Saturday, December 8, 2012

Last One

I have been a part of many organizations on campus, but I never realized how many different economic ideas are functioning within them. I have learned much from the course, starting with the insurance models to a more in depth look at the Prisoner's Dilemma. I also found the discussion of the ways that managers lead their team based on model 1 and 2 very interesting. It made me realize why sometimes I do not get along with my managers and gave me an insight to both sides of thinking on this issue. 

I did enjoy that there was a significant math aspect to the course despite it being challenging. I do think though that maybe we did not spend enough time on those concepts as the exam scores reflect this fact. The equations were sometimes difficult to comprehend so it made it harder to study them on my own. I think blogging in this class was a good idea. I also think that it would be beneficial if we spent more class time on discussing the ideas we expressed in our blogs. At the beginning of the semester, we seemed to be doing that more often and towards the end, we did not really discuss the posts anymore.  

I also enjoyed that we often had class discussions and participation was encouraged. As a senior, I am very much used to having just pure lectures so this was refreshing to have a class based on discussion. Overall, I enjoyed the course, thank you for being our teacher.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wanted and Unwanted Reputations

 Personal reputations are a huge factor in influencing behavior of all types. What I find very interesting is how those reputations form. Some can form instantaneously and are very hard to change. For example classiness, how a person presents themselves to others. If one sees a person screaming down the street drunk in a not so presentable outfit, a reputation is formed based on an impression, especially if the person making the judgement on the individual does not know the person that well. Some can take a very long time  to form. The general rule is that bad reputations form very quickly and are super hard to change, whereas a respectable reputation takes longer to establish and is very easy to lose. 

An example of a reputation that I received within a couple hours with a group was when I was working on a house for Habitat for Humanity. I help with builds often and I have been a part of building many houses, therefore my knowledge of what needs to be done and how it needs to be done is greater than other volunteers that often volunteer for the first time. This weekend I was helping out on a house and a group of students came to help us at noon. The person who was in charge of the build was busy on the roof so I approached the group of four students and outlined to them what they needed to be doing. Later, the group grew to about 14 volunteers. Most of them for the day approached me with questions about what to do or how something needs to be done. I was glad to answer of course. At the end of the day, many of them came up to me asking me if I was employed by Habitat. I told them that I was a volunteer just like them. 

In this situation, a positive very strong reputation formed that I was in charge. By answering their questions, without really trying, I enforced this reputation. In this situation, I did not want to stray from my reputation as I was not aware of it until they told me at the end of the day they thought I was employed for Habitat. 

Another reputation that I hold amongst my friends is that I am very outgoing, meaning I am not afraid to approach almost anyone and talk to them, it is very easy for me to make friends and am very likable by all. While this is a good reputation to have, there are times that I want to stray away from my reputation. Firstly, being outgoing is an act that anyone can develop or do. My friends view it as me having this magical skill that they simply do not posses, while in reality if they tried approaching people, they can do the same. I do admit that some people are more outgoing than others, but it is a skill one can develop. I was shy for most of my life myself. When I tell them this, they disregard it. There are times at social settings that I have been asked to approach maybe a guy my friend finds an interest in to enable her to talk to him or her. While this is fine, sometimes their expectations are too much. For example at a party that we do not know anyone, they would say go make friends so we can talk to people or my friend asked me on her birthday if I can get guys to buy her and another girl drinks. 

Reputations develop whether they are wanted or not. Some reputations such as being a leader, I cherish and try to foster to make them grow by enforcing them with actions. Some form without me trying and some reputations are unwanted. Regardless of how they form, reputations are very strong in persuading or having an impact on an individual's behavior based on the reputation of another.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Triangle

The most relevant triangle problem situation I observed was during my internship at Sears. I was working with the buying team for ranges and microwaves. As a buyer, the responsibility was to create a strategy to have the right type of product assortment in the stores at the right price to best satisfy the customer.  This was achieved by meeting with companies that were providing this product for Sears.

