Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Son's Essay

Here is an essay my son David Tian wrote. David is a third-year economics student at the University of Chicago. It is from 2011 so it is a little old but still has some good points.

The Impact of the Stimulus Bill on the Labor Market:
Does It Work, or Doesn't It?

     The rallying cry of “Buy American!” can be heard pervasively across the nation, stirring 
nationalist sentiments as America trudges along the path of economic recovery from the worst 
recession since the Great Depression. One of the most sharply divided debates in public policy is 
the one  about the stimulus bill implemented in February 2009 called The American Recovery 
and Reinvestment Act. 
     The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act‟s controversial Buy American provision 
stipulates that if a project is on a public work, then all the iron and steel used in the project must 
be produced domestically. This provision aims to preserve or create at least three million 
manufacturing jobs for Americans. Will this policy retain jobs for Americans and spur economic 
growth, or will it ultimately diminish the welfare of the nation? In the short run, protectionism 
indeed preserves jobs for protected industries. However, as indicated by the 19
th-century French economist Frédéric Bastiat, protection through free-trade restriction is an economic fallacy; in the long run it will slow down economic progress and represents a sheer loss to society.
Frédéric Bastiat, in his influential commentary on economic sophisms “What is Seen and 
What is Not Seen,” reveals the fallacies contained in the argument for protectionism as a method 
of stimulating economic growth. Without limitations on trade, consumers can enjoy lower prices 
for the goods they consume. His essay outlines the argument of “Mr. Protectionist,” who asserts 
that by eliminating foreign competition, domestic firms can profit more through higher prices.  
When firms charge higher prices, they help stimulate the economy by employing more workers 
and other resources. In turn, the incomes of resources owners will increase, and they will then 
consume more, thus fostering economic activity across the nation.
     Though Mr. Protectionist's arguments are not  false, they fail to account for economic 
consequences not immediately visible, as is the case with supporters of the stimulus plan. Bastiat 
reasoned that a law restraining free trade involves three key players. The first two are directly 
involved in the transactions as the buyer and seller. They are seen. The third could have been 
involved as the seller of whatever goods or services the consumer would have purchased from 
had it not been for the trade restriction; this third figure  is not seen. At the same time, this third 
player could have had more money to spend had it not been for the protectionist policy.
     Supporters of the stimulus plan may wonder, “How is it possible for anyone to have more 
spending power when jobs are being „outsourced?‟” 
     The consumers who would have paid less for building materials could have spent the 
money they saved elsewhere. Additionally, they could have purchased something else and gained
enjoyment from the consumption of what they purchased. However, restrictions such as the Buy 
American provision result in consumers losing the value of whatever goods they could have 
purchased when free trade and competition resulted in lower prices before the protectionist 
policy. The double loss of the consumers offsets the gains made by the manufacturers and sellers 
of steel and iron. 
     In applying Bastiat's central theme to the Buy American provision of the stimulus plan, the 
three million jobs created or saved in the United States's manufacturing industry are undeniable; 
because steel and iron cannot be obtained from abroad for public construction, they  must be 
produced domestically, which means manufacturing jobs for Americans. This is seen
     The not seen are the jobs that would have been created in other industries, as well as the 
enjoyment that would have been obtained from the consumption of the goods and services 
provided by non-Americans.  Frédéric Bastiat‟s concept of unseen consequences does not simply 
exist in theory. For example, in the 1930‟s the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act imposed taxes on over 
20, 000 imported goods, which distorted and limited free trade. Economists now widely believe 
that this tariff greatly exacerbated the severity of the Great Depression. 
     To echo the sentiments of Harvard economist Dr. Nicholas Gregory Mankiw in his 2009 
New York Times article, this is no time for protectionism. Both the arguments presented by 
Frédéric Bastiat and lessons learned from public policy history demonstrate that protectionist 
policies lower the overall economic well-being of the nation and serve only to impede economic 
growth. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is therefore counterproductive; the Act 
defies economic wisdom and undermines the very economy it seeks to help recover. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Business Anthropology in China

Business Anthropology in China

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Patricia Sunderland
Maryann McCabe
Timothy de Waal Malefyt

