Your Better Life Index  – an online, interactive index that allows people to measure and compare their lives in a way that goes beyond traditional GDP numbers – on 22 May 2012.

Launched last year, Your Better Life Index (watch video in English) enables people to compare well-being based on 11 topics - housing, income, jobs, community, education, environment, governance, health, life satisfaction, safety and work-life balance. The updated version, launched today as part of the 2012 OECD’s annual Forum and Ministerial Meeting, integrates data on gender and inequality and strengthens existing topics. Visitors to Your Better Life Index will now be able to compare their well-being priorities to those of other users by country, age and gender, and share their results. The updated Index also includes two new countries, Russia and Brazil. The Index is available in French and is embeddable for web sites and blogs.

“Your Better Life Index is an innovative approach toward measuring progress and comparing lives in a way that goes beyond traditional GDP measures,” said OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría. “This updated version helps strengthen the robustness of the Index by including data on gender and inequality and by extending it to new countries. We look forward to continue updating Your Better Life Index in the years to come and consolidating it as a reference tool in the promotion of better policies for better lives.”

Some of the key takeaways from the new version of the Index include:
  • No matter which countries people live in, they value the most some combination of health, education and life satisfaction.
  • Men and women who have used the Index value basically the same things.
  • The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to make your voice heard in elections, but not by a huge margin.
  • Men work more in the labour market and make more money than women, but women are better in other areas, they live longer, are better educated and in most places they are also happier.
  • Inequality isn’t just about money, it affects other topics in Your Better Life Index.
For more information on the Your Better Life Index:

Retirement income and assets: …

implications for retirement income of government policies to extend working lives

 a discussion paper by Daniela Silcock, Daniel Redwood and Chris Curry published by the Pensions Policy Institute © April 2012 ISBN 9-781-90628-422-0

Table of Contents (in lieu of an abstract)
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • What are the current patterns of work and retirement in the UK?
  • What are the implications of the government’s extending working lives policy agenda?
  • What can we learn from international experience of similar policies?
  • How much longer might individuals need to work and save in order to meet target levels of retirement income?
  • How might different patterns of work and retirement impact the pension income of individuals?
  • Appendix – Modelling analysis
  • Acknowledgements and contact details
  • References
Full text (PDF 92pp) NB: Crown Copyright is asserted on the final page of the document. I assume that you may print a single copy for private study.

Analyzing Public Library Service Interactions to Improve Public Library Customer Service and Technology Systems

an article by Holly Kristin Arnason and Louise Reimer (Edmonton Public Library, Alberta, Canada) published in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 7 Number 1 (2012)


To explore the types and nature of assistance library customers are asking library staff for in a large Canadian urban public library system.
A qualitative study employing transaction logging combined with embedded observation occurred for three-day sample periods at a selection of nine branches over the course of eight months. Staff recorded questions and interactions at service desks (in person, by phone, and electronically), as well as questions received during scheduled and non-scheduled provision of mobile reference service. In addition to recording interaction details and interaction medium, staff members were also asked to indicate briefly the process or resources used to resolve the interaction. Survey data were entered and coded through thematic analysis.
The survey collected 6,099 interactions between staff and library customers. Of those 6,099 interactions, 1,920 (31.48%) were coded as pertaining to technology help. Further analysis revealed significant library customer need for help with Internet workstations and printing.
Technology help is a core customer need for Edmonton Public Library, with requests varying in complexity and sometimes resolved with instruction. The library’s Internet workstations and printing system presented critical usability challenges that drove technology help requests.

Full text (PDF 19pp)
Full text (HTML)

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Redefining “Urban”: A New Way to Measure Metropolitan Areas

This report from OECD compares urbanisation trends in OECD countries on the basis of a newly defined OECD methodology which enables cross-country comparison of the socio-economic and environmental performance of metropolitan areas in OECD countries.

The methodology is presented and results from its application to 27 OECD countries are discussed together with policy implication both on national growth and governance of cities. The report also includes three original papers that present the urbanisation dynamics and prospects in China and South Africa and the governance challenges resulting from the new policy agenda on cities in the United Kingdom.

Available from the OECD bookshop as follows:

E-book (PDF 148pp)
Price: €18 | $25 | £16 | ¥2400 | MXN330
ISBN: 9-789-26417-410-8
OECD Code: 042012051E1

Print (Paperback) + Free PDF
Price: €27 | $37 | £24 | ¥3500 | MXN480 Standard shipping included.
ISBN: 9-789-26417-405-4
OECD Code: 042012051P1

Individual Skill Predictors of the School- and Career-Related Adjustment of Adolescents With Disabilities

an article by Christopher J. Pinkney, MA, Christopher J. Murray, PhD and John R. Lind (University of Oregon, Eugene, USA) published in Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals Volume 35 Number 1 (May 2012)


In this investigation, the authors examine the relationship between individual skills (i.e., career locus of control [LOC], social skills [SOC], and social problem–solving skills [SPSS]) and the school- and perceived career–related adjustment of 211 students with disabilities. Data pertaining to individual skills were gathered from student reports, and data pertaining to adjustment were gathered from student and teacher perceptions.

Results of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that together LOC, SOC, and SPSS accounted for a significant amount of variance in student- and teacher-rated school- and career-related adjustment after controlling for disability type. Evaluation of individual predictors indicated that the strength of these associations varied according to data source and the specific predictor under study.

Materialist theology and anti-capitalist resistance, or, ‘What would Jesus buy?’

an article by Anna-Maria Murtola (Independent Researcher, Waiwera, Auckland, New Zealand) published in Organization Volume 19 Number 3 (May 2012)


Analysis of resistance in critical organization and management studies today tends to focus on expressions of micro resistance in the workplace. Meanwhile, much broader struggles are taking place on the global arena in response to the ongoing violence of neoliberal capitalism.

Capitalism, which has always had a fraught relationship to religion, appears today in many ways as a religion in its own right. Furthermore, its ongoing expansion is explicitly secured through the support of particular theological ideas and proponents, primarily from American conservative Christianity. It should thus come as no surprise that anti-capitalist resistance today turns to theology for an effective counter-politics.

This article draws on the materialist theology of Slavoj Žižek in order to analyse the resistance of anti-capitalist activist Reverend Billy. In doing so, it shows how theology is today mobilized in anti-capitalist resistance.

If contemporary ideology operates on a logic of distancing, as Žižek claims, then an effective strategy of resistance may reside in the opposite, a logic of overidentification. The overidentification that we see in both Žižek’s own work and in the activism of Reverend Billy, however, takes the form of parodic overidentification, which embraces in an exaggerated form a part rather than the whole.

The analysis points to the need in studies of resistance to recognize the broader social and ideational context in which resistance operates, and emphasizes in particular the importance of resistance to confront both the postmodern cynicism and the rising absolutism that are part and parcel of contemporary capitalism.

