Posts Tagged flat world

The Recession Generation

In this Newsweek article the author explores the impact of the recent financial crisis, the new age of uncertainty, and severe economic downturn on employment and spending patterns.

Some key takeaways:

  • It’s no accident that the psychology of entire generations is shaped by the milieu in which they grew up; economic research tells us that our lifelong behaviors are determined in large part by the seismic events—good or bad—of our youth
  • Even one really tough year experienced in early adulthood is enough to fundamentally change people’s core values and behaviors
  • Recession babies not only invest more conservatively, they tend to make less money, choose safer jobs, and believe in wealth redistribution and more government intervention
  • This division between capital and labor and the permanently high unemployment that it seems to encourage not only depresses wages, it depresses people; a large body of research shows they tend to withdraw from their communities and societies after being laid off (their spooked neighbors, encouraged to work ever harder, do too)
  • Parental unemployment has huge negative consequences for children, making them more likely to fall behind in school, repeat grades, and exhibit anxiety disorders
  • The worry today, say Reich, Soros, and political scientists such as Harvard’s Robert Putnam, is that fearful, vulnerable people will become more easy prey for ugly class politics, being drawn, as Reich puts it, to “populist demagogues on either side of the political spectrum.”
  • Americans generally have a high tolerance for inequality. Yet that tolerance may wane as we enter a new age in which young graduates can’t expect to do better than their parents—and one in which Wall Street is perceived as being able to continue business as usual while Main Street struggles. “Americans are OK with inequality,” says Reich, who believes we are at a tipping point, “as long as they feel the system isn’t rigged.”

All this said, there are some glimmers of hope in the New Normal.

  • Post-crisis, consumers are putting a greater value on time spent with family and friends than on money (a good thing when there’s little of the latter around)
  • There’s also a glimmer of possibility that hard times might make us nicer to each other … simply thinking about money made subjects less sensitive to pain, and less likely to help each other or want to connect with strangers

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Talent Management – How Women (and Men) Compete in the Flat World

The Needs of the Global Economy Workforce is an interesting article about talent management, the global workforce and particularly how women are responding to the challenges of competing in a flat world. A few key takeaways:

Women: Readiness to Compete

To better understand how prepared women and men feel to meet the coming challenges, Accenture (NYSE:ACNNews) conducted a major study, One Step Ahead of 2011: A New Horizon for Working Women. Interviews with 4,000 women and men in 17 countries at the end of 2007 produced a surprising conclusion: 68% of businesswomen in India, 63% in South Africa, 61% in China, and 52% in Brazil feel confident about their ability to succeed in a global business world. By contrast, only 46% of U.S. women — and men — feel that they're ready to compete in the larger international talent pool.

The article goes on to explain the impact of this negativity and how corporations should try to address this disparity in the more mature economies.

Acheiving Parity in Career Advancement

Although Accenture's study found that women are developing the skills and the confidence to succeed in the global marketplace, there are several areas in which women are not achieving parity with their male counterparts. The study found that more men than women cite technical capabilities and fostering professional relationships as having helped their career advancement. More than one-quarter of all respondents said that men are more effective than women at building those professional networks.

One explanation for that disparity may be the different attitudes that men and women have toward competition. A study, conducted by Lise Vesterlund of the University of Pittsburgh and Muriel Niederle of Stanford University, found that too many high-ability women chose not to compete at work tasks, while too many low-ability men did. The explanations were twofold: Men were found to be vastly more overconfident than women, and men seemed to embrace competition while women shied away from it.

The article then suggests how women should be self-conscious of this and includes several suggestions to break through this roadblock.


Another important issue for Western companies is demographics. True, a decade ago organizational behavior experts were aware of the aging Baby Boom generation and declining birth rates in the West. But they did not anticipate two developments that would exacerbate the skills-gap crisis.

The two developments cited are: skilled labour returning to their home countries and difficulties with Generation X, Y, and Z working side-by-side particularly in developed countries.

In Accenture's study, baby boomers in India, China, and Brazil were as confident about succeeding in a global economy as their younger peers. In the U.S., however, while Generations X and Y were confident, baby boomers were particularly pessimistic. Only 34% of the boomers were confident about their ability to compete in the global economy of the future. In the European Union countries, boomers and Generation X were both gloomy, and only the youngest — Generation Y — respondents viewed the future with confidence.

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