Employers Need To Tread Carefully On The Road Back To Office Working

Open plan office

In some ways the coming weeks and months are likely to be more difficult for organizations and employees than the past year or so has been. With governments increasingly intent on opening up economies effectively closed down by the pandemic, uncertainty is rife.

Employers and staff alike are caught between wanting to go back to something like normal and not wishing to take too many risks, especially since the Delta variant of the coronavirus is pushing spikes in new cases even in countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. where significant proportions of the population have been at least partially vaccinated.

One factor that could be behind the unease about rushing back to normal working habits is a feeling that, just as governments made mistakes in the handling of the crisis, so too did organizations. According to a survey just out from the finance comparison platform NerdWallet, a third of the U.K.’s business leaders are dissatisfied with the way that staff have been managed through the pandemic.

A similar proportion said that financial stability and business productivity was put ahead of staff safety. Unsurprisingly perhaps, more than half of the nearly 1,000 decision-makers questioned said they planned to carry out a review of how they had handled things. However, nearly half have already invested in new equipment designed to improve health and safety and to facilitate social distancing, while more than half have introduced greater flexibility to working hours.

Employers’ definitions of flexibility appear to be, well, flexible. An insight into the current situation is provided by the consultancy Mercer in its latest survey of working policies and practices among nearly 600 employers in the U.S.. The key findings were:

  • Hybrid working — a blend of in-person and remote working — was favoured by vast majority.
  • Predominantly office-based working was the preference of a fifth of employers.
  • Fully remote or virtual-first working was the choice of just 6% of employers
  • A distributed model making increased use of satellite campuses was likely to be adopted by just 4%.

Mercer’s research and analysis suggests that, across all industries, the proportion of the workforce working on-site full-time is likely to be about 40%. The hybrid category will probably be split, with about 29% of the workforce working remotely one or two days a week and approximately 17% doing so three or four days a week. About 14% of workers are expected to work remotely full-time.

The challenge for employers will be deciding how they can retain the employee experience and hang on to talent. Lauren Mason, principal in Mercer’s career business, and Ravin Jesuthasan, global leader of Mercer’s transformation business, suggest five principles to consider:

  1. Empower teams but set guidelines:  Nearly all employers plan to bring in changes to working policies as a result of the pandemic. Nearly half are already actively developing a strategy, while nearly a quarter of employers are in the process of implementing or have already implemented plans. Employers can and should empower teams to continue to work flexibly but they should also establish guidelines to maximize business outcomes and ensure a consistent employee experience.
  2. Keep a pulse on the market and your competition: Flexibility will likely have a high impact on an organization’s ability to retain talent. If employees are unhappy about employers’ flexible working plans, they will be likely to consider other workplaces that might better meet their needs.
  3. Don’t rush to get employees to the office: Employers should focus on returning employees in a way where co-working benefits can be maximized immediately. They should concentrate on making workers feel energized, empowered and engaged to be back together with their colleagues. This may entail phased transitions, where employees may only initially come in one or two days a week, planned team meetings or on-site social events and celebrations to make those early office days more purposeful.
  4. Stay agile: Workers do not want or need a standardized solution. Employers can demonstrate a continued trust and sense of partnership that was so valued during the pandemic by providing options that are appropriate for the work being performed. The key is to give employees some control and flexibility.
  5. Don’t limit flexibility to remote work: Flexible working is about more than remote working. Inclusive flexibility ensures that all jobs can be flexible when needed. Given the massive challenges employers are facing in attracting and retaining workers, options such as flexible schedules or compressed workweeks can be a huge differentiator. Progressive companies are not just challenging “when” and “where” work is done but also how the it is done, who does it and what the work is.
Check out my website.

I am a U.K.-based journalist with a longstanding interest in management. In a career dating back to the days before newsroom computers I have covered everything from popular music to local politics. I was for many years an editor and writer at the “Independent” and “Independent on Sunday” and have written three books, the most recent of which is “What you need to know about business.”

Source: Employers Need To Tread Carefully On The Road Back To Office Working

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More on Work & Jobs

Hunger is Rising, COVID-19 Will Make it Worse

The economic crisis and food system disruptions from the Covid-19 pandemic will worsen the lack of nutrition in women and children, with the potential to cost the world almost $30 billion in future productivity losses. As many as 3 billion people may be unable to afford a healthy diet due to the pandemic, according to a study published in Nature Food journal. This will exacerbate maternal and child under-nutrition in low- and middle-income countries, causing stunting, wasting, mortality and maternal anemia.

Nearly 690 million people were undernourished in 2019, up by almost 60 million since 2014. Nearly half of all deaths in children under age five are attributable to undernutrition and, regrettably, stunting and wasting still have strong impacts worldwide.

In 2019, 21 per cent of all children under age five (144 million) were stunted and 49.5 million children experienced wasting.The effects of the pandemic will increase child hunger, and an additional 6.7 million children are predicted to be wasted by the end of 2020 due to the pandemic’s impact.

The situation continues to be most alarming in Africa: 19 per cent of its population is under-nourished (more than 250 million people), with the highest prevalence of undernourishment among all global regions. Africa is the only region where the number of stunted children has risen since 2000.

Women and girls represent more than 70 per cent of people facing chronic hunger. They are more likely to reduce their meal intake in times of food scarcity and may be pushed to engage in negative coping mechanisms, such as transactional sex and child, early and forced marriage.

Extreme climatic events drove almost 34 million people into food crisis in 25 countries in 2019, 77 per cent of them in Africa. The number of people pushed into food crisis by economic shocks more than doubled to 24 million in eight countries in 2019 (compared to 10 million people in six countries the previous year).

Food insecurity is set to get much worse unless unsustainable global food systems are addressed. Soils around the world are heading for exhaustion and depletion. An estimated 33 per cent of global soils are already degraded, endangering food production and the provision of vital ecosystem services.

Evidence from food security assessments and analysis shows that COVID-19 has had a compounding effect on pre-existing vulnerabilities and stressors in countries with pre-existing food crises. In Sudan, an estimated 9.6 million people (21 per cent of the population) were experiencing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) in the third quarter of 2020 and needed urgent action. This is the highest figure ever recorded for Sudan.

Food security needs are set to increase dramatically in 2021 as the pandemic and global response measures seriously affect food systems worldwide. Entire food supply chains have been disrupted, and the cost of a basic food basket increased by more than 10 per cent in 20 countries in the second quarter of 2020.

Delays in the farming season due to disruptions in supply chains and restrictions on labour movement are resulting in below-average harvests across many countries and regions.  This is magnified by pre-existing or seasonal threats and vulnerabilities, such as conflict and violence, looming hurricane and monsoon seasons, and locust infestations. Further climatic changes are expected from La Niña.

Forecasters predict a 55 per cent change in climate conditions through the first quarter of 2021, impacting sea temperatures, rainfall patterns and hurricane activity. The ensuing floods and droughts that could result from La Niña will affect farming seasons worldwide, potentially decreasing crop yields and increasing food insecurity levels.

