If you only read one thing this week…

Cash-for-Work: when do we do it by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 28, 2007, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you have time for longer reading!

‘Cash-for-Work’ always seems to me like one of those really bad euphemisms. Doesn’t it just mean getting paid to do something – what most of us call ‘jobs’? We ran into problems with this in New Orleans when we were told that it looked like a way to avoid paying people the minimum wage! Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, the term seems to have stuck.

Cash-for-Work is a rapid post-emergency methodology that enables agencies to get cash into the hands of those affected by the disasters, conflict or development challenges and can serve as a first step back to self reliance and independence. At the same time it can provide human resource injection to rapidly repair or rehabilitate community infrastructures. Mercy Corps has just produced a set of guidelines for how they do their CfW programming. Continue reading


iTunes now hosting lectures from top US universities by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 28, 2007, 10:32 pm
Filed under: If you have 30 mins, Megatrend, organizational learning, Web sites

“iTunes U” is Apple’s collaboration with top US universities to make available many hundreds of hours of lectures and addresses on a huge range of topics. You can download a free copy of iTunes for Windows or the Mac at Apple.com. Once you have iTunes, you can follow this link to iTunes U, the section with university curriculum resources. Some of the more compelling things to check out are:

  • Stanford’s Geography of World Cultures course – “while cultural-geographical terms such as the ‘Arabic world’ are popular, many people remain uncertain about where such ‘worlds’ are and how they differ from each other.
  • Duke’s Fuqua School of Business ‘Research Advantage’ series here.
  • Earthfile news from the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences here. Continue reading

“The Muslim presence in the racist mind” by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 28, 2007, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Articles, If you only have 15 mins, Megatrend

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam (a Junior Research Fellow in International Relations and Conflict Resolution in the Middle East at Oxford University) recently published a controversial article in Monthly Review here about the “collective transmutation of the transitory mood of anger after 11 September into hatred channeled primarily towards the Islamic worlds… [and] … the dangers of mobilising collective passions for political ends and the dichotomisation of the world into good and evil… As a result of this massive upsurge of anti-Islamic sentiments, Muslims are simply not judged as individuals anymore. Their very presence calls for management strategies.

His question is “How can we not differentiate between such disparate objects of analysis as the very real threat of a transnational terrorist sect, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, and the Muslim next door? Why this tendency to subsume everything under one mnemonic?

Writing again in the Monthly Review here, “Huntington’s thesis and the dar al-Islamdar al-harb (house of Islam) versus (house of war, forces of evil) dichotomy employed by some neo-fundamentalist scholars in Muslim societies? Both dichotomies, “Islam versus infidels” and “the West versus the Rest,” are intended to enforce categories and draw strict boundaries between supposedly incompatible worldviews. They form a “Janus-faced” intersubjective relationship: the two faces of a body of absolutist thought looking away from each other by necessity of their immanent constitution. The two faces need each other because the “other” is what determines the self.

Is he right?

Is there really a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid? by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 14, 2007, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Articles, Development theory, If you only have 15 mins, Megatrend

Following on from last week’s post optimistically extolling the virtues of Bottom of the Pyramid economics (here), Corporate Social Responsibility is carrying an article about the work of Aneel Karnani (Associate Professor of Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan) who takes issue with CK Prahalad’s ‘Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid‘ work.Prahalad defines the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BOP) as being the 4 billion people in the world that live on less than $2 a day. Karnani says: “The BOP proposition is characterized by much hyperbole and very weak research methodology. The fortune and glory at the bottom of the pyramid are a mirage. The fallacy of the BOP proposition is exacerbated by its hubris.“Read his stinging critique of the BOP model, and his suggestions on alternative approaches here. For those who can’t get enough, including a response to this by CK Prahalad, a useful resource is CSR’s page on related resources here.

Elements of innovation – the Economist on Apple by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 14, 2007, 7:16 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, Management

The Economist is running an article on Apple, a company that consistently tops polls for the world’s most innovative companies. But, says the Economist, its reputation is founded on hard work, and ability to invest, make difficult decisions, and learn from mistakes – what the Economist calls ‘failing wisely’. For example, while the iPod and the Mac have been huge successes, they were built on the backs of spectacular failures – the Mac emerged from the wreckage of the Lisa, and the iPod and iPhone post-dated both the ill-starred Neuton PDA and the Motorola phone that Apple toyed with. The article makes some worthwhile points about the discipline necessary to innovate successfully – read it here.

Mid-life crises and aid workers – a sobering assessment from Aid Workers’ Network by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 14, 2007, 7:09 pm
Filed under: If you only have 15 mins, Interesting links

If you don’t frequent it already, Aid Workers’ Network is a bulletin board and discussion forum for aid workers from around the world to chat and discuss their woes. A particularly poignant post was brought to my attention this week, the anonymous ‘Shylock’ posts about the restless feeling of approaching 40, having no home, no stable relationships, and a CV that reads like a litany of disasters. The darkly humorous post goes on to list the options for aging aid workers, from selling out and going to work for the UN, to ending up a bitter cynic propping up the bar in an African capital. Read the post, and respond, if you feel the urge, here.

Emotions, Poverty, or Politics: US military perspectives on Islamic Movements by ifyouonlyreadonethingthisweek
June 7, 2007, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Articles, conflict, If you only have 15 mins, Megatrend

Anne Marie Baylouny of the US Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey writes a fascinating article that sheds some light on how the US military is thinking about ‘violent movements in the name of Islam’ here. It’s a short, and interesting take. Without wanting to give away the punchline, Anne tells us that we need to spend more time understanding the issues – “Islamism is one of the most important foci of policy makers and scholars today, yet misconceptions about it abound. We lose a great deal by ignoring the knowledge generated through years of study in other parts of the world, data that could aid in correctly identifying what Islamism is, what causes it, when it turns violent, and how best to meet our policy aims.