Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Development and Validation of the Calling and Vocation Questionnaire (CVQ) and Brief Calling Scale (BCS)

an article by Bryan J. Dik and Brandy M. Eldridge (Colorado State University, USA), Michael F. Steger (North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa) and Ryan D. Duffy (University of Florida, USA) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 20 Number 3 (August 2012)


Research on work as a calling is limited by measurement concerns.

In response, the authors introduce the multidimensional Calling and Vocation Questionnaire (CVQ) and the Brief Calling scale (BCS), instruments assessing presence of, and search for, a calling.

Study 1 describes CVQ development using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in a cross-validated split-sample approach with 456 undergraduates. The CVQ contained six reliable sub-scales that form CVQ-Presence and CVQ-Search scores, which demonstrated moderate 1-month test–retest reliability, good fit to a six-factor structure, and initial support for construct validity.

Study 2 reports a multi-trait–multi-method analysis with 134 undergraduates and 365 informants.

Self-reported CVQ and BCS scores moderately to strongly correlated with informant reports and scores for both instruments correlated in hypothesized directions with work hope, prosocial work motivation, life meaning, and the search for meaning.

CVQ and BCS scores provide psychometrically sound measures of calling, with the CVQ offering the potential for more fine-grained, multidimensional analyses.

How Are We Doing? A Multiple Constituency Approach to Civic Association Effectiveness

an article by Kyu-Nahm Jun (Wayne State University, Detroit, USA) and Ellen Shiau (University of Southern California, Los Angeles) published in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly Volume 41 Number 4 (August 2012)


Increased citizen participation in policy processes through voluntary civic associations warrants an analysis of their effectiveness, which this article undertakes using a multiple constituency framework.

We find a gap in the literature on nonprofit effectiveness where theoretical and empirical studies have mainly focused on organizations that directly provide tangible goods and services. We propose a multiple constituency approach to evaluate and understand the implications for assessing the organizational effectiveness of community-based advisory civic associations.

We empirically analyze the evaluation of Los Angeles neighborhood councils by three different constituency groups – citizen participants, street-level bureaucrats, and city council staffs. We find that the effectiveness ratings of the constituency groups are dissimilar on different dimensions of effectiveness. These findings suggest that the multiple constituency framework holds theoretical and practical value for understanding the organizational effectiveness of voluntary associations, where the different goals of various stakeholders lead to different views on effectiveness.

Hazel’s comment:
I pondered for a while about this one but then realised that although the research may have taken place in the USA it could be applicable to anywhere in the world. Citizen organisations are not only about tangible outcomes (e.g. food banks) but are also about increased well-being and social integration.
Careers information is not only about labour markets and occupations, education and training, it is also about lifestyle choices and inclusiveness.

I *do* like Sage Publications

This is not an endorsement for the company or any of its products in particular but a pleased response to the way in which the abstracts to journal articles are presented.

Clear, concise, information always in the same place, keywords always provided, and very rarely is any reformatting required changing ' to ’ etc.

It makes life so much easier for me – once, of course, I have read all the abstracts and decided which I want to include.

What every worker wants? Evidence about employee demand for learning

an article by Jeanette Findlay (University of Glasgow) and Patricia Findlay and Chris Warhurst (University of Strathclyde) published in British Educational Research Journal Volume 38 Number 3 (June 2012)


In order to boost learning, recent UK governments have invested in trade union-led workplace learning. Investing in the supply of learning is useful but ignores the demand for learning by workers, about which there is little research.

This paper addresses this lacunae by analysing worker demand for learning, which workers want learning, what learning is demanded and why, and what factors might best lever learning.

Data come from two surveys of potential learners and union learning representatives. Findings reveal a large demand for learning and that unions can lever this learning. Findings also suggest further policy development to address problems associated with union-led learning.

The Careers Guidance Lottery

a report by Timothy Riley and Lydia Finnegan, with Malen Davies and Pippa Lane published by London Skills & Employment Observatory (June 2012)

Executive summary

Introduction and aims

The careers services landscape for young people in London is in a period of significant flux. The coalition government’s reforms have aimed to shift the balance of responsibility for delivering careers guidance to young people away from local authorities and to schools1, resulting in less control from the centre. Therefore, the Education Act 2011 stipulated that schools have the responsibility to ensure that pupils receive independent careers advice from September 2012. Prior to this, local authorities had a statutory duty to fund universal careers guidance for young people, but this requirement has been lifted. Also lifted is the statutory requirement of schools to provide careers education to their pupils. In addition, in April 2012, a new all-age National Careers Service (NCS) was launched with the aim of providing impartial information, advice and guidance for all.

These changes to the youth careers services have worried a number of commentators. They note that whilst schools have been given new responsibilities to provide independent careers guidance for pupils, they have not been provided with any additional funding with which to do so. Moreover, whilst the NCS will provide universal online and telephone resources, it will not provide a face-to-face service for young people (aged 13 to 19). Overall, there is concern that ‘the existing funding for face-to-face career guidance services for young people is being allowed to vanish without a trace’ and that this will have a strongly negative impact on services on offer to young people2 at a very challenging time for them in the labour market.

The aim of this project has been to provide an indication of the effect of these changes to the provision of careers guidance in schools in London, through a survey of local authority 14–19 leads and a number of case studies of the different models being applied.


This research presents a mixed picture in London about the availability of careers services for young people in schools from September 2012. On the one hand, nearly as many local authority 14–19 leads believed the level of careers guidance would remain the same or increase in their borough as thought that the level would decrease. As of February/March 2012, no borough was envisaging that there would be a widespread collapse of provision leading to inadequate services across the board.

On the other hand, there were still significant concerns. Around half of 14-19 leads answering the survey thought that there would be at least one school in the borough where the service was not adequate. Moreover, one respondent felt that ‘schools with greater financial issues [would] cut back and these [would be] the same schools with the most student need.’ There was also concern about the potential for an accountability deficit at a local level; who was ultimately responsible for the quality of provision or for ensuring provision was available?

But when this research was undertaken, in February and early March 2012, arrangements were still developing and subject to change in most boroughs.

  • The Treasury and the Department for Education should urgently reconsider the decision to remove funding from careers services for young people. We believe there is a compelling case for investment in those services to help young people to make considered and appropriate career choices.
  • In the event that the government continues with its current policy we urge schools, London boroughs and London government to consider the following recommendations:
    • Schools should aim to improve the careers services on offer to their students and consider offering impartial careers services to students earlier, such as at Key Stage 3. They should also ensure they keep abreast of best practice in the careers guidance sector and, where possible, look to purchase careers services with other schools locally, as consortia should achieve better economies of scale.
    • Local authorities should become careers services champions and encourage schools to offer impartial, independent and suitably accredited guidance.
    • Local authorities should consider providing a careers guidance offer to schools or develop a framework of approved careers advice providers from which schools can purchase services at reduced rates.
    • The Mayor and London Councils should develop a pan-London vision for careers guidance and consider the merits of a London Careers Guidance service for young people.
    • The Department for Education should hold a comprehensive review to examine the state of careers guidance for young people in the early years of the policy change.
    • Ofsted should give careers guidance increased importance in the assessment of schools.
    • The National Careers Service should continue to develop its website based on best practice in the sector and responding better to local labour market trends.
1 The definition of ‘school’ to which this report refers to is wide, in accordance with the Education Act 2011, and includes community, foundation or voluntary schools, community or foundation special schools (other than those established in hospitals), academies, free schools and pupil referral units.
2 Watts, T. (2011), The Coalition’s Emerging Policies on Career Guidance, Careers England Policy Commentary 15, http://www.derby.ac.uk/files/policycom152011.pdf, [last checked 03/02/2012].

Full text (PDF 48pp)

Hazel’s comment:
I am feeling pleased with myself – I have learned how to write nested lists in HTML.

A Critical Perspective of Contemporary Unemployment Policy and Practices

an article by David L. Blustein, Mary Beth Medvide and Carol M. Wan (Boston College, MA, USA) published in Journal of Career Development Volume 39 Number 4 (August 2012)


This article explores the challenges of unemployment via the lens of critical psychology.

The conventional discourse on unemployment is critiqued, revealing ways in which conventional policies and practices serve to further marginalize the lives of the unemployed and impede the development of ethical, effective, and empathic individual interventions and structural changes.

In the practice realm, the importance of inclusion of mental health treatments in work-based interventions is highlighted based on the prevalence of psychological problems as a direct outcome of unemployment. New directions in research and public policy emerging from a critical analysis of existing are also outlined.

