Tuesday, 31 January 2017

An exploratory study of jobseekers’ decision-making styles, recruitment information sources and organisational attractiveness

an article by Yu-Lun Liu (Coventry Business School, UK and Alliance Manchester Business School, UK) and Kathleen A. Keeling and K. Nadia Papamichail (Alliance Manchester Business School, UK) published in Personnel Review Volume 45 Issue 6 (2016)


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the consequences of jobseeker decision-making style on information search behaviour, information evaluation and perceptions of organisational attractiveness (OA). In this study, the authors assess whether, when presented with a realistic job information searching scenario of receiving basic job information from a typical formal short job advertisement, maximisers and satisficers differ on need for further information and evaluation of further information from informal information sources in relation to valence and tie strength.

A scenario-based experiment was conducted on 280 participants from the USA, with work experience in retail, using Amazon Mechanical Turk.

The results show that, compared to satisficers, significantly more maximisers chose to search for further information about the company/vacancy after receiving a typical short advertisement message. Furthermore, the results highlight the moderating effects of decision-making style (maximiser vs satisficer), tie strength (strong-tie vs weak-tie provider) and message valence (positive vs negative) on jobseekers’ perceived OA.

Practical implications
Companies seeking to increase their candidate pool should consider accommodating the different decision-making styles of jobseekers by carefully designing the content of recruitment information and utilising recruitment information sources. Although conducted in just one sector, the ubiquity of the maximiser/satisficer decision-making style implies further research to assess the implications for other sectors.

Research on decision-making style in recruitment is relatively limited. This study demonstrates the differences between maximisers and satisficers in terms of job-related information needs, and the evaluation of the source/content, when searching for a retail trade job.

Quantitative, Decision-making style, Maximiser, Organizational attractiveness, Recruitment information sources, Satisficer, Staff word-of-mouth

Immigrants, Productivity, and Labor Markets

an article by Giovanni Peri (University of California-Davis, USA) published in Journal of Economic Perspectives Volume 30 Number 4 (Fall 2016)


Immigration has been a steady force acting on population and employment within countries throughout human history. Focusing on the last four decades, we show that the mix of immigrants to rich countries has been, overall, rather balanced between college and non-college educated.

The growth of immigration has been driven by immigrants from nonrich countries. The economic impact of immigration on receiving economies needs to be understood by analyzing the specific skills brought by immigrants. The complementarity and substitutability between immigrants and natives in employment, and the response of receiving economies in terms of specialization and technological choices, are important when considering the general equilibrium effects of immigration.

In the United States, a balanced composition of immigrants between college and noncollege educated, together with the adjustment of demand and technology, imply that general equilibrium effects on relative and absolute wages have been small.

JEL Classification: I26, J15, J24, J31, J61

Full text (PDF)

Dyslexia: is it genetic and what does this mean for social inclusion?

an article by Sue Holttum, (Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology, Canterbury Christ Church University, Southborough, UK) published in Mental Health and Social Inclusion Volume 20 Issue 4 (2016)


This paper starts by considering what it means if dyslexia has genetic or environmental causes. The author also explains phrases used by genetic researchers and the kind of things they look for in genetic material. The purpose of this paper is to discuss two recent studies on dyslexia that shed light on either genetic or environmental causes.

One study was a thorough exploration of possible genetic differences that could be present in children experiencing reading and language difficulties. The other study examined a large sample of the Canadian public to see whether there was a link between dyslexia and having experienced physical abuse as a child or teenager.

The study on genetic differences found no evidence for some previously suggested genetic causes of dyslexia. Although previous studies have suggested dyslexia runs in families, the genetic contribution may have been overestimated. The study on the Canadian public found that people who reported experiencing physical abuse in their younger years were six to seven times more likely also to have a diagnosis of dyslexia. Childhood trauma is known to affect brain development.

Although this paper only discusses two papers in detail, they are two of the most recent explorations of genetic and environmental links to dyslexia. There could be a case for greater attention to possible traumatic experiences in children identified as dyslexic. Physical abuse is one possibility but should never be assumed. Families can be under strain and may need more support. However, dyslexia and the mental health difficulties that can result from childhood trauma can reduce a child’s current and future social inclusion. Early intervention may avert this outcome.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Do European citizens support the idea of a European welfare state? Evidence from a comparative survey conducted in three EU member states

an article by Jürgen Gerhards (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany), Holger Lengfeld (Universität Leipzig, Germany) and Julia Häuberer (Universität Hamburg, Germany) published in International Sociology Volume 31 Issue 6 (2016)


Some scholars have argued that the only way to resolve the Euro crisis would be to further deepen the integration process by institutionalising a European welfare state. This article examines whether a Europeanised welfare system would be supported by citizens of three member states of the EU. The authors argue that the legitimacy of a harmonisation of national welfare regimes would be established if a majority of citizens supported a Europeanised social policy.

Using survey data from Germany, Poland and Spain, descriptive findings show that indeed a majority supports the idea of Europeanisation of social policy.

Further, multivariate analyses show that those respondents who reject Europeanisation of social policy cannot be characterised to any significant extent in terms of socio-economic factors, and are only slightly more likely to be associated with cultural factors. The cleavages that structure people’s attitudes are thus relatively weak.

The authors conclude that the potential for political mobilisation against Europeanisation of social policy in the three countries under investigation is rather low.

Full text (PDF)

Sunday, 29 January 2017

From being very hungry to religious chimpanzees!

Is the end in sight for the Very Hungry Caterpillar?
via An Awfully Big Blog Adventure by David Thorpe

Once upon a time, about 4,000,000,000 years ago, the world began, in the era called the Hadean. A very long time later came the human race, just 200,000 years ago, altering the planet forever as it spread.
From the beginning it's likely mums and dads told stories to their children, to preserve social memory and teach them what they needed to know to survive. These stories always changed over time according to need and circumstance.
Continue reading PLEASE, right to the end. It will be worth it.

Uncovering a sad tale of murder and suicide
via The National Archives Blog by Chris Heather
The note said: ‘This was probably written just before Mrs Farnham murdered her children and committed suicide.’
Underneath this, in Mrs Farnham’s handwriting, it said: ‘Dear Sir, I return this cheque as I do not require any more assistance from this Institution.’
I challenge anyone finding a note like this to simply close the book and go to lunch. I wanted to know more.
Continue reading
It is not a long story but so sad.

The legacy of ancient Greek politics, from Antigone to Xenophon
via OUP Blog by Barbara Goff and Miriam Leonard
What do the pamphlets of the English Civil War, imperial theorists of the eighteenth century, Nazi schoolteachers, and a left-wing American artist have in common? Correct! They all see themselves as in dialogue with classical antiquity, drawing on the political thought of ancient Greek writers. Nor are they alone in this; the idea that Western thought is a series of “footnotes to Plato,” as Alfred Whitehead suggested in 1929, is a memorable formulation of the extensive role of ancient Greece within modernity. Further reflection, however, will show that the West does not have an unbroken connection with ancient Greece, as knowledge of both language and culture declined in the medieval period – even the great Renaissance scholars sometimes struggled to master their ancient Greek grammar and syntax. Once the West does recover a relationship to ancient Greece, is its own role confined to writing “footnotes” under the transcendent authority of Plato? Perhaps we can reconstruct more varied forms of intellectual engagement.
Continue reading

From punch cards to smartphones
via BBC News by Mark Ward, Technology correspondent
HEC 1 computer
A HEC 1 computer was recently unearthed in the stores of the Birmingham Museum Trust
After World War II, Britain was a hotbed of pioneering computer research. Work done on automatic ways to crack codes and spot enemy aircraft meant it had a skilled cadre of engineers and scientists equipped with the knowledge to create powerful and practical computers.
Continue reading

Physicists at the Gate: Collaboration and Tribalism in Science
via 3 Quarks Daily: Veronique Greenwood in UnDark
Did you know that most animal species have roughly the same number of heartbeats over the course of their lives? Short-lived creatures’ hearts beat faster, using up their allotment more quickly – mice before humans, humans before elephants – and this universal quality may be the result of the fact that all of our bodies depend on networks of vessels with similar physics. Did you know that as cities grow, the rate of business transactions grows faster than their population, while the number of miles of roads grows slower? Or that building a network of mysterious genes could help reveal the history of malaria?
Continue reading