The devastating impact of COVID-19 is still playing out in terms of rising unemployment, shattered livelihoods and increasing hunger. Families are finding it harder to put healthy food on a plate, child malnutrition is threatening millions. The risk of famine is real in places like Burkina Faso, north-eastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

COVID-19 has ushered hunger into the lives of more urban communities while placing the vulnerable, such as IDPs, refugees, migrants, older persons, women and girls, people caught in conflict, and those living at the sharp end of climate change at higher risk of starvation. The pandemic hit at a time when the number of acutely food-insecure people in the world had already risen since 2014, largely due to conflict, climate change and economic shocks.

Acute food-insecurity is projected to increase by more than 80 percent – from 149 million pre-COVID-19, to 270 million by the end of 2020 – in 79 of the countries where WFP works. The number of people in crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) almost tripled in Burkina Faso compared to the 2019 peak of the food insecurity situation, with 11,000 people facing catastrophic hunger (IPC/CH Phase 5) in mid-2020.

For populations in IPC3 and above, urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance is required to prevent a deterioration in the hunger situation. It is alarming that in 2020, insufficient funds left food security partners unable to deliver the assistance required. For example, sustained food ration reductions in Yemen have directly contributed to reduced food consumption since March. Today, Yemen is one of four countries at real risk of famine.

Source: https://gho.unocha.org/

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Critics:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, food security has been a global concern – in the second quarter of 2020 there were multiple warnings of famine later in the year. According to early predictions, hundreds of thousands of people would likely die and millions more experience hunger without concerted efforts to address issues of food security.

As of October 2020, these efforts were reducing the risk of widespread starvation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Famines were feared as a result of the COVID-19 recession and some of the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the 2019–2021 locust infestation, ongoing wars and political turmoil in some nations were also viewed as local causes of hunger.

In September 2020, David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme, addressed the United Nations Security Council, stating that measures taken by donor countries over the course of the preceding five months, including the provision of $17 trillion in fiscal stimulus and central bank support, the suspension of debt repayments instituted by the IMF and G20 countries for the benefit of poorer countries, and donor support for WFP programmes, had averted impending famine, helping 270 million people at risk of starvation.

References:

 

China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global Warning

China’s V-shaped economic rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic is slowing, sending a warning to the rest of world about how durable their own recoveries will prove to be.

The changing outlook was underscored Friday when the People’s Bank of China cut the amount of cash most banks must hold in reserve in order to boost lending. While the PBOC said the move isn’t a renewed stimulus push, the breadth of the 50 basis-point cut to most banks reserve ratio requirement came as a surprise.

Data on Thursday is expected to show growth eased in the second quarter to 8% from the record gain of 18.3% in the first quarter, according to a Bloomberg poll of economists. Key readings of retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment are all set to moderate too.

The PBOC’s swift move to lower banks’ RRR is one way of making sure the recovery plateaus from here, rather then stumbles.

The economy was always expected to descend from the heights hit during its initial rebound and as last year’s low base effect washes out. But economists say the softening has come sooner than expected, and could now ripple across the world.

“There is no doubt that the impact of a slowing China on the global economy will be bigger than it was five years ago,” said Rob Subbaraman, head of global markets research at Nomura Holdings Inc. “China’s ‘first-in, first-out’ status from Covid-19 could also influence market expectations that if China’s economy is cooling now, others will soon follow.”

Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Venice on Saturday signaled alarm over threats that could derail a fragile global recovery, saying new variants of the coronavirus and an uneven pace of vaccination could undermine a brightening outlook for the world economy. China’s state media also cited several analysts Monday saying domestic growth will slow in the second half because of an uncertain global recovery.

China’s slowing recovery also reinforces the view that factory inflation has likely peaked and commodity prices could moderate further.

“China’s growth slowdown should mean near-term disinflation pressures globally, particularly on demand for industrial metals and capital goods,” said Wei Yao, chief economist for the Asia Pacific at Societe Generale SA.

The changing outlook reflects the advanced stage of China’s recovery as growth stabilizes, according to Bloomberg Economics.

What Bloomberg Economics Says…

“Looking through the data distortions, the recovery is maturing, not stumbling. Activity and trade data for June will likely paint a similar picture — a slower, but still-solid expansion.”

— The Asia Economist Team

For the full report, click here.

Domestically, the big puzzle continues to be why retail sales are still soft given the virus remains under control. It’s likely that sales slowed again in June, according to Bloomberg Economics, as sentiment was weighed by controls to contain sporadic outbreaks of the virus.

Even with the PBOC’s support for small and mid-sized businesses, there’s no sign of a broad reversal in the disciplined stimulus approach authorities have taken since the crisis began.

The RRR cut was partially to “manage expectations” ahead of the second-quarter economic data this week, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong.

“It also provides more policy room going forward, as the momentum of the economic recovery has surely slowed.”

— With assistance by Enda Curran, Yujing Liu, and Bihan Chen

Source: China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global Warning – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The Chinese economic reform or reform and opening-up; known in the West as the Opening of China is the program of economic reforms termed “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “socialist market economy” in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Led by Deng Xiaoping, often credited as the “General Architect”, the reforms were launched by reformists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on December 18, 1978 during the “Boluan Fanzheng” period.

The reforms went into stagnation after the military crackdown on 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but were revived after Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992. In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

Before the reforms, the Chinese economy was dominated by state ownership and central planning. From 1950 to 1973, Chinese real GDP per capita grew at a rate of 2.9% per year on average,[citation needed] albeit with major fluctuations stemming from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

This placed it near the middle of the Asian nations during the same period, with neighboring capitalist countries such as Japan, South Korea and rival Chiang Kai-shek‘s Republic of China outstripping the PRC’s rate of growth. Starting in 1970, the economy entered into a period of stagnation, and after the death of CCP Chairman Mao Zedong, the Communist Party leadership turned to market-oriented reforms to salvage the failing economy.

Citation:

High Turnover? Here Are 3 Things CEOs Do That Sabotage Their Workplace Culture

She has one too many deadlines to deal with

Every CEO wants long-standing employees, but their ineffective leadership causes organizational stress that cripples the workplace culture. Quite often, we read articles or hear of CEOs abusing their power and tarnishing their company’s reputation.

This is due to them neglecting feedback from their team and making decisions based solely on their own judgement. Not only does this erode trust, but it sets a standard that employee and leadership voices are not welcome.

When employees are taken care of, they go above and beyond to drive the company forward. Conversely, when they don’t feel valued, appreciated or kept in the loop, employees quickly become disengaged. The cost of a disengaged employee impacts more than the bottom line.

It decreases productivity, creates negative client experiences and destroys the company culture, to name a few. According to a Gallup survey, the State of the American Workplace 2021, 80% of workers are not fully engaged or are actively disengaged at work.

While CEOs claim to embody a people-first and feedback-driven culture, they believe, due to their position, that they know better than everyone else. Todd Ramlin, manager of Cable Compare, said, “if a person is fortunate to have the opportunity to be a CEO, they need to ask themselves if they can live by the company values, expectations, rules and processes that are in place.” They can’t pick and choose which rules and processes to abide by, yet punish others when they do the same. Doing so cultivates a toxic workplace and demonstrates poor leadership.