HSBC lends a hand to back-to-work parents: Employees guaranteed part-time work after maternity or paternity leave

an article published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 20 Issue 5 (2012)


This paper aims to describe how HSBC is set to offer all new parents a part-time role at a pro-rata salary and the same level as their original role following maternity or paternity leave.
Design/methodology/approach<br /> The paper explains the reason for the policy and the advantages it will bring to employees and the company as a whole. It briefly considers other family-friendly policies at HSBC.
The paper reveals that about 1,100 staff each year take parental leave following childbirth, of whom 87 percent want to return to work. It explains that, by guaranteeing returning parents part-time roles, the bank is supporting its staff by offering more flexible working patterns in order to help to balance the need for child-care while maintaining household income.
Practical implications
The paper demonstrates to employees that the bank values their talent and experience.
Social implications
The paper highlights how the policy may help more women to get into senior roles.
The paper reveals that HSBC claims to be the first large corporate in the UK to guarantee part-time work when returning parents ask for it.

The design construct in information systems design science

an article by Judy McKay (Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia), Peter Marshall (University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia) and Rudy Hirschheim (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA) published in Journal of Information Technology Volume 27 Issue 2 (June 2012)


This paper arose from concerns regarding the current conceptualizations of ‘design’ in the emerging literature on design science (DS) in information systems (IS). In this paper, we argue that current conceptualizations of design in IS are overly narrow, which necessarily limits what is viewed as acceptable DS research. In response we advance a more encompassing view of design.

The revised view extends the current perspectives of design in the IS literature to embrace broader conceptualizations of design, which are evident in many intellectual communities outside IS where design is viewed as a critical component of both research and practice – such as management, engineering, architecture and others.

In addition to the fairly common conceptualizations of design as product and design as process or action, design is also conceived as: intention; planning – including modeling and representation; communication; user experience; value; professional practice; and as service.

Further, whereas the current conceptualization of design in IS views IS design knowledge as split across two paradigms, namely DS and behavioral science, in this paper we argue for a broader and more integrated view of design: one that emphasizes both the construction-centered and human-centered aspects of design in IS. Building from our broader view, we discuss some of the implications for design-oriented research in IS, and consider ways in which this human-centered perspective might impact on the context and content of design research in IS.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Institutional culture, social interaction and learning

an article by Harry Daniels (Department of Education, University of Bath) published in Learning, Culture and Social Interaction Volume 1 Issue 1 (March 2012)


This paper is concerned with the the development of a theoretical and methodological approach to the study of the cultures of institutions and the patterns of social interaction within them as they exert a formative effect on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of learning.

It does this through the development of an approach in which a dialectical relation between theoretical and empirical work draws on the strengths of the legacies of sociological and psychological sources to provide a theoretical model which is capable of descriptions at levels of delicacy which may be tailored to the needs of specific research questions.

The paper provides an introduction to a model of description that may be used to study the way in which societal needs and priorities and/or curriculum formations are recontextualised within institutions such as schools. Institutional structures are analysed as historical products which themselves are subject to dynamic transformation and change as people act within and on them.

Full text (HTML)

Seizing the opportunity: towards a historiography of information systems

an article by Nathalie Mitev (London School of Economics and Political Science) and François-Xavier De Vaujany (Université Paris-Dauphine, France) published in Journal of Information Technology Volume 27 Issue 2 (June 2012)


Historical perspectives are only timidly entering the world of IS research compared to historical research in management or organisation studies. If major IS outlets have already published history-oriented papers, the number of historical papers – although increasing – remains low.

We carried out a thematic analysis of all papers on History and IS published between 1972 and 2009 indexed on ABI and papers indexed in Google Scholar™ for the same period. We used a typology developed by theorists Üsdiken and Kieser, who classify historical organisation research into supplementarist, integrationist and reorientationist approaches.

We outline their links with the epistemological stances well known in IS research, positivism, interpretivism and critical research; we then focus on their differences and historiographical characteristics.

We found that most IS History papers are supplementarist descriptive case studies with limited uses of History. This paper then suggests that IS research could benefit from adopting integrationist and reorientationist historical perspectives and we offer some examples to illustrate how that would contribute to enriching, extending and challenging existing theories.

Cities of the young (and old)

via Centre for Cities by Paul Swinney

This week’s Census data release gave us only a little peek at the veritable treasure trove that the Census will eventually reveal. Unfortunately those desperate to get their hands on more detailed statistics on things such as commuting patterns and neighbourhood analysis will have to remain patient. But to whet the appetite this first round of data did at least give a fascinating insight into the demographics of our cities.

Continue reading (HTML)

Hazel’s comment:
This post gives a useful insight into how the data may be used by market researchers and businesses to target cities with the highest proportion of older people and the highest proportion of children (family-friendly products).

Older, wiser, better: ageing workforce and fast-track societies

via OECD’s Directorate for Education

Simple fact: older workers are leaving the labour force earlier than they did in the 60s and 70s. The retirement age declined steadily across OECD countries from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Over the past decade this drop has levelled off, with some countries experiencing a slight upturn. Despite this, apart from Japan and Korea, it is still significantly lower than in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Can improving UK skills levels reduce poverty and income inequality by 2020?

a research paper by Mark Taylor (Director of Research at ISER), Tina Haux (Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast) and Steve Pudney (Director of the ESRC Research Centre on Micro-social Change) published by JRF (Jospeh Rowntree Foundation).


Improving skills among the workforce is seen as fundamental to achieving a more competitive economy and maintaining productivity, with a world-class skills base considered a key driver of competitive advantage (BIS, 2010). This report uses data from the British Household Panel Survey to investigate how projected improvements in skills levels in the UK economy between now and 2020 will affect rates of poverty and income inequality.

The report:
  • models the impact of skills on the probability of employment and on earnings derived from employment for working-age people;
  • uses estimates from these models to predict the distribution of earnings, and simulate the distribution of net household incomes, likely to arise from the distribution of skills by 2020; and
  • predicts the levels of poverty and income inequality likely to be engendered by the different distribution of skills.
Full text (PDF 60pp)

Computing with competencies: Modelling organizational capacities

an article by Elena García-Barriocanal, Miguel-Angel Sicilia and Salvador Sánchez-Alonso (University of Alcalá, Madrid, Spain) published in Expert Systems with Applications Volume 39 Issue 16 (15th November 2012)


The notion of competency provides an observable account of concrete human capacities under specific work conditions. The fact that competencies are subject to concrete kinds of measurement entails that they are subject to some extent to comparison and even in some sense, calculus.

Then, competency models and databases can be used to compute competency gaps, to aggregate competencies of individuals as part of groups, and to compare capacities.

However, as of today, there is not a commonly agreed model or ontology for competencies, and scattered reports use different models for computing with competencies. This paper addresses how computing with competencies can be approached from a general perspective, using a flexible and extensible ontological model that can be adapted to the particularities of concrete organizations.

Then, the consideration of competencies as an organizational asset is approached from the perspective of particular issues as competency gap analysis, the definition of job positions and how learning technology can be linked with competency models. The framework presented provides a technology-based baseline for organizations dealing with competency models, enabling the management of the knowledge acquisition dynamics of employees as driven by concrete and measurable accounts of organizational needs.


► We review the current state of competency models and the needs for more complex competency schemas.
► We present a general model for expressing competencies and how it is expressed in the form of an ontology.
► We describe how that model can be used for different tasks involving computation and inference with competencies.

Hazel’s comment: 
Some readers will remember the post I wrote last week about dropping some journals from my regular reading list. I have also been looking at the number of journals for which I receive alerts. I know that these individually do not take as long to deal with as the hard copies in the British Library but there are significantly more of them. There is, moreover, a limit to how long I can sit and look at article titles, decide whether to read the abstract, decide whether to blog and then reformatting and checking – I have to get up and go do something else such as housework for a while before coming back to the cerebral activity. This journal was one I very nearly dropped – and what a gem I would have missed. I've not read the full article but an ontology of competence has got me really excited (sad person that I am).

Graduates' reactions to recruitment process outsourcing: A scenario-based study

an article by Marius Claus Wehner, Angelo Giardini and Rüdiger Kabst (University of Giessen, Germany) published in Human Resource Management Volume 51 Issue 4 (July/August 2012)


This study examines how successive outsourcing of recruitment activities to an external provider – also known as recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) – affects graduates’ reactions.