The complicated triangle relationship can be seen if one considers who the buyer must satisfy with their actions. The most important party involved is Sears Corporation itself. The role of the buyer is to make decisions that make the department most profitable. Another party is the customer. Ultimately, the buyer should make decisions as to what products to place in the stores based on preferences of the client to make them most happy and create store loyalty. While the buyer places the correct product in the store to generate profit for the company, the buyer's role is also about pleasing the customer. Another party is the vendors that meet with the buyer such as LG or GE and offer the product to the buyer. The buyer needs to maintain a good relationship with the vendor, otherwise the partnership will fall apart.

With this in mind, I have seen first hand how the Vice President of the department is unsatisfied with the buyer for not bringing in the right amount of profit for the week. I have also witnessed customers complain about a certain product not being on the shelf when it should. I also saw the vendor be very upset when their product is being discontinued due to low sales, or not featured in the marketing as they would like.

This being said, it is extremely hard to keep all parties satisfied with decisions made when multiple interests must be considered, sometimes even opposing interests. It was especially frustrating to me when one party was getting the majority of the benefit when the two other parties suffered because of it. My example is the vendor Kenmore. Kenmore is the house brand meaning that Sears owns the brand. Despite it being under Sears, Kenmore cares for its own interests first. I was present at a meeting between a Kenmore representative and the buyer. The person from Kenmore basically told what new product will be on the shelf. The product being suggested would not sell due to the price range and the demand for this type of microwave was just not there. I knew that as an intern and the buyer of course knew it as well. I was astounded as the Kenmore representative told that it will be put on shelf, and the buyer explained her concerns, which were not even taken into account.

I was amazed at how the decision was undermining the well being of Sears as the product will not sell and the customer as they do not demand that product. Unfortunately, sometimes, one party has enough power to make the agent sacrifice other parties interests to make that one party happy. That I do not consider to be a good or healthy relationship, as the agent should strive to keep at least somewhat of a balance between the parties. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Some people love school projects and others dread them. I find school projects bearable only if the people in the group are friendly and easy to work with. I really believe that it is not about the task being assigned but the dynamic of the people in the group.

One project that I was a part of was with a group of 5 people. The task was to organize and event on campus. The whole thing turned into a great mess. Firstly, we had much disagreement on the theme of the event and basic ideas on how it should look like. After we finally managed to agree, we divided up the tasks. Things started going even more downhill when people responsible for their tasks were not doing their work. The person who was supposed to be in charge of publicity, did not make the posters. The person who was in charge of reserving the space for the event had difficulty doing it and did not tell anyone or asked anyone for help. There were also others frustrated with the process and did not put effort into the event at all. They did their assigned task but to such a minimum state that, others had to pick up their slack. The final event was fine, people came and everything that needed to be done was done. The professor  was satisfied, but none of us were happy with the event. Some were frustrated and angry at the people in the group and did not even care about the final product.

Another project I was engaged in was composed of 5 people as well. We had a product and needed to conduct research about the brand. It required interviewing people as well as writing reports. The group right away was very efficient and quick to agree on the brand to be researched. The work was also divided efficiently and always people would do their part on time and well. What helped with this project is that we used Google docs to keep track of all of our documents and communicate. That means we would meet as a group, but also communicate online if a problem arose. All of the group members were eager to respond and help. The project was accomplished well and we obtained good grades for it.

The first group was unsuccessful because of the lack of communication within the members. Our personalities clashed and too many people wanted to to control the group. We had great ideas, but no one wanted to execute them. Also, people when they became frustrated, they got even less motivated and started doing less work, leading to greater frustration.

In the second group, leaders emerged but there were also those who were willing to listen and compromise. Also, everyone was very communicative when things were going wrong. In the second group, I also knew one of the members in advance which gives me a biased view of the situation. Regardless, from the dynamic of the group, everyone seems satisfied with the group.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Is Sharing Caring?