Here are three things CEOs do that sabotage their workplace culture.

Embraces Data, Dodges Emotions

The workplace is made up of a diverse group of experiences and perspectives. CEOs who lack the emotional intelligence to understand another person’s viewpoint or situation will find themselves losing their most valuable people. Sabine Saadeh, financial trading and asset management expert, said, “companies that are only data driven and don’t care about the well-being of their employees will not sustain in today’s global economy.”

Businessolver’s 2021 State Of Workplace Empathy report, revealed that “68% of CEOs fear that they’ll be less respected if they show empathy in the workplace.” CEOs who fail to lead with empathy will find themselves with a revolving door of leadership team members and employees. I once had a CEO tell me that he didn’t want emotions present in his business because it created a distraction from the data. His motto was, “if it’s not data, it’s worthless”.

As such, he disregarded feedback of employee dissatisfaction and burnout. Yet, he couldn’t understand why the average tenure of his employees very rarely surpassed one year. Willie Greer, founder of The Product Analyst, asserted, “data is trash if you’re replacing workers because you care more about data than your people.”

Micromanages Their Leadership Team

One of the ways a CEO sabotages a company’s culture is by micromanaging their leadership team. Consequently, this leads to leadership having to micromanage their own team to satisfy the CEOs unrealistic expectations. When leadership feels disempowered to make decisions, they either pursue another opportunity or check out due to not being motivated to achieve company goals.

As such, the executives who were hired to bring change aren’t able to live up to their full potential. Moreover, they’re unable to make the impact they desired due to the CEOs lack of trust in them. Employees undoubtedly feel the stress of their leadership team as it reverberates across the company.

Arun Grewal, founder and Editor-in-chief at Coffee Breaking Pr0, said, most CEOs are specialists in one area or another, which can make them very particular. However, if they want to drive their company forward they need to trust in the experts they hired rather than trying to make all of the company’s decisions.

At one point during my career, I reported to a CEO who never allowed me to fully take over my department. Although he praised me for my HR expertise during the interview, once hired, I quickly realized he still wanted full control over my department. Despite not having HR experience, he disregarded everything I brought to the table to help his company.

I soon began questioning my own abilities. No matter how hard I tried to shield my team from the stress I endured, the CEO would reach out to them directly to micromanage their every move. This left our entire department feeling drained, demoralized and demotivated. Sara Bernier, founder of Born for Pets, said, “CEOs who meddle in the smallest of tasks chip away at the fundamentals of their own company because everything has to run through them”. She added, “this eliminates the employee’s ownership of their own work because all tasks are micromanaged by the CEO.

Neglects Valuable Employee Feedback

Instead of seeking feedback from their leadership team or employees, CEOs avoid it altogether. Eropa Stein, founder and CEO of Hyre, said, “making mistakes and getting negative feedback from your team is a normal part of leading a company, no matter how long you’ve been in business.”

She went on, “as a leader, it’s important to put your ego aside and listen to feedback that will help your business grow. If everyone agrees with you all the time, you’re creating a cult mentality that’ll be detrimental to your business’ success in the long run.” This results in a toxic and unproductive workplace culture.

What’s worse than avoiding constructive feedback is receiving it and disregarding it entirely. Neglecting valuable feedback constructs a company culture where no individual feels safe voicing their concerns. Rather than silence those who give negative feedback, CEOs should embrace them. These are the individuals who are bringing issues forward to turn them into strengths in an effort to create a stronger company.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m a Leadership Coach & Workplace Culture Consultant at Heidi Lynne Consulting helping individuals and organizations gain the confidence to become better leaders for themselves and their teams. As a consultant, I deliver and implement strategies to develop current talent and create impactful and engaging employee experiences. Companies hire me to to speak, coach, consult and train their teams and organizations of all sizes. I’ve gained a breadth of knowledge working internationally in Europe, America and Asia. I use my global expertise to provide virtual and in-person consulting and leadership coaching to the students at Babson College, Ivy League students and my global network. I’m a black belt in Six Sigma, former Society of Human Resources (SHRM) President and domestic violence mentor. Learn more at http://www.heidilynneco.com or get in touch at Heidi@heidilynneco.com.

Source: High Turnover? Here Are 3 Things CEOs Do That Sabotage Their Workplace Culture

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Critics:

Organizational culture refers to culture in any type of organization including that of schools, universities, not-for-profit groups, government agencies, or business entities. In business, terms such as corporate culture and company culture are often used to refer to a similar concept.

The term corporate culture became widely known in the business world in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Corporate culture was already used by managers, sociologists, and organizational theorists by the beginning of the 80s. The related idea of organizational climate emerged in the 1960s and 70s, and the terms are now somewhat overlapping,as climate is one aspect of culture that focuses primarily on the behaviors encouraged by the organization

If organizational culture is seen as something that characterizes an organization, it can be manipulated and altered depending on leadership and members. Culture as root metaphor sees the organization as its culture, created through communication and symbols, or competing metaphors. Culture is basic, with personal experience producing a variety of perspectives.

Most of the criticism comes from the writers in critical management studies who for example express skepticism about the functionalist and unitarist views about culture that are put forward by mainstream management writers. They stress the ways in which these cultural assumptions can stifle dissent towards management and reproduce propaganda and ideology. They suggest that organizations do not encompass a single culture, and cultural engineering may not reflect the interests of all stakeholders within an organization.

