Tag Archives: Social Entrepreneurship

Your Invention is about to Launch: Did You Consider ALL Ramifications?

Do you think it’d be wonderful to have government departments with such lofty titles like the Ministry of Peace, the Ministry of Truth, the Ministry of Plenty, and the Ministry of Love? OK, maybe that’s a bit too on the nose, as most people have probably read (and/or heard of) 1984. The point I’m trying to make:

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Huh? Let me explain.

You’re a burgeoning, young social entrepreneur who can’t wait to set the world on fire with this idea you’ve been cultivating for years. This invention has all the hallmarks of a game-changer in its industry and will surely have a spillover effect into other industries. It will revolutionize the way business takes place for years to come. You know that as soon as your invention goes to market, the world will be a better place. Finally, the day is here and your invention goes live. There is an enormous uptake rate. People start using it instantly – across the world. You’re so happy and can’t believe how quickly people have adapted to making it part of their daily lives. You always hoped and thought they would, but to see it actually happening – wow!

Two months later, you start to notice something peculiar in how your invention is being used. You notice that people are starting to use the invention in a way that you hadn’t intended and that this is starting to have an adverse effect in some areas. Weeks pass and you see that the trend has continued. People are continuing to use your invention in the “wrong” way and as a result, some people are starting to get hurt. More weeks pass and you realize that your invention, while if used in the way you intended is wonderful, has become a main driver of pain and suffering in the world.

Recognizing this, you wish with all your might that you could go back to the day before you launched the invention to undo it. Take it all back. Unfortunately, the proverbial cat is out of the bag and there’s no going back. The internet is here to stay…

I share this anecdote on account of something I read in The New Yorker recently:

In an influential piece that appeared in Rolling Stone in 1972, Brand prophesied that, when computers became widely available, everyone would become a “computer bum” and “more empowered as individuals and co-operators.” This, he further predicted, could enhance “the richness and rigor of spontaneous creation and human interaction.” No longer would it be the editors at the Times and the Washington Post and the producers at CBS News who decided what the public did (or didn’t) learn. No longer would the suits at the entertainment companies determine what the public did (or didn’t) hear.

“The Internet was supposed to be a boon for artists,” Taplin observes. “It was supposed to eliminate the ‘gatekeepers’—the big studios and record companies that decide which movies and music get widespread distribution.” Silicon Valley, Foer writes, was supposed to be a liberating force—“the disruptive agent that shatters the grip of the sclerotic, self-perpetuating mediocrity that constitutes the American elite.”

Fifty years ago, people thought computers would bring us closer together in a way that we hadn’t imagined. Certainly, we can say that that’s the case, but we must also say that they’ve brought us closer together in a way that we hadn’t imagined!

When we aspire to bring things into the world through entrepreneurship (or) intrapreneurship, it’s extremely important that there be someone there to play the role of “devil’s advocate” to consider ways in which this “wonderful idea” might literally set the world on fire. Optimism is great, but without a healthy dose of pessimism in the planning process, we might be closer to a Ministry of Plenty than we’d like to believe.

NOTE: This was cross-posted.

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The Cross-Section of Social Entrepreneurship and Externalities: Social Entrepreneurship and Externalities, Part 4

In the first post in this series, we looked at the definition of social entrepreneurship. In the second post in this series, we looked at the definition of externalities. In the third post, we looked at some solutions to externalities. In today’s post, the last in this series, we’ll look at the cross-section of social entrepreneurship and externalities and wrap up the paper.

The Cross-Section of Social Entrepreneurship and Externalities

Let’s revisit our definitions of social entrepreneurship and externalities. Social entrepreneurship is the application of innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems in the form of massive wide-scale change, usually to the system. Externalities are a cost/benefit experienced by someone who is not a party to the transaction. Just by looking at those two definitions, my first inclination is that externalities are absolutely essential to the understanding of social entrepreneurship. Given that many of society’s most pressing social problems – in some people’s minds – can be traced back to a transaction that resulted in the negative externality, it’s hard to imagine how externalities wouldn’t be essential to the understanding of social entrepreneurship. With that being said, let’s look at some examples where these two concepts meet.