We are pleased to report on the First International Conference of Business Anthropology held at Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou (Guangdong province, southern China), May 17–20, 2012. This was a bold international initiative, bringing together roughly 100 academic, practitioner and student anthropologists from the US, Europe, Japan, India, Korea and China. The co-chairs were Marietta Baba, Brian Moeran, Allen Batteau, Alfons van Marrewijk and Tian Guang, and speakers included the co-chairs plus Ann Jordan, Patricia Sunderland, Timothy de Waal Malefyt, Mahesh Ranjan Debata, Gang Chen, Zoe Zhu, Daming Zhou, John McCreery, Dan Trotter, Yu Chenpu, Lan Xuehau, Maryann McCabe, Shriram Venkatraman, Lin Xiaoyan, Ewa Anna Jagiello, Tian Quian, Zhang Jianyin, Dominique Desjeux, Pedro Oliveira, Cheng Yu, Li Cuiling, Wang Tianjin, Yang Xiaoliu, Bamei Chang, Dixon Wong, Pan Jie, Shi Ling, Qi Xiaoguang, Liu Zhijun, Stephanie Krawinkler, Wen Jiayun, Tomoko Hamada Connolly, Shi Hui, Gustav Peebles, Gao Chong, Liu Shibo, Wang Yifan, Leah Liu.
The purpose of the conference was to facilitate exchange and build a bridge between practitioners and the academic world; provide a vehicle for communication among practitioners in which to share issues, concerns and thoughts on future directions; encourage educators in adopting pedagogical approaches to teaching anthropological theory, methods and business practices for academic programs. The conference accomplished these goals within a cordial and lively atmosphere that fostered much good will. Traditional Chinese hospitality made everyone feel welcome. There was plenty of food, drink and thoughtful exchanges among new and familiar colleagues. Many thanks go to professor Tian Guang at Shantou University for organizing the conference, professor Daming Zhou at Sun Yat-Sen University for hosting it, and for the assistance of Lin Xiang and Guo Linyan, PhD students at Sun Yat-Sen University.

A New Cultural Experience

The conference setting in Guangzhou itself reflected a curious combination of formality and tradition with an air of friendliness and casual ease. The formality of elaborate wreaths of flowers at the podium and signage of proper titles everywhere contrasted with attendees’ casual clothing and relaxed discussions; established professors of the university mixed comfortably with graduate student presenters. On campus, large signs posted in English and Chinese announced the conference to all. At the dinner table, many of us needed to learn the ‘rules’ of eating a proper Chinese meal. Food served is placed on a large central disk, which is spun typically in clockwise direction, and ‘lands’ at honored stops (it is the host who usually controls the rotation and stops). Chuckles arose when some Westerners fumbled at chopstick use. Wine served in wine glasses is only slightly filled, so that toasts can be made generously and frequently in a ritual order that follows social hierarchy. One night a singing contest followed these ritual toasts. We participated in song and enjoyed the sense of belonging to an international community of scholars that the contest brought to the fore. Solidarity among Chinese women was in evidence as we observed female students strolling arm-in-arm across campus and as we experienced female students holding the arms and hands of visiting Western female anthropologists out of respect and sense of solidarity and support among women.
After the conference in Guangzhou, several of us headed north to Beijing, where we again exchanged ideas with eager students and established scholars in the anthropology and economics departments at Mitzu University. This ‘second’ conference was also well attended by over 100 students and professors in the university. Clearly, the interest in Business Anthropology is evident and thriving in China, and we can look towards its continued growth in this part of the world. Our thanks to anthropology professors Wang Jianmin of Mitzu University and Zhao Zudong and Zhang Hui of Renmin University, which co-hosted the event, and for making it an insightful exchange.

Emergence of a New Discipline

It is curious that the term “Business Anthropology” has emerged to describe the varied practices and scholarly studies of anthropologists in consumer research, marketing and advertising, design studies and corporate culture work. Many of us at the conference noted that term seems to have resonated powerfully and is spreading. There are now two new academic journals that use this titlethe International Journal of Business Anthropology and the Journal of Business Anthropology. There are a few programs in US and European universities that enlist this term (Copenhagen Business School, Wayne State University, University of North Texas). We shall see how this term is further extended among anthropologists as the practice has numerous advocates in similar conferences such as SfAA and EPIC.
Chinese scholars have become quite interested in modernity, market societies and contributing to anthropological theory on consumption. As China ascends the global economic ladder, scholars want to expand their traditional fieldwork focus on village life among its rural communities and ethnic minority populations. Chinese students are already conducting research on issues such as maternal and child health, AIDS and drug use, the one-child policy and the environment. We anticipate informed perspectives on the social life of things in state capitalism as Chinese scholars make comparisons to practices in neoliberal capitalism of the West and broaden theoretical conceptions of consumption.

West learns from the East

Notably, the initiative for the first business anthropology conference was generated, not in the West where we might have expected since many anthropological practitioners are situated here, the community of anthropologists appears largest and the anthropological discipline is well established. Rather, China has emerged as a setting most eager to embrace this hybrid approach and advance a new way of understanding the growing relationship between consumption, industrialization and the desire for material possessions and services. Indeed, the country has a long tradition of using applied anthropological approaches in attempts to unify diverse populations and modernize a mostly rural nation. Perhaps, the West is poised to adapt a new disciplinary situation from the East.
As the popular attendance of this conference and the cordial exchange among acquainted colleagues and new scholars indicated, Business Anthropology appears off to a vibrant start. We are pleased that the discipline of anthropology has a new branch that can honestly offer interested students and transitioning anthropologists a new outlook for academic studies and employment opportunities.
This entry was posted in Academic Affairs, July.