References

  • Schein, E. H. (1990). Organizational culture. American Psychologist, 45, 109–119. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.45.2.109
  • Compare: Hatch, Mary Jo; Cunliffe, Ann L. (2013) [1997]. “A history of organizational culture in organization theory”. Organization Theory: Modern, Symbolic and Postmodern Perspectives (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 161. ISBN 9780199640379. OCLC 809554483. Retrieved 7 June 2020. With the publication of his book The Changing Culture of a Factory in 1952, British sociologist Elliott Jaques became the first organization theorist to describe an organizational culture.
  • Jaques, Elliott (1951). The changing culture of a factory. Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. [London]: Tavistock Publications. p. 251. ISBN 978-0415264426. OCLC 300631.
  • Compare: Kummerow, Elizabeth (12 September 2013). Organisational culture : concept, context, and measurement. Kirby, Neil.; Ying, Lee Xin. New Jersey. p. 13. ISBN 9789812837837. OCLC 868980134. Jacques [sic], a Canadian psychoanalyst and organisational psychologist, made a major contribution […] with his detailed study of Glacier Metals, a medium-sized British manufacturing company.
  • Ravasi, D.; Schultz, M. (2006). “Responding to organizational identity threats: Exploring the role of organizational culture”. Academy of Management Journal. 49 (3): 433–458. CiteSeerX 10.1.1.472.2754. doi:10.5465/amj.2006.21794663.
  • Schein, Edgar H. (2004). Organizational culture and leadership (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. pp. 26–33. ISBN 0787968455. OCLC 54407721.
  • Schrodt, P (2002). “The relationship between organizational identification and organizational culture: Employee perceptions of culture and identification in a retail sales organization”. Communication Studies. 53 (2): 189–202. doi:10.1080/10510970209388584. S2CID 143645350.
  • Schein, Edgar (1992). Organizational Culture and Leadership: A Dynamic View. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. pp. 9.
  • Deal T. E. and Kennedy, A. A. (1982, 2000) Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin Books, 1982; reissue Perseus Books, 2000
  • Kotter, J. P.; Heskett, James L. (1992). Corporate Culture and Performance. New York: The Free Press. ISBN 978-0-02-918467-7.
  • Selart, Marcus; Schei, Vidar (2011): “Organizational Culture”. In: Mark A. Runco and Steven R. Pritzker (eds.): Encyclopedia of Creativity, 2nd edition, vol. 2. San Diego: Academic Press, pp. 193–196.
  • Compare: Flamholtz, Eric G.; Randle, Yvonne (2011). Corporate Culture: The Ultimate Strategic Asset. Stanford Business Books. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780804777544. Retrieved 2018-10-25. […] in a very real sense, corporate culture can be thought of as a company’s ‘personality’.
  • Compare: Flamholtz, Eric; Randle, Yvonne (2014). “13: Implications of organizational Life Cycles for Corporate Culture and Climate”. In Schneider, Benjamin; Barbera, Karen M. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture. Oxford Library of psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780199860715. Retrieved 2018-10-25. The essence of corporate culture, then, is the values, beliefs, and norms or behavioral practices that emerge in an organization. In this sense, organizational culture is the personality of the organization.
  • Compare: Flamholtz, Eric; Randle, Yvonne (2014). “13: Implications of organizational Life Cycles for Corporate Culture and Climate”. In Schneider, Benjamin; Barbera, Karen M. (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Climate and Culture. Oxford Library of psychology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780199860715. Retrieved 2018-10-25. The essence of corporate culture, then, is the values, beliefs, and norms or behavioral practices that emerge in an organization.
  • Jaques, Elliott (1998). Requisite organization : a total system for effective managerial organization and managerial leadership for the 21st century (Rev. 2nd ed.). Arlington, VA: Cason Hall. ISBN 978-1886436039. OCLC 36162684.
  • Jaques, Elliott (2017). “Leadership and Organizational Values”. Requisite Organization: A Total System for Effective Managerial Organization and Managerial Leadership for the 21st Century (2 ed.). Routledge. ISBN 9781351551311. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  • “Culture is everything,” said Lou Gerstner, the CEO who pulled IBM from near ruin in the 1990s.”, Culture Clash: When Corporate Culture Fights Strategy, It Can Cost You Archived 2011-11-10 at the Wayback Machine, knowmgmt, Arizona State University, March 30, 2011
  • Unlike many expressions that emerge in business jargon, the term spread to newspapers and magazines. Few usage experts object to the term. Over 80 percent of usage experts accept the sentence The new management style is a reversal of GE’s traditional corporate culture, in which virtually everything the company does is measured in some form and filed away somewhere.”, The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • One of the first to point to the importance of culture for organizational analysis and the intersection of culture theory and organization theory is Linda Smircich in her article Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis in 1983. See Smircich, Linda (1983). “Concepts of Culture and Organizational Analysis”. Administrative Science Quarterly. 28 (3): 339–358. doi:10.2307/2392246. hdl:10983/26094. JSTOR 2392246.
  • “The term “Corporate Culture” is fast losing the academic ring it once had among U.S. manager. Sociologists and anthropologists popularized the word “culture” in its technical sense, which describes overall behavior patterns in groups. But corporate managers, untrained in sociology jargon, found it difficult to use the term unselfconsciously.” in Phillip Farish, Career Talk: Corporate Culture, Hispanic Engineer, issue 1, year 1, 1982
  • Halpin, A. W., & Croft, D. B. (1963). The organizational climate of schools. Chicago: Midwest Administration Center of the University of Chicago.
  • Fred C. Lunenburg, Allan C. Ornstein, Educational Administration: Concepts and Practices, Cengage Learning, 2011, pp. 67
  • “What Is Organizational Climate?”. paulspector.com. Retrieved 2021-05-01.

Solar Power Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful

After focusing for decades on cutting costs, the solar industry is shifting attention to making new advances in technology. The solar industry has spent decades slashing the cost of generating electricity direct from the sun. Now it’s focusing on making panels even more powerful.

With savings in equipment manufacturing hitting a plateau, and more recently pressured by rising prices of raw materials, producers are stepping up work on advances in technology — building better components and employing increasingly sophisticated designs to generate more electricity from the same-sized solar farms.

“The first 20 years in the 21st century saw huge reductions in module prices, but the speed of the reduction started to level off noticeably in the past two years,” said Xiaojing Sun, global solar research leader at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “Fortunately, new technologies will create further cost-of-electricity reductions.”

A push for more powerful solar equipment underscores how further cost reductions remain essential to advance the shift away from fossil fuels. While grid-sized solar farms are now typically cheaper than even the most advanced coal or gas-fired plants, additional savings will be required to pair clean energy sources with the expensive storage technology that’s needed for around-the-clock carbon-free power.

Bigger factories, the use of automation and more efficient production methods have delivered economies of scale, lower labor costs and less material waste for the solar sector. The average cost of a solar panel dropped by 90% from 2010 to 2020.

Boosting power generation per panel means developers can deliver the same amount of electricity from a smaller-sized operation. That’s potentially crucial as costs of land, construction, engineering and other equipment haven’t fallen in the same way as panel prices.

It can even make sense to pay a premium for more advanced technology. “We’re seeing people willing to pay a higher price for a higher wattage module that lets them produce more power and make more money off their land,” said Jenny Chase, lead solar researcher at BloombergNEF.

Higher-powered systems are already arriving. Through much of the past decade, most solar panels produced a maximum of about 400 watts of electricity. In early 2020, companies began selling 500-watt panels, and in June, China-based Risen Energy Co. introduced a 700-watt model.

Here are some of the ways that solar companies are super-charging panels:

While many current developments involve tweaks to existing technologies, perovskite promises a genuine breakthrough. Thinner and more transparent than polysilicon, the material that’s traditionally used, perovskite could eventually be layered on top of existing solar panels to boost efficiency, or be integrated with glass to make building windows that also generate power.

“We will be able to take solar power to the next level,” said Kim Dohyung, principal researcher on a perovskite project team at Korea Electric Power Corp., one of several companies experimenting with the material. “Ultimately, this new technology will enable us to make a huge contribution in lowering greenhouse gas emissions.”

Adoption of perovskite has previously been challenged by costs and technical issues that prevented commercial-scale production. There are now signs that’s changing: Wuxi UtmoLight Technology Co. in May announced plans to start a pilot line by October with mass production beginning in 2023.

Solar panels typically get their power from the side that faces the sun, but can also make use of the small amount of light that reflects back off the ground. Bi-facial panels started to gain in popularity in 2019, with producers seeking to capture the extra increments of electricity by replacing opaque backing material with specialist glass. They were also temporarily boosted by a since-closed loophole in U.S. law that exempted them from tariffs on Chinese products.

