Monday, February 21, 2005

2 18

Dilip 2 18

Final Paper should draw on specific race or gender issues from the workplace; norms will vary depending on kind of work, e.g. non-profit vs. large law firm.

Are race and gender negotiated differently because of the subculture of work? Specific ideas, like “marked” and “unmarked”, “coded” and “un-coded”, glass ceilings, miscommunications, et al, should be contextualized; also note whether the subculture of work accentuates these problems. Why is the subculture the way it is, e.g. the boss, tradition, et al.

Due March 4, or electronically by March 7.

Short paper on Managing Change is due on March 15. Talk about change precipitated by a specific cause. How was the change concretely triggered?


How do individuals and societies deal with risk? Will derivatives lead to the downfall of Western civilizations, or a necessary hedge against financial risk? Derivatives help manage risk. In traditional or primitive society, what could threaten the lives of people? Nature could lead to famine. Nothing could be done about the lack of rain or excess water from monsoons, but people created damns, began to preserve food rather that eat it in order to reduce risk. Today, it is loss of a job, illness, or divorce that can have the greatest negative impact on people’s lives. Is it better to lose a job, have a catastrophic illness, or divorce in the U.S., Germany, or Sweden? For job loss, perhaps Germany is best, but the U.S. may be better for catastrophic illness if health care can be afforded. The U.S. is the best place to find a new job, but Sweden may be the best place to be unemployed in the long-term. The U.S. is the best place for a divorced woman, because of the stigma attached to divorce in Germany, and her greater likelihood of gaining employment in the U.S.

Societies manage risk differently. When a risk-free society seemed close, health care risks went up with the spread of AIDS and avian flu, and nuclear proliferation has become a serious problem; not only is the world not risk-free, but also it is more risk-conscious.

It appears that managing our own money is more complex, but we are in greater control over our own money. Risk is sought; poker is watched on television and played by kids for money. A derivative is worthless on its own, it isn’t an individual security, but is a position taken on the movement of the price of a security. Put is the right to sell at a specified price for a specific period of time; a call is the right to buy at the “strike price”. Derivatives are hedge tools.

In FIASCO, Morgan Stanley traders use the derivatives to make money, rather than hedge risk. Fund managers, who are prohibited from investing in certain securities, invested in derivative instruments on behalf of their shareholders. What tempts the money managers to invest in risky instruments for ½% difference? The aggregate result looks good for the manager; though the difference to the individual investor may be small, the fund managers make a bonus. Individual investors are not qualified to assess the risks of their own funds’ investments, and the instruments themselves create, rather than control, volatility. Enron fell because its management chose to speculate on energy, and invested in bad contracts.

Are these people rogues, or is FIASCO symptomatic of financial markets in general? Is it individuals or the system? Where does the culture come from? Making money was the only priority of the Morgan Stanley traders, the temptation to make extraordinary returns, or maximize profit, is high. The quest for dough is what created the culture.

Comparing Nickel and Dimes with FIASCO, what is valued in each type of work is clear; the money culture has diluted other values in many companies, and profit should not displace other values in the health care industry, for example. In FIASCO, money is clearly what is valued, to the exclusion of all else. Is money-culture contained in the Wall Street world, or is it spreading? In the 1970s or 1980s, money took over as a dominant value…have all professional athletes suddenly become corrupt drug users at once?

Dilip suggests that like Aristotle’s principle of “geometric proportion” that a person is capable of an evil is he is capable of a greater evil, companies that are capable of mistreating employees are also capable of mistreating stockholders, and abstract entity.

In the past 20 years, priorities have changed to revolve around money; the Comm school has no development officer, and no access to a pool of money raised by other schools or departments. This does not reflect old university values.

Michael Walzer’s Spheres of Justice:


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