Using an experimental scenario technique, a total of 158 graduates participated in four hypothetical scenarios that have been developed as an experimental between-subject design.

Results provide support for negative effects of the extent of RPO on graduates’ satisfaction with the recruitment process and company attractiveness. More-over, mediated by graduates’ satisfaction with the recruitment process and company attractiveness, an increasing extent of RPO negatively influences job-acceptance intentions.
© 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Structure of government debt in Europe in 2011

Eurostat Statistics in Focus Issue number 34/2012

Upward trend in the EU government debt level continued in 2011

In order to analyse the debt structure in Europe, Eurostat conducts an annual survey to collect data from Member States information on debt by holder, instrument, maturity, currency of issuance, as well as guarantees granted by the government to non-government units. This publication examines the main results of the latest questionnaire, fully or partly completed by 25 countries.

Full text (PDF 8pp)

Sunday, 29 July 2012

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

This picture has already gone viral but some people may have missed it!
Here are some pictures of a giraffe swimming in a pool
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Ah, the infinite surreal comedic potential of a giraffe in a swimming pool
There she was. Long legs, long neck and all she wanted to do was swim.
imgur.com via Super Punch

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Physics has undermined logic. Even nothingness is not what it seemed. The universe is devoid of meaning. That's not such a bad thing... more

Is Voyager I outside our solar system?
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Probably not yet. But it’s on the cusp. And part of what makes this entire process really, really interesting is that, by the very nature of this whole experiment, we don’t know exactly what will happen when Voyager I does cross that imaginary boundary line. But, as Rebecca Rosen explains on The Atlantic, we do have some pretty good theories.
Some cosmic ray particles enter the heliosphere and we can see them here from Earth. But a slower type has a hard time entering the heliosphere. Last month, the sum of those slower particles, suddenly ticked up about 10 percent, “the fastest increase we've seen,” Stone says. But an uptick does not mean Voyager has crossed over, though it does mean we’re getting close. When Voyager does finally leave and enter the space “out there where all the particles are”, the level will stop rising. The rising itself means that Voyager is not out there, yet. “But,” cautions Stone, “we don’t know. I mean this is the first time any spacecraft has been there.” Since nothing’s ever been there before, we don’t know what it will look like, which makes it a little hard to recognize ‘it’ at all.”
This is the most exciting kind of science – the sort where we really don’t know the answers and we’re on the cusp of learning something truly, wonderously new. Stay tuned.
Read Rebecca Rosen's full article at The Atlantic

Parlor Car: 1905
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Parlor Car: 1905
Circa 1905 “Pere Marquette Railroad parlor car No. 25, interior view”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post (where you can see a larger view and the always informative comments)
Now that's the way to travel!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
How could an all-powerful, loving God permit the Holocaust? It's a mystery, say some believers. That’s obscene, says Ron Rosenbaum. Such talk is the last refuge of theological scoundrels... more

Genetic sequence could solve mystery of why bonobos are more peaceful than other chimpanzees
via 3quarksdaily by Azra Raza
From Nature:
When the Congo River in central Africa formed, a group of apes was forever stranded on its southern banks. Two million years later, the descendants of these apes – the bonobos – have developed distinct social patterns. Unlike their chimpanzee relatives on the northern shore, they shun violent male dominance and instead forge bonds through food-sharing, play and casual sex. An 18-year-old female named Ulindi has now become the first bonobo (Pan paniscus) to have its genome sequenced. Scientists hope that the information gleaned will explain the stark behavioural differences between bonobos and common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and help to identify the genetic changes that set humans apart from other apes.
Read the full story

The Mills Archive is 10 years old
via Peter Scott’s Library Blog
The Mills Archive is 10 years old (UK)
This year the Mills Archive is 10 years old. The Mills Archive was established in 2002 as a permanent repository for historical and contemporary material on traditional mills and milling, and to make that material available for public inspection and use in research and learning.
It is managed by the Mills Archive Trust and has rescued over a million documents and images that might otherwise have ended up in a landfill site. The archive was originally set up to care for four historically important Foundation Collections. The private collections of M. M. Cookson, J. K. Major and A. Stoyel are three of the largest collections of material on traditional mills and milling in the UK, and represent between them more than 130 years researching and working with mills.
The fourth collection consists of material deposited over the years with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings Mills Section by various mill researchers and enthusiasts; as the Section does not have the space or the expertise to develop these collections it has agreed to pass them to the Mills Archive to better care for them. In addition to these, the archive has been given more than 70 other collections of varying size. All together the collections have more than 2,000,000 items. These show the rich and diverse crafts, buildings, machinery, equipment and people involved with mills in the UK and around the world.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Margaret Fuller was brilliant and obsessive and dreadful company. "The upper lip habitually uplifts itself," Edgar Allan Poe said of her, "conveying the impression of a sneer"... more

Is Earth at an Environmental Tipping Point?
via Big Think by Orion Jones
A recent report in the scientific journal Nature suggests that Earth may be approaching a crucial tipping point in which human influence over the natural environment will irrevocably change the planet’s biology.
Read More

Germany’s Equators
via Big Think by Frank Jacobs
In the two decades since German reunification, the German government has spent up to €1,6 billion on upgrading the defunct economic infrastructure of the communist East to match that of the capitalist West. Yet differences, and associated resentments, between the former BRD and DDR [1] persist:
Read More

Saturday, 28 July 2012

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

The Scrap Room: 1915
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive - Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
The Scrap Room: 1915
Wyandotte, Michigan, circa 1915
“Detroit Shipbuilding Co., scrap room”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post and do please look at the comments. One of them says that there are still workplaces like this – I wish I didn’t believe it.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Physics has undermined logic. Even nothingness is not what it seemed. The universe is devoid of meaning. That’s not such a bad thing... more

The Flaws in Defending Morality With Religion
via Big Think by Tauriq Moosa
When we think of those opposed to homosexuality – which still sounds weird to me, like opposing left-handed people* – or stem-cell research or euthanasia, we tend conclude they’re justifying themselves because of religion.
View full story

What’s your Technology Quotient (TQ)?
via Big Think by Parag and Ayesha Khanna
A new era requires a new vocabulary. Will we still talk about the “mobile” phone when all phones are mobile, or when they are implanted within us?
Does “evolution” really capture our deepening entanglement with technology today, or should we instead speak of human-technology co-evolution?
Read More

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A home-goods behemoth with a knack for social order buys acres of urban blight, turning it into a chic address. Ikea is building a city... more

via Credo Reference Blog by Credo Reference
As researchers from Liverpool John Moores University and The Royal Veterinary College recently discovered, Gouldian finches – a colourful, social finch that lives in Australian woodlands – have very distinct personalities which may be related to the colour of their heads. Finches, also known as the family Fringillidae, come in many shapes and sizes including sparrows, canaries and cardinals. Finches have long been an inspiration to ornithologists and biologists in general, ever since Charles Darwin used his observations of several different finch species on the Galapagos Islands as the foundation of his theories of evolution.
I showed this picture to my husband who said, in a tone of disgust, “My dad had some in 1966 which cost him a fortune and they were much more colourful than that one”. I had to go and find an image which looked more as he remembered.
Thank you, Wikipedia.


Clever sucker-bets
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow

Here are ten clever sucker bets from Richard Wiseman. They’re a good mix of physics, logic, low trickery, concept-shifting, misdirection, topology, and breathtaking chutzpah. Seriously, I can’t believe that he ever tried #10, because he is still breathing.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Cubism, pointillism, synchromism: Thomas Hart Benton “wallowed in every cockeyed ism that came along” before finding realism... more

Pond’s Celebrity Endorsement Ads, 1920s
via Retronaut by Amanda
I was not sure which of these beautiful, pampered ladies to include but settled for the Queen of Romania.

Source: Duke University Library
See the rest of Amanda’s selection here.

Decisions Are Emotional, not Logical: The Neuroscience behind Decision Making
via Big Think by Jim Camp
Think of a situation where you had bulletproof facts, reason, and logic on your side, and believed there was absolutely no way the other person could say no to your perfectly constructed argument and proposal. To do so would be impossible, you figured, because there was no other logical solution or answer.
Read More

Friday, 27 July 2012

The future of health and wellbeing in the workplace

This paper is one of a series commissioned by Acas to address the future of workplace relations. It follows a publication in January 2011 The Future of Workplace Relations: An Acas View which addressed the wider terrain of employment relations including the drivers for change and the key future challenges. All papers in the series can be found at www.acas.org.uk/future

This Acas Policy Discussion paper was written by Emma Donaldson Feilder, Chartered Occupational Psychologist, Affinity Health at Work and Sarah Podro, Acas Senior Policy Adviser. The views expressed are those of the authors and not the Acas Council.