The current Director of the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Pamela Hartigan, recently wrote a book chapter entitled, “Creating Blueprints for Business in the 21st Century: Social Entrepreneurship Shows the Way.” In it, she talks about the specific role of social entrepreneurs in the economic ecosystem. “Economic literature often pays much less attention to the role of positive externalities than it does to negative externalities. In so doing, it neglects the primary drivers of social entrepreneurial action.”[1] Hartigan goes on to say that neglected positive externalities should be a main focus of social entrepreneurship. A really good example of this is Wikipedia, which was created by Jimmy Wales (who is also an Ashoka Fellow). Based on that citation alone, one would have to think that externalities are part of the understanding of social entrepreneurship, but let’s see if there are others.

A paper written by a professor at INSEAD, which is consistently one of the top business schools in the world, called A Positive Theory of Social Entrepreneurship offers some more insights into neglected positive externalities. In fact, the author’s first proposition states that, “addressing problems involving neglected positive externalities is the distinctive domain of action of social entrepreneurship.”[2] It looks like Santos and Hartigan share similar viewpoints in that neglected positive externalities are a key to social entrepreneurship. These two examples make it pretty clear that neglected positive externalities feature in the field of social entrepreneurship. Let’s move onto different examples to see if any other key points arise.

If you recall, one of the solutions to externalities had to do with the internalization of the externalities. There’s a book chapter entitled, “The NYC Watershed agreement: sustainable development and social entrepreneurship,” written by Joan Hoffman. In it, she addresses some of the challenges that are faced by those in watershed collaborations (combination of economic and environmental goals). “The economic concept of externalities, or impacts of market transactions on third parties, can be extended to describe the need for social entrepreneurs . . . The new organizations fostered by social entrepreneurs are designed to internalize consideration of these externalities.”[3] It turns out that social entrepreneurs, if not by intention at least by accident, are directly addressing problems of externalities through some of the solutions that have been proposed by economists and academics.

In answering our question about whether externalities are essential to the understanding of social entrepreneurship, we have inadvertently answered the second question: are economic theories of externalities used in the professional understanding of social entrepreneurship? In this last reference, we saw that not only was there a reference to an economic theory of externalities, but there was a reference to a solution of externalities (as offered by economic theory). As a result, I think it is safe to say, “yes” to both questions.

Closing Thoughts

In this paper, we have explored definitions of social entrepreneurship and externalities. We have explored some of the muddiness around both of these definitions. We have taken a closer look at some of the different kinds of externalities (positive, negative, positional, etc.). We have looked at some of the proposed economic solutions to externalities. Then, we looked at the cross-section of externalities and social entrepreneurship. We dove deeper into the intersection of these two concepts to find that at the heart of social entrepreneurship is an inclination to solve some of the externalities facing the planet. Lastly, we were able to answer, “yes” to the two main questions of this paper: “Are externalities essential to the understanding of social entrepreneurship?” and “Are the economic theories of externalities used in the professional understanding of social entrepreneurship?”

In closing, I wanted to revisit one of the ideas put forth by Barnett and Yandle in their paper, The End of the Externality Revolution.[4] Specifically, I want to address their idea that there aren’t any externalities – only inefficiencies. As someone who has had very little training in economics, but a great deal of training in some of the other social sciences, I can appreciate this reframing of externalities. In fact, I think it is appropriate to repackage our understanding of externalities as part of the “main” function of the transaction. In calling them inefficiencies, I don’t think that Barnett and Yandle are doing this. I think both names – externalities and inefficiencies – are not entirely representative of the true state of affairs. In doing research for this paper, I came across a quote that I think captures the essence of what I’m trying to say. It was written in the aftermath of the financial collapse of 2008,[5] [emphasis mine]:

The good news is that I think the economic system we will build next will be one in which environmental and social costs will no longer be externalities; costs that get pushed off the balance sheet. The cost of doing business to the planet . . . will now be factored in.