Invisible Walls and Visible Youth: Territoriality among Young People in British Cities

an article by Jonny Pickering, Keith Kintrea and Jon Bannister (Department of Urban Studies, University of Glasgow) published in Urban Studies Volume 49 Number 5 (April 2012)


This paper explores how young people experience territoriality in six British cities. It challenges the prevailing view within existing literature that young people derive important benefits from their ability to shape their identities by occupying public spaces.

The paper is based on an exploratory study using semi-structured interviews, focus groups and cognitive mapping with young people. The origins, motivations and impacts of territoriality among groups and ‘gangs’ are examined, especially among those groups who possess an acute sense of place attachment and rivalry with groups from other neighbourhoods.

It finds that territoriality is a form of cultural capital passed from one generation to the next, often with rich, heavily mythologised histories. Territoriality comes from the close affinity between young people and place and is often expressed through periodic violent confrontations. The paper illustrates how territoriality limits mobility and subsequently imposes sanctions on access to leisure, education, employment and social opportunities.

Everybody wins? Using the workplace as an arena for learning

an article by Chrissy Ogilvie and Gill Homan (Manchester Metropolitan University Business School) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning Volume 2 Issue 2 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the opportunities provided by the workplace as an arena for learning and academic credit for first year undergraduates at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. The research focuses on the evaluation of a work-based learning (WBL) module designed for full-time business students who are working part time to fund their progress through university.
Primary reflective data were gathered in a structured evaluation from a cohort of 85 participating students at the end of the WBL module. A self-selected sample of 14 of these students provided additional data through questionnaires and interviews. Material was also captured from tutor reflections and some employers who volunteered comments. Recent literature on WBL was reviewed.
Some recent literature suggests that part-time work has a detrimental effect on student study and attainment. However the findings of this research revealed both anticipated and unexpected benefits, not just for the students but other stakeholders. Students liked the flexible delivery and the opportunity to learn in the workplace rather than the classroom. Students also reported short and longer term career benefits as a result of doing WBL and a boost in job motivation. In addition, there were development opportunities for tutors, employers and the employing business.
Research limitations/implications
The research was limited to one cohort and was also undertaken by the tutors and not independent researchers. The sample was self selected and was not representative. Employer feedback was limited and possibly unreliable. However, there is clear evidence of positive enthusiasm for this mode of learning and the rich seam of learning opportunities for all parties in this mode of undergraduate delivery deserves more research.
Practical implications
Given the economic necessity for full-time students to engage in part-time employment, this form of WBL that carries academic credit can greatly enhance the curriculum of business students. Linked to the employability agenda WBL could also be included in the curriculum of students taking non-vocational degrees and this University is currently exploring this development. Working students are offered an alternative form of learning delivery which supports their complex lives by being flexible and perhaps meets the learning preferences of pragmatists and activists more than the traditional classroom.
Social implications
There is evidence that students who engage in WBL are more motivated and committed employees. They have also contributed to improvements in their workplaces in areas around waste, “green issues” and health and safety. All students, but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can use their part-time employment as an asset rather than a hindrance to learning, thus supporting widening participation in higher education. Employers are encouraged to use the intellectual abilities of their student employees to mutual advantage.
The design of the WBL unit and the research is original to the authors. All secondary sources are cited.

Cookie law webinar resources on the knowledgebase

This is the most useful information I have yet seen about the new cookie law.

LASA (London Advice Services Alliance) has published an article which provides an overview of the webinar which Paul Ticher and LASA ran looking at the implications for the third sector of the cookie law, the essence of which is that someone else must not store information on your computer without your prior informed consent.

You can view the slides that Paul used, watch the video of the webinar, read the question and answer session, and get information about further resources and examples.

All here.

OECD Economic Outlook (Volume 2012 Issue 1 Preliminary version)

The OECD Economic Outlook is the OECD’s twice-yearly analysis of the major economic trends and prospects for the next two years. The Outlook puts forward a consistent set of projections for output, employment, prices, fiscal and current account balances.

Coverage is provided for all OECD member countries as well as for selected non-member countries. This issue includes a general assessment, chapters summarising developments and providing projections for each individual country, a chapter on medium and long-term scenarios for growth and imbalances, and a and a statistical annex.

It is available in English, French and German from the OECD bookshop as an e-book (PDF format) only.
Price: €71 | $102 | £63 | ¥8500 | MXN1280
Pages: 350
Tables: 13
Charts: 20
ISBN: 9-789-26417-890-8
OECD Code: 122012011E1

Better skills and better policies lead to better lives for women

an article by Michelle Bachelet (United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women) published on the OECD's Directorate for Education blog.

The global economic crisis, with high levels of unemployment, especially among youth, and rising inequality, with large wage gaps between high- and low-skilled workers, has added urgency to the need for better skills.

This is especially important for women, who already face barriers to participating fully in the economy. Investing in their skills from early childhood, through compulsory education, and throughout their working life can transform women's lives and drive economies.

Read the blog post here and do, please, check the related links at the bottom of the post if this is a topic in which you have an interest.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Factors determining the flow of information among the online community users

an article by Sapna Choraria (Institute of Management, Nirma University, Ahmedabad, India) published in Journal of Systems and Information Technology Volume 14 Issue 2 (2012)


The purpose of this descriptive study is to focus on the salient features of perceived sociability and perceived usability that motivates the members to participate repeatedly on social networking online community web site. The paper proposes that each individual relegate different importance on the dimensions of usability and sociability in terms of the quest of knowledge versus causal knowledge.
A self-designed questionnaire administered among 600 sample respondents (users of through online survey method. Confirmatory factor analysis was performed to examine and improve the usability of the measurement tool followed by structural equation modelling to test the proposed framework.
The findings indicate that ease of use, behaviour and interaction is been given an equal level of importance by both the groups, while satisfaction is given the least consideration.
Research limitations/implications
The community used to study the flow of the information belongs to the single general purpose category. Also the target sample size is restricted to active online users belonging to the category of professionals from India.
Practical implications
The results of this research work will provide a framework of user-centric strategy for the online managers to maintain the dual directional flow of information, i.e. seeking and contributing, and achieve online success.
The study contributes to the existing knowledge of social networking process on online community web site promoting user participation through continuous flow of information.

New report examines graduate destinations by age

Over the past ten years, AGCAS, through some of its task groups, has funded research reports into the destinations of disabled graduates and ethnic minority graduates.

For the first time this year, research has been undertaken into the destinations of graduates categorised by age, to examine whether age impacts on a graduate's post-graduation employment prospects.

Data analysis
Commissioned by the AGCAS Diversity Task Group and written by the authors of the What Happens Next? series of reports, What Happens Next: Age Report has produced some very interesting results:
  • overall, older graduates are performing well compared to more traditional aged graduates;
  • older graduates who had completed their degrees in a part-time mode of study generally performed better than those that had studied full-time;
  • higher proportions of older graduates were in full-time employment than younger ones, and less were engaged in further study (however the rate of unemployment was slightly higher amongst older graduates);
  • higher proportions of older graduates were engaged in graduate level work, and they also tended to earn more.
What Happens Next: Age Report is available to AGCAS members who have registered with the website. Non-members will need to find a member who has a copy of the report in order to read it.