Series editors Sarah Podro and Gill Dix. We welcome your comments and opinions. These should be sent to policypublications@acas.org.uk

Whilst physical health and safety in the workplace remains a paramount concern, more recently there has been a growing recognition of the importance of psychosocial issues, with a focus on both the psychological and social elements of work. An exploration of work and well-being touches on a vast array of employment relations issues from leadership to job design, organisational policy to workplace culture.

The authors review the broadening of the health at work agenda and the link to the concepts of good work and engagement.

The paper then goes on to highlight the future challenges to health and well-being such as the ageing workforce and economic austerity measures. It then turns to government policy in this area with a focus on the outcomes of the initiatives set in train by Dame Carol Black and her team in addressing absence and return to work strategies, and considers what future policy and workplace initiatives might best address well-being at work.

Full text (PDF 15pp)

Queering cross-sex friendships: An analysis of gay and bisexual men’s workplace friendships with heterosexual women

an article by Nick Rumens (University of Bristol) published in Human Relations Volume 65 Number 8 (August 2012)


Organizational research on cross-sex friendships frequently normalizes heterosexuality by excluding lesbian, gay and bisexual people. Challenging this heteronormative bias, this article mobilizes queer theories to examine how UK gay and bisexual men reproduce and contest heterosexist norms in the construction of workplace friendships with heterosexual women.

For bisexual study participants, interview data reveal how their friendship experiences can be rendered epistemologically invisible, especially within work environments where bi-negativity is anticipated.

In contrast, gay study participants appear to adopt discursive strategies in order to create friendships with women that are normatively accepted. This article develops a concept of ‘queer friendship’ as it relates to the opportunities that arise within workplace friendships for transcending heterosexist norms.

It is argued that sustaining the queer aspects of workplace relationships can be challenging but worthwhile, with implications for disrupting gender binaries and developing open-ended organizational policy definitions of ‘acceptable’ workplace relationships.

Cross-lagged associations between perceived external employability, job insecurity, and exhaustion: …

Testing gain and loss spirals according to the Conservation of Resources Theory

 an article by Nele De Cuyper (Organizational and Personnel Psychology, K.U. Leuven, Belgium), Anne Mäkikangas and Saija Mauno (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), Ulla Kinnunen (University of Tampere, Finland) and Hans De Witte (Organizational and Personnel Psychology, K.U. Leuven, Belgium and North-West University, South-Africa) published in Journal of Organizational Behavior (Special Issue: Coping with Economic Stress) Volume 33 Issue 6 (August 2012)


This study investigates perceived external employability (PEE) as a personal resource in relation to job insecurity and exhaustion. We advance the idea that PEE may reduce feelings of job insecurity and, through felt job insecurity, also exhaustion. That is, we probe the paths from PEE to job insecurity and from job insecurity to exhaustion. We furthermore account for possible reversed causality, so that exhaustion → felt job insecurity and felt job insecurity → PEE.

This aligns with insights from the Conservation of Resources Theory, which is built on the assumption of resource caravans passageways and associated gain and loss spirals. We based the results on a sample of 1,314 workers from two Finnish universities. Respondents participated twice in the study with a time lag of one year. We found that PEE related negatively to felt job insecurity and vice versa. Similarly, there was a reciprocal positive relationship between felt job insecurity and exhaustion.

We conclude that PEE may prevent feelings of insecurity and, through reduced job insecurity, also exhaustion.
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Decisions, decisions, decisions

I know that a postscript comes at the end so I suppose this is a prescript but that doesn’t sound right.
I started writing this post at around 6pm yesterday and lost it twice when Blogger decided that it did not want me to save so I ended up writing it in Word!
It’s now Friday morning and I’m about to convert and get it formatted. Hey ho! Modern technology makes life easier?

I have spent the last couple of hours reviewing the journals that are on my list for regular reading in the British Library’s Business and IP Centre and have reached some conclusions about the value of these to me and/or careers and employment advisers.

I thought that I would find that Director was a journal that I enjoyed reading, which I do if not pressured for time, but that did not contain anything of relevance.
I was wrong. For example, the debate in the July/August issue (Volume 65 Issue 11) asks: "Can business be conducted wearing hoodies, jeans and flip-flops?" Useful? Of course it is as it adds to our armoury of weapons to persuade young people (and, indeed, the not so young) that they cannot simply assume that their style of dress will be acceptable to a prospective employer.
That is, however, only one article out of many.
I’ve marked it up to check the next issue and will maybe drop it.

Next up came Economic Review from Deloitte which I will drop. There’s only so much labour market information at a national and international level that can be of value to the adviser helping someone to become a plumber in Barnsley.

The readership of First Voice of Business is clearly intended to be small business owners/managers. I cannot remember using anything from this since I stopped providing posts to the business information blog.

Harvard Business Review – a great read but … ditched!

IDS Pay Benchmark I find useful for looking at job titles and getting a general feel for the employment world. It stays. As does IDS Pay Report a monthly "research and analysis on pay and benefits". I may not often post anything from this (can’t actually remember the last time I did) but it provides very useful background information on different employment sectors for answering specific questions.

Management Today is now available only on request. I can’t be bothered!!

To say that I couldn’t live without the National Institute Economic Review would, of course, be a gross exaggeration but I would miss it. My problem with this publication is that it is available online in a format that I find very difficult to read. Consequently, as I have found with one or two other journals, I find an item of interest in the hard copy and then search for it online. Clumsy but it works even if the information is somewhat delayed.

When I came to the OECD Observer I was torn. It’s a great read, it’s informative, nicely set out, just the right number of pictures and illustrations to break up the text. Do I need it? Probably not because I get regular news alerts from the various departments of the OECD. Is it staying on the list? Yes. I have to have some pleasures!

I’ve dropped The Office Briefing from Croner, and Professional Manager. I did wonder whether I was getting a bit slap-happy towards the end of the list but no, these no longer serve a purpose.

Which leaves Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain from The Open University Business School.
The answer on this one is keep but under review as there isn’t anything more recent than December 2011 on the shelf today.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

The devil without and within:

A conceptual model of social cognitive processes whereby discrimination leads stigmatized minorities to become discouraged workers

 an article by Peter A. Heslin (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia), Myrtle P. Bell (University of Texas–Arlington, USA) and Pinar O. Fletcher (Harvard Business School, Boston, Massachusetts) published in Journal of Organizational Behavior (Special Issue: Coping with Economic Stress) Volume 33 Issue 6 (August 2012)


In contrast to the substantial literatures on job loss, underemployment, and re-employment, management scholars have paid scant attention to “discouraged workers,” defined as those who want to work but have ceased looking for work because of labour market-related reasons such as discrimination.

Drawing together the labour economics category of discouraged workers, the diversity literature on employment discrimination, and social cognitive research on careers, we model social cognitive mechanisms whereby discrimination can lead stigmatized minorities to become discouraged workers.

We show how direct effects of discrimination (the “devil without”) can be compounded by its indirect impacts – through minority socialization and identity, struggling role models, learned helplessness, and low job search self-efficacy (collectively, the “devil within”) – to lead stigmatized minorities to become discouraged workers.

Our model of insidious intra- and inter-personal dynamics that can amplify and sustain the demoralization and exclusion that stems from discrimination has implications for researchers, organizations, and those concerned with helping discouraged workers.

Hazel’s comment:
This is an article which bears reading by anyone working in career or employment advice – not that I have yet managed to do so!! I couldn’t find a price for purchase but it is free through subscribing institutions. It is not yet on the shelf in the Social Sciences Reading Room at the British Library and does not appear to be available electronically.

Going thin on top: work intensification and the neglect of personal support of senior managers

an article by David Meacheam (University of New South Wales at The Australian Defence Force Academy, Australia) published in International Journal of Work Innovation Volume 1 Number 1 (2012)


As organisations from the early 1990s flattened, senior managers have to a large degree been asked to cope with much less by way of personal support for the execution of their duties. Personal assistants are increasingly rare, senior managers are commonly expected to perform quite menial tasks (typing and filing) that have little overall impact on their work effectiveness, and the private lives of these senior managers becomes impoverished as a result.

