Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Angling for less harmful algal blooms

Blooms bring to mind the emerging beauty of spring—flowers blossoming and trees regaining their splendor. These blooms, unlike spring flowers, are odorous, unpleasant, and potentially toxic. They deter families from engaging in water-related recreational activities such as going to the shore. They discourage anglers from going fishing, which, in turn, affects those who depend on the local fishing economy.

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Beyond nostalgia: understanding socialism markets

From Che Guevara t-shirts and Honnecker’s Hostel to Mao mugs and Good Bye, Lenin!—why do millions of consumers in China, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and other former socialist societies still insist on the superiority of socialist products and brands? The standard explanation offered by consumer sociologists and historians is that these thriving socialism markets stimulate political opposition, a yearning for the “better” socialist past.

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Five critical concerns facing modern economics

Due to the nature of globalization and the interconnectedness of modern human society, the discipline of economics touches on other areas of study such as politics, environmentalism, and international relations. This is especially true for the tumultuous times in which we live.

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Basic goods as basic rights

f we were to try summarizing the many statements on human rights within the United Nations system, it might be as follows: basic goods are basic rights. True, there was an old approach to human rights that focused exclusively on “negative” political rights and cast doubt on “positive” subsistence rights. For example, it has been argued that we should not focus on economic or social rights because this would distract attention from political rights.

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How nations finance themselves matters

To understand how nations should finance themselves it is fruitful to look at how corporations finance themselves, how they divide their financing between debt and equity. Corporations typically issue equity when they need financing for a new profitable investment opportunity, when their shares are overvalued by the stock market, or when they need to raise funds to service their debt obligations.

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Why consumers forget unethical business practices

Imagine a consumer, Kate, who enjoys shopping for fashionable clothing, but who also cares about whether her clothing is produced ethically. She reads an article online indicating that fashion giant Zara sells clothing made by allegedly unpaid workers, but a few days later ends up buying a new shirt from Zara. She either forgets that Zara may be mistreating workers, or she mistakenly recalls that they are one of the brands that have agreed to a strict code of ethical labor practices, including paying a living wage to all workers.

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The IMF’s role in the evolution of economic orthodoxy since the Crisis

The IMF & World Bank’s Spring meetings with finance ministers and central bankers, which took place in Washington DC recently, are one key forum where the IMF performs its mandated role as conduit of international economic co-ordination. The IMF uses its knowledge bank, expertise and mandate for economic surveillance and coordination to act as global arbiter of legitimate or ‘sound’ policy.

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Markets aren’t natural: governments have to make them work

hether we recognize it or not, “marketcraft” constitutes a core government function comparable to statecraft. By marketcraft, I refer to all the things governments do to make markets function and flourish, like corporate law, antitrust policy, intellectual property rights, and financial regulation. Marketcraft has profound implications for economic performance, social welfare, and national power – so we should want to get it right.

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When corporations do the right thing

Delta Airlines was one of more than a dozen companies to cut ties with the NRA after the school shooting in February 2018 that left 17 dead in Parkland, Florida. In a similar spirit six months earlier, CEOs from major American corporations spoke out against racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Trump’s inadequate response to the violence of white supremacists and their racist rhetoric prompted CEOs from Merck, General Electric, Apple, Goldman Sachs, Unilever, Armor, Dow, and Pepsi to separate themselves from him.

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Is the pre-crisis central bank model still viable after the Great Recession?

The global financial crisis, which started a decade ago and led to the Great Recession, caused profound changes in central bank practices. Extraordinary responsibilities were thrust upon central banks, particularly the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve. A key issue now is whether there will be a return to the central bank model which dominated advanced economies for over two decades leading up to the crisis.

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Preparing for disasters: a corporate catastrophe checklist

Facebook has been in the hot seat since it came to light that personal data on as many 87 million users, mostly in the U.S., had been improperly acquired by Cambridge Analytica for use in the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged as well that “malicious” outsiders may have accessed profiles of most of his two billion users. In the wake of Facebook’s enormous cyber-lapse, Congress investigated, users fled, and its stock plummeted, the makings of a genuine company disaster.

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Do government officials discriminate?

Suppose you write an email to a school district or a library asking for information about enrolling your child to the school or becoming a library member. Do you expect to receive a reply? And do you expect this reply to be cordial, for instance including some form of salutation? It turns out that the answers to the two questions above depend on what your name is and on what it embodies.

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Professionalizing leadership – training

Leadership is taught as casually and carelessly as ubiquitously. With few exceptions, the leadership industry sends the mistaken, misguided, and misleading message that leadership can be learned quickly and easily in, say, a course or a workshop; in a year or even a term. Which raises this question: What if leadership were conceived a profession instead of an occupation? What constitutes good leadership training?

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Conflict-resolution mantras for the workplace and everyday life [infographic]

Great leaders show composure during stressful situations. But remaining cool and collected in times of crisis is easier said than done, partly due to our own behavioral patterns. Allowing ourselves to become tethered to a particular agenda or resolution puts us at risk for increased stress and diminished communication.

Being open to personal change is the first step to improving conflict-resolution habits. Self-management allows leaders to more effectively manage conflicts. Mantras (or internal chants) are a great way to self-manage: these small reminders can help us control our emotions and, in turn, any conflicts that arise.

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Is there a gender bias in teaching evaluations?

Why are there so few female professors? Despite the fact that the fraction of women enrolling in graduate programs has increased over the last decades, the proportion of women who continue their careers in academia remains low. One explanation that could explain these gender disparities are gender-biased teaching evaluations. Outcomes of teaching evaluations affect hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions.

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Opportunity recognition: the heart of entrepreneurial thinking

With the 2018 Winter Olympics over, I’m reminded of one of the key traits all entrepreneurs possess and all would-be entrepreneurs must develop: the ability to recognize opportunities. You see, one of my favorite Olympic sports is bobsledding. I love the speed and excitement, the precision with which the sleds must be steered to gain the most speed—but also avoid disaster. I’m also fascinated by the tracks themselves.

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