Does a Mysterious Ninth Planet Cause Mass Extinctions on Earth?
via Big Think by Paul Ratner
Article Image
Invaders from outer space might have doomed the dinosaurs, after all. Dr. Daniel Whitmire, a retired professor of astrophysics, published a paper that a recently inferred ninth planet (Planet X) causes catastrophic comet showers on Earth at intervals of approximately 27 million years.
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10 facts you should know about moons
via OUP Blog by David A. Rothery
Proving to be both varied and fascinating, moons are far more common than planets in our Solar System. Our own moon has had a profound influence on Earth, not only through tidal effects, but even on the behaviour of some marine animals. But how much do we really know about moons? Watch David Rothery, author of Moons: A Very Short Introduction tell us what he thinks are the top ten things we should know about moons.
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Heatmaps of the human body in varying emotional states
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Disappointingly, these heatmaps of human bodies whose owners are experiencing various emotional states were not produced with infrared cameras, but rather with self-reporting by subjects being asked to say where they were experiencing more and less sensation while watching videos and seeing words intended to trigger those emotions.
See for yourself

Adding a new dimension to the early chemistry of the solar system
via OUP Blog by Francesco C. Pignatale
What was our solar system composed of at the beginning of its formation? Using sophisticated computer simulations, researchers from France and Australia have obtained new insights into the chemical composition of the dust grains that formed in the early solar system which went on to form the building blocks of the terrestrial planets.
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Could chimpanzees have religion?
via 3 Quarks Daily: Laura Kehoe at the New Statesman
I spent many months in the field, along with many other researchers, trying to figure out what these chimps are up to. So far we have two main theories. The behaviour could be part of a male display, where the loud bang made when a rock hits a hollow tree adds to the impressive nature of a display. This could be especially likely in areas where there are not many trees with large roots that chimps would normally drum on with their powerful hands and feet. If some trees produce an impressive bang, this could accompany or replace feet drumming in a display and trees with particularly good acoustics could become popular spots for revisits.
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Saturday, 28 January 2017

Saturday's stupendous load of interesting items I've found

'Shuffle Along' and the Lost History of Black Performance in America
via 3 Quarks Daily: John Jeremiah Sullivan in The New York Times

The four creators of “Shuffle Along” in a publicity still in 1921.Credit

The archives of Robert Kimball
The blacks-­in-­blackface tradition, which lasted more than a century in this country, strikes most people, on first hearing of its existence, as deeply bizarre, and it was. But it emerged from a single crude reality: African-­American people were not allowed to perform onstage for much of the 19th century. They could not, that is, appear as themselves. The sight wasn’t tolerated by white audiences.
Continue reading WARNING: allow plenty of time.

Homer: inspiration and controversy
via OUP Blog by Ben Leonard and Samantha Zimbler
The Iliad and The Odyssey loom large in European literary history and the tradition of epic poetry. Readers in both the ancient and modern worlds have been fascinated by the heroic exploits of Achilles and Odysseus and the idealized past the epics portray. Heinrich Schliemann was so taken by the events relayed in these Homeric epics that he sought to excavate the site of the Trojan War (Hisarlik, Turkey) that had been identified in 1822.
Continue reading

The Marxophone, spooky carnival instrument
via Boing Boing by Rob Beschizza
The Marxophone is a 1912 toy instrument that combines a zither with a keyboard linked to flexible hammers that repeatedly strike the strings. The resulting sound, over the years, has earned a strange place in folk music. It's often used to evoke a mysterious carnie atmosphere, but Katherine Rhoda shows here how beautiful it can be.
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POWs in Solitary May Have Tapped Unused Parts of Their Brains
via Big Think by Robby Berman
Article Image
Dennis S. Charney, MD, is the Dean of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, and he’s been thinking about the brain, specifically how we don’t normally take full advantage of it. Charney and his associates got their first inkling that this was the case when they spoke to POWs who’d been held in solitary confinement. These men developed some impressive talents during those long and dark stretches during which there was literally nothing else to do but think.
Continue reading

Classics in the digital age
via OUP Blog by Adina Popescu Berk
One might think of classicists as the most tradition-bound of humanist scholars, but in fact they were the earliest and most enthusiastic adopters of computing and digital technology in the humanities. Today even classicists who do not work on digital projects use digital projects as tools every day.
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A 15-year-old’s new Apple museum
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz

Alex Jason, 15, used his lawnmowing money to acquire what Cult of Mac says “is becoming one of the most significant private collections of Apple devices in the United States”. Jason converted his family’s basement into a museum, called the Apple Orchard, and in a couple years he plans to move it into a former library that he and his father plan to convert into the Maine Technology Museum.
Continue reading

Local opera houses through the ages
via OUP Blog by Ann Satterthwaite
Nineteenth and twentieth Century opera houses are finding new lives today. Opera houses were once the center of art, culture, and entertainment for rural American towns–when there was much less competition for our collective attention. Though they faded out of fashion over the years, opera houses have recently been experiencing a resurgence. Author Ann Satterthwaite, of Local Glories: Opera Houses on Main Street, Where Art and Community Meet, reveals the metamorphic stories behind numerous United States opera houses dating back to the nineteenth century with this slideshow of historical and contemporary photos.
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Howto: start a fire with a lemon
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
You'll a few more things – some copper cotterpins, some zinc nails, insulated wire, and steel wool. You make a battery out of the lemon, short it against the steel wool, which makes it red hot, and that lights the tinder you've set on top of it. (via Kottke)
See for yourself

Early Greek incantations from Selinous
via OUP Blog by Roy Kotansky
The so-called “Getty Hexameters” represent an unusual set of early Greek ‘magical’ incantations (epoidai) found engraved on a small, fragmentary tablet of folded lead. Discovered from clandestine operations at ancient Selinous, Sicily, around 1981, and acquired at that time by the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu, CA), the hexametric verses have only recently been published in preliminary form in 2011, followed by a scholarly collection of conference papers published by Oxford University Press, in 2013. The new Oxford Classical Dictionary online will soon offer a summary of the text, a review of the present state of research, and a new translation and analysis based on forthcoming work of the author.
Continue reading

Let's Take A Walk
via 3 Quarks Daily by Carol A. Westbrook
When I was child, I knew every square inch of the streets in my Chicago neighborhood. I could tell you which trees grew where, which houses had the grumpy people to avoid on Halloween, which grass patches had four-leaf clovers, which stretch of sidewalk had the most black chewing-gum spots, and which playgrounds had the fastest slides. It was my world, a world of texture and wonder. I knew the detail so well because my school friends and I walked the half-mile home from school every day. Of course, that was back in the 1950's, when children were expected to walk home after school, and some of us even went home for lunch. The neighborhoods were safe then because everyone knew everyone else, and there were so many people on foot that they could look out for the kids.
Continue reading

Friday, 27 January 2017

On the role of government in promoting altruism

an article by Enrico Colombatto, (ESOMAS, University of Turin, Italy) and Valerio Tavormina, (Department of Law, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy) published in International Journal of Social Economics Volume 43 Issue 11 (2016)


The purpose of this paper is to discuss whether altruism justifies ad hoc legislation with reference to three different contexts. One is defined by the libertarian notion of liberty; a second framework corresponds to the egalitarian vision; and a third one originates from social-contract theory.

The authors review two stylized visions of liberty, and consider to what extent the current legal systems comply with one of these visions. Moreover, the authors analyse the implications of the contractarian approach.

It is shown that current legislation is rather ambiguous and sometimes even contradictory. By and large, the common-law view tends to favour the libertarian approach, while the civil-law visions are closer to what one might expect from social-contract theory. In these cases, however, it seems that the letter of the law is often questioned by the academic community as well as by the judiciary, and decisions eventually follow the judges’ discretionary power.

This analysis of altruism combines the economic and legal perspectives. Although altruism is always considered an important part of social capital and worthy of privileged treatment, it is shown that policymaking is frequently inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.