A series of organisational failures arising from this refusal by many organisations (government, private sector and church-based) are critically assessed. The moral implications of the failure by many organisations to support senior managers are examined, and an effort is made to generate a debate in support of this often well paid, but poorly supported part of the modern workforce.

Full text (PDF 6pp)

Too much to lose: understanding and supporting Britain’s older workers

a research paper by Matthew Tinsley (Policy Exchange)

Executive Summary – opening paragraph

This report examines the position of over-50s in the UK labour market.

It outlines the large barriers to work that they face and highlights that the majority of these barriers remain unaddressed by government support. It argues that without reforms to address these issues, growth in the UK economy will be lower than it might otherwise be and, on average, the population of over-50s could see a fall in living standards.

Key headings:
  • Some progress but large problems remain
  • Older workers are key to the UK economy
  • Further regulation is unlikely to help
  • Better back-to-work support is needed
       Advisor flexibility
       Volunteering opportunities
       Personal budgets
  • Responsibilities must match rights
       Evidence of search
       Extending the work experience scheme
       Use of mandatory work activity
  • Political attitudes must recognise the importance of older workers
       Creation of The Job Contract
  • Extending (flexible) working lives
        Protected conversations
Executive Summary – Conclusion

This report outlines the vital importance of older workers in the economy. In order to maintain living standards, promote inclusion and health in our ageing population and drive growth in the economy we need to open up opportunities for older workers to increase their working lives. The report also outlines the severe personal and economic costs that unemployment can have on older workers and the difficulties faced by older job-seekers when they try to find work. The size of impacts involved, on both the part of the individual and the wider economy, mean that failing to tackle these problems is not an option.

The reforms we outline in this report ensure that older workers and older job-seekers are properly supported and encouraged. If implemented they would lead to a step change in the debate around the targeting of support and in the value we place on our older workforce. We propose measures to ensure that those already in work can approach their employers to discuss future working plans and that those out of work can get the support they need. On the part of older job-seekers, our proposals would require them to seek any work that is available, gain more experience, consider changing roles or sectors and take on all the support that is available to them. Most of all, our reforms would push the government to ensure that employment support is targeted by need and not by age and to promote the status of older workers in the UK economy. If the government fails to do this they risk letting down older workers and the country.

Without these reforms, and by focusing all of our attention on a potential “lost generation” of young people, we risk losing far more. Older workers are crucial to maximise UK economic capacity and hold vital experience and expertise. If we fail to support them, we might condemn a generation of older workers to far greater risks of poverty and declining living standards.

Full text (PDF 66pp)

Information Architectures for Information Sharing Management – A Literature Review

an article by Shuyan Xie, Markus Helfert and Lukasz Ostrowski (Dublin City University, Ireland) published in Journal of Information & Knowledge Management Volume 11 Issue 2 (June 2012)


The struggle for commercial supremacy through information is being fought on two points: information management and enabling technologies.

Over the last years, there has been an increasing focus on information architecture (IA) to help organisations distinguish and manage information as corporate resource. As the information complexity increases, more IA studies show that IA could provide the structural and process design to facilitate enterprise interoperation under the information sharing environment.

However, limited IA has been addressed for the usage of managing the information sharing. Motivated by this observation, this paper presents a literature review that IA can be used to understand and manage information sharing, utilising the enterprise information resource statically and dynamically through IA implementation.

First, enterprise IA description and definition are presented. Second, we analyse IA from a static and dynamic view to reveal the research streams on an architectural approach for information sharing management. Third, contributions and limitations are discussed.

It is finally concluded by providing future IA research directions and implications for empirical applications. Our research illustrates that IA deployment imposes a positive influence on information sharing management.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Selling you short - sort of!

Regular readers of this blog will realise that I try very hard to report on seven or eight items every day through a mix of journal abstracts and items from the more immediate media (mainly the Guardian).

Tomorrow, which will be today when you read this, I have managed to forward schedule only five items and there will be no more as I am on a training course all day.

I'm going to learn how to better provide peer support online for people with mental health problems via The Elephant (@The_Elephant_) because right now, 1 in 6 workers is experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, That's the elephant in the room. Don’t ignore the elephant.

Ele is also on Facebook and you can check out lots of other workplace issues via the Mind website.

Young women on the margins of the labour market

an article by Karen Escott (Sheffield Hallam University) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 26 Number 3 (June 2012)


This article examines worklessness among young women living in 10 disadvantaged communities across England. The data shows that despite dynamic economic circumstances and New Labour’s work incentives, responses to the employment aspirations of many young women were inadequate.

In addition to the influence of social characteristics such as ethnicity and qualifications in determining employment rates, experiences of discrimination, poor health and caring responsibilities affect many young women.

Neighbourhood variations in the reasons for worklessness, even among highly employable young women, suggest that the multiple issues affecting disadvantaged groups are also influenced by local job markets. Occupational segregation and clustering into particular industries are added constraints for young women which are largely ignored in welfare policies seeking to address youth unemployment.

Creating a world-class school system for England

The Crisis in Careers Guidance

As part of the “Creating a world-class school system for England” project, IPPR asked leading academic Professor Tony Watts to look at the urgent issue of careers guidance. In this short paper, he outlines the problems facing the system.As part of the 'Creating a world-class school system for England' project, IPPR asked leading academic Professor Tony Watts to look at the urgent issue of careers guidance. In this short paper, he outlines the problems facing the system.

These are tough times for young people.
Massive youth unemployment caused by the extended economic slump means that many young people are finding it difficult to find jobs that meet their aspirations, or even jobs of any kind. This is coinciding with huge and often ill-understood changes in higher education funding. Finding their way through the choices that face them is becoming more and more difficult for young people, and particularly so for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who lack access to networks of contacts and support.

Continue reading here

The paper itself may be short but there are links to other items which will be of interest.

Clash of Career and Family: fertility decisions after job displacement

an article by Emilia Del Bono (University of Essex), Andrea Weber (University of Mannheim) and Rudolf Winter-Ebmer (University of Linz and IHS Vienna) published in Journal of the European Economic Association Volume 10 Issue 4 (August 2012)


In this paper we investigate how career considerations may affect fertility decisions in the presence of a temporary employment shock. We compare the birth rates of women displaced by a plant closure with those of women unaffected by job loss after establishing the pre-displacement comparability of these groups.

Our results reveal that job displacement reduces average fertility by 5%–10%, and that these effects are largely explained by the response of women in more skilled occupations. We offer an explanation of our results based on career interruptions of women.

JEL classifications: J13 J64 J65 J24

Self-employment of immigrants and natives in Sweden – a multilevel analysis

an article by Henrik Ohlsson (Lund University, Malmö, Sweden) and Per Broomé and Pieter Bevelander (Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden) published in Entrepreneurship & Regional Development: An International Journal Volume 24 Issue 5-6 (June 2012)


Recent research suggests that self-employment among immigrants is due to a combination of multiple situational, cultural and institutional factors, all acting together. Using multilevel regression and unique data on the entire population of Sweden for the year 2007, this study attempts to quantify the relative importance for the self-employed of embeddedness in ethnic contexts (country of birth) and regional business and public regulatory frameworks (labour market areas).

This information indicates whether the layers under consideration are valid constructs of the surroundings that influence individual self-employment. The results show that 10% (women) and 8% (men) of the total variation in individual differences in self-employment can be attributed to the country of birth. When labour market areas are included in the analyses, the share of the total variation increases to 14% for women and 12% for men.

The results show that the ethnic context and the economic environment play a minor role in understanding individual differences in self-employment levels. The results can have important implications when planning interventions or other actions focusing on self-employment as public measures to promote self-employment often are based on geographic areas and ethnic contexts.

Hazel’s comment: 
I wonder if the same picture applies in the UK. Anyone have any idea? I couldn't find anything obvious.

Identity construction and career development interventions with emerging adults

an article by Jean Guichard and Cécile de Calan (Institut National d'Etudes du Travail et d'Orientation Professionnelle of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris), Jacques Pouyaud and Bernadette Dumora (Institut National as before and University of Bordeaux II, France) published in Journal of Vocational Behavior Volume 81 Issue 1 (August 2012)


Today's wealthy societies are more fluid, varied and complex than they were just a few decades ago. As a consequence, what were “vocational choices” at the beginning of the 20th century now appear as “life designing issues”.

In this context, contemporary research stresses the plurality and relative malleability of human subjects as well as their ability to take reflexive stances on their current and past experiences.