The Use of Volunteers in Local Study Library Projects: …

A Case Study of the Walter Gardiner Photography Project

an article by Beth Hewitt and Juliet Eve (University of Brighton) published in Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 7 Number 1 (2012)


Interviews with library staff and volunteers were conducted to evaluate the use of volunteers in UK public libraries via a case study of the Walter Gardiner Photographic Project, a digitisation project based in Worthing Library, to inform future guidelines on volunteer usage and to make recommendations to existing practice.
Fourteen semi-structured interviews were carried out to explore the perceptions and experiences of both staff and volunteers of the project. All interviews were fully transcribed and then coded to identify emergent themes.
Key positives for volunteers were professional training, good time management and organization by staff, the friendliness and approachability of staff, and the informal nature of the volunteering. Enjoyment of the work and forming close relationships with others were key motivating factors. For staff, the completion of work which would have otherwise been impossible was the most positive outcome. Problem areas identified by volunteers were lack of contact time with project staff and feeling isolated from other library staff. For project staff, a lack of professionalism on behalf of some volunteers was the primary negative. Key issues to emerge were the need to strike a balance between formal and informal management, the need for good integration between the volunteers and host organization, and the importance of acknowledging the nature of the voluntary commitment.
The project proved overall to be a successful example of using volunteers in public library projects with good examples of volunteer recruitment, training, and management being demonstrated. Areas of conflict that did arise stemmed from differing expectations of levels of service between staff and volunteers. Clarification on these expectations through a written volunteer agreement is advocated for further projects.

Full Text (PDF 12pp)
Full text (HTML)

Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling in the Ivory Tower: …

Using a Case Study to Gain New Understandings of Old Gender Issues

an article by Niki Murray, Marianne Tremaine and Susan Fountaine (Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand) published in Advances in Developing Human Resources Volume 14 Number 2 (May 2012)


The Problem
Universities are patriarchal institutions. More males reach upper levels of the academic hierarchy than females. The authors were concerned that their university had a marginally lower percentage of female professors than others in their country and used a survey and interviews to explore the facts behind the figures.
The Solution
Statistics showed that though fewer females applied for promotion, proportionately more female applicants were successful. The authors researched what helped female professors and associate professors gain promotion and explored views on the spillover between work and family/community roles. Promotion enhancement factors included encouragement from department heads and senior colleagues. Family/community roles were seen to spillover positively to work, though work could negatively affect time for family and community involvement.
The Stakeholders
These findings could encourage proactive mentoring of female academic staff by managers, and increase HR and HRD support for family-friendly policies and training programs.

Involuntary part-time workers in Britain: evidence from the labour force survey

an article by Surhan Cam (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 43 Issue 3 (May 2012)


Part-time employment is widely considered functional for the economy, with both benign and detrimental implications for employees. However, specific analyses of involuntary part-time work in Britain are surprisingly absent from the flexibility debate, and workers in such positions remain largely under-researched.

This article explores involuntary part-time employment in relation to socio-economic circumstances.

We analyse Labour Force Survey data, using logistic regression modelling to identify the segments of workers filling part-time jobs involuntarily. The results suggest that involuntariness for part-time jobs is affected by a range of demographic and work-related characteristics considered.

Being a couple with dependent children, for example, reduces the likelihood of involuntariness among female part-time employees whereas lower educational and occupational levels imply a higher involuntariness across both sexes.

Learning beyond Fifteen: Ten Years after PISA

a report from OECD publishing


This report focuses on the development of reading proficiency during the transition from adolescence to early adulthood. The span of time between the ages of 15 and 24 is a critical period of development for young people. Once compulsory education is completed, individual decisions about post-secondary education, employment and other life choices have to be made with major consequences for future learning and employment outcomes. A good foundation in reading proficiency facilitates success in specialised education during higher education or during job-related training. Since reading proficiency is not the goal of such specialised or professional learning, reading skills may begin to atrophy. So both learning gains and losses need to be considered as human capital is developed.

Canada’s investments in PISA, as well as in longitudinal data and reassessment of reading proficiency, provides insights into the importance of individual reading proficiency and later outcomes, such as educational attainment, further learning, employment and earnings. Therefore, this report makes a vital contribution to the understanding of learning gains between the ages of 15 and 24 and their impact on such outcomes, and provides a basis for evidence-based policy and strategic investments by the community of countries participating in PISA.

The document is currently available from the OECD bookshop in English. French version likely to be available “soon”

E-book (PDF 120pp) is free
ISBN: 9789264172104 OECD Code: 982012031E1

Print (Paperback) + Free PDF
Price: €35 | $49 | £31 | ¥4500 | MXN630
ISBN: 9789264172043 OECD Code: 982012031P1

The polluter-doesn’t-pay principle

an article (CEPCP369) by Ralf Martin, Ulrich J. Wagner and Laure B. de Preux published in CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance (May 2012)


By granting discounts on environmental taxes to heavy polluting firms, the government is missing out on significant tax revenues and achieving considerably less in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

That is the central conclusion of research by Ralf Martin and colleagues, which reveals the failings of the UK’s climate change levy.

Their study shows that firms that enjoy a discount from the levy, claiming that such measures damage their ability to compete in the global economy, do not in fact face higher risks to their competitiveness. Firms that pay the full climate change levy reduce their energy use and their emissions by more than those that get a tax discount.

Full article (PDF 4pp)

Phoenix from the ashes: can low carbon vehicles ensure the long-term viability of the West Midlands automotive cluster?

an article by Nigel Berkeley, David Jarvis and Jason Begley published in International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management Volume 12 Number 2 (2012)


Whilst traditional automotive manufacturing regions continue to face tremendous competitive pressures new opportunities are emerging with strong governmental support to encourage the manufacture and adoption of low carbon vehicles (LCVs).

This paper examines such opportunities in the West Midlands region of the UK, where the automotive 'cluster' remains one of the largest in the country and where failure to adapt to changing markets could prove economically and socially damaging. It suggests that the region should build on its strengths at the upper end of the technology spectrum and establish itself as a leader in the area of LCV technologies.