JEL Classification: D64, K19, K39

The liability for employers for the conduct of their employees – when does an employee’s conduct fall within the “the course of employment”?

an article by Engin Mustafa (Kingston University and Kingston Business School, Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK) published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 24 Issue 7 (2016)


This paper aims to review the latest management developments across the globe and pinpoint practical implications from cutting-edge research and case studies.

This briefing is prepared by an independent writer who adds their own impartial comments and places the papers in context.

All employers need to understand the exposure to risk that their organizations face. In the field of human resource management, the liability of the employer for the actions (or omissions) of an employee is a key part of managing that risk. The scope of such liability is delimited by both statute and case law which has helped clarify the position of employer liability, thereby allowing an employer to mitigate risk.

Practical implications
The paper provides strategic insights and practical thinking that have influenced some of the world’s leading organizations.

The briefing saves busy executives and researchers hours of reading time by selecting only the very best, most pertinent information and presenting it in a condensed and easy-to-digest format.

The Changing Geographies of Ethnic Diversity in England and Wales, 1991–2011

an article by Gemma Catney (School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, UK) published in Population, Space and Place Volume 22 Issue 8 (November 2016)


While ethnic diversity is traditionally an urban characteristic, new spaces of diversity are emerging. This challenges our current understandings of the geographies of ethnic diversity and forces us to consider the more intricate spatial patterns and processes of ethnic group population change.

Ethnic diversity, now a key feature of contemporary society in Britain, is an issue of public, policy, political, and academic interest; the 2011 Census provided an opportunity to update our knowledge of how diversity has grown, and in what ways.

This paper explores the new geographies of ethnic diversity in England and Wales, mapping the evolving landscape of diversity over two decades. The paper makes use of measures of diversity and clustering for small areas (wards) for consistent geographies for 1991–2011, and for the most recent decade using a district level urban–rural area classification.

There is evidence of a spreading out of ethnic diversity from urban centres towards areas traditionally less diverse.

Spatial mixing has increased – the period also saw a growth of minority ethnic groups in areas outside own-group clusters. The increased share of all ethnic groups (White British and minority) in less urban areas challenges claims of ‘White flight’ from diversity.

Increased ethnic diversity is clearly an important feature of contemporary population change, and the coming years are likely to see continued mixing between people and within places – and in new locales.

Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Labour mobility and labour market adjustment in the EU

an article by Alfonso Arpaia (Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission, Brussels) and Aron Kiss, Balazs Palvolgyi and Alessandro Turrini (Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission, Brussels) published in IZA Journal of Migration Volume 5 Article 21 (2016)


This paper assesses the role of labour mobility in the adjustment to asymmetric economic shocks in the EU.

After presenting a series of stylised facts of mobility in the EU, it assesses mobility as a channel of economic adjustment by means of a vector autoregression (VAR) analysis in the vein of Blanchard and Katz (BPEA 1:1–75, 1992).

Results indicate that, over the period 1970–2013, mobility absorbed about a quarter of an asymmetric shock within 1 year. Movements in response to shocks have almost doubled since the introduction of the euro. In contrast to previous papers on the labour market adjustment in the EU, the response of wages is integrated to the analysis.

It is found that real wages have also become more responsive to asymmetric shocks.

JEL Classification: J61, J64

Full text (HTML) PDF also available

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Understanding undergraduate student perceptions of mental health, mental well-being and help-seeking behaviour

an article by Anita Laidlaw and Gozde Ozakinci (Medical School, University of St Andrews, Scotland) and Julie McLellan (Borders General Hospital, Melrose, Scotland) published in Studies in Higher Education Volume 41 Issue 12 (2016)


Despite relatively high levels of psychological distress, many students in higher education do not seek help for difficulties. This study explored undergraduate student understanding of the concepts of mental health and mental well-being and where undergraduate students would seek help for mental well-being difficulties.

Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 20 undergraduate students from 5 different subject areas. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed. Results highlighted that the majority of participants viewed mental health and mental well-being as two distinct concepts but their views did not affect where they would seek help for mental well-being difficulties.

Medical students reported public stigma relating to help seeking for mental well-being difficulties. Undergraduate students are most likely to seek help for mental well-being difficulties from peers, but whether this experience is useful is less clear.

How such an approach impacts upon the individual from whom assistance is sought is also not well understood.

The impact of the austerity measures to confront the economic crisis on the EU objectives and EU values

an article by Despina Anagnostopoulou (University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece) published in International Journal of Diplomacy and Economy Volume 3, Number 2 (2016)


According to the EU Treaties, the EU economic policy coordination should serve the objectives of the EU, among which is the promotion of the EU values.

The paper demonstrates that:
  • the EU values and objectives as well as the Charter of Fundamental Rights are binding on the EU institutions, even when they are acting outside the EU legal order (e.g., when drafting the MoUs);
  • democratic principles are lacking in the EMU patchwork, especially in the case of member states under adjustment programmes;
  • the national constitutional courts have recently ruled that equality and dignity were infringed by the laws implementing the MoUs, and so did the European Committee of Social Rights as far as social rights are concerned.
However, the European Court of Human Rights rules that the right to property is not infringed, while the EU Court of Justice denies competence to rule on the MoUs. Such approaches undermine the European citizenship project, and thus European integration.

Strategic approaches to disability disclosure on social media

an article by June B. Furr, Alexis Carreiro and John A. McArthur (Queens University of Charlotte, NC, USA) published in Disability & Society Volume 31 Issue 10 (2016)


Persons with physical disabilities often face isolation in face-to-face settings or limited opportunities to form relationships due to an ongoing, and often derogatory, disability narrative of difference.

Unlike face-to-face interactions, social media let persons with disabilities control how and when they disclose information about their disabilities and offer new opportunities for relationship formation.

This qualitative study establishes a theoretical framework for exploring how and why persons with physical disabilities choose to disclose their disabilities on social media platforms. Major findings from the study describe three strategic approaches (open, secure, and limited) to disability disclosure on social media.

The study also examines the relationship between age of discloser and age of the disability as key factors in approach selection.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

What enhances the research motivation and creativity of graduate students? New evidence from a Japanese empirical survey

an article by Daisuke Kanama (Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan) published in International Journal of Higher Education and Sustainability Volume 1 Number 2 (2016)


This article reports results on the research motivation of graduate students in the natural sciences.

Given that graduate students in science and technology play a role in innovative activities, creative activities should be integrated into their daily experiments and research. A questionnaire was conducted, and factors related to student research environments and activities were analysed.

This study found that awareness of the practical applications of technology and research activity satisfaction strongly enhances the research motivation of graduate students. The research environment and education and supervision environment factors are partially indicated positive effects, implying that the research motivation of graduate students does not instantly increase based on improvements in educational or research environments alone.

The existence of financial support is not directly connected with an increase in the research motivation of graduate students.

In pursuit of “the welfare trait”: recycling deprivation and reproducing deprivation

an article by Michael Lambert (Lancaster University) published in People, Place and Policy Volume 10 Issue 3 (2016)


Adam Perkins’ The Welfare Trait outlines the most recent attempt to provide substance to the existence of an underclass, based on the idea of a shared ‘welfare-induced’, ‘employment-resistant’ personality amongst benefit claimants.

Following in the footsteps of historian John Macnicol who went ‘in pursuit’ of the underclass, this article travels ‘in pursuit’ of the welfare trait by situating its claims in historical context through a comparison of the post-war study by William Tonge, Families without Hope, which sought to identify a common psychological maladjustment in ‘problem families’.

The common intention, methods and recommendations of the two studies underline their shared purpose: to transfer the social and policy problems associated with poverty from their socio-economic context and the culpabilities of the state to finding the problem in individual families, identifying their behaviour as problematic and proscribing solutions rooted around cultivating personal responsibility. in historical context

Full text (HTML) also available as downloadable PDF

Do ethical leaders exist? A unified theoretical framework to identify and evaluate them

an article by Brian J. Galli (Long Island University, Brookville, New York, USA), Francisco J. Santos Arteaga (Free University of Bolzano, Italy; Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain), Debora Di Caprio (York University, Toronto, Canada; Polo Tecnologico IISS G. Galilei, Bolzano, Italy) and Dennis T. Kennedy (La Salle University, Philadelphia, USA) published in International Journal of Management and Decision Making Volume 15 Number 3/4 (2016)


The literature has consistently verified the strong relationship existing between ethics and leadership. At the same time, it has also developed several differing views regarding the main attributes determining what constitutes an ethical leader.