[1] Lopez-Claros, A. (2010). The innovation for development report 2010-2011: Innovation as a driver of productivity and economic growth. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

[2] Santos, F. M. (2009). A positive theory of social entrepreneurship. Social Innovation Centre: Working Papers, 1-51.

[3] Perrini, F. (2006). The new social entrepreneurship: What awaits social entrepreneurial ventures? Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited.

[4] Barnett, A. H., & Yandle, B. (2009). The end of the externality revolution. Social Philosophy and Policy, 26(2), 130-150.

[5] Jones, K. (2009). When more mission equals more money: The more a business focuses on its social mission, the more revenue it will generate. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

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If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.

Solutions to Externalities: Social Entrepreneurship and Externalities, Part 3

In the first post in this series, we looked at the definition of social entrepreneurship. In the second post in this series, we looked at the definition of externalities. In today’s post, we’ll look at some solutions to externalities.

Solutions to Externalities

There are a number of different ways to solve the problem of externalities. More generally speaking, these different ways of solving the problem of externalities fall into one of two categories: public or private. Under the category of public solutions to externalities, we have things like government provisions, subsidies, or Pigovian taxes. Pigovian taxes (the name comes from Pigou) are those taxes that are intended to influence a party away (disincentivize) from creating the negative externality. One kind of Pigovian tax is a ‘sin tax,’ which are those taxes that are applied to things like alcohol and tobacco. One of the main arguments for allowing for private sector solutions to externalities is internalization. What is meant by internalization? Consider an example where a fisherman owns a river and a steel plant pollutes the river. The fisherman would demand that the steel plant cease polluting because the fisherman had property rights of the river.[1] The fisherman internalizes the externality of pollution because the fisherman owns the river. The pollution is not an externality to the fisherman; it is a very real and present part of the equation. One of the problems with a solution like this is when the problem is scaled up. Consider the Atlantic Ocean. Who owns it? While property rights may work for some situations, it is most definitely not a viable solution to all issues involving externalities.

Recently, there was a very interesting proposal put forth that, “externalities seem destined to rattle forth from the grave.”[2] In other words, these authors felt that ‘externalities’ was no longer a relevant term in the lexicon nor as a concept to study. Instead, these authors feel that, “externalities do not differ in any substantive way from any other kind of inefficiency.”[3] The argument is quite compelling. They cite two main axioms regarding inefficiencies, “(1) All inefficiencies, including Pareto relevant externalities, represent unexploited gains from trade and (2) When free exchange is allowed and transactions are costless, all Pareto relevant inefficiencies will be negotiated away.”[4] When the argument is phrased in this way, it is hard to disagree. The authors are trumpeting the horns of the free market. In the concluding remarks by the authors, they make it clear that the aim of their article was to highlight the number of policies passed in the name of externalities. To their credit, they are absolutely right. There are a number of laws and regulations put into place in the name of externalities. Now that we have discussed some of the general theories regarding the solutions to externalities, we can dive deeper into the discussion around externalities and social entrepreneurship. Specifically, we can begin to answer some questions about the cross-section of the two concepts.


[1] Gruber, J. (2010). Public finance and public policy (3rd ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

[2] Barnett, A. H., & Yandle, B. (2009). The end of the externality revolution. Social Philosophy and Policy, 26(2), 130-150.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

Defining Externalities: Social Entrepreneurship and Externalities, Part 2

In the first post in this series, we looked at the definition of social entrepreneurship. In this post, we’ll look at the definition of externalities. Before we get into the post, I wanted to let you know that when I copied part of the paper into this post, the footnotes reset and started at 1. However, as we know from yesterday’s post the first footnote from Pigou is actually footnote #10.