Foreword for General Business Anthropology (1st Edition) By Alf Walle

Foreword for General Business Anthropology (1st Edition)
By Alf Walle
Anthropology is a discipline that over the last hundred or so years has developed a wide array of qualitative techniques for understanding people and their behavior. Although its toolkit is broad, flexible, and illuminating, for many years, these analytic methods suffered as second class citizens within the business disciplines because research tastes were skewed towards quantitative and so called “rigorous” methods. Less formal techniques, such as those that distinguish anthropology, were not considered respectable.
That has changed.
Business practitioners have become impatient with techniques that are unable to provide culturally sensitive information in a timely and effective manner. Because of these problems, anthropological fieldwork techniques (and those inspired by them) have evolved and are being applied within business. The “naturalistic” research stream of consumer behavior is an excellent example of this trend.
It is within today’s environment that Robert Tian, Michael Lillis, and Alfons van Marrewijk offer a text that explores ways in which the qualitative social sciences in general, and anthropology specifically, can serve the strategic sciences such as business and policy science. New books on this subject are always welcomed because this is an area of thought that is quickly evolving and writing only a few years old is likely to be dated. The authors seek to review the current literature and put it into an historical, intellectual, and tactical perspective.
This book is organized into chapters that provide overviews of important trends involving the growing influence of anthropological methods within business research. On the one hand, qualitative methods are being adopted by those who were initially trained in the business disciplines. At the same time, actual anthropologists are joining business schools and the practitioner world. Consulting firms that specialize in qualitative research and anthropological methods are springing up. This is an exciting time for those who are interested in this kind of research. This book was written to help clarify the complexity that is arising.
The book begins by laying a foundation for understanding the current era of business anthropology. As indicated, formal and quantitative methods have long dominated business research. In addition, many leaders and organizations were weakened by ethnocentricity and a lack of cultural understanding. Today the cultural sensitivity of the qualitative methods of anthropology is making organizations increasingly aware of social frameworks that trigger responses. These contributions are much needed and welcomed.
Originally focusing on the workplace, the glimmerings of business anthropology first emerged through efforts associated with the “human relations school” which, starting in the 1930s, which exerted a powerful influence for a generation. During the 1960s and 1970s, however the use and respectability of business anthropology declined. Currently, however, anthropologists increasingly serve as business researchers, and their culturally sensitive perspectives and methods are valued by decision makers.
Compared with their academic counterparts, business anthropologists typically use more questionnaires, although participant observation is a preferred fieldwork method for both business anthropologists and other academic disciplines. Nonetheless, many qualitative (and occasionally quantitative) methods used by anthropologists contribute to the field and its effectiveness. Culture (both corporate culture and culture at large) exerts a profound influence on organizations. From a practical standpoint, building an awareness of culture and its influences is an important first step in determining how to manage people. The need to envision the social milieu creates a profound role for business anthropologists and their methods.
Ethnography and participant observation are two classic qualitative methods of anthropology. Ethnography involves intimately viewing the interworking of a social situation and creating a qualitative analysis of it. Participant observation takes place when a person attempts to function within a social situation in order to intuitively understand what is going on. Business anthropologists use these methods in a variety of ways; these tools are often tailored to the needs of a specific situation. Doing so provides invaluable cultural clues.
Besides helping decision makers to better understand workers and organizations, business anthropology can help explain consumer behavior. Anthropology, as a social science, emphasizes individual behavior within cultural contexts and with reference to shared values, beliefs, etc. Anthropology is positioned to create actionable recommendations and interpretations regarding target markets by gathering and processing detailed qualitative information and interpreting this evidence using culturally relevant insights and theories.
The development of new products is critical. The strategies used to do so often require multidisciplinary knowledge and collaboration. The challenges and needs of the contemporary design industry provide exciting and lucrative opportunities for anthropologists because understanding customers, what they want, and how they will use new products is vital.
Some research tasks are qualitative and anthropologists are well prepared to gather and assess valuable information using culturally sensitive, non-quantitative techniques. Competitive intelligence typically involves a sophisticated combination of secondary research and interviewing knowledgeable informants. The theories and methods of anthropology have great potentials in fields such as competitive intelligence and knowledge management.
Since 1980, the world has experienced profound changes due to advances in technology and an exponential increase in international travel and communication. These trends create both risks and opportunities for firms that understand the cultural implications of these transformations. In this global age, anthropologists have a profound role to play. International business provides a wide array of opportunities for anthropologists who possess intercultural knowledge coupled with a strategic focus.
Entrepreneurs play an increasingly important role in business and are a dynamic force of innovation and change. Anthropological studies of entrepreneurship are making a significant contribution to anthropology, business, policy science, leadership, and economic development. The qualitative methodologies of anthropologists and their culturally centered views provide reliable and effective ways to study the entrepreneurial process.
In summary, the qualitative methods of anthropology (and adapting them to the needs of business) provide a vital toolkit that has emerged as a different but equal alternative to more quantitative alternatives. A wide variety of applications ranging from employee behavior to consumer response to entrepreneurship are gaining prominence. Because of the relevance of strategic decision-making, business anthropology will continue to grow and gain prestige within the marketplace and the shop floor.

Alf H. Walle III
Galen University
Feb. 2010 in San Ignacio, Belize