Exploits in Education: Week 6 and 7

EIE 844

Welcome Back!

One of the best things about MOOCs are their flexibility.  If life gets in the way one week, you pick up and continue on in the next.  Discovering Business in Society has been a thoroughly enjoyable course – but I feel like it deserves my best focus and attention and sometimes…a week slips by….

This week we are going to look at a few points from week 6 and 7.  There were a couple of points that I wanted to explore further : Just because it is legal, is it Ethical?, Tax Avoidance, Auditors: Who do they really work for?  Get settled and lets set off on this exploration together….

Just Because it is Legal, is it Ethical?

It is legal to pay minimum wage but is it ethical?  It is legal to not offer health/dental/RRSP (aka 401(k)s) benefits, but is it ethical?  It is legal to outsource jobs, but is it ethical?

Businesses operate within a set of rules, regulations and laws – but what happens when the rules aren’t legal rules, but societal mores?  By whose moral code should a business operate – especially if they are a multinational corporation?  Should Western standards prevail over non-Western standards?

On this, I have no firm answers.  In my youth, I would have said Western values mattered the most (let’s refer to those days as B.U. – before University). Now, I think there has to be a better balance.

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Is it a bribe or a gift?

A.U. I had the opportunity to work in an International Sales department of a local building supply chain.  I dealt with business people and home owners from all over the world – including Sudan, England, Bermuda, Iceland, Germany and Japan.  Each country had their own sets of values, rules and customs – some similar and some not so similar.  We had a business agent in Japan who came to visit us one time and he brought me this lovely figurine of a traditional Japanese house as a gift.  Luckily, I had read up on the customs ahead of time and knew from discussions with management about how to accept the gift and how it fit in within our own rules (we were not typically allowed to accept gifts).  Did the gift cause me to offer better deals on materials?  No, it didn’t.  Did it make me prioritize this person when I had two jobs to do and only time to complete one of them? Probably.  Was it a gift or a bribe?  Culturally, it was a gift…but it changed my POV so could it have been a bribe?  I don’t really know. (Yes, I still have that figurine, currently it is packed away or I would share an image of it).

Tax Avoidance: A Business Problem or Responsibility?

To start off with a reminder:

“Tax avoidance is not tax evasion. When a company is accused of tax avoidance, what has happened is that the company has chosen to enter into an arrangement or structure, which means there’s less taxes payable than would have been payable if a different arrangement or structure had been selected. It’s important to realise that if a company does make such a choice, then any tax liabilities that crystallised are satisfied. The company satisfies its tax liabilities. The company is not evading its tax liabilities. ” (Discovering Business In Society, Video 6.2)

Is it a problem when businesses avoid tax through the legal loopholes created by government?  Are companies avoiding the spirit of the law by taking advantage of these opportunities?  Who is responsible to minimize tax avoidance?

As a business operates within a set of rules, regulations and laws (referring back to Week 2), then the opportunities created within any of the rules, regulations and laws are the responsibility of those who create and enforce the rules, not those playing within them.  The players are responsible to know the rules of the game and apply as they see fit.

German_Monopoly_board_in_the_middle_of_a_game

If you’ve ever played a board game like Monopoly, you know that everyone has a slightly different interpretation of the rules, especially surrounding things like free parking, Houses and Hotels, Paying Rent if the owner fails to notice that you landed on their square, etc – they are not necessarily wrong in their view but it might not be in the spirit of the rules…

I think there is an argument to be made that businesses are responsible to their stakeholders to avoid tax as much as possible to become as profitable as possible.  Employees want hours and raises, infrastructure requires maintenance and updating, shareholders want the biggest return on their investments and consumers want the best prices possible.

Auditors: Who do They Really Work for?

Auditors.  The big 4.  The final gatekeeper between the board of directors/management and the shareholders. Who do they really work for?

In theory, they are independent.  But they are supposed to act on behalf of the shareholders, ensuring what is in the document to be fundamentally correct.  That everything appears to be true (not that it is true, just that it has the appearances of being true).

But they are paid by the board.

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How can an auditor being paid by the board be completely unbiased towards those who pay him/her?  Would it not make more sense for the payment to be shared 50/50 by the board and shareholders? Or paid completely by the shareholders? Back in Week 3, we discussed how far we should trust businesses and things like annual reports – and how auditors just review and express opinions about the report being prepared in conformity with the standards.  We also talked about accounting scandals… I’m not convinced that external auditors hired by the board are any better than internal accountants – I think shareholders should be hiring an external auditor to review every line of every book and ensure the reports are accurate (I’m sure there is an ACCA Chartered Accountant out there who could take that project on).