The trend caught solar glass suppliers off-guard and briefly caused prices for the material to soar. Late last year, China loosened regulations around glass manufacturing capacity, and that should prepare the ground for more widespread adoption of the two-sided solar technology.

Another change that can deliver an increase in power is shifting from positively charged silicon material for solar panels to negatively charged, or n-type, products.

N-type material is made by doping polysilicon with a small amount of an element with an extra electron like phosphorous. It’s more expensive, but can be as much as 3.5% more powerful than the material that currently dominates. The products are expected to begin taking market share in 2024 and be the dominant material by 2028, according to PV-Tech.

In the solar supply chain, ultra-refined polysilicon is shaped into rectangular ingots, which are in turn sliced into ultra-thin squares known as wafers. Those wafers are wired into cells and pieced together to form solar panels.

For most of the 2010s, the standard solar wafer was a 156-millimeter (6.14 inches) square of polysilicon, about the size of the front of a CD case. Now, companies are making the squares bigger to boost efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs. Producers are pushing 182- and 210-millimeter wafers, and the larger sizes will grow from about 19% of the market share this year to more than half by 2023, according to Wood Mackenzie’s Sun.

The factories that wire wafers into cells — which convert electrons excited by photons of light into electricity — are adding new capacity for designs like heterojunction or tunnel‐oxide passivated contact cells. While more expensive to make, those structures allow the electrons to keep bouncing around for longer, increasing the amount of power they generate.

— With assistance by Heesu Lee

By:

Source: Solar Power Is Dirt-Cheap and About to Get Even More Powerful – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), indirectly using concentrated solar power, or a combination. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and solar tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaic cells convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.

Photovoltaics were initially solely used as a source of electricity for small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to remote homes powered by an off-grid rooftop PV system. Commercial concentrated solar power plants were first developed in the 1980s.

As the cost of solar electricity has fallen, the number of grid-connected solar PV systems has grown into the millions and gigawatt-scale photovoltaic power stations are being built. Solar PV is rapidly becoming an inexpensive, low-carbon technology to harness renewable energy from the Sun. The current largest photovoltaic power station in the world is the Pavagada Solar Park, Karnataka, India with a generation capacity of 2050 MW.

The International Energy Agency projected in 2014 that under its “high renewables” scenario, by 2050, solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power would contribute about 16 and 11 percent, respectively, of worldwide electricity consumption, and solar would be the world’s largest source of electricity. Most solar installations would be in China and India.[3] In 2019, solar power generated 2.7% of the world’s electricity, growing over 24% from the previous year. As of October 2020, the unsubsidised levelised cost of electricity for utility-scale solar power is around $36/MWh.

One issue that has often raised concerns is the use of cadmium (Cd), a toxic heavy metal that has the tendency to accumulate in ecological food chains. It is used as semiconductor component in CdTe solar cells and as a buffer layer for certain CIGS cells in the form of cadmium sulfide. The amount of cadmium used in thin-film solar cells is relatively small (5–10 g/m2) and with proper recycling and emission control techniques in place the cadmium emissions from module production can be almost zero.

Current PV technologies lead to cadmium emissions of 0.3–0.9 microgram/kWh over the whole life-cycle.[136] Most of these emissions arise through the use of coal power for the manufacturing of the modules, and coal and lignite combustion leads to much higher emissions of cadmium. Life-cycle cadmium emissions from coal is 3.1 microgram/kWh, lignite 6.2, and natural gas 0.2 microgram/kWh.

References

 

 

 

NFT Of The World Wide Web Source Code Sells For $5.4 Million

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet

On Wednesday, 32 years after English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee penned “Information Management: A Proposal,” the genesis of the World Wide Web, Sotheby’s auctioned the Web’s original source code for $5.4 million. It was, of course, in the form of a nonfungible token aka an NFT.

The source code for the Web was sold to an anonymous buyer, according to Sotheby’s. There were a total of 51 bids on the NFT.

“NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artifact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists, Berners-Lee said in a statement about the auction. “They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the Web.”

Sotheby conducted the auction, titled “This changed everything” from June 23 through June 30 with the bidding starting at $1,000. The British-founded global marketplace for art collectibles has recently added digital collectibles such as NFTs to its offerings. The proceeds from the $5.4 million will go toward initiatives that Tim Berners-Lee supports, including his open source technology Solid.

NFTs are rapidly becoming a way for members of the digital community to create a virtual museum and document historic moments on the internet, whether that was the $4 million sale of the Doge meme NFT or when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million or when digital artist Itzel Yard sold an NFT art made from the key of the first Tor Browser, making her the highest-selling female NFT artist.

Gauthier Zuppinger is the co-founder of nonfungible.com, a database that tracks the sales of NFTs and crypto collectibles. He compared the source code to CryptoPunks, one of the first non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Zuppinger says the code’s singularity and its monumental role in the foundation of the digital world contributed to the skyrocketing bidding price for the NFT.

So what exactly does the anonymous buyer receive? It doesn’t receive any unique usage rights because the source code for the web has been public domain since 1991 when CERN released the worldwide web code library.

The NFT itself contains a myriad of technical tid-bits and gemstones in the history of the Web. The four elements include the original time-stamped files containing the code that was written between October,1990, and August, 1991. The 9,555 lines of code written in the Objective-C programming language depicts the application of three inventions made by the physicist-turned-software engineer: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language); HTTP (Hyper Transfer Protocol); and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). The buyer will also receive a letter from Berners-Lee, an animated visualization and a digital poster of the code.

“As people seem to appreciate the autographed versions of books, now we have NFT technology, I thought it could be fun to make an autographed copy of the original code of the first web browser,” Berners-Lee’s statement reads.

Apart from being the man behind the Web, Berners-Lee is also a director of the World Wide Web consortium, which looks over the development of the Web. As the co-founder and chief technology officer of Inrupt, he is honing open source technology called Solid to come closer to his original vision for the Web to be a shared information space for all members of the society.

Dr. Merav Ozair, an expert on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and a fintech faculty member at Rutgers Business School, compared the NFT sale of the World Wide Web source code to the historic moment when the founding fathers of the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence. The only difference is that the code that created the web also changed the way the world functions today.

“This was also a historic moment when he created a code that initiated everything, and this is not something only for the U.S. it’s for the global community, everywhere,” she says.

Ozair says the auction marks the kick off of Web 3.0, a version of the web where cryptocurrencies thrive.

The source code for the web is already public domain. In fact, Berners-Lee fought with CERN officials for it to be that way, says Marc Webber, the curatorial director of the internet history program at the Computer History Museum.

“It’s a little bit paradoxical. You know, you’ve got an NFT on this completely public domain open thing,” says Webber, who has been researching the history of the web since 1995.

The auction has instigated curiosity about web history, Webber says. But the commodification of computer and technology history could make it difficult for museum curators like him to procure such digital artifacts when NFTs offer the owner lump sum pay-offs and a wide audience.

Webber says that Berners-Lee has had multiple opportunities to cash in on his invention but has always chosen not to so that the web remains in the public domain. “I do know that this is not like a simple ploy to get money,” he says.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I write about tech startups and innovation. I am receiving my master’s degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. I’ve previously written and worked for Vox Magazine in Columbia, Missouri and Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.