In doing so, it is recognised that a coordinated and holistic approach is required, involving multiple layers of government, backed up by a strong and supportive policy framework. As such, the abolition of regional government in England presents a serious challenge. Whether new local delivery structures can fill the void given the centralisation of power, policy and funding for economic development remains to be seen and casts doubt on the extent to which potential opportunities and benefits presented by low carbon vehicles are fully realised.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

10 stories and links I found educative, interesting or simply weird

Busy Dublin Bridge via Britannica Blog by Brendan van Son
The locals like to say that DublinIreland, is like a little village that has somehow turned into a big city.
Photo by Brendan van Son.
Photo by Brendan van Son.
The great thing about Dublin is that in many ways it manages to maintain its small-town vibe. It is quaint and easy to get around, but at the same time has all of the bonuses of a big city. The bridges that cross the city’s canal, like the one in the photograph, are often as much as 300 years old.
* * *
Brendan van Son is a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. He is editor-in-chief of Vagabundo Magazine [worth looking at if only for the stunning pictures, but also has great stories about places to see]. To see more of his work check out his blog, Brendan’s Adventures. You can also follow Brendan on twitter @brendanvanson and like his fan page for updates on Facebook.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What’s the difference between story-truth and happening-truth? Where’s the line in nonfiction between cheating and distilling, artfulness and fabrication?... more

Super Mario Summary – Single Screen Style Online Game via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
What would Super Mario be like if each level was condensed down to a single screen?
Find out with Super Mario Summary! Each level of this game fits on a single screen but will certainly keep you busy as you try to win.
All that is needed to play the game are the Space Bar for jumping and the Left/Right Arrows keys to move.
From the website: A Super Mario Summary is my entry to the 23rd Ludum Dare 48 hour game development challenge. I tried to recreate every level in the original Super Mario Brothers game, but on a single screen each. The result is a puzzle platformer where you need to combine reflexes, timing, and clever thinking to succeed.
A Super Mario Summary [via BoingBoing]

Battle Panic via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game you engage in an epic quest to defeat the Orcs that control the wilderness lands and bring civilization to that which has been ruled by evil. Can you achieve victory and free the surrounding lands from evil or will you fall before the oncoming Orc hordes?
Asian Angel’s walk-through is here but if you want to bypass that the game is here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Homer goes global. From Cairo to Shanghai, Tokyo to Moscow, translations of The Iliad grow from a trickle to a flood. “The poetry rocks and has a macho cast to it, like rap music”... more

Stain-shedding coating gets tough via BBC News - Technology
Chemists devise a means to coat cotton fabrics with durable “super-hydrophobic” layers that repel water and stains alike.
Full story

How long does food poisoning last? via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: X.L.D. Agar 1 - detail, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from nathanreading's photostream
I recently had what I am pretty sure was foodborne illness. It arrived in the middle of a friend’s birthday party, a sudden onslaught of misery that lasted for the next 8 hours, reminding me, horribly, of a similar scene in The Mask of the Red Death. It was followed by two days of pretty much constant sleep. I don't recommend it.
But if a growing body of research is right, that 48-hours of grossness might not be the end of your body’s interaction with a foodborne bug. In fact, some people seem to have otherwise unexplained symptoms persisting for years after they thought they’d recovered from food poisoning.
Read the rest of Maggie’s story here

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
We speak the “us against them” language of solidarity. But we’re social animals, says Richard Sennett, capable of cooperating more deeply than the existing social order envisions... more

Beautiful photo of a volcanic eruption via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Volcano Tungurahua in Ecuador erupts about every 90 years – it’s a schedule the mountain has kept for 1,300 years.
This photo was taken by Patrick Taschler in 2006. (Via Astronomy Photo of the Day and Alexandra Witze)

Patent for Battleship game via Steve van Dulken’s Patent blog
There has been publicity over the new film Battleship, based on the game of that name. Back in 1933 Louis Coffin applied for a patent for the game. It's the classic game where opponents try to “hit” enemy ships which are marked by pegs on each side of the same vertical board.
Read more

Saturday, 26 May 2012

10 stories and links that I found educative, interesting or just weird

Construction of Christ the Redeemer, Rio, 1926-1931 via Retronaut by Chris

Until I saw these photographs I had not given more than a passing thought, if that, to how this enormous statue got to the top of the hill. Of course, then I had to go and find more information.
Thanks heavens, and Jimmy Wales, for Wikipedia.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Bible, said Thomas Paine, has corrupted mankind. But the good book’s genocidal passages weren’t always used as a bludgeon against religion... more

Herbal remedy used to treat kidney ailments causes kidney ailments via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin
A plant known as “birthwort”, popular in Asian and European herbal medicine for hundreds of years, causes kidney failure and cancer. Dan Vergano at USA Today digs into the fascinating medical detective work that solved this mystery: scientists compared genetic mutations in the tissue of humans and lab mice who’d been poisoned by the plant’s toxic component.
Read the full story

Are you a Luddite? via BBC News - Technology
A term used to refer to gadget haters, but what is its origin?
The answer is here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Ireland took to it; Italy, too; but not England. The short story, after all, was no match for the Victorian novel. That is, until, the form founds its master, V.S. Pritchett... more

Slipe via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
Your puzzle solving skills will be put to the test with this classic slider-style set of puzzles. Do you have what it takes to think ahead and preserve the sections you have already completed while moving the remaining game pieces into their proper places?
As always you can decide between Asian Angel’s walk-through here or diving straight in here.

The Last Queen of Hawaii, 1891-1893 via Retronaut by Chris

“Liliʻuokalani (1838 – 1917) was the last monarch of Hawaii. She inherited the throne from her brother Kalākaua on 29 January 1891. The Queen was deposed on 17 January 1893 and temporarily relinquished her throne to ‘the superior military forces of the United States’. She had hoped the United States, like Great Britain earlier in Hawaiian history, would restore Hawaii’s sovereignty to the rightful holder.
Liliʻuokalani was arrested on 16 January 1895, several days after the failed Counter-Revolution. She denied any knowledge at her trial, and was sentenced to five years of hard labor in prison and fined $5,000. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of ʻIolani Palace, where she composed songs including The Queen's Prayer (Ke Aloha o Ka Haku)”
More pictures here

20,000 Piece Lego Barrel Organ Plays Star Wars Theme via How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick
Enormous barrel organ plays the iconic Star Wars theme song using a 20,000 piece diorama of the Star Wars universe. Check out the video to see it in action.
The project was a joint effort between marketing company Serviceplan and professional LEGO builder Rene Hoffmeister, and was built to promote the 3-D release of Star Wars: Episode I.
To operate the device, you walk up, turn the crank, and the barrel turns. The LEGO diorama built around the barrel–featuring scenes from Endor, Hoth, Tatooine, and the Death Star–strikes a series of levers which in turn strike the keys on the organ.
Watch the video [link above] to see it in action and then check out this video to check out how they built it and this gallery for close-up photos of the barrel.
[via Hack A Day]

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The Hebrew University Talmud department is full of methodical types parsing footnotes on footnotes. What drives them: truth or vanity?... more

Where Is Consciousness Located in the Brain? via Big Think by Orion Jones
Behavioral scientist at York College, Robert Duncan addresses how far neurology has come in finding consciousness by looking closely at the brain’s biology. Currently, consciousness is thought to be a result of metacognition, i.e. planning, reasoning and social ... Read More

Friday, 25 May 2012

Poverty Reduction and Pro-Poor Growth: The Role of Empowerment

a recent publication from OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development)

Empowerment of those living in poverty is both a critical driver and an important measure of poverty reduction. It is the decisions and actions of poor people themselves that will bring about sustainable improvements in their lives and livelihoods.

Inequitable power relations exclude poor people from decision-making and prevent them from taking action. Sustainable poverty reduction needs poor people to be both the agents and beneficiaries of economic growth – to directly participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth processes.