Critics of ethical leadership theory emphasise the lack of shared focus amongst existing researchers on the subject. Such a drawback complicates substantially the identification of the main factors required to demonstrate effective ethical leadership.

This paper aims at identifying the main nexus areas arising across the existing body of research so that the main factors constituting the concept of ethical leadership can be identified. Besides identifying the uniform set of guidelines and principles defining ethical leadership, we will discuss whether or not it can be learned while also describing the key capacities required from a leader in order to develop it.

Finally, the main strengths and limitations of ethical leadership theory will be analysed.

The good, the bad and the ‘good enough’ mother on the UK parenting forum Mumsnet

an article by Sarah Pedersen (Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen UK) published in Women's Studies International Forum Volume 59 (November-December 2016)

  • An investigation of the concepts of the good and bad mother on the UK parenting website Mumsnet.
  • Argues that users of Mumsnet engage with, re-work and to a certain extent resist the good mother ideal.
  • While the Intensive Mothering ideal is most frequently discussed there is also reference to a more feminist model.
  • Users are aware of the changing nature of good mother ideals and the involvement of the media in their dissemination.

The article investigates the conceptualisation of the good and bad mother from the point of view of users of the UK parenting website Mumsnet, which offers the opportunity to assess the dominant ideologies of motherhood at play in contemporary middle-class British society.

The study uses Hays' (1998) discussion of the Intensive Mothering ideology and Johnston and Swanson's (2003) typology of contemporary mothering ideologies in analysing the mothers' discussions. It is argued that, on Mumsnet, mothers actively engage with, re-work and to a certain extent resist the good mother ideal.

It is also suggested that the users of Mumsnet are very conscious of the role that the media plays in the construction of the ideals of motherhood and are also aware of how such ideals might change through time. Anonymous forums such as Mumsnet can offer a space for the reality of the maternal experience to be articulated in resistance to the ideology of the good mother.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Disclosure of sexual orientation in the USA and its consequences in the workplace

an article by Luigi Bonaventura and Alessio Emanuele Biondo (University of Catania, Italy) published in International Journal of Social Economics Volume 43 Issue 11 (2016)



Discrimination and hostility in the workplace prevents homosexual workers from performing their core functions on the job. Moreover, it introduces unnecessary costs by increasing absenteeism, lowering productivity, and fostering a less motivated, less entrepreneurial, and less committed workforce.

By means of an agent-based model, the authors simulated the effects on unemployment rates of an increasing of sexual orientation (SO) disclosure in the workplaces. The authors tested the effects on workers’ utility, level of job satisfaction and segregation.

The results show a complessive improvement of the firms’ performances and a better job satisfaction for undeclared and homosexual workers and employers.

With a homosexual employer, the authors can observe an increasing homosexual utility and firm profit, with a low decrease in undeclared utility. Instead, with an undeclared employer, the firm’s profit decreases but the total effect is positive.

The paper aims to discuss these issues.


An agent-based model applied.


Effects of sexual disclosure on unemployment rates, job satisfaction, and job segregation.


The economic literature on SO and job satisfaction is very meager.

JEL Classification: J16, J71, M54

Graduate Employability and Communication Competence: Are Undergraduates Taught Relevant Skills?

an article by Trish L. Clokie and Elna Fourie (Waikato Institute of Technology, New Zealand) published in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly Volume 79 Number 4 (2016)


This research establishes the role of communication education in employability by determining how employers of graduates view communication, identifying communication skills that employers view as relevant, and establishing whether these skills are included in communication courses.

To achieve these aims, local businesses were surveyed, and the results were compared with communication course descriptors.

The research shows, consistent with worldwide trends, that local employers value communication competencies highly when recruiting new graduates, and specific communication skills required in an industry reflect course content. However, some skills are still lacking, and the research questions where the responsibility lies in developing these skills.

Full text (PDF)

The Right to Buy public housing in Britain: a welfare analysis

IFS Working Paper (W16/20) by Richard Disney (The Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London, London, UK) and Guannan Luo (College of Business, City University of Hong Kong)


We investigate the impact on social welfare of the United Kingdom (UK) policy introduced in 1980 by which public housing tenants (council housing in UK parlance) had the right to purchase their houses at heavily discounted prices. This was known as the Right to Buy (RTB) policy.

Although this internationally-unique policy was the largest source of public privatization revenue in the UK and raised home ownership as a share of housing tenure by around 15%, the policy has been little analyzed by economists. We investigate the equilibrium housing policy of the public authority in terms of quality and quantity of publicly-provided housing both in the absence and presence of a RTB policy.

We find that RTB can improve the aggregate welfare of low-income households only if the council housing quality is sufficiently low such that middle-wealth households have no incentive to exercise RTB.

We also explore the welfare effects of various adjustments to the policy, in particular
  1. reduce discounts on RTB sales;
  2. loosen restrictions on resale;
  3. return the proceeds from RTB sales to local authorities to construct new public properties; and
  4. replace RTB with rent subsidies in cash.
JEL classification: I38; R38

Full text (PDF)

Monday, 23 January 2017

Doing Gender, Paying Low: Gender, Class and Work–Life Balance in Aged Care

an article by Katherine Ravenswood and Candice Harris (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand) published in Gender, Work & Organization Volume 23 Issue 6 (November 2016)


This article examines how interactions between the doing of gender and class at institutional and organizational levels perpetuate inequality for aged care workers.

In particular, it investigates how managers ‘do gender’ and class in relation to their care workers’ work–life balance and the unintended consequences of this for aged care workers. The research data comprised interviews with female managers and aged care workers from four case studies in residential aged care in New Zealand.

We argue that despite best intentions, the consequences of managers’ doing gender and class results in continuing low wages, poor work–life balance and disempowerment at work for aged care workers.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Ten nice things to read starting with a white rabbit

Is unpunctuality a moral failing?
via 3 Quarks Daily by Emrys Westacott
Image result for images: white rabbit with watch
We all know people who are routinely late. We may even be one of them. These people aren't necessarily late for everything. They usually manage to catch their trains or planes, get to a concert before it begins, and make it to their job interviews on time. But if it's a matter of rendezvousing for coffee, not holding up dinner, or being packed for a trip by the prearranged departure time, they are systematically hopeless.
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What black hole collisions reveal about the universe
via OUP Blog by Pankaj S. Joshi
The remarkable detection of gravitational waves by the LIGO collaboration recently has drawn much attention to the fundamental and intriguing workings of gravity in our universe. Finding these gravitational waves, inferred to be produced by merger of two stellar mass black holes, has been like listening to the very distant sound of the universe. The natural question that arises is: What do such phenomena tell us about the cosmos, and what new information can they bring on the amazing nature and structure of the universe?
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How to Read Dante in the 21st Century
Breaking the code of “The Divine Comedy” with patient reverence
via Arts & Letters Daily: Joseph Luzzi in The American Scholar

Photo-illustration from Sandro Botticelli's portrait of Dante by Stephanie Bastek (Wikimedia Commons)
già volgeva il mio disio e ’l velle,
sì come rota ch’igualmente è mossa,
l’amor che move ’l sole e l’altre stelle.

now my will and my desire were turned,
like a wheel in perfect motion,
by the love that moves the sun and the other stars.
These breathtaking lines conclude Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line epic written in 1321 on the state of the soul after death. T. S. Eliot called such poetry the most beautiful ever written – and yet so few of us have ever read it. Since the poem appeared, and especially in modern times, those readers intrepid enough to take on Dante have tended to focus on the first leg of his journey, through the burning fires of Inferno. As Victor Hugo wrote about The Divine Comedy’s blessed realms, “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.”