Source: NFT Of The World Wide Web Source Code Sells For $5.4 Million

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Critics:

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the buyer of the NFT. While copies of these digital items are available for anyone to obtain, NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with a proof of ownership that is separate from copyright.

The NFT market value tripled in 2020, reaching more than $250 million. During the first quarter of 2021, NFT sales exceeded $2 billion. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, which can be sold and traded. The NFT can be associated with a particular digital or physical asset (a file or a physical object) and a license to use the asset for a specified purpose. NFTs (and the associated license to use, copy or display the underlying asset) can be traded and sold on digital markets.

NFTs function like cryptographic tokens, but unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, are not mutually interchangeable, in other words, not fungible (e.g. one bitcoin is equivalent to any other bitcoin while every NFT may represent a different underlying asset and thus have a different value). NFTs are created when blockchains string records of cryptographic hash, a set of characters identifying a set of data, onto previous records therefore creating a chain of identifiable data blocks.

This cryptographic transaction process ensures the authentication of each digital file by providing a digital signature that is used to track NFT ownership. However, data links that point to details like where the art is stored can die.The speculative market for NFTs has led more investors to trade at greater volumes and rates.The buying surge of NFTs was called an economic bubble by experts, who also compared it to the Dot-com bubble.

By mid-April 2021, demand appeared to have substantially subsided, causing prices to fall significantly; early buyers were reported to have “done supremely well” by Bloomberg Businessweek. An NFT of the source code of the World Wide Web, credited to internet inventor computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was auctioned in June 2021 by Sotheby’s in London, and was sold for USD$5.4

References

Stocks, U.S. Futures Dip on Delta Strain Concerns: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks dipped Tuesday amid concerns a more infectious Covid-19 strain will derail an economic recovery. Treasuries and the dollar were steady after gains.

An MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares was on track for its first decline in six days as countries in the region are struggling to contain the highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus. U.S. futures dipped after technology stocks led U.S. benchmarks to fresh records Monday. New limits on travel from Britain, which is seeing a spike in cases, dragged on cruise operators and airlines.

The Treasury yield curve flattened amid month-end index rebalancing and the break in auctions until July 12, reducing supply. Oil extended a decline with the market expecting OPEC+ producers to increase supply at an upcoming meeting. Bitcoin was steady around mid-$34,000.

Global stocks are poised to close out their fifth quarterly advance amid a worldwide vaccine rollout that powered an economic recovery and sparked concerns about increasing prices pressures and the withdrawal of stimulus measures. The recovery also drove the reflation trade as more economies reopened, though that is being hampered as some countries, especially in Asia, are falling behind in their vaccine strategies.

The U.S. is now the best place to be during the pandemic due to its fast and expansive vaccine rollout stemming what was once the world’s worst outbreak. Meanwhile, parts of the Asia-Pacific region that performed well in the ranking until now — like Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia — dropped as strict border curbs remain in place.

“The Delta variant has also emerged in our client conversations as a potential threat to reflation/inflation,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. strategists led by Marko Kolanovic said. “The economic consequences are likely to be limited given progress on vaccinations across developed market economies. It could, however, pose some risk of a delay in the recovery in countries where vaccination rates remain lower.”

Read: Asean Equities May Have Priced In Virus Setback: Taking Stock

For more market commentary, follow the MLIV blog.

Here are some events to watch in the markets this week:

  • OECD meets in Paris to finalize a proposal to overhaul global minimum corporate taxation Wednesday
  • China’s President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech as the nation marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party Thursday
  • OPEC+ ministerial meeting Thursday
  • ECB President Christine Lagarde speaks Friday
  • The U.S. jobs report is due Friday

These are some of the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • S&P 500 futures dipped 0.1% as of 1:26 p.m. in Tokyo. The S&P 500 rose 0.2%
  • Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.2%. The Nasdaq 100 rose 1.3%
  • Topix index fell 1%
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.4%
  • Kospi index lost 0.6%
  • Hang Seng Index retreated 0.8%
  • Shanghai Composite Index was down 1%
  • Euro Stoxx 50 futures were little changed

Currencies

  • The yen traded at 110.56 per dollar
  • The offshore yuan was at 6.4638 per dollar
  • The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index edged up
  • The euro traded at $1.1913

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries held at 1.48%
  • Australia’s 10-year bond yield dropped five basis points to 1.53%

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude was at $72.56 a barrel, down 0.5%
  • Gold was at $1,774.24, down 0.2%

— With assistance by Rita Nazareth, Vildana Hajric, and Nancy Moran

By:

Source: Stock Market Today: Dow, S&P Live Updates for Jun. 29, 2021 – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Beginning on 13 May 2019, the yield curve on U.S. Treasury securities inverted, and remained so until 11 October 2019, when it reverted to normal. Through 2019, while some economists (including Campbell Harvey and former New York Federal Reserve economist Arturo Estrella) argued that a recession in the following year was likely,other economists (including the managing director of Wells Fargo Securities Michael Schumacher and San Francisco Federal Reserve President Mary C. Daly) argued that inverted yield curves may no longer be a reliable recession predictor.

The yield curve on U.S. Treasuries would not invert again until 30 January 2020 when the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, four weeks after local health commission officials in Wuhan, China announced the first 27 COVID-19 cases as a viral pneumonia strain outbreak on 1 January.

The curve did not return to normal until 3 March when the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) lowered the federal funds rate target by 50 basis points. In noting decisions by the FOMC to cut the federal funds rate by 25 basis points three times between 31 July and 30 October 2019, on 25 February 2020, former U.S. Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs Nathan Sheets suggested that the attention of the Federal Reserve to the inversion of the yield curve in the U.S. Treasuries market when setting monetary policy may be having the perverse effect of making inverted yield curves less predictive of recessions.

See also

 

China’s GDP Surge Is Chance To Reboot Country’s Image On World Stage

China’s economy had a great 12 months, leading the globe out of the Covid-19 era. Yet the last year has damaged something equally important: Beijing’s soft power.

Beijing’s handling of questions about what happened in Wuhan—and why officials were so slow to warn the world about a coming pandemic—boggles the mind. If China’s handling of the initial outbreak was indeed the “decisive victory” that it claims, why overreact to Australia’s call for a probe?

Harvard Kennedy School students might one day take classes recounting how China’s leaders squandered the Donald Trump era. As the U.S. president was undermining alliances, upending supply chains, losing allies, and playing down the pandemic, Beijing had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase the country’s influence at Washington’s expense.

And now, many in Beijing appear to understand the extent to which they blew it. Earlier this month, Xi Jinping urged the Communist Party to cultivate a “trustworthy, lovable and respectable” image globally. It’s the clearest indication yet that the “wolf warrior” ethos espoused in recent times by Chinese diplomats was too Trump-like for comfort—and backfiring.

The remedy here is obvious: being the reliable economic engine leaders from the East to West desire.