Defining Externalities

The process for defining externalities is as muddled as the process for defining social entrepreneurship. Since the term ‘externalities’ came first,[1] it might be more accurate to say that the process for defining social entrepreneurship is as muddled as the process for defining externalities. The first appearance of a definition of externalities comes in the early 1900s from Pigou,[2] a British economist, who comes from the field of ‘welfare economics,’ which focused on maximizing the well being of society. The general understanding of externalities hasn’t changed too much since then, leaving us with the following definition: “An externality is a cost or benefit that is experienced by someone who is not a party to the transaction that produced it.”[3]

This definition of externalities leaves us with the possibility for positive (benefit) externalities or negative (cost) externalities. An example of a negative externality could be the pollution to the air (or water) caused by a factory. An example of a positive externality could be the honey caused by the natural process of bees. Those two examples of positive/negative externalities are simple ones, but there are many more. Some cite traffic congestion as a negative externality[4] and some cite immunization as a positive externality.[5] The concept of externalities came out of economic theory and as such, we can highlight (through economic theory) some of the results that come from negative/positive externalities. “Negative externalities cause overproduction of the good in a competitive market, while positive externalities cause underproduction of the good in a competitive market, in both cases leading to a deadweight loss.”[6]

There is another kind of externality: positional externalities. “A positional externality occurs when new purchases alter the relevant context within which an existing positional good is evaluated.”[7] An example of this could be said to be when a job candidate starts to wear really expensive suits. The side effect of this is that other job candidates don’t make as good an impression upon the interviewer. From the perspective of the other candidates, it would be most beneficial to go out and purchase expensive suits, so as to make a favorable impression on the interviewers. “But this outcome may be inefficient, since when all spend more, each candidate’s probability of success remains unchanged.”[8] The last kind of externality of this similar vein (positive, negative, and positional) is a network externality. This is also referred to as a network effect and is most often seen in technology. Think about your cell phone. The value of your cell phone is somewhat dependent upon the number of other people [network] who also have cell phones. There is a further way to distinguish between different kinds of externalities: ‘internal’ and ‘external’ externalities.[9] Internal externalities are those externalities that are external to the contractual relationship, but internal to those parties within the contract. External externalities are those externalities that are external to both the contractual relationship and the parties within the contract.

At this point, we have talked about the various kinds of externalities (positive, negative, positional, network, internal, and external). To solidify the understanding of externalities, I’d like to provide an example of the creation of externalities by externalities:[10]

Jacksonville, Florida requires apartment complexes to provide 1.75 parking spaces per one-bedroom apartment – despite the fact that 16% of Jacksonville’s renter households even own one [sic] car . . . Most American cities require office buildings to provide four parking spaces per 1000 square feet of office space. Because four parking spaces consume about 1200 square feet of space, this means that a commercial landlord must allocate the majority of his land to parking.

Minimum parking requirements reduce population and job density, because land that is used for parking cannot be used for housing or commerce. Residents of low-density areas tend to be highly dependent on automobiles for most daily tasks, because they are less likely to live within walking distance of public transit and other amenities.

Minimum parking requirements indirectly discourage walking, by encouraging landowners to surround their building with parking. Where shops and offices are surrounded by a sea of parking, they are unpleasant places for pedestrians, because pedestrians must waste time walking through parking lots and risk their lives dodging automobiles . . .

By increasing the number of parking lots, minimum parking requirements may increase pollution from stormwater runoff. Rainstorms cause stormwater to fall on parking lots, collect metal, oil and other pollutants lying on the ground, and then run off into nearby waters, thus making those waters dirtier and more dangerous.

As one can see, this never-ending string of externalities seems to keep going. All of this stems from the initial action of a policy seemingly trying to do well by its citizens. Now that we have talked about some of the different kinds of externalities and explored a concrete example of how externalities can quickly multiply, let’s look at some of the proposed solutions to these externalities. But just before we move into the description of some of the solutions to externalities, I thought it a good place to add a note from Coase, who is often part of the conversation of externalities: “The traditional approach [to externalities] has tended to obscure the nature of the choice that has to be made. The question is commonly thought of as one in which A inflicts harm on B and what has to be decided is; how should we restrain A? But this is wrong . . . The real question that has to be decided is: should A be allowed to harm B or should B be allowed to harm A?”[11] Coase is absolutely right in his critique of the framing of the question. Even in today’s discussion (Coase wrote this in the 1960s) about externalities, rarely is the question framed in the way that Coase has suggested.