Not so says Luzzi in his intriguing article. We need not just patient reverence but dogged persistence!
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Meat-Eating Among the Earliest Humans
via 3 Quarks Daily: Briana Pobiner in American Scientist
Although the modern “paleodiet” movement often claims that our ancestors ate large amounts of meat, we still don’t know the proportion of meat in the diet of any early human species, nor how frequently meat was eaten. Modern hunter-gatherers have incredibly varied diets, some of which include fairly high amounts of meat, but many of which don’t. Still, we do know that meat-eating was one of the most pivotal changes in our ancestors’ diets and that it led to many of the physical, behavioral, and ecological changes that make us uniquely human.
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Warning: Allow yourself time, lots of time.
What Would The Stuff Your Smartphone Can Do Cost in 1985?
via MakeUseOf by Dave LeClair
Your smartphone can do a lot. It’s easy to take for granted just how many things you can do with the small computer that’s in your pocket.
Continue reading and possibly be amazed

Here's how teleportation could actually work (theoretically)
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
You have to look at this!

Legend of love: the life of Alla Osipenko in images
via OUP Blog
At age eighty-three, ex-prima ballerina Alla Osipenko is more renowned than ever. Blunt, courageous, uncompromising: Osipenko’s brushes with Communist and artistic authorities kept her largely quarantined in the Soviet Union during the height of her extraordinary career. But today we can see evidence of her skill and grace – as well as the tremendous personal risk she and her family took – in photographs and on film.
A selection of photographs from Alla Osipenko: Beauty and Resistance in Soviet Ballet, in which Joel Lobenthal examines the life of this sharp-tongued and independent dancer, can be found here.

Picture Perfect
One Velázquez points in a thousand directions.
via Arts & Letters Daily: Henrik Bering in The Weekly Standard Magazine
Paintings are delicate things that don’t much like fire, floods, wars, or general mayhem. Velázquez's masterpiece, Las Meninas, which shows the infanta of Spain with her entourage of ladies-in-waiting, her dwarves, and her calf-size mastiff, certainly has had its share of close calls. To save it from a fire on Christmas Eve 1734 monks had to throw it out of a second-story window of the Royal Alcázar of Madrid. Miraculously, it suffered only light damage in the fall.
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The scale of the universe is amazing – but more astonishing still is the science that lets us understand it
via 3 Quarks Daily: Oliver Morton in More Intelligent Life
In the far reaches of the sky there are sun-bright discs as wide as solar systems, their hearts run through by spears of radiation that outshine galaxies. The energies that feed these quasars beggar all metaphor, and their quantification seems all but meaningless. What does it serve to know that they are converting matter to energy at a rate that equates to the complete annihilation of a planet the size of the Earth ten times a second? Or that all the fires of the sun, from its birth to its death, would be a few weeks’ worth of work to one of them? No human sense can be made from so inhuman a scale. Boggle, and move on. Or stop, and appreciate that for all their grandeur, quasars are actually rather hard to see. Not one of them is close enough for the naked eye to pick out; even through the largest telescopes their mighty discs are but points of light. Again, the numbers are incomprehensibly enormous: billions of light years, when the longest trip taken by humans, to the Moon and back, is just a few light seconds. Yet here is a human connection that makes something wonderful of the spectacle. The billion-year journeys of the quasars’ light end at human telescopes. And there this far-flung light is not merely absorbed, but also understood.
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Saturday, 21 January 2017

From spam to Greek gods and goddesses, a miscellany

How Long is Chile?
via Big Think by Frank Jacobs
Pretty long. It is, after all, the longest country in the world. But why is it that long? And how long is it exactly?
Chile is as narrow as it is because of the Andes Mountains, which separate it from Argentina. That's why the country is only 110 miles (177 km) across, on average. The country derives its length from the successful colonial expansion of the Spanish, and independent Chile's own military successes. In 1818, when Chile broke free from Spain, the country comprised only the middle third of its current north-south extension.
It is worth scrolling through the original post to read the comment on climate comparisons.
Link here

Long term effects of slave exporting in West Africa
via OUP Blog by Nonso Obikili
History matters.
Historical events can sometimes have consequences that last long after the events have finished. An important part of Africa’s past is its history of slave exporting. Although Africa is not unique to the trading of slaves, the magnitude of slave exporting rose to levels not previously experienced anywhere else in the world.
Between 1500 and 1900, an estimated 10 million slaves were exported from West and Central Africa. To put this in perspective, the estimated population in these regions in 1700 was about 28 million people. The exports also do not include people who died either during capture, the long trek to the coast, or the journey across the Atlantic. In short, it was a significant event in Africa’s history lasting over 400 years. A significant event of this magnitude is bound to have long lasting effects.
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Video: “A History of Rock in 15 Minutes”
via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz
“348 rockstars, 84 guitarists, 64 songs, 44 drummers.”
Let the debate begin over who they missed! I'll start with the Sex Pistols.
Check out the track list and see whether your favourite rocker is included

The enduring mystery of Keats’s last words
via 3 Quarks Daily: Michelle Stacey at The Paris Review

Keats’s near obsession with death – “youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies”; “many a time I have been half in love with easeful death”; “now more than ever seems it rich to die” – becomes a palpable entity in this house [the Museum in Hampstead ??]. A cabinet displays the barbarous-looking instruments he used as a medical student, before he turned to poetry; a portrait depicts his younger brother, Tom, whom Keats nursed until he died of consumption, and from whom Keats almost surely caught the disease that would kill him as well. In the early nineteenth century, the disease killed one in three Londoners, but it was also something of a family curse: Keats had nursed his mother as she died eight years before Tom, and his older brother, George, who had emigrated to America in 1818, would die of it as well, in 1841.
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Life inside God’s customer service prayer call-centre
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Laurie Penny's latest, sacrilegious short story on Tor.com, “Your Orisons May Be Recorded”, is a hilarious thought experiment about the working conditions for the angels who answer customer service prayers from dissatisfied humans.
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'The Records of this Nation'
via National Archives by Dr Laura Tompkins
The image shows a single sheet (a broadside) printed by the crown, probably in the 1680s, to explain why documents of state were stored in the Tower of London (catalogue reference: SP 9/37/6)
Why do people keep records? After all, the results of the decision to gather and store thousands – or in our case millions – of documents takes considerable amounts of time, money and space.
Continue reading I found this fascinating

The true meaning of cell life and death
via OUP Blog by Ronald Edwards
Two hundred years ago, William Lawrence blew the roof off the Hunter Lecture Series at the Royal College of Surgeons by adding the word “biology” to the English language to discuss living physiology, behavior, and diversity as a matter of gunky chemistry and physics, sans super-added forces. Moving on from there, one might think that life can arise from non-living stuff any time, or whenever the parameters are right, and who’s to say whether that’s a rare or common thing. Therefore it was difficult on the basis of logic alone to conclude the reverse, that the living things we see are a matter of living things’ reproduction and nothing but.
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19th century spam came by post, prefigured modern spam in so many ways
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
In the 19th century, the nascent advertising industry took notice of the fact that postmasters could send each other letters for free, and bribed them to forward packets of mail to one another to pass on to townspeople (“To Superintendent Sunday School OR ANY ONE INTERESTED IN MUSIC”).
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Butterflies Forty Million Years Before Butterflies
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ed Yong in Not Exactly Rocket Science
There’s a group of fossils insects that look really quite a lot like butterflies. They had broad wings with scales and pigmented eyespots. Their mouthparts were long probing straws. They likely fed from plants and pollinated them in return. They’re as butterfly-esque as it’s possible to be.
Except these creatures were flying around between 40 and 85 million years before the first butterflies existed.
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Ten things you may not have known about Greek gods and goddesses
via OUP Blog by Samantha Zimbler
Greek gods and goddesses have been a part of cultural history since ancient times, but how much do you really know about them? Find out who was abandoned, who causes ecstatic dizziness, and which god actually sweats by reading the short facts below. For example, did you know that Hestia, the Goddess of Hearth and Family Order, was unable to leave the house and could never leave Mount Olympus? You can learn more about these figures from Greek mythology by reading the lesser known facts below and by visiting the newly launched Oxford Classical Dictionary online.
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Friday, 20 January 2017

The role of organizational facilitators in promoting job-related mental health and group service effectiveness: a two-wave analysis

Esther Gracia (Universitat de València, Spain and IDOCAL Research Institute, Valencia, Spain) and  Marisa Salanova, Edgar Bresó and Eva Cifre (Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain) published in Work & Stress: An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations Volume 30 Issue 3 (2016)


This study aimed to add to knowledge by providing a more systematic integration of work characteristics, workers’ health and performance. The two-wave multi-source study was conducted to test the relationship over time between the healthy states of groups of service-oriented workers and their service effectiveness when their organizations provide facilitators such as training, technical support and autonomy.