The Trump administration’s policies had a vaguely developing-nation thrust—favoring a weaker currency, banning companies, tariffs of the kind that might’ve worked in 1985, assaulting government institutions. They shook faith in America’s ability to anchor global finance. The last four years saw a bull market in chatter about replacing the dollar as reserve currency and the centrality of U.S. Treasury debt.

China is enjoying a burst of good press for its gross domestic product trends. Not just for the pace of GDP, but the way Xi’s team appears to be seeking a more balanced and sustainable mix of growth sources. Though some pundits were disappointed by news that industrial production rose just 6.6% in May on a two-year average basis, it essentially gets Asia’s biggest back to where it was pre-Covid-19.

China is getting there, slowly but surely. Far from disappointing, though, data suggest Xi’s party learned valuable lessons from the myriad boom/bust cycles that put China in global headlines since 2008. That was the year the “Lehman shock” devastated world markets and threatened to interrupt China’s meteoric rise.

Instead, Beijing bent economic reality to its benefit. Yet the untold trillions of dollars of stimulus that then-President Hu Jintao’s team threw at the economy caused as many long-term headaches as short-term gains. It financed an unproductive infrastructure boom—one prioritizing the quantity of growth over quality—that fueled bubbles. It generated a moral-hazard dynamic that encouraged greater risk and leverage.

Unfortunately, Xi’s government doubled down on the approach in 2015, when Shanghai stocks went into freefall. The impulse then, as in the 2008-2009 period, was to throw even more cash at the problem—treating the symptoms, not the underlying ailments.

The ways in which Team Xi restored calm—bailouts, loosening leverage and reserve requirement protocols, halting initial public offerings and suspending trading in thousands of companies—did little to build a more nimble and transparent system. The message to punters was, no worries, the Communist Party and People’s Bank of China have your backs. Always.

Yet things appear to be changing. In 2020, while the U.S., Europe and Japan went wild with new stimulus schemes, Beijing took a targeted and minimalist approach. Japan alone threw $2.2 trillion, 40% of GDP, at its cratering economy. The Federal Reserve went on an asset-buying tear.

The PBOC, by sharp contrast, resisted the urge to go the quantitative easing route. That is helping Xi in his quest to deleverage the economy. It’s a very difficult balancing act, of course. The will-they-or-won’t-they-default drama unfolding at China Huarong Asset Management demonstrates the risks of hitting the stimulus brakes too hard.

The good news is that so far China seems to be pursuing a stable and lasting 2021 recovery, not the overwhelming force of previous efforts. And that’s just what the world needs. A 6% growth rate year after year will win China more soft-power points than the GDP extremes. So will China accelerating its transition from exports to an innovation-and-services-based power.

It’s grand that President Joe Biden rapidly raised America’s vaccination game. That means the two biggest economies are recovering simultaneously, reinforcing each other.

China’s revival could have an even bigger impact. Look at how China’s growth in recent months is lifting so many boats in Asia. In May alone, Japan enjoyed a 23.6% surge in shipments to China. Mainland demand for everything from motor vehicles to semiconductor machinery to paper products is helping Japan recover from its worst downturn in decades. South Korea, too.

The best thing Xi can do to boost China’s soft power is to lean into this recovery, and provide the stability that the rest of the globe needs. Xi should let China’s GDP power do the talking for him.

I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.” My journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.

Source: China’s GDP Surge Is Chance To Reboot Country’s Image On World Stage

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Critics:

The economy of China is a developing market-oriented economy that incorporates economic planning through industrial policies and strategic five-year plans. Dominated by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and mixed-ownership enterprises, the economy also consists of a large domestic private sector and openness to foreign businesses in a system described as a socialist market economy.

State-owned enterprises accounted for over 60% of China’s market capitalization in 2019 and generated 40% of China’s GDP of US$15.66 trillion in 2020, with domestic and foreign private businesses and investment accounting for the remaining 60%. As of the end of 2019, the total assets of all China’s SOEs, including those operating in the financial sector, reached US$78.08 trillion. Ninety-one (91) of these SOEs belong to the 2020 Fortune Global 500 companies.

China has the world’s second largest economy when measured by nominal GDP, and the world’s largest economy since 2014 when measured by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which is claimed by some to be a more accurate measure of an economy’s true size.It has been the second largest by nominal GDP since 2010, which rely on fluctuating market exchange rates.An official forecast states that China will become the world’s largest economy in nominal GDP by 2028.Historically, China was one of the world’s foremost economic powers for most of the two millennia from the 1st until the 19th century.

The Chinese economy has been characterized as being dominated by few, larger entities including Ant Group and Tencent. In recent years there has been attempts by the Xi Jinping Administration to enforce economic competition rules, and probes into Alibaba and Tencent have been launched by Chinese economic regulators.

The crackdown on monopolies by tech giants and internet companies follows with recent calls by the Politburo against monopolistic practices by commercial retail giants like Alibaba. Comparisons have been made with similar probes into Amazon in the United States.

See also

Morrisons Shares Surge As Investors Bet On Low U.K. Supermarket Valuations

Morrisons, CD&R. Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda

Shares in U.K. publicly-listed supermarket chain Morrisons surged by almost a third in morning trading today, after Britain’s fourth biggest grocer rebuffed a $7.6 billion takeover from U.S. private equity giant Clayton, Dubilier & Rice.

The huge spike in its valuation was prompted by emerging news over the weekend that Morrisons had become a takeover target for CD&R, potentially sparking a bidding war for the grocer.

The news prompted shares to rise across the grocery sector, as investors bet that other supermarket groups could become targets for private equity investors or that a bidding battle could erupt, with online giant Amazon AMZN -0.9% – which has an online delivery deal with Morrisons – one possible bidder for its partner.

American private equity firms Lone Star and Apollo Global Management APO +1.9% have also been mentioned as possible suitors for Morrisons, which has been battling with a declining market share, now down at 10%, from 10.6% five years ago. There is a sense that the U.K. supermarket sector could be ripe for more potential takeovers. The share price performance of the entire sector is seen as under-performing compared with U.S. grocers, for example, despite being profitable and achieving typical dividend yields of around 4%.

CD&R has history, having previously made investments in the discount U.K. store chain B&M, from which it made more than $1.4 billion.

Morrisons Rebuffs Bid But More Could Follow

Morrisons first announced on Saturday that it had turned down a preliminary bid by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, which is believed to have been made on or around 14 June. The Bradford-based company said that its board had “unanimously concluded that the conditional proposal significantly undervalued Morrisons and its future prospects”.

CD&R had offered to pay nearly 320c a share in cash, while Morrisons’ share price closed at 247c on Friday, before its surge today as trading reopened for the first time since the announcement.

The New York-headquartered private equity firm has until 17 July to make a firm offer and to persuade a reluctant Morrisons management team to recommend that shareholders agree to the deal.

Sir Terry Leahy, a former Tesco chief executive, is a senior adviser for CD&R and, like its market-leading rival Tesco, Morrisons’ shares have been trading below their pre-pandemic levels as higher costs due to operating throughout the pandemic have taken their toll despite booming sales at essential stores across the U.K.