Fitting in such an epistemology, a self-constructing model is proposed as a basis for a life designing counselling interview. This model describes self-identity as a dynamic system of (past, present and expected) subjective identity forms (SIF), the synthesis and dynamism of which originate in a tension between two kinds of reflexivity.

Counselling interviews with emerging adults show that the elicitation of some expected SIF allows them to re-read their current and past experiences from such a perspective and constitutes a compelling incentive to act.


► Vocational choices or career development issues are now life designing issues.
► A self-construction model is proposed as a basis for life designing counselling.
► Identity is described as a dynamic system of subjective identity forms.
► A constructivist interview based on this model is outlined.
► Clients appear to rely on 2 forms of reflexivity during such counseling interviews.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

3 Signs You Are in the Wrong Job and What to Do About It (without Quitting)

via Stepcase Lifehack by Farnoosh Brock

OK, this is written for individuals, and American individuals at that, rather than careers practitioners but I thought it worth including even if I don’t personally find some of the proposed strategy practical.

What if you are in the wrong job and are too caught up in the rat race of every day life to even take notice?

Maybe you believe that “all jobs everywhere” mean nothing more than a life of drudgery. Or maybe you ignore the signs that make you wonder why you do what you do. After all, you have responsibilities, you have commitments, and you need the income, so what if you cannot stand your job?

Well, you have convinced yourself to put up with it because quitting is not an option!

While quitting may not be an option, you do have other options. There are many shades of grey and you can do things to make the current situation better. You can find out even the wrong job can become more tolerable and pleasant when you take some action!

Let’s take a look at 3 signs you are in the wrong job and what you can do about it without quitting.

1. You Actively Seek Distractions at Work

2. You Have Zero Interest in Engaging with Your Team

3. You Are Doing it Just for the Money

Continue reading here to get the detail of the points made.

Wages and working conditions in the crisis

via Eurofound 23 July

a comparitive study by Sem Vandekerckhove, Jan Van Peteghem and Guy Van Gyes, HIVA-KU LEUVEN (© European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions)

The economic and financial crisis of 2008–2010 has impacted on pay in most EU Member States leading to wage deceleration, pay freezes and sometimes pay cuts. The crisis hit vulnerable groups (low-skilled, young, migrants) particularly hard. Data from five key sectors (manufacturing, construction, accommodation and food services, financial services, public administration) reveal more crisis effects on employment than on wages. Cuts in low-paid and temporary jobs, or reductions in their hours, tended to be the first measure adopted while the ‘wage cushion’ often seen in higher-ranking jobs allowed cost savings through cuts in bonuses and other rewards. Cutting wages is also seen as detrimental to worker motivation and retention. Most responses taken were temporary with few trade-offs at company level between wages and other elements of the employment relationship.

The study was compiled on the basis of individual national reports submitted by the EWCO correspondents. The text of each of these national reports is available below. The reports have not been edited or approved by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The national reports were drawn up in response to a questionnaire and should be read in conjunction with it.

Full text (PDF 48pp)

What's Preventing Women From Having a Career and Family?

via Big Think by Orion Jones
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

Women all over the world are faced with the decision on whether to pursue a career or have a family. It is believed that it is the societal and economical issues that make it hard for women to do both at the same time – and not because women can’t handle it.

Read More

Hazel’s comment: 
And the answer is? 
I actually don’t know what the answer is, I do, however, know that trying to shoehorn girls into traditionally male-dominated areas does not work?
Provide girls with the opportunity to be mechanics, engineers and scientists etc of course just as you present boys with the opportunity to be care workers and primary school teachers.
The older I get the more I realise that nature is a powerful force over nurture.

Regional Labour Market Statistics, July 2012

via ONS Media Centre

This bulletin shows the latest key labour market statistics for the regions and countries of Great Britain along with statistics for local authorities, travel-to-work areas and parliamentary constituencies.

Key points
  • Employment rate highest in the East of England (75.0 per cent) and lowest in the North East (66.5 per cent)
  • Unemployment rate highest in the North East (10.9 per cent) and lowest in the South West (5.9 per cent)
  • Inactivity rate highest in the North East (25.2 per cent) and lowest in the East of England (19.6 per cent)
  • Claimant Count rate highest in the North East (7.7 per cent) and lowest in the South East (3.1 per cent)
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication (Excel files).

Full text (PDF 13pp)

Are (male) leaders “feminine” enough?: Gendered traits of identity as mediators of sex differences in leadership styles

an article by Leire Gartzia (University of Deusto, Gipuzkoa, Spain) and Marloes van Engen (Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, The Netherlands) published in Gender in Management: An International Journal Volume 27 Issue 5 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to further understanding concerning sex differences in leadership styles and to examine the mediating role of gender identity traits in these differences.
The paper draws on previous research that has established that many aspects of leadership style positively related to leaders’ effectiveness are associated with the female gender role. Consistent with this assumption, the authors examined a sample of 157 Spanish managers whether significant sex differences favouring women emerge in relevant leadership dimensions (i.e. individualized consideration, contingent reward and emotional intelligence) and whether gender identity traits may help to explain such differences.
Results show that male leaders’ lower scores in individualized consideration, positive contingent reward and emotional intelligence are partly explained by their lower identification with expressive traits. Furthermore, results indicate that integration of counter-stereotypical traits into the self positively relates to effectiveness in the sense of use of a wider range of leadership styles for both women and men.
Research limitations/implications
Future research could explore in more detail how sex differences in leadership styles are associated with gendered traits of identity in different countries, as well as whether a blend of masculine and feminine traits is predictive for a more multifaceted leadership style.
The findings are discussed in terms of how a gender perspective may help to better understand leadership effectiveness in contemporary organizations, especially in the case of male leaders.

What is the minimum income needed in harder times?

via JRF - Combined Feed (The Joseph Rowntree Foundation) by Abigail Davis

The Minimum Income Standard (MIS) research provides an interesting insight into recession-hit Britain. Look through that prism, and you see ordinary members of the public showing signs of thrift as they define what is needed to have a socially acceptable minimum standard of living.
How do we know this? We’ve been holding in-depth discussions with people on this subject since 2006 and this week’s report [dated 11 July; see below for details] provides an update on what has happened since 2008, when we published the first findings.

What’s really striking is that although people are aware that times are tougher – incomes for many of those in work are falling in real terms, tax credits have been reduced and prices have risen – how they think about this minimum has not fundamentally changed. What people think is needed to have a standard of living that is above survival but well below luxury has remained pretty much stable across the vast majority of items included.

However, there are some instances where people are clearly thinking hard about how they meet their needs in more economical ways.
  • Everyone agreed that it’s still important to be able to go out to eat once in a while, but you do that either less often or more cheaply. Pensioners told us that competition for customers among pubs and restaurants means that “early bird” and “2-for-1” deals are readily available everywhere, so they reduced the eating out budget accordingly. For families, instead of the £20 a month allocated for eating out or takeaways at home in 2008, groups now say a couple with two children need £30 to spend three times a year.
  • Similarly, groups still agreed that you need to be able to exchange Christmas and birthday presents with family but said that the gifts partners gave each other were more symbolic than ostentatious, and reduced the amount per present from £50 to £15.
  • Parents still think that children should be able to have access to a couple of activities on a regular basis. You should still be able to take your toddler for a swim, but now parents say once a month is ok, rather than once a week like they did in 2008. They also substituted a cheap, local “stay and play” session for the weekly trip to a soft play centre that was previously included.
One apparent exception to this is the inclusion in 2012 of a (second-hand) car for families with children, a distinct change from previous years where groups agreed public transport and taxis would meet transport needs. However, the perception of the groups held this year (borne out by independent research by government departments) is that public transport fares are rising and services are being reduced to the point where buses are no longer considered sufficiently flexible, affordable and available to meet the needs of parents and children to access work and leisure opportunities. Rather than increase the budget to include enough taxi fares to compensate for the decline in services, parents reached the conclusion, after much discussion, that it would be more cost-effective to own a second-hand car. Offset against the rise in fares, for a couple with two children this adds less than £30 to the weekly budget.

So these insights reflect a society in which people’s response to harder times is not an across-the-board reduction in what is needed for a minimum acceptable living standard, but where people are thinking carefully about how to meet some of those needs in slightly different ways.