The study takes healthy states to be a composite of affective-motivational and competent collective states (collective vigour and service competence) and service effectiveness. Service effectiveness was a combination of service quality as assessed by customers and their loyalty intentions.

Data from 53 hotels and restaurants in Spain were aggregated from 256 boundary workers (i.e. workers in direct contact with customers) and 530 customers at Time 1 and from 470 customers at Time 2 six month later.

Structural equation modelling showed that organizational facilitators at Time 1 were related to the service effectiveness reported by customers at Time 2, and also that there was a relationship between service effectiveness at Time 1 and the healthy states reported by the groups at Time 2. That is, contrary to what is widely believed, there was an influence of performance on well-being.

Understanding the gender and ethnicity attainment gap in UK higher education

an article by D.R.E. Cotton, M. Joyner, R. George and P.A. Cotton (Plymouth University, UK) published in Innovations in Education and Teaching International Volume 53 Issue 5 (2016)


In recent years, the success rates of different groups of students in higher education have come under considerable scrutiny, with gender and ethnicity identified as key attributes predicting differential achievement of ‘good degrees’.

A review of previous studies highlights the need for research which looks beyond ‘the deficit model’ to explain the attainment gap. This research used a mixed-methods approach to explore the academic and social experiences of students, as well as lecturers’ views on student achievement, in one UK University.

Findings suggest that there are significant differences in motivation and confidence speaking English for different ethnic groups in this study, and a divergence in attendance and study time by gender – both of which may go some way to helping understand the gaps in attainment. In addition, male and BME students tended to overestimate their likelihood of achieving a good degree outcome, compared to other groups.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Detecting liveness of fingerprint biometrics

an article by G. Arunalatha and M. Ezhilarasan (Pondicherry Engineering College, Puducherry, India) published in International Journal of Internet Protocol Technology Volume 9 Number 4 (2016)


Biometrics refer to automated recognition of individuals based on their biological and behavioral characteristics. Biometric systems are widely used for security. But biometric systems are vulnerable to a certain type of attack.

The type 1 attack or direct attack is done at the sensor level using fake input. Spoofing refers to the fraudulent action by an unauthorised person into biometric systems using fake input that reproduces one of the authorised person's biometric inputs.

Liveness detection provides an extra level of authentication to biometrics. The fingerprint liveness detection is performed by measuring the following features of the fingerprint. They are Gabor-Shen feature, orientation flow feature, and frequency domain feature. This approach is based on fingerprint image quality. The SVM classifier is used for classification. The ATVS database is used for conducting experiments.

This technique is software based as it requires no external hardware. This approach is inexpensive.

Sexual Orientation, Income, and Stress at Work

Benjamin Cerf (U.S., Census Bureau, Washington, DC) published in Industrial Relations: a journal of economy and society Volume 55, Issue 4 (October 2016)


I present a model explaining recent findings that partnered gay men earn less than partnered straight men while partnered lesbian women earn more than partnered straight women.

In an environment with compensating differentials and a gender gap in potential income, an income effect leads partnered gay men to choose jobs with lower income and higher amenities than partnered straight men. The same mechanism generates similarly reasoned predictions about income and amenities for women and single people.

Canadian data on stressfulness of one’s working environment support these predictions.

Becoming a Drug Dealer: Local Interaction Orders and Criminal Careers

an article by Waverly Duck (possibly Yale University, New Haven, USA) published in Critical Sociology Volume 42 Issue 7-8 (November 2016)


This article reports on an ethnographic study of the process by which a young man became a drug dealer in a in a small northeastern US city. Drug dealing was the principal occupation in his predominantly black neighborhood.

This process is treated as an initiation into a criminal career that involved not only the mastery of specific steps of drug dealing but also learning the expectations of the local interaction order framing the space where he lives.

Approached in this way, one young man’s story offers a window into the local interaction order of a drug-dealing space: a set of local social practices that must be routinely mastered in the area where he grew up.

The pervasiveness of drug-dealing practices in the local interaction order offers valuable insight into how and why male youth in this locale would enter the drug trade and are at considerable risk of arrest.

Full text (HTML)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Impact of Immigration: Why Do Studies Reach Such Different Results?

Christian Dustmann and Uta Schönberg (University College London, UK) and Jan Stuhler (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain) Dustmann, Schönberg and Stuhler also at Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at UCL) published in Journal of Economic Perspectives Volume 30 Number 4 (Fall 2016)


We classify the empirical literature on the wage impact of immigration into three groups, where studies in the first two groups estimate different relative effects, and studies in the third group estimate the total effect of immigration on wages.

We interpret the estimates obtained from the different approaches through the lens of the canonical model to demonstrate that they are not comparable. We then relax two key assumptions in this literature, allowing for inelastic and heterogeneous labor supply elasticities of natives and the "downgrading" of immigrants.

"Downgrading" occurs when the position of immigrants in the labor market is systematically lower than the position of natives with the same observed education and experience levels. Downgrading means that immigrants receive lower returns to the same measured skills than natives when these skills are acquired in their country of origin.

We show that heterogeneous labor supply elasticities, if ignored, may complicate the interpretation of wage estimates, and particularly the interpretation of relative wage effects. Moreover, downgrading may lead to biased estimates in those approaches that estimate relative effects of immigration, but not in approaches that estimate total effects.

We conclude that empirical models that estimate total effects not only answer important policy questions, but are also more robust to alternative assumptions than models that estimate relative effects.

JEL Classification: I26 J15 J22 J24 J31 J61

Full text (PDF)

‘You can’t move in Hackney without bumping into an anthropologist’: why certain places attract research attention

an article by Sarah Neal (University of Surrey, UK) Giles Mohan and Allan Cochrane (Open University, UK) and Katy Bennett (University of Leicester, UK) published in Qualitative Research Volume 16 Number 5 (2016)


In social research some places and populations are disproportionately targeted by researchers. While relatively little work exists on the concept of over-research those accounts that do exist tend to focus on participant-based research relationships and not place-based research relationships.

Using interdisciplinary approaches and fieldwork experiences from a recently completed qualitative study of urban multiculture in England we develop the over-research debates in three key ways.

First, the notion of ‘over-research’ carries negative connotations and we reflect on these as well as the possibility of more nuanced readings of research encounters.

Second, we develop a more relational analysis, in which place – the London Borough of Hackney – is understood to be an animating force in the research process.

Third, we argue that our experiences of the research provide evidence that many of the participants in the project were adept and confident in their engagements with the research process.

In this way, the article suggests, disproportionate research attention may foster not research fatigue but a more knowing and co-productive research relationship.

Full text (PDF)

Towards a sustainable apprenticeship system

an article by Mandy Samantha Crawford-Lee (University of Bolton, UK) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning Volume 6 Issue 4 (2016)


The purpose of this paper is to provide a short overview of current government policy and context to the development of higher and degree apprenticeships and the engagement of higher education (HE) providers in delivery to achieve the ambition of three million apprenticeship starts by 2020.

Opinion piece contextualising the UK Government’s approach to apprenticeship reforms and the role of HE and further education in the design and development and delivery of higher and degree apprenticeships.

The apprenticeship system is at a critical stage of development and HE providers need to embrace the opportunities and address the competitive challenges of apprenticeship delivery given the £2.5 billion per annum that will be raised by the apprenticeship levy and the threat to their existing and traditional HE provision.

Reflects the ambition and mission of the University Vocational Awards Council.

Elected mayors in England: leaders or managers?

an article by John Fenwick and Howard Elcock (Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) published in International Journal of Public Leadership Volume 12 Issue 4 (2016)


Philosophers and political scientists have a long history of dealing with the difficult puzzle of leadership, and how it is to be distinguished from management and administration. The purpose of this paper is to explore the question of whether the innovative role of elected executive mayor in England can be considered as leader or manager. The paper critically assesses the concept of leadership before using empirical evidence to come to conclusions about the current role of elected mayor, an office with an uncertain history and unclear future in English public sector leadership.