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Note: when we next pick-up this series, we’ll look at some solutions to externalities.


[1] Pigou, A. C. (1920). The economics of welfare. London: Macmillan and Co.

[2] Ibid.

[4] Bento, A., Kaffine, D., Roth, K., & Zaragoza, M. (2011). The unintended consequences of regulation in the presence of competing externalities: Evidence from the transportation sector. Yale Center for Business and the Environment.

[5] Simpson, B. P. (2007). An economic, political, and philosophical analysis of externalities. Reason Papers, 29(1), 123-140.

[6] Gruber, J. (2010). Public finance and public policy (3rd ed.). New York: Worth Publishers.

[7] Frank, R. H. (2003). Are positional externalities different from other externalities? The Brookings Institution.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Buchanan, J. B., & Vanberg, V. J. (1988). The politicization of market failure, Public Choice Society Meetings.

[10] Lewyn, M. (2010). What would Coase do? (About parking regulation). Fordham Environmental Law Review, 22(1), 89-118.

[11] Coase, R. H. (1960). The problem of social cost. The Journal of Law and Economics, 3(1), 1-44.

Defining Social Entrepreneurship: Social Entrepreneurship and Externalities, Part 1

I enjoyed sharing the work that I’d done several years ago curating those quotes from various religious scriptures into a number of posts. As a result, it got me thinking of some of the other papers I’ve wrote and whether they’d be appropriate to share here. Since I just finished an MBA, I’ve gone through quite a number of case studies. Since professors tend to reuse those cases, it seems inappropriate to share the papers I wrote for those cases (as some students might try to pass it off as their own work). With that being said, yesterday’s post about fines vs. fees reminded me of a paper I wrote about a year ago for a class in social entrepreneurship. This paper wasn’t for a case, so I thought I’d share it in a number of installments. In today’s post, I’ll share the executive summary and the first section: defining social entrepreneurship.

Executive Summary

This aim of this paper is to answer two main questions: (1) are externalities essential to the understanding of social entrepreneurship? (2) are the economic theories of externalities used in the professional understanding of social entrepreneurship? To answer these questions, the definitions of social entrepreneurship and externalities are explored, along with the different categories of externalities. There is also a short examination of the different solutions to externalities. Following this, an analysis of the intersection of the two concepts (social entrepreneurship and externalities) is conducted, the results of which return answers of “yes” to both of the main questions of this paper.

Defining Social Entrepreneurship

Before moving into a discussion about social entrepreneurship and externalities, it is important to define these terms. As one delves further into the literature – both academic and popular – it quickly becomes clear that there are myriad understandings that cloud the space around these terms[1] and thusly make the task of definition that much more important. To begin, I will define social entrepreneurship, but before that, it might be more appropriate to start with a definition of entrepreneurship.

Most definitions of social entrepreneurship begin with an attempt to define entrepreneurship and logically so, as ‘social’ acts as a modifying word to entrepreneurship. One definition of what it means to be an entrepreneur that I particularly like, “A person is an entrepreneur from t1 to t2 if and only if that person attempts, from t1 to t2, to make business profits by innovation in the face of risk.”[2] Subsequently, the definition of entrepreneurship follows as, “The process of attempting from t1 to t2, to make business profits by innovation in the face of risk.”[3] While there is disagreement among some about how to define entrepreneurship, this basic understanding will suffice for the purposes of this paper.