A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2012 by Abigail Davis, Donald Hirsch, Noel Smith, Jacqueline Beckhelling and Matt Padley
Summary (PDF 4pp)
Full report (PDF 52 pp)

What happens to my data? A novel approach to informing users of data processing practices

an article by Bibi van den Berg and Simone van der Hof (Centre for Law in the Information Society at Leiden University) published in First Monday Voume 17 Number 7 (July 2012)


Citizens increasingly use the Internet to buy products or engage in interactions with others, both individuals and businesses. In doing so they invariably share (personal) data. While extensive data protection legislation exists in many countries around the world, citizens are not always aware (enough) of their rights and obligations with respect to sharing (personal) data. To remedy this gap, users ought to become better informed of companies’ data processing practices.

In the past, various research groups have attempted to create tools to this end, for example through the use of icons or labels similar to those used in nutrition. However, none of these tools has gained extensive adoption, mostly because it turns out that capturing privacy legislation in simple, accessible graphics is a complicated task. Moreover, we believe that the tools that were developed so far do not align closely enough with the preferences and understanding of ordinary users, precisely because they are too “legalistic”.

In this paper we discuss a user study conducted to gain a better understanding of the kinds of information users would wish to receive with respect to companies’ data processing practices, and the form this information ought to take. On the basis of this user study we found a new approach to communicating this information, in which we return to the OECD’s Fair Information Principles, which formed the basis for (almost all) data protection legislation.

We end the paper with a rudimentary proposal for an end user tool to be used on companies’ websites.

Full text (HTML)

Study Programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds

Government response to consultation and plans for implementation

a policy document published by the Department for Education (ref: 00074-2012)

Study Programmes will extend the benefits of challenging and substantial vocational qualifications enjoyed by many students taking academic programmes to those studying more vocational subjects. The Government’s new principles for Study Programmes are central to the reform of 16-19 education.

A public consultation on Study Programmes for 16- to 19-year-olds was completed on 4 January 2012. The majority of respondents to the consultation welcomed the proposals and agreed with the principles presented and in particular, the emphasis on allowing schools, colleges and other training providers flexibility to tailor programmes to meet the needs of students.

This document sets out the government’s response to the consultation and is intended to guide the rationale and quality standards for the development of ‘good’ Study Programmes. It should be read alongside the response to the parallel 16-19 funding formula review consultation.

Schools, colleges and other providers are expected to introduce Study Programmes from September 2013 and to begin their planning from September 2012. The new approach to Study Programmes does not impact on the design of Apprenticeships because they already follow the key principles of the new approach.

Visit the DfE website for more information

Full report (PDF 18pp)
Equality Impact Assessment (PDF 22pp)

Monday, 23 July 2012

Workplace bullying: consequences, causes and controls (part one)

an article by Steven H. Appelbaum (John Molson School of Business-Concordia University, Montreal), Gary Semerjian (PepsiCo Canada, Montreal) and Krishan Mohan (Pratt & Whitney, Canada, Montreal) published in Industrial and Commercial Training Volume 44 Issue 4 (2012)


The aim is to examine what is workplace bullying and its consequences, causes and as well as to offer managers control systems on how to counter, reduce or eliminate it as the scale of bullying in the workplace is quite alarming. It is estimated that 1.7 million Americans and 11 percent of British workers experienced bullying at work in the last six months. Until now the topic has many problems identified but limited solutions. This article attempts to close that gap.
The two part article begins with a review of definitions and descriptions of workplace bullying. Next, an exploratory look at the consequences of workplace bullying is presented and demonstrates its impact on victims and organizations. Moreover, a summary of potential sources is exposed ranging from personality traits to organizational constructs. Finally, the article approaches three organizational strategies that have been proven to act as control systems towards workplace bullying.
It was found that transformational and ethical leadership are both very effective tools for managers to counter workplace bullying and that the instauration of an ethical climate in the workplace appears to be the most effective in avoiding workplace bullying from forming.
Research limitations/implications
The article does not compare the control systems against one another and does not explore the effectiveness of bullying predictors.
The article offers a comprehensive approach in understanding workplace bullying, its causes and its consequences. As well, it offers tools to managers on control systems designed to counter it. The topic is quite new in the literature and very relevant in terms of incidents that are repeated in the popular press but limited in terms of research articles.

Hazel’s comment:
I’ve looked and looked but, to date, part two has eluded me.

Car salesmen and disabled people unite!

via ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC

Ben Baumberg relays a new Spartacus report, showing that as many as 1 in 10 of all new car sales in the UK is paid for using the Motability scheme, which will be hit hard by the replacement of Disability Living Allowance by the new Personal Independence Payment. This is likely to mean 30,000 fewer car purchases a year – equating to about 1,000 jobs in the industry.

At the same time, a survey found that 29% of recipients said that Motability had helped them keep a job, and 9% that it had helped them get one. If the sample is representative of all Motability users, the scheme keeps 68,000 people in work. “Spartacus estimates that cutting disability benefits will save the government £640m but reduce GDP by £660m, as well as reducing quality of life for disabled people and the people that help care for them.”

Read the original post on the inequalities blog

The Effect of Public Sector Employment on Local Labour Markets

a discussion paper (SERC 111) by Giulia Faggio and Henry G. Overman (Spatial Economics Research Centre (SERC), London School of Economics & Political Science) published June 2012


This paper considers the impact of public sector employment on local labour markets. Using English data at the Local Authority level for 2003 to 2007 we find that public sector employment has no identifiable effect on total private sector employment. However, public sector employment does affect the sectoral composition of the private sector.

Specifically, each additional public sector job creates 0.5 jobs in the nontradable sector (construction and services) while crowding out 0.4 jobs in the tradable sector (manufacturing). When using data for a longer time period (1999 to 2007) we find no multiplier effect for nontradables, stronger crowding out for tradables and, consistent with this, crowding out for total private sector employment.

Full text (PDF 34pp)

JEL Classifications: J31, J45

Labour market trends for July 2012

via ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC by Richard Exell
July’s employment figures were good – the number of unemployed people came down and the number with jobs went up. But underneath the headlines the story wasn’t quite so good. I’ve recorded this video blog to look a bit more closely at the details.

Euro area government debt up to 88.2% of GDP

via Eurostat News releases

At the end of the first quarter of 2012, the government debt to GDP ratio in the euro area (EA17) stood at 88.2%, compared with 87.3% at the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. In the EU27 the ratio increased from 82.5% to 83.4%. Compared with the first quarter of 2011, the government debt to GDP ratio rose in both the euro area (from 86.2% to 88.2%) and the EU27 (from 80.4% to 83.4%).

Read the full release (PDF 4pp)

Institutional reforms and age-graded labour market inequalities in Europe

an article by Martina Dieckhoff (Social Science Research Center Berlin, Germany) and Nadia Steiber (European University Institute, Italy) published in International Journal of Comparative Sociology Volume 53 Number 2 (April 2012)


This article examines how institutional change affects age-based labour market inequalities in Europe. We focus on the impact of labour regulation and of wage-setting institutions on the male population aged 25–54.

Age-graded labour market inequalities within this group of prime-age individuals are hitherto under-researched.

We estimate country panel regressions using data from the European Union Labour Force Survey and time-series data on institutional change for the years 1992–2007. The results present evidence that employment protection and the regulation of temporary work affect age-based inequality dynamics, while union strength has positive employment effects on all age-groups.

What happened to the ‘City of a Thousand Trades?’ Birmingham from 1901 to today

via Centre for Cities by Naomi Clayton

Centre for Cities’ new report, Cities Outlook 1901, explores how cities are shaped by their past. It shows how cities and why cities have taken different paths over the course of the 20th century. The story of Birmingham provides some interesting lessons for current and future policy.

If you lived in Birmingham back in 1901, the chances are life would have been pretty good. It was the fourth largest city in the country at the time (behind London, Manchester and Liverpool) and a magnet for people looking for economic opportunity. The “City of a Thousand Trades” was a workshop full of small, highly skilled firms producing a huge range of products. As a result, levels of enterprise were high and unemployment was low. At this point 12 percent of employment in the city was in vehicle manufacture.

Then came the 1930s. The cheap Pound, availability of credit and rearmament led to the rapid expansion of manufacturing in the city – predominantly in the automotive industry. With organisational and technological change also came the expansion of unskilled and semi-skilled labour in the city.

While the city saw huge numbers of new jobs created over the first half of the 20th century (unlike other manufacturing centres), it also become increasingly specialised in the automotive industry. The high cost of wages and rent in the city, coupled with the impacts of the 1945 Distribution of Industry Act to redistribute jobs, made it increasingly difficult for new industry to locate in the city. By 1951, 72% of the manufacturing workforce were employed in the automotive industry.