There is a very simple example that comes to mind when thinking about team production. A couple years ago when I used to live in the Residence Halls, there was a program where we made ice cream from scratch. There was an ice cream making machine and we had special mix that we got to put in it. The ice cream was formed when an individual cranked the handle, creating motion, making the substance freeze and take on an ice cream viscosity. There were two people needed at a time, one to hold the machine and the other to crank the handle. Our group of people consisted of about twenty so most people just sat around and watched the few individuals at work. From time to time, the pairs would switch and someone else had a chance to work. Not everyone in the group got a turn, so some people still remained bystanders.

When it came to eat the product of our hard work, everyone was open to sharing the made product with the rest of the group,even the members that did not do any of the physical labor were more than welcome to have the ice cream. The observations that can be made here are similar to the claims of the article. If a group creates something, the members of the group are much more willing to evenly share the product with each other.

The tricky part was when other people were passing by and wanted to eat the ice cream as well, not part of the group, not there during the creation of the good. The group was hesitant and even hostile to the idea of people outside of the group having any of the made product. Despite this unwillingness to share, the product was still given to those that were not part of the group but wanted some of the ice cream.

The individualistic character of people especially in this country make sharing difficult. Outside of the group setting, sharing is not often seen. While there are exceptions of course, I agree with the observations of the article that product made by the group is much more easily shared equally amongst the members of the group than otherwise.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Transfer Pricing

Transfer Pricing is quite commonly found in the society today. The example most commonly used is taxation. The suggested Illinibucks have the potential to work in the same way, but could be based on very different criteria. One could be year in school of the student, a lottery system or distributed evenly amongst students. Such system is already used within the University on some levels. One might consider credits in the cafeteria a form of Illinibucks that one purchases at the beginning of the year. The purchase reflects a family's affluence and the preference of the student. Another form of Illinibucks that is already used is even being a part of an organization or a club. Everyone pays dues, or a flat tax per say and because of this, they can partake in events planned by the organization. Even our ability to enter the ARC and use the bus system can be classified as a transfer pricing system being in use.

If Illinibucks were to be implemented, one could probably use at all the places mentioned in others' posts such as the cafeteria, Mckinley, Krannert and any other facility owned by the University. The market could even develop where students would exchange these tokens with each other. For example Illinibucks might be exchanged when one student does homework for another.

Transfer pricing does affect the University setting if one views the University as a entity with many separate parts that need to interact with each other. A common system such as the Illinibucks may serve this purpose. The need for such a medium of interaction has already been somewhat addressed with people using credits at the cafeteria and I-cards with limitless Illinibucks per say to ride the bus. Nonetheless, more unity could be arranged between these University institutions to have them all use the same system, and who knows, maybe it even should be called Illinibucks.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Opportunism in Society

Opportunism is presented to each one of us every single day. Certainly, not all opportunism is negative. If you are working for a company and the job of your dreams opens up in a neighboring department and you are the first one to hear about it, then the benefits for you are great and no unethical behavior was exercised. There is a debate about whether great people are born or put into situations that make them great. If great people are formed by situations, it is this opportunistic behavior that they exercised that makes them great.
        There are also times as this post discusses that people do not take advantage of a situation for various reasons. I will present a couple simple situations and the different reasons for why opportunism was not exercised. One example is my friends and I were taking a cab back. My friend paid and the cab driver gave him too much money back, which my friend then returned the excess money to the driver. This is an example of my friend being a "good citizen". He acted honestly most likely because of his moral values of not wanting to cheat this man out of the money he deserves. A different example might be a man giving up his seat to a beautiful woman. Opportunistically, it would be better for the man to sit down, yet he yields the seat. Such action might be viewed as one being a good citizen and courteous. Another very plausible explanation for this behavior might be that the man seeks personal gain from his kindness,  like a phone number of the strikingly beautiful woman. Another reason why people might not partake in opportunistic behavior because they fear the consequences of using the opportunity. For example, stealing when no one is looking. The opportunity is there, but a person might be afraid of the punishment to come from being caught. 
      I believe that there are very different reasons for people to not exercise opportunistic behavior. It might be because of their morals, their potential gain from not partaking in the behavior or their fear of punishment from the exercise of the opportunity.