Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Labour unions and solidarity in times of precarity

=Labour unions have traditionally been at the forefront of the struggle to improve job security, pay, and working conditions. The widely observed growth in precarious work in recent decades is a result of union weakness, as they are increasingly likely to lose these battles. Many have argued that unions often promote the job security of their ‘insider’ core members at the expense of more precarious ‘outsiders.’

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Is “food waste” really wasted food?

Food waste has become a major cause for concern in the United States. Or at least, that’s what some prominent organizations suggest. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that the United States wastes 103 million tons of food. The statistics suggest that food waste is a problem, but how do these organizations calculate them? And what, exactly, is food waste?

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The problem with a knowledge-based society

In the last few decades, few concepts have spoken to the imagination of economists like the ‘knowledge based economy’ or ‘knowledge economy’ within Western policy circles. There has been a consensus that Western economies have entered a phase in economic history called the ‘knowledge’ or ‘knowledge-based’ era. The brains of the workforce are thought to be the most important contributor to today’s wealth creation.

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Beer and brewing by numbers [infographic]

Beer has been a vitally important drink through much of human history, be it just as a drink that was safe to consume when water might not have been, through to having significant economic and even political significance. The earliest written laws included regulations on beer, tax income from beer funded centuries of British imperialist conquests, and beer is the subject of the oldest international trademark dispute.

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In the zone: how balancing stress levels improves performance [excerpt]

Athletes’ maximum performance, also known as peak performance, is often characterized or accompanied by what is called a “flow state” or “peak experience.” Athletes describe this state as being “on automatic pilot,” “totally involved,” “hot,” “on a roll,” “in a groove,” or “in the zone.” An excellent example is provided by the great German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in the 2001 champions league final game, between his team FC Bayern Munich and FC Valencia.

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The value of mistakes

John Pierre, a renowned pastry chef, is making a new batch of chocolate. Not paying attention, he leaves the chocolate in the oven for an extra five minutes by mistake, resulting in the chocolate having a different taste than he had intended. In light of this chef’s mistake, how interested are you in buying this chocolate? Companies, in general, hesitate to release mistakes, much less advertise them to consumers as a unique product.

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Capitalism and the value of technology [excerpt]

Technology has undoubtedly changed how the economy operates, from the steam engine to the smartphone. But are machines a legitimate source of value in a capitalist society? In the following excerpt from Marx, Capital, and the Madness of Economic Reason, David Harvey delves into Marx’s Capital to better understand the value of man and machinery in a technology-dependent world.

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Found: a viable, alternative model of the firm?

The single-minded pursuit of shareholder value courts a tolerance of malpractice which sets the scene for a race to the bottom. At the heart of the system is the model of the modern corporation. In many ways, it now seems unfit for purpose in the context of the global economy. The John Lewis Partnership is illustrative of an alternative approach.

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5 tips for teaching social media

How can instructors equip students with the skills and knowledge to become effective social media professionals? Three years ago, I left my position as a social media director and transitioned back to academia to focus on this critical question. Since then I have experimented with a variety of pedagogical approaches. Here are a few tips that I have found to be consistently helpful in the classroom.

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An extinction event for foundations?

Private foundations – the legal entities that have funded social innovations as diverse as breakthrough civil rights litigation and the development of the 911 emergency response system – may be nearing an end. This is certainly not because they have spent down their endowments; the largest still contain billions of dollars and as of 2014 independent and family foundation endowments still contained over $700 billion in assets.

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The end of liberalism

Fifty-nine years ago, William Proxmire of the now-Rust Belt state of Wisconsin took the floor of the US Senate in support of a bill that would lower tariffs on imported goods. My then-boss had brought with him a few hundred of the many pro-free-trade letters that our office had received in support of the bill. Liberalism — and not just a reduction in trade barriers — is now in trouble.

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Marketing-driven government (Part 2)

When marketing is used in government, its impact is often limited because it is dogged by a short-term, fragmented approach influenced by political time cycles. Government marketing is often characterised by an overemphasis on broadcast communications, including digital platforms, to the exclusion of a more citizen-centric approach focused on listening, relationship building, and social networking.

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Hop heads and locaholics: excerpt from Beeronomics

Beer drinkers across the United States observe the National American Beer Day annually on 27 October. Over the last decade two IPAs, craft beer and microbreweries have taken over the American beer market and continue their steady growth. This extract from Johan Swinnen and Devin Briski’s Beeronomics discusses some of the strategies of the American craft beer movement.

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Marketing-driven government (Part 1)

Marketing is an approach to social programme design and delivery that should underpin how governments and not-for-profit agencies develop and select policy, shape how services are delivered, and build sustained partnerships with citizens and other stakeholder organisations. However, marketing is a very often misunderstood and misapplied within Government

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What is the land question in India today?

Land in the process of development can be viewed as a commodity, and like other commodities, can be bought and sold. Such a transformation presupposes that land historically was not a commodity. Peasant cultivators eked out a subsistent lifestyle and feudal lords taxed the peasants. Property rights as we know it did not exist then. Land was not owned, sold, or bought.

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The reign of law in international investment decision-making

The second Investment Claims Summer Academy took place on 6-7 July 2017 at Lady Margaret Hall and focused on the role of international law in international investment decision-making. The Summer Academy opened with a quote from Sir Hersch Lauterpacht’s 1933 The Function of Law in International the International Community:

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