Strengthening poor people’s organizations, providing them with more control over assets and promoting their influence in economic governance will improve the terms on which they engage in markets. This economic empowerment combined with political and social empowerment will make growth much more effective in reducing poverty.

This report aims to build donor understanding of empowerment and how best to support it.

E-book (PDF 300pp)
Price: €58 | $81 | £52 | ¥7600 | MXN1050
ISBN: 9789264168350 OECD Code: 432012051E1

Print (Paperback) + Free PDF
Price: €84 | $117 | £75 | ¥10900 | MXN1510 Standard shipping included!
ISBN: 9789264168343 OECD Code: 432012051P1

Both the above from the OECD bookshop

High-Poverty Youth Self-Determination and Involvement in Educational Planning

an article by Barbara H. Washington, PhD (Murray State University, Kentucky, USA) and Carolyn Hughes, PhD and Joseph C. Cosgriff (Vanderbilt University, Nashville, USA) published in Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals Volume 35 Number 1 (May 2012)


The authors compared involvement in educational planning and use of self-determination strategies reported by two groups of students attending a high-poverty, predominately Black high school: 19 students with severe intellectual disabilities and 20 general education seniors who were identified as successful.

Findings revealed that special education students participated in few activities (e.g., general or career education classes, transition activities, or employment) on a daily basis outside their self-contained special education classes. Special education students were significantly less likely than their general education peers to report involvement in educational planning activities or use of self-determination strategies.

Although successful general education peers did take an active and self-determined role in their high school education, they represented only 20 of 114 members of their graduating senior class. Findings are discussed in relation to increasing efforts to promote self-determination and resilience among students with severe intellectual disabilities and their general education peers who are attending high-poverty high schools.

A market for unbiased private data: Paying individuals according to their privacy attitudes

an article by Christina Aperjis and Bernardo A. Huberman (Hewlett–Packard Laboratories, Palo Alto, California) published in First Monday Volume 17 Number 5 (May 2012)


Since there is, in principle, no reason why third parties should not pay individuals for the use of their data, we introduce a realistic market that would allow these payments to be made while taking into account the privacy attitude of the participants.

And, since it is usually important to use unbiased samples to obtain credible statistical results, we examine the properties that such a market should have and suggest a mechanism that compensates those individuals that participate according to their risk attitudes.

Equally important, we show that this mechanism also benefits buyers, as they pay less for the data than they would if they compensated all individuals with the same maximum fee that the most concerned ones expect.

Full article (HTML)

Growth and productivity: UK economic performance since 1997

CEPCP366 by Dan Corry, Anna Valero and John Van Reenen published in CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance (May 2012)

A common view is that the performance of the UK economy between 1997 and 2010 under Labour was very weak and that the current economic problems are a consequence of poor policies in this period.

In this report, we analyse the historical performance of the UK economy since 1997 compared with other major advanced economies and with performance prior to 1997, notably the years of Conservative government, 1979-97.

We focus on measures of business performance, especially productivity growth. This is a key economic indicator as in the long run, productivity determines material wellbeing – wages and consumption. Productivity determines the size of the “economic pie” available to the citizens of a country.

Full article (PDF 4pp)

This article summarises UK Economic Performance Since 1997: Growth, Productivity and Jobs, by Dan Corry, Anna Valero and John Van Reenen, Centre for Economic Performance Special Paper No. 24, December 2011 which (PDF 92pp) you can access here.

‘Digitally excluded’ losing out as services move online

The Low Income Tax Reform group has published a new report (PDF 64pp) highlighting the growing problem of ‘digital exclusion’.

It provides new evidence that government efforts to move services and transactions online are disadvantaging older people, the disabled and the self-employed in particular.

Thanks to ICT E-Bulletin - May 2012 via Lasa knowledgebase

Thursday, 24 May 2012

The information culture of a megalopolis: The unity of diversity

an article by N. V. Lopatina and O. B. Sladkova (Moscow State University of Culture and Arts, Russia) published in Scientific and Technical Information Processing Volume 39 Number 1 (2012)


A new concept, viz., the information culture of a megalopolis, is introduced into academic discourse. This concept is analyzed through the lens of modern scientific theories and specific social practices.

Hazel’s comment:
This must be one of the shortest abstracts I have ever published via this blog. The reason I’ve included it when normally I wouldn't bother with something that imparts so little information is the use of a word of which I had previously never heard. Megalopolis is a massive city, or a merging of cities as in the area of the USA known as BosWash (Boston joined to Washington). What I fail to understand is why the authors thought that the information culture of a mega city would be much different from a non-mega city. Perhaps if your institution has access to this journal you could glance at the article and let the rest of us update our knowledge.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Today has not been a good day

Getting up close and personal on this blog is not something I do very often but …

Most of my regular readers are probably aware that I have been struggling with depression for some time now – mostly under control with the help of medication. However, ten or so days ago I reacted badly to an external situation and opted out of normal living for a couple of days.

The result of this is that instead of bringing you six or even eight abstracts of articles from journals I've been reading (glancing through tables of contents) today I have managed only two. I am learning that feeling ashamed of this illness is not a sensible option but shame is certainly part of what I feel – and, of course, the loss of control is frightening.

I'm on a bus at the moment taking advantage of Stagecoach Gold's WiFi and am feeling confident that after an evening with daughter and grand-daughters I shall be more like the me I know and recognise not this quivering wreck who thinks that everything she says and does is wrong.

Rant, if that is what this is, over. Thanks for reading, if you got this far.

Speaking allowed? Workplace regulation of regional dialect

an article by Elizabeth Eustace (Cardiff Metropolitan University) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 26 Number 3 (April 2012)


This article addresses speech as an aspect of aesthetic labour. It demonstrates that, because speech is bound up with identity, attempts to enforce appropriacy in the speech of service sector workers may generate dilemmas and resistance.

The article offers empirical ethno-linguistic data from Glasgow in Scotland.

The data suggest that proscriptive approaches deny the linguistic identity and agency of the speaker and do little to enhance the work experience of employees or their communicative relationships with customers in service environments.

Jobs in a recession

an article by Pascal Michaillat (CEPCP365) published in CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance (May 2012)

This article is based on a paper that models unemployment as the result of matching frictions and job rationing.

Job rationing is a shortage of jobs arising naturally in an economic equilibrium from the combination of some wage rigidity and diminishing marginal returns to labor. During recessions, job rationing is acute, driving the rise in unemployment, whereas matching frictions contribute little to unemployment.

Intuitively, in recessions jobs are lacking, the labor market is slack, recruiting is easy and inexpensive, so matching frictions do not matter much. In a calibrated model, cyclical fluctuations in the composition of unemployment are quantitatively large.

Full article (PDF 5pp)

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Twitter as a teaching practice to enhance active and informal learning in higher education: …

The case of sustainable tweets

an article by Eva Kassens-Noor (Michigan State University, USA) published in Active Learning in Higher Education Volumer 13 Number 1 (March 2012)


With the rise of Web 2.0, a multitude of new possibilities on how to use these online technologies for active learning has intrigued researchers. While most instructors have used Twitter for in-class discussions, this study explores the teaching practice of Twitter as an active, informal, outside-of-class learning tool.

