Daily Roundup for 2007-12-08

  • Henry Blodget writes in Silicon Alley Insider that eBay CEO Meg Whitman is "one of the Valley’s most celebrated and admired executives" but thinks it is becoming increasingly clear that Whitman is not the right person for the job. In this blog post, Ina asks the hard questions.
  • A Consumer Reports press statement on the problem of counterfeit items said consumers should be suspicious of third-party websites that offer deep discounts for products that are usually pricey. eBay has become a Market for Lemons in a number of product categories (Tiffany products is just one of many examples), and so this is not surprising.

  • Tyler Cowen wants to help you live a richer, more rewarding life — and no, he’s not an executive coach, televangelist or diet guru. Rather, he is the latest in a series of economists applying academic insights to everyday life. This is a great book I thought you might enjoy.
  • In We Are Smarter than Me (Wharton School Publishing), authors Barry Libert and Jon Spector — and a community of more than 4,000 people who contributed insights to the book — illustrate how businesses can profit from the wisdom of crowds.
  • Anyone who has popped open a bottle of wine will agree with George Taber that it is one of the few sounds in the world that brings true joy to the listener. But if the opponents of cork have their way, that sound might disappear, as Taber, a veteran business journalist and author, explains in his new book, To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle (Scribner).
  • Forty years after the Summer of Love, the 1960s are still in style. The Rolling Stones are still looking for satisfaction in packed arenas. The Grateful Dead have their own ice cream flavor. Hair has returned to off-Broadway, hip huggers are back and young Americans are still into peace, love and pot. Our politics, our products and our popular culture all bear the unmistakable marks of the Age of Aquarius, and, as David Brooks observed in his bestselling Bobos in Paradise, we have managed to make — or market — our countercultural past into an integral part of our far more staid, strait-laced present.
  • Crises have been a feature of the financial landscape for hundreds of years. They often appear with little warning, as the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007 and the Asian crisis of 1997-1998 illustrate. It’s not always clear what causes crises, whether the crises, whether they can be avoided and how their impace can be reduced.  A recent book, titled, Understanding Financial Crises (Oxford University Press), by Wharton finance professor, Franklin Allen and Douglas Gale, a professor of economics at New York University, tackles this subject from a number of different angles.
  • In their quest to harness new sources of creativity, companies are reaching beyond their R&D labs to tap individuals and organizations outside their corporate boundaries. In their book titled, The Global Brain: Your Roadmap for Innovating Faster and Smarter in a Networked World (Wharton School Publishing, 2007), Satish Nambisan, a professor of technology management and strategy at the Lally School of Management at the Rensselaer Institute of Technology, and Mohanbir Sawhney, a professor of technology at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, explore the rise and implications of this network-centric approach to managing innovation.
  • McDonald’s operates the biggest restaurant chain in France, which is run by French managers. The company’s franchisees are French, as are their employees, and they also source their supplies from France. And yet, most people in France regard McDonald’s as an American firm that is selling junk food and undermining the French way of life. That is a good example of how the question of corporate identity has become complex and confused today because of globalization, according to Hamid Bouchikhi, professor of management and entrepreneurship at ESSEC, and Wharton management professor John Kimberly.

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