Morrisons currently employs 121,000 people and made a pre-pandemic profit of $565.5 million in 2019, which plunged to $278.6 million in 2020. It owns the freehold for 85% of its 497 stores. One-quarter of what it sells comes from its own supply chain of fresh food manufacturers, bakeries and farms.

CD&R has so far declined to comment on whether it will return with a higher bid, but analysts believe its approach is probably just the first salvo.

Previously, former Walmart WMT +0.9%-owned Asda was snapped up by the U.K.’s forecourt billionaire Issa brothers along with private equity firm TDR Capital in a debt-based $9.4 billion buyout. Likewise, CD&R could adopt a similar model and combine Morrisons, which has just a handful of convenience stores after a number of limited trials of smaller store formats, with its Motor Fuel Group of 900 gas stations.

There are also wider political concerns that it could emulate the Issas by saddling Morrisons with debt and selling off its real estate assets and CD&R is understood to be weighing political reaction before determining whether or not to come back with a higher bid.

Supermarket Takeovers More Likely Than Mergers

For tightly-regulated U.K. competition reasons, takeovers or mergers between supermarket groups appear increasingly complex. The competition watchdog blocked a proposed $9.7 billion takeover by Sainsbury’s for rival Asda two years ago, determining that the deal threatened to increase prices and reduce choice and quality.

However, comparatively relaxed rules on private equity bids mean few such restrictions apply to takeovers. Private equity firms have acquired more U.K. firms over the past 18 months than at any time since the financial crisis, according to data from Dealogic, and Czech business mogul Daniel Křetínský has established a 10% stake in Sainsbury’s, the U.K.’s second biggest supermarket chain. Having failed in an attempt to take over Germany’s Metro Group last year, he could yet make an offer for a British grocer.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould added in an investor note this morning that Morrisons’ balance sheet looks highly attractive, in particular to a private equity firm looking to sell business assets to release cash.

“Morrisons’ balance sheet has plenty of asset backing and the valuation was relatively depressed before news of private equity interest,” he said. “The market value of the business had weakened so much that it clearly triggered some alerts in the private equity space to say the value on offer was looking much more attractive.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I am a global retail and real estate expert who looks behind the headlines to figure out what makes consumers tick. I work as editor-in-chief for MAPIC and editor for World Retail Congress, two of the biggest annual international retail business events.  I also organise, speak at, and chair conferences all over the world, with a focus on how people are changing and what that means for the retail, food & beverage, and leisure industries. And it’s complicated! Forget the tired mantra that online killed the store and remember instead that retail has always been dog-eat-dog: star names rise and fall fast, and only retailers that embrace the madness will survive. Don’t think it’s not important, your pension funds own those malls!

Source: Morrisons Shares Surge As Investors Bet On Low U.K. Supermarket Valuations

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Critics:

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc (Morrisons) (LSEMRW) is the fourth biggest supermarket in the United Kingdom. Its main offices are in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England.The company is usually called Morrisons. In 2008, Sir Ken Morrison left the company. Dalton Philips is the current head. The old CEO was Marc Bolland, who left to become CEO of Marks & Spencer.

As of September 2009, Morrisons has 455 shops in the United Kingdom. On 15 March 2007, Morrisons said that it would stop its old branding and go for a more modern brand image. Their lower price brand, Bettabuy, was also changed to a more modern brand called the Morrisons Value. This brand was then changed again in 2012 as Morrisons started their low price option brand called M Savers.

In 2005 Morrisons bought part of the old Rathbones Bakeries for £15.5 million which make Rathbones and Morrisons bread. In 2011, Morrisons opened a new 767,500 square/foot centre in Bridgwater for a £11 million redevelopment project. This project also made 200 new jobs.

References:

  1. “Morrisons Distribution Centre Preview”. Bridgwater Mercury. Retrieved 6 July 2012. This short article about the United Kingdom can be made longer. You can help Wikipedia by adding to it.

Long Working Hours Killing 745,000 People a Year, Study Finds

 

The first global study of its kind showed 745,000 people died in 2016 from stroke and heart disease due to long hours.The report found that people living in South East Asia and the Western Pacific region were the most affected.

The WHO also said the trend may worsen due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The research found that working 55 hours or more a week was associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with a working week of 35 to 40 hours.

The study, conducted with the International Labour Organization (ILO), also showed almost three quarters of those that died as a result of working long hours were middle-aged or older men.

Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the long hours were worked.Five weeks ago, a post on LinkedIn from 45-year-old Jonathan Frostick gained widespread publicity as he described how he’d had a wake-up call over long working hours.

The regulatory program manager working for HSBC had just sat down on a Sunday afternoon to prepare for the working week ahead when he felt a tightness in his chest, a throbbing in his throat, jawline and arm, and difficulty breathing.

“I got to the bedroom so I could lie down, and got the attention of my wife who phoned 999,” he said.While recovering from his heart-attack, Mr Frostick decided to restructure his approach to work. “I’m not spending all day on Zoom anymore,” he said.

His post struck a chord with hundreds of readers, who shared their experiences of overwork and the impact on their health.Mr Frostick doesn’t blame his employer for the long hours he was putting in, but one respondent said: “Companies continue to push people to their limits without concern for your personal well-being.”

HSBC said everyone at the bank wished Mr Frostick a full and speedy recovery.”We also recognise the importance of personal health and wellbeing and a good work-life balance. Over the last year we have redoubled our efforts on health and wellbeing.

“The response to this topic shows how much this is on people’s minds and we are encouraging everyone to make their health and wellbeing a top priority.”

line

While the WHO study did not cover the period of the pandemic, WHO officials said the recent jump in remote working and the economic slowdown may have increased the risks associated with long working hours.

“We have some evidence that shows that when countries go into national lockdown, the number of hours worked increase by about 10%,” WHO technical officer Frank Pega said.

The report said working long hours was estimated to be responsible for about a third of all work-related disease, making it the largest occupational disease burden.

The researchers said that there were two ways longer working hours led to poor health outcomes: firstly through direct physiological responses to stress, and secondly because longer hours meant workers were more likely to adopt health-harming behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, less sleep and exercise, and an unhealthy diet.

Andrew Falls, 32, a service engineer based in Leeds, says the long hours at his previous employer took a toll on his mental and physical health.”Fifty to 55 hour weeks were the norm. I was also away from home for weeks on end.”

“Stress, depression, anxiety, it was a cauldron of bad feedback loops,” he says. “I was in a constant state of being run down.”After five years he left the job to retrain as a software engineer. The number of people working long hours was increasing before the pandemic struck, according to the WHO, and was around 9% of the total global population.

In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that people working from home during the pandemic were putting in an average of six hours of unpaid overtime a week. People who did not work from home put in an average of 3.6 hours a week overtime, the ONS said.

The WHO suggests that employers should now take this into account when assessing the occupational health risks of their workers. Capping hours would be beneficial for employers as that had been shown to increase productivity, Mr Pega said. “It’s really a smart choice to not increase long working hours in an economic crisis.”

Source: Long working hours killing 745,000 people a year, study finds – BBC News

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References

“Spain introduces new working hours law requiring employees to clock in and out”. Idealista. Retrieved 30 April 2020.

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