25 December 2010

A short introduction to agency theory - Part 2, Costs of Agency

A short introduction to agency theory - Part 2,
Costs of Agency

Click here for part Part 1 

This gives rise to the “costs of agency”, which are costs incurred where the principles have incentives to do things that are not in the interests of the principles.  For example, managers (like any employees) may steal thing from work, of they may use company resources in a selfish and extravagant way.  Have you ever seen the offices of the big bank’s CEOs?  Do they really need to fly in their own private helicopter or Lear Jet? Or perhapsthe trip in a regular jumbo get the job done just as efficiently.  These lavish items are called “perquisites”.  A perquisites is any service or thing regarded as a special right or privilege enjoyed as a result of one's position.  It’s the whole point of climbing to the top of the corporate ladder.

22 December 2010

A short introduction to agency theory - Part 1

A short introduction to Agency Theory

Where ever you look in society, you can see people doing things for other people.  Rather than asking as a blind unthinking robot merely processing instructions, the doing person often has some degree freedom as to how they go about the task. 

Let’s call person doing things, “the agent” and the person who benefits “the principle”.  In the standard corporate setting, you have shareholders who pool together cash and delegate the authority to manage those funds as they best see fit.  We actually see this in all walks of life.

Perhaps the most fundamental example is that of mother and child.  The child is unable to do things for itself, and so the mother must act to feed, clothe and protect the child in a way that is selfless to the mother and importantly, always in the child’s best interest.  In this sense, the CHILD is the principle and the MOTHER is the agent of the child

19 December 2010

The free internet underlines the need of academic discipline, and not the obsolescence.

Wikipedia has effectively  killed off the Encyclopedia Britianica, and the futurists are now frequently breathing murmurs how BIG University is next. 

Free is the new intellectual elite.  It's broader in scope, faster updated, and more importantly, Wikipedia is found to be just as accurate as the Encyclopedia Britianica.  *Maybe*
Wikipedia is about as good a source of accurate information as Britannica, the venerable standard-bearer of facts about the world around us, according to a study published this week in the journal Nature.

So if the world's oldest and most respected concise repositories of knowledge can knocked off by a community of socialists, why can't them same happen to the well established knowledge factories (universities). The lesson is that the internet is a wild place that can consume long established superpowers.  This is sometimes true.  

17 December 2010

iPad 2 may start shipping by end of February 2011

If you were seriously interested in getting an iPad, try resist the temptation to buy one before Christmas.  The iPad two is just around the corner, and you can expect a vast improvement on the old one.

It might even be sooner then you expected.

Foxconn Electronics' (Hon Hai Precision Industry's) plants in Shenzhen, China have recently been notified they will ship Apple's iPad 2 within the next 100 days with initial shipments to reach 400,000-600,000 units, according to sources from Taiwan-based component makers. However, Foxconn declined to comment on its products or clients.

iPad 2 may start shipping by end of February 2011

There are already talks about further scope. Think: "iPad 3 and beyond".
  But we are now half way through Feb so I'm not hopeful about the "ANY DAY NOW" waiting game. 

14 December 2010

10 Reasons why I hate powerpoint

Chalk and talk is an art. It's a dying art. You should have something to say and Powerpoint makes it easy to show people things while you say them. The problem is we have gotten so wrapped up in the children's game of show and tell that have actually forgotten to tell anyone the important part.  The only thing that matters is our final MESSAGE

I don't use PowerPoint in class anymore.  I actually have slides, but I don't use them. Why? Because Powerpoint is BORING. I teach the yuck/wow generation, but the same applies to all humans irrespective.  

So here goes:

1. Overuse of effects
Powerpoint Rangers. *God. Eye. Stab. Now.*  You know the people that try to use a different effect on every bloody slide. Gross. Just find the subtle ones. Fade and wipe is almost all I ever use. And I actually use quite a lot of effects. But these people use things that fly in, circle around and then settle.  Maybe THEN they can start to narrate. It just draws away from your message. The canned applause sound effects at the end of a presentation? Give me a break.  Microsoft should have included a vomit sound effect, maybe a snoring sound effect, or better yet "are there any questions? *crickets chirping*".  That would be FAR more accurate. 

02 December 2010

iPad “Pad” Joke Finally Taken Too Far [Video]

The standard joke was: "what if the iPad2 gets larger? Does that make it a maxiPad?"

This is not exactly orginal, but have a look at this joke about the iPad “Pad”, where the joke may be  taken too far.

01 December 2010

Business Idea and intellectual "property" - but can you own a meme?

You know sometimes XKCD just gets it so right. One of the really annoying  things is having a "Business Idea" that doesn't actually go the way you wanted.  But the reality is, that if you really were good enough to make that business work you would have done it already. This is not a reality that we want to hear very often. To illustrate, there is an accurate but confusing line in the the new movie The Social Network where "If you guys were the inventors of Facebook, you'd've invented Facebook."

More importantly the real answer to this problem is given in the movie a bit latter.  Larry Summers, The VC of Harvard states that they should "just go and find another idea." But let's face it, even the Harvard Business Review magazine this month admits that's much harder to do. Worst of all, most people and most businesses are lazy.

There is something attractive to this concept that you can just come up with a some magical idea, do no work and then sue people who "steal" it from you. I fear that this concept no more solid a ground on which to base a economic society than the Vikings plundering wealth.  Why? Because the Vikings would have justified a society of plunder on the basis of might it right.  This capitalist world is based on the assumption that legal might and first to the patent office is right. Not effort is right, and not success.

Again, I am a potential author who wants to walk the middle way.  I love Linux, the Creative Commons, and Wikipedia.  I also want to get rich here too. But it seems I have to pick one.

On a side note, I see that Microsoft is also find it self at the wrong end of the endless web of who sues who.