The 1970s recession forced the collapse of the automotive industry. As a result, Birmingham, which had followed a very different path from other manufacturing centres in the decades following 1901, saw a striking transition from high employment and high wages to high unemployment and deprivation. The city has since seen modest jobs growth, driven primarily by the public sector.

The story of Birmingham is not a critique of the automotive sector. The West Midlands today is still home to valuable jobs and innovation in the industry. What is does tell us, however, is that over reliance on a single industry makes a city economy more vulnerable to changes in the wider global economy. It also highlights the potential adverse effects of policy.

Cities should constantly be considering how they can make the most of niche strengths but also how they can encourage greater industrial diversity. For many cities the focus will need to be on the fundamental drivers of growth: skills and infrastructure. Cities need to work with local providers to ensure education and training responds to the needs of the modern economy and target investment in infrastructure to ensure cities are both better connected and attractive to workers and businesses.

Cities Outlook 1901 by Naomi Clayton & Raj Mandair
Full text (PDF 60pp)
Methodological note (PDF 2pp)

Too Much to Lose: Understanding and Supporting Britain’s Older Workers

a research paper by Matthew Tinsley published by Policy Exchange

Press release

The UK’s aging population is creating a significant need for people to work later in life. Too Much to Lose outlines that this, along with other trends, means that older workers will continue to play a much more significant role in the UK economy than ever before. This presents both opportunities and challenges. Today’s older workers are more educated, less likely to work in physically demanding roles and are less susceptible to health problems than ever before. However, the challenges facing older job-seekers are large: a job-seeker over the age of 50 is significantly less likely to return to work within the next year, and the cost of spells of unemployment to future wages is considerably greater than it is for younger or middle-aged workers.

This report argues that the back-to-work support provided to older workers fails to meet their needs. To tackle this, it sets out a plan for support that directly addresses the needs of older workers, at the same time as demanding that job-seekers are doing all they can to get back to work. As well as this we argue that there is a need to look at retirement differently, promoting more flexible working and supporting better communication between businesses and their employees. To facilitate these changes, the government’s approach must change. Up to now, the political focus has been centred on the problems of younger workers, and this has distracted attention away from the need to value and support older workers in the UK. This must change so that government focuses support on those with the greatest needs, rather than just targeting support by age.

If implemented, these recommendations will ensure that the older workforce continues to play a major role in the UK economy in the future. Failing to act now risks marginalising a whole generation of older workers and severely damaging both their welfare and the economy as a whole.

Full text (PDF 66pp)

With sincere apologies for having missed this when it was first published in June this year. I picked it up via a serendipitous series of links.
There are times when I love the internet.

Metal signals and labour market disadvantage: Empirical evidence on visible body piercings and gay men in the UK

an article by Samuel Cameron (University of Bradford) and Alan Collins and Ford Hickson (University of Portsmouth) published in Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal Volume 28 Issue 8 (2012)


The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of visible body piercings (VBP) in explaining the extent of self-reported workplace sexual orientation discrimination.
Using the 2002 wave of the UK Gay Mens’ Sex Survey, OLS and logit equations are estimated to analyse the extent of self-reported denial of job opportunities.
The possession of visible body piercings is shown to increase the level of discriminatory activity. There is evidence that tongue piercings are the major contributory type of body decoration. The overall effect is seemingly ameliorated for those gay men who engage in more extensive concealment effort with regard to their sexual orientation.
Research limitations/implications
The sample is to some extent self-selecting, which may affect the results. Further studies using alternative methodologies would be required to explore this issue.
Practical implications
This paper sheds light on the importance, or otherwise, of presumed visual clues such as body piercing in triggering discriminatory behaviour towards gay men.
This is the first study to examine the self-reported experience of post-entry discrimination by gay men using a major national survey comprising over 15,000 observations.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

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

Islands of exile
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
 Wikipedia Commons 0 08 Marg2
Alcatraz may be the most infamous prison island (unless you count Australia… OK, I’m kidding!), but it’s hardly the only one. Smithsonian lists ten “islands of exile”, some of which were true penal colonies while others were just unfortunate destinations for banished individuals. Included are the likes of Patmos, Greece, Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile, and Robben Island, South Africa.
From Smithsonian:
Île Sainte-Marguerite, France Just off the coast of Cannes in the Mediterranean Sea, the small, forested island of Sainte-Marguerite – about two miles long and a half-mile wide – was home to one of history’s most enigmatic prisoners. The convict, whose identity was concealed behind what was most likely a black velvet mask, was brought to the island in 1687, during the reign of Louis XIV, and locked up in the Royal Fort, then a state prison. (His barren cell can still be seen.) Later, he was moved to the Bastille, where he died in 1703 at around age 45.
The prisoner’s identity and the reason for his incarceration are still not known. But over the centuries, they have been the subjects of much speculation. One popular theory, that he was an older brother of Louis XIV, became the basis for Alexander Dumas’ classic tale The Man in the Iron Mask.
Ten Infamous Islands of Exile

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Maureen Tkacik has a theory: The Atlantic is a “turgid mouthpiece for the plutocracy” and a “repository of shallow, lazy spin”. But a CIA front? Really?... more

8 Of The Funniest BBC Comedies Of All Time
via MakeUseOf by Tim Brookes
British comedy is typified by dry wit, slapstick visuals and strong comic actors. BBC comedy should, in theory, take the best of what is already a strong bunch and highlight the very best – and that’s what I’ve tried to do here. I can’t help but apply a personal spin to these articles, and these are the shows I personally remember splitting my sides while I was growing up. Comedy doesn’t always age particularly gracefully, but all of these shows can still have me in fits of laughter to this day. Tim’s choices:
  • Blackadder
  • Red Dwarf
  • Fawlty Towers
  • One Foot In The Grave
  • The Office
  • The Thick Of It
  • Only Fools and Horses
  • I’m Alan Partridge
You can see clips from all the above here.

Watching BBC Comedy Online If you’re interested in watching some of these shows then you might want to consider subscribing to the BBC’s paid iPlayer service which is currently available in: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia and Canada. Visit: BBC Worldwide iPlayer Home
Of course, if you live in the UK (and pay the licence fee) you can watch BBC iPlayer for free.
This list has been kept rather orthodox and I’ve stuck to the mainstays. However if you’re willing to delve a little deeper into the BBC’s back catalogue then you’ll find shows like Nighty Night, Monkey Dust and Time Trumpet amongst classics like Are You Being Served? and Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em. If you’ve enjoyed this list then don’t forget to add your favourite BBC comedies to the comments, below.
And you can view 43 comments at the link above.

Sword Fighting Manual c.1500
via Retronaut by Chris
Try this move at your peril!

It has less to do with sword fighting and more to do with using a sword as a club!
See the rest of Chris’s selection here including one which looks as though the sword is there merely to divert your opponent from the fact that you are about to kick him somewhere very painful.
Source: State Library of Berlin via La Boite Verte

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Intoxication is making a comeback. Ecstasy and LSD treat PTSD. Pot shrinks tumors. Mushrooms relieve depression. Why the change?... more

Are Strict Bans on Tobacco Really the Best Way to Reduce Smoking?
via Big Think by Orion Jones
Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell
According to reports, the World Health Organization and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have pressured countries around the world to “denormalize” tobacco use and to punish the tobacco industry.
Read More

The crayola-fication of the world: How we gave colors names, and it messed with our brains
via Empirical Zeal by aatish
In two parts, both of which are far too long to include here! Part 1 starts with a quote
Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity.
Herman Melville, Billy Budd
and you can read the rest here

Part 2 has more pictures starting with

Untitled (Cubes) by Scott Taylor
Fascinating stuff, with proper references to academic work on the subject.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The swaggering, gnomic Hemingway of lore is due for a reappraisal. Papa’s prose was best before it congealed into biblically stylized patter... more

5 Big Moments in the History of Knowledge Transfer
via Big Think by Jason Gots
There are basically three kinds of knowledge humans can share with one another: news, concepts, and skills. Most of our early advances in communication technology focused on sharing news over a distance – a good place to start, as it was helpful in avoiding death.
Read More

USB 2.0 Nano Drive almost needs a magnifying glass to be found
via The Red Ferret Journal by caitlyn
USB NANO Drive USB 2.0 Nano Drive almost needs a magnifying glass to be found
It’s not difficult to lose a flash drive as they’re not exactly the biggest things in the world.
More info