Through a comparative experiment in a small classroom setting, this study asks whether the use of Twitter aids students in learning of a particular subject matter. And if so, in which learning contexts Twitter offers advantages over more traditional teaching methods.

This exploratory study showed potential opportunities and pitfalls that Twitter could bring to the e-learning community in higher education.

Reciprocity and public support for the redistributive role of the State

an article by Francisco José León (University of Girona, Spain) published in Journal of European Social Policy Volume 22 Number 2 (May 2012)


The aim of this paper is to test whether motivations characteristic of homo reciprocans, as described in experimental economics, can account for the support for the redistributive role of the State.

Using data from the 2008 European Social Survey, we show how this picture of human motivations provides a fertile framework to interpret support for redistribution among the general public.

We test this claim through two ordinary least squares (OLS) regression models. The evidence clearly shows that variables associated with ‘reciprocity’ are better predictors of support for the redistributive role of the State than those associated with ‘self-interest’, including the traditional socioeconomic variables, although both types of variables offer useful insights into the question of why people give support for redistribution.

Defining Democracy

via Big Think by Eric Sanders

Last week I asked readers to answer this single question: “What is democracy?”

I asked this question – without consulting a dictionary or political science textbook &– because I am not sure of the answer myself, even though I have heard the word uttered thousands of times in my life. Has the word “democracy” become such a catch-all term that it now lacks any meaning whatsoever? Or has it never possessed a clear, generally-agreed-upon definition, instead allowing for each person or group to definite it however they see fit?

Read More

Hazel’s comment:
Fans of my weekend trivia posts will recognise the source of this since I use links to Big Think extensively among the selected ten for publication. However, the subject of this was, I felt, sufficiently interesting as to warrant a post of its own.

The European Higher Education Area in 2012: Bologna Process Implementation Report

Context [taken from the press briefing]

The Bologna Process Implementation Report is the result of a joint effort by Eurostat, Eurostudent and Eurydice and has been overseen by the Bologna Follow-Up Group. It describes the state of implementation of the Bologna Process in 2012 from various perspectives using data collected in 2011. Thus the report provides statistical data as well as contextualized, qualitative information.

The higher education landscape in 2012 has been transformed by the Bologna Process. All countries have made significant changes that have enabled the European Higher Education Area to emerge, and which have laid the ground for higher education that is serving an increasing range of societal demands. Higher education structures have been changed, quality assurance systems developed, mechanisms to facilitate mobility established, and a range of issues for the social dimension of higher education identified. The scale of a project that, on the basis of voluntary cooperation, agrees and implements common objectives for the higher education systems of 47 countries is unprecedented.

The Bologna Process continues to evolve through turbulent times, and in recent years the challenges for higher education have intensified. EHEA countries implement reforms in very different contexts. Student numbers vary enormously. Russia alone takes up more than 25 % of the student population of the whole EHEA, while students in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Germany, and the United Kingdom comprise more than 50 % of the total EHEA student population. In addition, while demographic changes are of concern to most countries, some face relatively big increases in the student population in the coming years, while other countries will experience a decline in numbers. This context needs to be taken into account when assessing the degree of progress that has been made in implementing reforms in different parts of the European Higher Education Area.

Differences also exist regarding the funding of higher education institutions. While in some countries all higher education institutions are funded primarily from public sources, in others there is a larger proportion of private institutions. In addition, levels of public expenditure vary greatly within the EHEA. Responses to the recent economic crisis also differ. While public expenditure increased considerably in some countries after 2008, there have been significant budget cuts in others. Overall, the result of the crisis so far is a decline in public expenditure on higher education.

Full report (PDF 224pp)
Press briefing [“highlights” document] (PDF 13pp includes some useful graphs)

Source: Eurydice Update 54: May 2012

The Heterogeneous Nature of Urban Poor Families

an article by Rodrigo Salcedo and Alejandra Rasse (Universidad Católica del Maule, República de Chile) published in City & Community Volume 11 Issue 1 (March 2012)


This paper addresses the scholarly debate on cultural homogeneity or heterogeneity of urban poor families. While authors such as Lewis (1959) or Wacquant (2000; 2001) claim that structural disadvantages are linked to a particular type of identity or culture, others such as Hannerz (1969), Anderson (1999; 2002), or Portes (Portes and Manning, 1986; Portes and Jensen, 1989) believe that it is possible to find different behaviors, expectations, decision-making processes, and outcomes among people living in seemingly identical structural conditions (Small et al., 2010).

Using Santiago, Chile, as a case study, we differentiate five different cultures or identities among the poor. Those identities seem to be the product of different historical and political circumstances, as well as of different types of public policies. The paper ends with a discussion of the need for poverty reduction policies to consider these differences among the poor.

Hazel’s comment:
There are those in government in the UK who need to be made aware that “the poor” is not a label for a homegenous mass of people any more than the old or the ill.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Job Search: Should You Upgrade to a Paid LinkedIn Account?

via PC Advisor News by Kristin Burnham
If you’re in the market for a new job, you’ve probably been spending more time on LinkedIn updating your profile and expanding your network. The professional social network, which now boasts more than 100 million users, has a number of free tools and features to kick start your job search. But could one of its paid options give you the edge you need to land the perfect job?
Read in full here.

Are Public Employees Overpaid?

an article by Jeffrey Keefe (Rutgers University, NJ, USA) published in Labor Studies Journal Volume 37 Number 1 (March 2012)


The research reported in this article shows that public employees, both state and local government employees, are not overpaid and may be slightly undercompensated. Comparisons with the private-sector employees that control for education, experience, hours of work, organizational size, gender, race, ethnicity, and disability indicate that the public-employment compensation (wages and benefits) penalty is relatively small.

On average there is a 3.7 percent penalty in total compensation for full-time state and local employees when compared to similar private-sector employees.

The data analysis also reveals substantially different approaches to staffing and compensation between the private and public sectors. On average, state and local public-sector workers are more highly educated than the private-sector workforce; 54 percent of full-time state and local public-sector workers hold at least a four-year college degree compared to 35 percent of full-time private sector workers.

For college-educated labor, state and local governments pay salaries on average over 25 percent less than private employers. The public sector appears to set a floor on compensation, particularly improving the compensation of workers with high-school educations, when compared to similarly educated workers in the private sector.

Benefits are allocated differently between private- and public-sector full-time workers. State and local government employees receive a higher portion of their compensation in the form of employer-provided benefits. Public employers provide better health insurance and pension benefits.

National polling data indicate that the public does not believe public employees are overpaid. They oppose pay and benefit cuts, but believe pay freezes and greater employee contributions to their health and pensions plans may be appropriate. Nevertheless, thirteen states revised their public-sector collective-bargaining laws, mainly weakening employee bargaining power or severely restricting or eliminating collective bargaining, while the majority of the public opposed those changes.