In Summary

So this week we’ve come up on a few ethical dilemmas.  Should a business behave according to societies morals when making business decisions – and if so, which ones? If a business has the single responsibility of being profitable, should they take every opportunity to avoid paying more taxes?  Is this ethical? Or is it unethical to not do everything possible to ensure the highest ROI for each shareholder?  Are annual reports worth the paper they are written on?  Can auditors who are paid by the board do anything but rubber stamp the report ethically?  Is it smart to go against the hand that feeds you?

More questions that answers this week.  I hope you’ve had a chance to see something from a different perspective – or can share a different perspective below.  Next week is week 8 – time for strategies and storytelling.  It’s also time to decide if you want to write the exam and get the certificate for this course…

 

Featuring Open Yale

open yale

Open Yale provides a selection of free and open intro courses taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale University. Their courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.  Each course includes a full set of class lectures produced in high-quality video accompanied by such other course materials as syllabi, suggested readings, and problem sets. The lectures are available as downloadable videos, and an audio-only version is also offered. In addition, searchable transcripts of each lecture are provided.

This month we are featuring their History courses:

 

History

Which courses will you choose?  Don’t forget to add them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile!

Exploits in Education: Week 5

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Grab a tall, refreshing drink, sit back, relax and settle in for a read!  This week we are looking at leadership.  What is a leader?  What is the role of women in leadership?  These are tough topics…

Before we begin, let’s clarify a few points for the sake of transparency.  I am a woman.  I am a woman who has been in leadership roles in business, in various organizations and at home.  I can’t give you a straight answer on what a leader is, what makes a good leader or how to get more women in visible leadership roles

I hope you noticed the word “visible”.  It’s an important term and we will come back to it later on.

What is a leader?

Yikes!  This is a tough one.  What makes a good leader isn’t the same as what makes a good manager.  I can only share my personal views on this, so here goes.

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Sir Robert Baden-Powell who created the Scouting/Guiding movement that developed so many of our leaders today…

1) I don’t believe in the “Leaders are born, not created” mentality.  I think people become leaders when the situation requires it – for some, that may be daily, for others intermittently, and others still, next to never.  It’s those times we step outside of ourselves and our comfort zones to make sure that the right thing happens for the collective.

2) Charisma may come into play, but I think a sense of responsibility and fairness is more important.  An overly charismatic person comes across as slimy to me.  Confidence is important too.

3) A sense of common good and actually caring about the people around them.  Getting to know their team, their strengths and opportunities, finding ways to draw out the best in the people around them. Finding ways to develop a shared goal that creates win-win situations amongst the group. An interest in developing the people around them is key.

4) Position in a hierarchy may play a role, but isn’t the defining factor for me.  I’ve met new hires who were better able to rally the troops than the department manager.  One would hope that a manager would be a leader, but often promotions occur not because someone is a good leader or manager, but because they are good at doing a specific task.

Of course, these are just my opinions, please share yours in the comments below!

What is the role of women in leadership?

When I was a little girl, growing up in a small town on the east coast of Canada, my dream was to have a high powered executive job based in New York City or L.A. (Hey, it was the 80′s…big hair, big shoulder pads and Women’s Menswear…). I wanted the corner office with the good views, an assistant to bring me coffee and to make decisions for the multitudes.

Dynasty-Dynasty-TV-Series-014

Then I grew up. The dreams toned down a little – I no longer wanted the big shoulder pads or to live in a mega city, but I still wanted a managerial position that would lead to a corner office with views et al. So I climbed aboard that train and started the journey down the track.  Somewhere along the way, I changed trains and ended up on another track heading in a different direction.  It wasn’t the wrong direction and along the way I decided I liked this journey better, but it wasn’t taking me to the C-Suite – or at the very least not directly.

What happened?  The best thing ever.  Hands down.  Bar none.

But it wasn’t my original plan.  I wasn’t becoming the leader in business that I thought I would be.

And then it hit me.

I had become a leader.  I am the founder and CEO of a delightful start up that features 2 distinct products.  I am the CMO of this enterprise, showcasing all the reasons why these products fit into your life.  I am the CFO of this company, responsibly managing the financial resources. I am the CTO, ensuring all systems are up-to-date, working to specifications and determining innovative ways to improve anything and everything.

The product? My children.  That’s right, I became a Mom.

A Mom - the invisible leader who shapes the next generation.  I commented on this in a forum

“I was thinking along this line myself – Mothers will stand up for their children (Assertive, Confrontational), teach their children everything from morals to tying their laces to setting the table (Gurus, Motivational, Inspirational), assign jobs and provide feedback (Delegate, Manage, Evaluate), kiss every boo-boo (Strong in a crisis, able to handle any challenge that comes their way) and still do it with sensitivity (negotiate win-win terms, confidence, make you feel good about yourself). (I’ve not forgotten the ability to budget, minimize cost overruns, time manage projects, apply cost saving measures without compromising quality, etc – wanted to keep this “short”).