Now that we have defined entrepreneurship, ‘business profits by innovation in the face of risk,’ we can move on to define social entrepreneurship. Similar to entrepreneurship (and maybe understandably so), social entrepreneurship lacks a consensual definition among those who study it. The Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford defines social entrepreneurship as, “[being] about innovative, market-oriented approaches underpinned by a passion for social equity and environmental sustainability.”[4] Others believe that social entrepreneurship is, “ a process that catalyzes social change and/or addresses important social needs in a way that is not dominated by direct financial benefits for the entrepreneurs.”[5] While those definitions are similar, one could identify differences. The first definition includes an approach and the second definition includes a process. Part of the issue surrounding the definition of social entrepreneurship is that, “it means different things to different people.”[6] I may be a bit biased as I’m currently interning with Ashoka, but I think the person [Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka] who ‘created’ the term[7] should have a great deal of say in the definition of said term. As such, Ashoka defines social entrepreneurship in following way:[8]

Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change.

Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.

One of the important distinctions regarding Ashoka’s definition of social entrepreneurship is that the idea precedes the doing. That is, the social entrepreneur plans to address the problem (or social ill) before s/he begins the venture. This will be important later on when we talk about externalities. Another important distinction here is the specification of ‘changing the system.’ This is key because one of the more recent academic articles published on the topic of social entrepreneurship isolates four main factors of the definitions of social entrepreneurship, none of which are ‘changing the system’. They include: characteristics of individual social entrepreneurs, their sphere of operation, the processes and resources used by social entrepreneurs, and the mission of the social entrepreneur.[9] Let’s use the definition of social entrepreneurship provided by Ashoka and move on to define the next piece: externalities.

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Note: Check back tomorrow for the next section: defining externalities. Below, you’ll find a list of footnotes from this first section of the paper.


[1] For social entrepreneurship, see: Tan, W., Williams, J., & Tan, T. (2005). Defining the ‘social’ in ‘social entrepreneurship’: Altruism and entrepreneurship. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 1(3), 353-365. For externalities, see: Barnett, A. H., & Yandle, B. (2009). The end of the externality revolution. Social Philosophy and Policy, 26(2), 130-150.

[2] Tan, W., Williams, J., & Tan, T. (2005). Defining the ‘social’ in ‘social entrepreneurship’: Altruism and entrepreneurship. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 1(3), 353-365.

[3] Ibid.

[5] Mair, J., & Marti, I. (2004). Social entrepreneurship: A source of explanation, prediction, and delight. Journal of World Business, 41(1), 36-44.

[6] Dees, J. G. (1998). The meaning of ‘social entrepreneurship.’ Stanford University: Center for Social Innovation. See: http://www.caseatduke.org/documents/dees_sedef.pdf

[9] Dacin, M. T., & Dacin, P. A. (2011). Social entrepreneurship: A critique and future directions. Organization Science, 22(5), 1203-1213.

 

Tying Up Loose Ends: Food for Thought and Brief Hiatus

Since moving to the new domain (www.JeremiahStanghini.com), this has been the longest time between posts. The last post I wrote was on April 5th. The hiatus from posting will continue for a little while after this post because I’m working on the last requirements for finishing my MBA. There are about 3 weeks left until the end of exam period, so I’ve got a few papers/presentations to finish and a lot of grading of papers/exams.

Whenever I open my computer I see the list of posts that I’ve been meaning to write. In an effort to “clear out some mental space,” I thought I’d do what I’ve done a couple of times in the past and flush out my list of posts to write. In this way, the list will be fresh for when I come back (save for the few cognitive biases that I still want to write about). So, without further adieu, here are some of the things that I had planned on expanding upon. I hope you enjoy!

Cars and Transportation — It’d be really cool if they could *feasibly* develop a car that could transform. A car that could be a single-passenger when commuting, but it could expand/transform into 2, 3, or 4 seats when it necessary.

Political Ideology — What if a given political ideology’s thoughts/plans don’t work unless they can be fully implemented? And because there’s a split in Parliament/Congress, it’s worse. But what if when either party had total control, it’d be worse than this middle-ground between the two ideas?

LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan — A few weeks before the conversation about LeBron vs. Jordan started, I’d had it on my to do list to write about it. I was a bit peeved when the conversation started (without me), but there were some interesting (and some not) things written about it. I think it’s extremely difficult to compare players across decades. It’s akin to comparing players across sports! I remember a few years ago when there was talk that Alex Rodriguez would be the greatest baseball player ever. I think it’s safe to say that conversation has died down a little.