Gender issues in information and communication technologies (ICTs)

an article by Wieslaw Oleksy, Edyta Just and Kaja Zapedowska-Kling (University of Lodz, Poland) published in Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society Volume 10 Issue 2 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to present some of the findings (which were reported on more extensively in earlier work) regarding the visibility of gender issues in the literature on selected information and communication technologies (ICTs) with a view to make predictions about potential ethical issues that the application of these ICTs may bring about in the future. This paper is part of the larger research project called ETICA (Ethical Issues of Emerging Information and Communication Technologies), a collaborative project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Union.
On the basis of the analysis of around 100 published sources, which dealt with various aspects of selected ICTs, conclusions have been drawn regarding gender issues and concerns that the applications of these ICTs may cause. The authors' analysis is theoretically informed by critical discourse analysis (CDA) which assumes that texts, both written and spoken, as well as other forms of symbolic representations, are indicative of social practices. Of particular methodological relevance was the survey of methods of text and discourse analysis presented in Titscher et al. and especially the application of keyword search as a way to measure the prominence of each investigated method. This approach to literature surveying proved very useful in selecting analytic material: only those published sources on the selected four ICTs have been included in the survey, for which the analysis of keywords, abstracts and indexes of terms indicated authors' interest in gender issues.
First, ICTs such as affective computing, ambient intelligence, and artificial intelligence, have been found to have the potential of positively affecting gender power relations and thus positively affecting gender balance in the areas of labour market related to ICT across EU countries and worldwide. Second, more research on the relationship between gender and ICT design, application and representation is needed, so as to enhance a better understanding of ethical issues resulting from unequal participation of women and men in all aspects of ICT production and implementation, which in itself is an ethical dilemma with which both the ICT business and legislators have to grapple.
The paper offers insight into the relationship between the level of attention devoted to particular ICTs by ICT researchers, as evidenced in the reviewed literature, and the likelihood of the application of a particular ICT in the future, which is looked at and assessed from a gender perspective.

World of Work Report 2012

The World of Work Report 2012 provides an analysis of recent labour market and social trends, assesses risks of social unrest and presents employment projections for the next five years.

The report emphasises that while employment has begun to recover slowly, job quality is deteriorating and there is a growing sense of unfairness. Moreover, given the pressure on governments to rein in expenditure, policy efforts have focused on structural reforms to boost employment creation.

However, if policy instruments are not carefully designed, they could exacerbate the employment situation and aggravate further equity concerns, with potentially long-lasting adverse consequences for both the economy and society.

The report addresses the following questions:
  • To what extent has the slow recovery aggravated social conditions, including falling incomes, deepening poverty and worsening inequality?
  • Have countries gone too far, too fast with fiscal consolidation?
  • How should they support recovery while meeting fiscal goals in the medium term?
  • What can be expected from recent labour market reforms?
  • How can investment be boosted so as to ensure a long-lasting recovery in both the economy and jobs?
  • What have been the barriers to implementing a more job-centred and equity-enhancing policy approach?
  • Why has the business-as-usual scenario maintained its centrality despite the increasing risk of social unrest?
This report calls for a carefully designed policy approach that takes into consideration the urgent need to create quality jobs while at the same time laying the ground for a more productive, fairer economy and labour market.

Full report (PDF 128pp)

Science, technology and innovation in Europe

The 143-page Science, technology and innovation in Europe is divided into three main parts:
  1. Investing in R&D,
  2. Monitoring the knowledge workers, and
  3. Productivity and competitiveness.
Focusing on the EU Member States, it includes comparative data for: Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.

You can access the document here.
NB: Paper copy is available free via the bookshop (also accessible through the link above.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

10 stories I found educative, interesting or just weird

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Rise of the technocrats. Economic equations and graphs have their place, but they are no substitute for political debates about how to run society... more

Low-fi lullabies from Brother Sun, Sister Moon via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Catalog Wp-Content Uploads 2012 03 Bssm-Cassette
Brother Sun, Sister Moon is a hazy, droney, dreamy collaboration between New Zealand vocalist Alizia Merz (Birds of Passage) and instrumentalist/beat maestro Gareth Munday (Roof Light). Lovely low-fi, cross-genre lullabies. It's $6 for the digital album or around $12 for a cassette that also includes a digital download. Vinyl also available from Denovali Mailorder.
From the project description:
The self-titled album is a trip through sun-dappled pop music, glistening with Alicia's vibrant vocals reminiscent of Vashti Bunyan and neatly complimented by a haze of lo-fi instrumentation akin to the distorted experimentation of SLOWDIVE and MY BLOODY VALENTINE. Unafraid to extend their musical reach beyond this, the record ventures into the futuristic beat world channeling influences such as FLYING LOTUS and MADLIB, while traversing vast technicolour electronic sounds that call to mind BOARDS OF CANADA and the ambient tape manipulation of Matthew David.
"Brother Sun, Sister Moon" (via OMG Vinyl)

What Jesus Means to a 21st Century Jew via Big Think by Jeffrey Israel
It was only about a century ago that Easter was considered by some Christians to be a good day for massacring Jews. Consider, for instance, the first Kishinev pogrom of 1903. In 21st century America, by contrast, Easter - with its bunnies, candy eggs, pink, yellow and baby blue - is not exactly is not exactly threatening.
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Are you a mysterian? The more we know about the brain, the less we understand how it creates consciousness, says Colin McGinn. Maybe the mind is a puzzle that can’t be solved... more

The Failure of the Last Mile via Big Think by Maneesh Sethi
On Friday, I woke up with an intense urge to run. As soon as my eyes opened, all I could think about was how much I wanted to feel the open air, the liberation that I only experience when I run through hills in the early morning. Yet, by 4pm, I hadn’t even gone outside.
Read More
Oh dear. This is me! Not about running (arthritic knees do not allow for that) but about sewing, knitting and generally finishing stuff. The only time I managed it was when I worked with a guy who had no concept of finishing so I absolutely had to.

The real cost of carbon via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Image: Black coal or charcoal for cooking, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from epsos's photostream
Two years ago, if you’d asked me what I thought about something like cap and trade, or a carbon tax, I would have said that they were interesting ideas, but probably not worth the trouble of fighting for. I didn’t think a price on carbon was necessary and, in fact, I was worried it could do more harm than good.
Doing the research for my book, Before the Lights Go Out, changed my perspective. There are risks to any mechanism you use to put a price on carbon (there are risks to everything we do), and it’s still not something we could institute easily (thanks, politics!), but I've come to think that this one thing could be the easiest method to change the way we make and use energy. Energy – and more importantly, reducing fossil fuel use – isn’t intuitive. It’s often hard to see how we’re using fossil fuels, and make decisions about how to use less of them. A price on carbon, however you do it, takes some of the guesswork out of that. Instead of having to become some kind of Super Green Living Expert, all you have to do is do what’s cheapest.
Read an interview with Maggie at [great stuff!!]
Read more about why she thinks carbon pricing matters in Before the Lights Go Out.

