Archive for November, 2016

Cheap entertainment and unmotivated young men

Thursday, November 24th, 2016


Prior to 1985, leisure patterns were increasing for both higher-educated and lower-educated workers. So–for both men and women. So, men were taking more leisure, usually by working less, in the 1960s and 1970s. Women were taking more leisure by working more in the market but working much less in the home sector. Kind of like we were talking about before–the increases in home production technology might have freed up some time for women to both work more and take more leisure. So, higher skilled and lower skilled–at least measured by education–higher educated and lower educated men and women were tracking each other very closely in their leisure time, up through about 1985. After 1985, that breaks. And when it breaks, it’s right around the same time period–people have tried to estimate it–that the skill premium started to change. And this isn’t my work but work by Larry Katz and David Autor and Kevin Murphy–a whole bunch of people show that the earnings of the higher educated have been growing faster. So, Mark and I have been puzzled: Do we believe that income effects or substitution effects are important in determining labor supply? What do I mean? If your wage goes up, do you work more or less?

It scares me how much of this I see in myself (the video games, not the education). I spend a lot of time online, and much of the entertainment I consume on a daily basis is dirt cheap. I think back to when I was single in Hong Kong and working on my startup – the very thing that allowed me to tolerate such low expenditure was the cheap/free entertainment. 80 hours of Skyrim, watching the entirety of Band of Brothers in a week.

Corporate Intellectualism

Saturday, November 19th, 2016

Corporate Intellectualism is a bizarre imitation of Academic Intellectualism, embracing badly constructed abstractions and peddling platitudes which confer a vague sense of insight and understanding but do nothing to improve the quality of judgments.

Popular¬†business education overemphasises Thought Leadership, the addition of structure to problems and facilitating effective analysis. It’s pretty high up the Maslow’s hierarchy, and rarely what is most needed. There are many more basic yet more important activities involved in running a business:

  • fostering a culture of accountability, with explicit commitments and commensurate payoffs
  • defining¬†job responsibilities more robustly
  • formulating clear policy about day-to-day actions
  • encouraging goal ownership and intrinsic quality control
  • being aware of the nature of engagement and motivation

All those are difficult to get right, more explicit, addressable, and more directly connected to success.