The paper draws from the authors’ qualitative interviews with mayors from the inception of the office to the recent past.

The study finds that elected executive mayors are both leaders and managers, but that the notion of leadership in the local public sector remains contested as the mayor is a part of a bureaucratic structure of administration which limits the exercise of leadership as outlined in the existing literature.

Research limitations/implications
As central government continues to advocate the expansion of the office of mayor, not least as part of English regional devolution, the study relates to future practice and to overall understanding of just what elected mayors do.

Practical implications
The paper provides useful insight into the forthcoming expansion of the mayoral system into the new Combined Authorities.

The paper provides original evidence about the faltering progress of the mayoral system in the English public sector.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Robots poised to revolutionise agriculture

an article by Robert Bogue (Consultant, Okehampton, UK) published in Industrial Robot: An International Journal Volume 43 Issue 5 (2016)


This paper aims to provide details of a number of recent and significant agricultural robot research and development activities.

Following an introduction, this first provides a brief overview of agricultural robot research. It then discusses a number of specific activities involving robots for precision weed control and fertiliser application. A selection of harvesting robots and allied technological developments is then considered and is followed by concluding comments.

Agricultural robots are the topic of an extensive research and development effort. Several autonomous robots aimed at precision weed control and fertiliser application have reached the pre-production stage. Equally, harvesting robots are at an advanced stage of development. Both classes exploit state-of-the-art machine vision and image processing technologies which are the topic of a major research effort. These developments will contribute to the forecasted rapid growth in the agricultural robot markets during the next decade.

Robots are expected to play a significant role in meeting the ever increasing demand for food, and this paper provides details of some recent agricultural robot research and development activities.

The Prevalence of Rough Sleeping and Sofa Surfing Amongst Young People in the UK

an article by Anna Clarke (Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, UK) published in Social Inclusion Volume 4 Issue 4 (2016)


Whilst data on statutory homelessness is well recorded in the UK, there is a lack of data on informal homelessness (such as ‘sofa surfing’) and rough sleeping, other than that which relies on partial information and street counts.

This paper presents findings from a recent online survey of young people and helps to fill this gap.

It found that rates of sofa surfing and rough sleeping among young people were much higher than previously thought. Twenty-six percent of young people (aged 16–25) had slept rough at some point in their life and 35 percent had ‘sofa surfed’ (stayed with friends or family on their floor or sofa because they had nowhere else to go).

The paper explores the implications of this for how we conceptualise homelessness. It suggests that homelessness may often be neither cause nor consequence of wider forms of exclusion, but that we may need to explore further the factors that enable some people to move swiftly out of homelessness more easily than others.

Full Text (downloadable PDF)

Ignorance management in hospitals

an article by Maximiliane Wilkesmann (TU University of Dortmund, Germany) published in VINE Journal of Information and Knowledge Management Systems Volume 46 Issue 4 (2016)


The purpose of this paper is to investigate how professionals, like doctors, deal with their ignorance? Which strategies do they apply? How can the organization support activities that encourage dealing with ignorance in a positive way? The paper shows how ignorance can be managed in professional organizations like hospitals.

To explore this touchy subject, the research follows a sequential mixed method design. The advantage of combining research methods is the opportunity to explore an uninvestigated research field. In the first exploratory research sequence (empirical study 1) preliminary questions were defined by means of 43 qualitative semi-structured interviews with hospital physicians and literature analysis. The results of the qualitative content analysis also served as a starting point for the development of a Germany-wide online-questionnaire survey with more than 2,500 physicians (empirical study 2).

The results show that breaks, a lack of negative organizational constraints, collective learning, positive role models and intrinsic motivation have the highest impact on ignorance sharing of physicians in hospitals. In reverse, negative organizational constraints, distrust, a lack of intrinsic motivation and omitting the implementation of evidence-based insights in terms of collective learning have the highest impact on hiding ignorance. These findings help to manage ignorance in a positive way.

Physicians all over the world have to deal with incomplete information and ignorance in their daily work. Mostly, they have no time and/or resources to gather all relevant information before they make a diagnosis or administer a therapy. It is quite evident that scientific discourses on knowledge management and professions mostly emphasize the power of expertise and knowledge, whereas research on ignorance is currently more or less neglected. This paper is one of the first attempts to overcome this research gap.

An efficient method for discovery of large item sets

an article by Deepa S. Deshpande (MGM's Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College, Aurangabad, India) published in International Journal of Data Mining, Modelling and Management Volume 8 Number 4 (2016)


In today's emerging field of descriptive data mining, association rule mining (ARM) has been proven helpful to describe essential characteristics of data from large databases.

Mining frequent item sets is the fundamental task of ARM. Apriori, the most influential traditional ARM algorithm, adopts iterative search strategy for frequent item set generation. But, multiple scans of database, candidate item set generation and large load of system's I/O are major abuses which degrade the mining performance of it.

Therefore, we proposed a new method for mining frequent item sets which overcomes these shortcomings.

It judges the importance of occurrence of an item set by counting present and absent count of an individual item. Performance evaluation with Apriori algorithm shows that proposed method is more efficient as it finds fewer items in frequent item set in 50% less time without backtracking.

It also reduces system I/O load by scanning the database only once.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Household Instability and Unpredictable Earnings Hinder Coping in Households with Food Insecure Children

an article by Karla L. Hanson, Leah Connor and Christine M. Olson (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York) and Gregory Mills (The Urban Institute, Washington, DC, USA) published in Journal of Poverty Volume 230 Issue 4 (2016)


This mixed-methods study explored the circumstances and coping strategies of households at risk of food insecurity among children. Quantitative analyses guided the selection of two samples of households: (1) at risk for food insecure children, yet children were food secure (n = 19) and (2) with food insecure children (n = 54). Qualitative interviews with parents revealed that households with food insecure children were complex and fluctuating in composition and had unpredictable earnings.

Coping strategies were similar in both samples, except that households with at risk yet food secure children described home cooking, a household coping strategy that may be attributed to their stable household composition and resources.

Contextualizing employability: Do boundaries of self-directedness vary in different labor market groups?

an article by Maxim Kovalenko and Dimitri Mortelmans (University of Antwerp, Belgium) published in Career Development International Volume 21 Issue 5 (2016)


Individual employability has become a crucial element in ensuring labor security in flexibilizing labor markets. The importance of agency-side factors as antecedents of employability has been emphasized in the relevant literature, spurring the criticism that some worker groups may be more restricted than others by contextual factors in respect to their employment prospects. The purpose of this paper is to examine empirically how labor market groups differ in what shapes their employability.

The authors used a representative sample of 1,055 employees to detect differences in the impact of career self-directedness (agency-side) and several contextual factors (structure-side) on employability, comparing workers with and without higher education and workers in and outside managerial positions. Confirmatory factor analysis with subsequent tests of invariance was used.

Results confirm that employability is affected both by contextual factors and by self-directedness. No significant differences were observed between the compared groups in the extent to which self-directedness and the contextual factors influence employability. An important finding is that self-directedness itself is affected by preceding career history (career mobility and previous unemployment), which may suggest a vicious-circle relationship between past and future career precariousness.

The findings support the view prevailing in policy circles that fostering agency-side factors such as self-directedness is instrumental toward achieving higher employment security. At the same time, individual agency cannot replace traditional policy measures in tackling structural labor market inequalities.

This study uses robust methodology and a representative respondent sample to statistically disentangle the effects of agency and context on employability. Its key contribution pertains to the explicit comparison of different worker groups, with separate contrasts on each model parameter.

Economic well-being and social justice through pleasure reading

an article by Pauline Dewan (Wilfrid Laurier University, Brantford, Canada) published in New Library World Volume 117 Issue 9/10 (2016)


Librarians planning for the future and unsure about the place of books in an age dominated by technology and media need evidence to make sound decisions. Library and information science researchers have studied the impact of pleasure reading on individuals but not on society. The purpose of this paper is to raise awareness about the benefits of recreational reading for societies and to consider the implications of these findings for libraries.