What was your first book crush? via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza
What books do you cringe at having loved? Nadia Chaudhury collects the teen-age literary crushes of 30 popular writers.
The feelings are so strong and obsessive. The books seem smart, sophisticated, cool; the characters in them say and do such great things, they seem like guides sent to teach you how to be that way too. But then the crush goes, and the object of one’s former affection becomes an embarrassment – or at least the memory of you quoting them so seriously does.
It’s heartwarming to realize that no matter how cheesy Dragonlance/Forgotten Realms books are, they insulated me from Ayn Rand at a most vulnerable age.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Errol Morris believes there are no relative truths, only true truths. Maybe that’s why the postmodernist Thomas Kuhn hurled an ashtray at him... more

Introducing the Royal Society Picture Library!
Posted by Joanna Hopkins
We are excited to announce the launch of our brand new online picture library containing digital images of paintings, photographs, drawings and prints held in our collections. Browse our special themed galleries or dive straight into the advanced search and explore by subject, date and more!
Drawing of a butterfly fish from MS_131_89
Pictures have been catalogued to include detailed descriptions and provenance information; they have also, in many cases, been digitised for the first time.
The website is freely available for all to view and we hope it will prove a valuable tool for academic research. The resource also offers an image licensing service enabling users to purchase rights to reproduce the images in books, journals and many other mediums. Proceeds from image reproduction fees will be put towards conserving and developing our collections.
You can find more information about the pictures and services offered on the ‘About us’ page. You may also want to take a look at the help notes to get you started. But if you have any questions or queries on how to use the website then do drop us a line, we’ll be happy to hear from you.
We hope you enjoy browsing the website, please spread the word to your friends and colleagues. We will continue to add pictures regularly, so keep checking back to see what’s new.

Behold, the Conformateur! A 19th century hat-fitting device via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Tricia Roush is justifiably excited by her acquisition of an 1821 Conformateur in excellent shape. Conformateurs are Victorian devices used to measure the irregularities in the heads of milliner’s customers, to ensure a better fit from the eventual hat. Roush explains the device’s working in detail, with generous photos of the extraordinary device in action.
Oh Joy! My Conformateur (via JWZ)

10 stories and links I found educative, interesting or just weird (late for Saturday 19th)

11 “Modern Antiques” Today’s Kids Have Probably Never Seen via Stephen's Lighthouse
From Mental Floss:

Read the full text here:
Have you ever used one of these? Do you even know what it is? Quick answer BEFORE you look at the text (and the other 10 pictures).

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
If you talk to God, you’re praying; if God talks to you, you’re nuts. Jerusalem attracts a lot of nuts. Pesach Lichtenberg meets most of them... more

Colour photographs of Piccadilly Circus, 1950s via Retronaut by Chris
Decisions, decisions, decisions!
Which of these delightful images shall I use to illustrate the whole?

Ah, that’s it. The one with a policeman looking like a real policeman with a helmet on!
See the rest here
Source: Doveson2008

Gershwin Writ Small via 3quarksdaily by Robin Varghese
Joseph Horowitz on the controversial production of Porgy and Bess now on Broadway, in the TLS:
Porgy and Bess – with music by George Gershwin, a book by DuBose Heyward, and lyrics by Heyward and Ira Gershwin – split opinion when it opened on Broadway in 1935. No American could respond without prejudice to a black opera by a Brooklyn Jew with roots in Tin Pan Alley. Only immigrants and foreigners found it possible to acclaim Gershwin without patronizing him. A Broadway revival in 1942, recasting the opera as a musical, was more successful. In the 1950s and 60s, Porgy and Bess was little performed in the United States; its depiction of an impoverished African American courtyard community was considered demeaning. From 1976, a widely seen Houston Grand Opera production revalidated Porgy and Bess and proved its operatic mettle. A production at the Metropolitan Opera in 1985 was a ponderous failure. The new Porgy and Bess is nothing if not boldly conceived. In 1942, five years after Gershwin's death, his recitatives were replaced by dialogue, and cast and orchestra were greatly reduced in strength. Paulus and company have done that and more. We have new speeches, new harmonies, new accompaniments, even virtually new numbers. "Summertime" is a duet. "It take a long pull to get there" is a male vocal quartet distending Gershwin's pithy fisherman's tune. Both pit and stage are substantially amplified.
More here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Extracanonical oddity: Invasion of the Space Invaders, the much-discussed but rarely seen madwoman of a book in Martin Amis’s attic...more

Archers Oath via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
This game puts your archery skills to the test as you race against time to save innocent captives from the hangman’s noose. Are you good enough to show Robin Hood a thing or two about using a bow or will you be shot down in shame?
Asian Angel’s walk-through is here or you can, if you’re feeling brave, go straight to the game here.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
What’s the meaning of monsters? They’ve long been a moral compass: testing our ethics, shaping our politics, spurring medical science, and piquing our curiosity... more

Bette Davis Eyes via Britannica Blog by Michael Ray American actress Bette Davis would have turned 104 today [5 April]. The star of more than 100 films and television shows, Davis brought to her roles an intensity that sometimes conflicted with the wishes of studio executives.

 Bette Davis, 1942. Credit: Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Initially dismissed for lacking the "sex appeal" of other starlets of her generation, Davis signed with Warner Brothers after a breakout role in The Man Who Played God (1932). Although she remained under contract, she was choosy about her roles at a time when actors’ wishes were subordinate to those of their studios. Despite receiving critical acclaim for her performance in Of Human Bondage (1934) and an Academy Award for Dangerous (1935), Davis continued to receive roles and paychecks that she believed were not commensurate with her skills. She unsuccessfully sued Warner Brothers over her contract, but, perhaps fearing the precedent that the suit might set among her fellow actors, the studio turned an abrupt about-face and began catering to Davis's desires. She scored a second Oscar for Jezebel (1938) and continued to produce a solid body of work throughout the 1940s. By the end of that decade, it was widely believed that her star had faded. Her Oscar-nominated turn as Margo Channing in All About Eve (1950) silenced her detractors, but it was her appearance opposite Joan Crawford in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) that is perhaps the best known role of her later career. Davis’s performance as a bitter former child star was chilling [indeed it was], and the psychological thriller earned Davis her final (of a total of 11) Academy Award nomination.
Other photographs in the Britannica item:
  • Bette Davis and Franchot Tone in Dangerous (1935). Credit: Courtesy of Warner Brothers, Inc.
  • Bette Davis in Jezebel (1938). Credit: Courtesy of Warner Brothers, Inc.
  • (From left) Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, and George Sanders in All About Eve (1950). Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation/The Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive
  • Bette Davis as Elizabeth I in The Virgin Queen (1955). Credit: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation; photograph from a private collection
And links to other items from Britannica 

Friday Fun: Working Stiffs via How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game a zombie plague has infected your office building and you need to lead a band of survivors to safety while gathering important items along the way. Are you a survivor or will you be the next course on the zombies’ menu?
Use Asian Angel’s walk-through here or dive straight in an hope you’re a survivor!