Fear of Public Speaking — I was thinking back to one of the first times I had to stand up in front of a group of people and give a speech. I don’t even remember what I spoke about — but I do remember one of the speeches from my classmates who did quite well (it was about the NBA dunk contest). As I watch some folks present in front of rooms, I can empathize with their nervousness. Heck, even I still get a bit nervous sometimes. One thing I’ve learned — it’s really about repetition. The more times I’ve spoke in front of groups of people, the less nervous I get the next time I go up there. (On a slightly related note: I’d say another key factor in minimizing fear of public speaking is the extent to which you’re prepared to speak on the topic. Read: know your stuff!)

Focus on Labor — I’ve never been the CEO or a highly placed Vice President of a company, but from an outsider’s perspective, I always have a hard time understanding the lack of focus on the labor force. At times, it really looks like labor is the key to success. If the labor force is well taken care of, production and profits tend to do well. It reminds me of that post I did about sustainability and pitchers. The relation here is that when management takes care of the labor force, it is with an eye towards long-term sustainability.

Life, Liberty, and Property? — Why is property so valued? What about nomads or North Americans who show us that land isn’t to be owned? What about animals? They don’t seem to own land.

Star Trek: Inheritance — This is an episode from the final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The gist of is that Data has to decide whether or not he’s going to tell his mother that she is an android (when she believes she’s a human). In thinking about this episode, I wondered about the ethics of telling someone they aren’t who they think they are. What about an adopted child?

Social EntrepreneurshipGeorge Mason University‘s Center For Social Entrepreneurship has a massive open online course (MOOC) in social entrepreneurship. If you wanna learn about social entrepreneurship, this is a great place to start!

“I AM” — I saw the movie I AM quite some time ago and there were some cool things that stood out to me. I’ll be brief:

  • The HeartMath Institute — check them out! They’re doing some fascinating work.
  • Animals are more likely to cooperate than we may have first thought. There was a reference to a journal article about how a herd of deer decided to go in a given direction after hydrating at a water hole.
  • Rumi poetry is medicine for the soul.
  • I am continually amazed at the kinds of things that are correlated with Random Number Generators.
  • Did you know that the word “Love” appears 95 times in Darwin’s “The Descent of Man?”
  • A great quote that Desmond Tutu read: “God looked at me and said, all I have is you.”

And so that clears off most of my list. Look for a new post sometime in the next month, but probably not for the next 3 weeks. Happy end of April and early May!

Higher Education is More Like Telecommuting and Less Like Newspapers, Part 2

In yesterday’s post, I looked at higher education in comparison to newspapers and to telecommuting. My conclusion was that higher education was more like telecommuting than newspapers (with regard to the introduction of technology). There’s one thing that I didn’t really touch on, but that I think is important: MOOCs.

With the development of massive open online courses (MOOCs), higher education can be broadcast to a wider net. That is, people who might not have otherwise had access to education will now have access to this education. I think that this is a great by-product of MOOCs and online education, in general. This even gives access to folks who might not have been able to take time out of their busy lives to attend classes to now be able to learn things (I’m thinking about working parents).

So, while online education seems like it might be disruptive to higher education, I don’t think it’s going to be that much of a hindrance to the current market of higher education. Of course, there will be some decline, but I don’t think it’ll be as big as folks are predicting. In fact, I think that these MOOCs will actually open up and create new markets for which higher education can then compete in.

We’re seeing some universities breaking into online courses. Heck, my first Master’s was through a hybrid program where most of the learning was done online! George Mason University seems to be taking advantage of MOOCs, too. I recently heard that the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship has published a MOOC in social entrepreneurship! Be sure to check it out.

Like I said yesterday: online education is sure to have an effect on higher education, but I don’t think that it will “end higher education as we know it.” I think for that to happen, it’ll take something like the technology I was talking about with CNN and the holographic presence.