Examining a wide range of studies by government bodies, intergovernmental agencies and academics, this paper addresses a gap in the library literature by critically evaluating the combined implications of sources not hitherto viewed together.

The more leisure books people read, the more literate they become, and the more prosperous and equitable the society they inhabit.

Practical implications
Librarians should create a more robust culture of reading and play a stronger advocacy role for books in libraries.

No one has yet examined government reports about literacy in relation to studies on the impact of pleasure reading. The implications of this combined research highlight the fact that pleasure reading benefits societies as well as individuals, a finding that has significant implications for the future direction of libraries. Decision-makers who need a robust mandate for book-focused resources and services will find supportive statistical evidence in this paper.

Infrastructure: why it is under provided and badly managed

an article by Dieter Helm (New College, Oxford, UK) and Colin Mayer (Saïd Business School, Oxford, UK) published in Oxford Review of Economic Policy Volume 32 Number 3 (2016


The paper records the substantial deficiencies that exist in the design and implementation of infrastructure programmes around the world. It points to three sources of failure.

The first is a failure to recognize the systems nature of infrastructure and the implication of this for the appropriate tools of analysis that should be employed in infrastructure assessments.

The second is a preoccupation with income and expenditure flows rather than balance sheets in reporting public- as well as private-sector infrastructure accounts. This has had profound and in many cases perverse implications for the ownership, funding, and operation of infrastructure.

The third is inadequate governance of infrastructure programmes to overcome the significant commitment problems that afflict both private- and public-sector providers of infrastructure.

The paper describes a set of responses that recognize the systems nature of infrastructure, the importance of balance sheets, and the need for commitment mechanisms in the private and public sectors to promote the efficient provision of infrastructure.

JEL classification: H54

How can we justify human rights?

an article by Peter G. Kirchschlaeger (University of Lucerne, Switzerland) published in International Journal of Human Rights and Constitutional Studies Volume 4 Number 4 (2016)

Human rights form a political, legal, and moral consensus which appears to enjoy global acceptance. At the same time difficulties in implementing these rights and their claim to universality raise doubts about and attract criticism of the legitimacy of human rights.

Such reactions are bolstered by the obligation to remain coherent with the core concept of the autonomy of the individual. Human rights therefore need a moral justification because autonomy requires justification of the reason why one's freedom should be restricted by human rights.

These challenges lead to the question of how human rights can be justified.

My paper will start by discussing some attempts to justify human rights. Based on this, the necessary characteristics of a justification of human rights will be analysed. A model of justification of human rights which is based on the principle of vulnerability will then be introduced. This approach to justifying human rights will then be applied with a specific human right - the right to own property.

The paper will then explore the concept of adaptation supporting the discourse about the justification of human rights. Finally, some closing remarks will try to identify the added value of this approach for justifying human rights.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Brighten up your Sunday with these ten "trivial" stories

Frank Sinatra – 'the medieval monarch of showbiz'
via 3 Quarks Daily: Neil Spencer in The Guardian
Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones and producer Sonny Burke review an arrangement.
Frank Sinatra’s favourite time of day was dawn, especially the ice-blue desert dawn of Las Vegas, the signal that he had slaked his gargantuan thirst for fine music, fast company, beautiful women and booze. His customary bedtime was 7am, at which point the perpetual party he led and underwrote would evaporate. Sinatra’s need for distraction and his terror of solitude are a central theme of Sinatra: The Chairman, James Kaplan’s meticulously researched biography, this second volume marking the singer’s centenary. Kaplan takes up his story in 1954, when Sinatra’s Oscar for From Here to Eternity began “the greatest comeback in show-business history”, taking him from over-the-hill crooner to worldwide icon. Kaplan draws from previous biographies and the memoirs of Sinatra’s lovers and fellow travellers, but the pithy narrative is his own, as are his persuasive critiques of the music.

Wax, cord and ink: the materiality of records
via National Archives by Paul Dryburgh
‘We will advance knowledge through exemplary academic liaison and outstanding interdisciplinary research.’ – Archives Inspire
Image of a bright red seal
At The National Archives, we don’t just study what the documents housed here say. Technical analysis of the materials that make them also allows us to glimpse future possibilities for research.
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The Origin of Left and Right
By studying twisting snails, scientists have identified the earliest molecules that make us asymmetrical.
via 3 Quarks Daily: Ed Yong in The Atlantic
On the surface, people are more or less symmetrical. Aside from small differences, our right sides mirror our left. The same isn’t true for our innards. The heart, stomach, and spleen typically sit slightly to the left, while the liver and gall bladder sit to the right. That’s the usual set-up, but it’s mirrored in one in every 10,000 people, who have a condition called situs inversus. Donny Osmond has it. So did James Bond’s adversary Dr. No, who once survived a murder attempt because his would-be assassin stabbed the left side of his chest and missed his heart.
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Pandas and people: understanding their complex relationships for successful conservation
via OUP Blog by Jianguo Liu
Amid failures in saving numerous wildlife species worldwide, there is an encouraging success—decades of panda habitat degradation have been transformed into a remarkable recovery.
The success is taking place in Wolong Nature Reserve of China—home to endangered giant pandas and more than 5,000 residents who share a 200,000-ha mountainous area. It is also occurring in many of the other 66 nature reserves and non-reserve areas across southwestern China.
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How to send an email, 1984 edition
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
Attention crackers - his Micronet password is 1234.
Electronic message writing down the phone line. First shown on Thames TV's computer programme 'Database' in 1984
Watch it here

An international army of knitters
via National Archives by Jane Lawrence
Vintage knitting pattern used in the project
‘Our film aims to breathe life into the cold stillness of a war memorial. It is the story of one Lincolnshire family during World War One.’
Pauline Loven, on community film ‘Tell Them Of Us’
How did this all begin for the knitters? I was idly flicking through my Twitter feed one day in October 2014 and spotted the tweet which, as a keen knitter with an interest in the First World War, caught my attention immediately. The project was to involve a full year’s activity and was absorbing and rewarding. My task was to collect the information such as skill level and pattern preference for the willing army of knitters and crocheters, set up a database and try to match skills to a particular vintage pattern.
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Why we do what we do
via OUP Blog by Carolina Sartorio
You walked out the door this morning. Why did you do it? Perhaps because you wanted to stretch your legs. Perhaps because you wanted to feel the fresh air on your face and the wind blowing through your hair.
Is that it?
Not quite. I bet you also walked out the door this morning because the phone didn’t ring a second earlier. And because you didn’t see a huge storm approaching. I bet you also walked out the door this morning because you didn’t promise a friend that you would meet him at home. And because you didn’t have to help your spouse with some household chores. And, more generally, because you had no moral obligation that required staying at home. (The list doesn’t end there. In fact, it may continue on indefinitely.)
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To Get Customers Acclimated To Rotary Telephones, Theaters Played This PSA
via Stephen’s Lighthouse

The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy: “Now take my wife... Please!”
via 3 Quarks Daily: Jesse David Fox in Vulture
The oldest joke on record, a Sumerian proverb, was first told all the way back in 1,900 B.C. Yes, it was a fart joke: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap.”
Don’t feel bad if you don’t get it – something was definitely lost in time and translation (you have to imagine it was the Mesopotamian equivalent of “Women be shopping”), but not before the joke helped pave the way for almost 4,000 years of toilet humor.
It’s just a shame we’ll never know the name of the Sumerian genius to whom we owe Blazing Saddles. But with the rise of comedy as a commercial art form in the 20th century, and with advances in modern bookkeeping, it’s now much easier to assign credit for innovations in joke-telling, which is exactly what Vulture set out to do with this list of the 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.
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Time and perception
via OUP Blog by George Jaroszkiewicz
The human brain is a most wonderful organ: it is our window on time. Our brains have specialized structures that work together to give us our human sense of time. The temporal lobe helps form long-term memories, without which we would not be aware of the past, whilst the frontal lobe allows us to plan for the future. In addition, we have a powerful sense of the present, the enigmatic ‘moment of the now’, that generates the sensation that time ‘flows’.
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