Monday, August 31, 2015

A few afterthoughts on today's class

I should have made clear that for these first two weeks what we are doing is giving an extended introduction into the subject.  Organizations can be thought of in many different.  Bolman and Deals book has "reframing" in the title to suggest that.  The branding that we discussed briefly today is part of their fourth frame, why is on a symbolic approach to organizations.  The structural frame is the first.  But even within an economics only view, there are multiple ways to consider organizations.  Instead of calling these frames, let me call them metaphors, though they are much the same thing.  Transactions costs are one such metaphor.  We'll look at some others in class on Wednesday.

I was surprised that several of you indicated you listen to the radio in you car and that is a source of new music for you.  Let me here consider Internet radio and with that consider Pandora.  (In class I mentioned Spotify.)  I would be curious whether there are other Internet radio stations that are also popular with the class.  Internet radio is distinct from old style radio in that with the former the user can customize the content to some degree.  Pandora differs from Spotify, however in the extent of user control.  Pandora's channels are determined by affinity to a particular artist or to a particular genre.  I don't know their algorithm for determining affinity, but presumably you like Pandora if you enjoy the selections it offers to you.  This is a way to discover new music where your own taste influences the discovery to some extent.

We talked about network externalities briefly and used Facebook as an example, but I didn't have time to ask whether new music exhibits network externalities for you.  In other words, do you want to listen to the same music your friends listen to?  Or do you not care about that.    Somebody in class mentioned YouTube as an alternative way to learn about music.  Perhaps the YouTube approach work you can subscribe to certain people who post certain types of music.  That sort of subscription approach might promote network externalities.

Let me close by asking whether anyone in class knows somebody who is trying to make a living as a musician in a small band.  If so and if you know how they make ends meet that would be useful to add to the discussion in class today.


There are several musicians and bands from Champaign.  This page has 9 entries that say Champaign.  The two I knew are Alison Krauss and REO Speedwagon.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Research on Motivation

How to motivate members of an organization to behave in accord with the organization's goals is a key issue for our class.  Economic incentives, when viewed from the psychology perspective, fall within the family of what they term extrinsic motivation.  The piece excerpted below followed by a backlink to the article, argues that for deep learning intrinsic motivation is better.  It's a useful thought to have in mind during our course.  Then the question becomes - when is extrinsic motivation necessary and when does it get in the way of intrinsic motivation?  I hope that by the course's conclusion members of the class will have some sense of a good answer to that question.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The psychological underpinnings for gift exchange in the workplace

This piece is about motivation in the workplace and what it is we really want from our jobs, beyond pay. The part of this that is curious to me is that there is no mention of automating jobs here. One might guess that more jobs that are currently routine work only would become automated, allow jobs that encourage creativity to predominate. That this is not happening in a widespread way remains a mystery.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Setting up a blog for this class - part 2

This is the rest of the tutorial.

Setting up a blog for this class

As an alternative to the instructions below, you can use the campus blogging service at publish@illinois.  Then you log in with your NetID and password.  You can adjust your screen name to your alias, to protect your privacy.  But I don't know whether you can access the site after you graduate.   Also, for commenting on the class site you will either do that anonymously or use your real name.

As still one other alternative, you can have a blog in Moodle, which is then not publicly available.  Truthfully, this is much less convenient than the other alternatives.  But it protects your privacy the most because the the rest of the world doesn't have access to the Moodle class site.  If you want to pursue this alternative you must contact me about it.  I have to set it up for you.

- - - - -

The instructions below and in the next post are aimed at setting up your blog so that you post under your alias - nobody outside the class will know who you are - and make sure that everybody understands this is a blog of a student, not of the person from whom the alias was constructed.

The video below was made for the class from two years ago.  It is applicable still, though Blogger has changed a bit since.  Also note, that it assumes you are making a new Gmail account just for this use.  As an alternative, you can use your non-university Gmail account equally well, if you are not already using Blogger with it.

The main thing is to use the Blogger Profile, not the Google Plus profile.  The Blogger Profile is what allows you to post under an alias.  See the image below.

Excel Tutorial

The message below is a repeat of the calendar entry about this homework, which is due 9/1 at 11 PM. If you have questions about how to do the homework, you can pose that as comments to this post.


This is the first homework, though it really is a preparation for the future Excel homework that you will do.  This one is meant to teach you how to go about doing them, even if you are not very comfortable with Excel.

Go to the link below.  Then click the download button that is in the bar above the preview pane.  Save the file somewhere on your computer where you can find it later.

If you have questions about the content of this homework, please post those as a comment to those post.  I will try to respond within 24 hours.  Other students in the class should also feel free to respond.

Note that you get 10 points for completing the homework AND SUBMITTING your key to the Web form that is linked in the homework.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The science behind human capital acquisition

Sometimes I forget to mention things I had planned to say in class and sometimes there just isn't enough time for everything.  This tag is for both of those circumstances.

You should be aware that there is quite a bit of research on how people learn.  Some of this is summarized nicely in an online volume that came out perhaps 15 years ago but has been updated since called How People Learn.  It makes for a quite interesting read.  I want to zero in on the third chapter which is about Transfer.  That means applying what was learned to a new context.  You understand something if you can transfer it appropriately.

A related notion is called Deliberate Practice, which is how expertise is acquired.  So to learn how to transfer an idea to a novel context, you have practice transferring the idea to many different contexts.  You get better at transfer with practice.

I will probably say this 100 times during our course, the first time here.  Memorization doesn't produce human capital.  At best, memorization can help get you familiar with some jargon that makes it easier for you to do the practice of transfer.  At worst, however, students view memorization as a substitute for practice at transfer and, unfortunately from my view, too many courses encourage students to think all there is to school is memorization, by making exams essentially spitting back the lecture notes.  That is not transfer.  And it really has very little long term value, though it might get you a good score on an exam designed this way.

We didn't talk about getting good grades in class as an alternative goal to acquiring human capital.  We should do that on Wednesday.  If I don't mention it, I hope one of you will remind me to do so, because it is an important point and generalize to behavior in organization issues quite well.

Office 365 Freely Available

For those who don't have Excel, or even those who simply have an older version of Office, you can get Office 365.  See below.

For First Class Session

Class Homepage:

Orwell Quote - a reminder that the real world is complex: 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

If You Choose to Subscribe by Email

Note that the email subscription produces one message a day whenever there is activity on the class site in the previous 24 hours.  That message will include all posts in full that were made during the 24 hour time frame.

If you choose to do this you will receive a receipt message acknowledging your subscription.  There will be a link in that message that you must click to activate your subscription.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Culture and Intensity at Amazon

What Dr. Frankenstein's monster would look like if Mary Shelley had written her book today or a model for all places of work in the not too distant future?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

CEO Pay and the New SEC Regulations on Disclosure

One irony about CEO pay is that for the very successful CEOs many end up giving away a good chunk of their wealth to charitable causes, after they have stepped down.  Bill Gates is a well known example.  Given that, one wonder why they don't reduce their own pay while working and pay their own employees more.  It's one of those things economists like to puzzle about.