People often say women aren’t in leadership roles. Perhaps they should stop and consider their own mothers and then apologize for not realizing that women take on important (but slightly more invisible) leadership roles everyday.”

(By the way – I did end up getting my corner office with the great views and two assistants who brings me coffee.  My corner office might be in my dining room, but I get the best views ever of the backyard.  My assistants who bring me coffee are super cute (and I can say that without the fear of a lawsuit since they are my kids). The measurement of ones success are subjective at best and I realized that what I do at home is just as important as I what I did in business…)

In Summary

Defining leadership is tough because it is hard to separate leadership from management skills. Leadership is more about personal characteristics (I think – would love to hear your thoughts).  Visible and Invisible leadership was an interesting concept, especially in terms of Women in Leadership.  I would hate for anyone to read my bit on mothers as anti-feminist as that is not my intent.  I believe we sometimes undervalue the role of mothers in developing the leaders of the next generation – and who better to learn leadership skills from than another leader?  Quiet, behind the scenes leadership is still leadership and still valuable.

Next week we will be looking at ethics.  This is bound to be an intriguing week with many different viewpoints.  If the ACCA Fruit Stand game teaches us anything, it taught us that we could make ethical mistakes – even with the best intentions…so if we can in a inconsequential instance, what happens when it really counts???

 

 

Welcome Back Hockey! Four Must See Courses for Couch Coaches!

NHL_Winter_Classic_2008

“Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.” – Foster Hewitt, Hockey Night in Canada.

Hello hockey fans around the world!  Welcome to the 2014-2015 NHL season – if you are a  fan, you are glued to the screen!  With four games scheduled for opening night, hopefully your favourite team is playing.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

http://www.nhl.com/ice/schedulebyday.htm?navid=nav-sch-today

You’ve probably studied your team’s stats from last year, know the details on the key players on your team and have your favourite blogs bookmarked to prepare you for the water cooler conversations that will start tomorrow at 9AM (to be clear, the trash talk started today, opinions peppered with “facts” chats start tomorrow!).  Accredible is “lucky enough” to have four Canadians on the team – two of whom are big fans for opposing Canadian teams (Go Habs Go!).

But maybe you haven’t been converted into the “Hockey is life, the rest is just details” lifestyle.  Maybe you become a “hockey widow” from October until June.  Maybe you would like to know enough about hockey or sports in general to take part in “Couch Coaching” (The act of coaching your favourite team from the sofa while yelling at your TV; Warning: This may also include throwing the remote at the TV in frustration – the area between you and the TV needs to be a designated “No Walking Zone”).  Perhaps you would like to better understand why your spouse gets so frustrated with the sports broadcasters. Well, we are here to help!

Here are a few sports MOOCs you just might want to check out…

Sports Broadcasting

A fun, exciting inside look into the sports broadcasting industry. We explore the many aspects of sports broadcasting and teach you how you can improve. We give you the nuts and bolts of how to break into this industry and succeed! For sports fans, this course will give you an enjoyable look “behind the scenes” at the life of a sports broadcaster. You will enjoy the game more because you will truly understand what real-life sportscasting is all about!

Sports Coaching

Coaches play a central role in promoting sport participation and enhancing the performance of athletes and teams This sports coaching course teaches students how to become a coach in all sport settings. This course aims to deliver all aspects of coaching to build a coach as a whole. Whether you are a beginner local youth coach or an experienced elite coach. This course will aim to teach you everything you need to know to be a successful coach regardless of previous experience. You will develop a basic understanding of all aspects in being a coach regardless of what sport you choose.

Sports and Recreation Management

Take the first step to exploring a career in sport and recreation by gaining an understanding of the different job roles within this industry. Pick up leadership and management skills and learn how to manage risks appropriately. You will also learn to plan and deliver a simple sport and recreation session focussed on your clients’ needs.

Intro to Sports Psychology

This sport psychology course teaches students how to apply sport psychology tools on themselves or others. Everything you need for the course will be provided, including Powerpoint slides and video. Students could reasonably be expected to complete this course over 4-8 weeks if working on 1-2 topics per week. The course is structured to be undertaken sequentially. This course would suit people wanting to learn more about themselves as athletes or coaches, or to see how sport psychologists work with athletes and coaches. The course gives you information, and an opportunity to use this information on yourself or others, but does not include assessment.

For those looking for a Hockey specific MOOC, there doesn’t appear to be one…so here are a few resources for beginners or those used to IIHL rules who need to learn about the NHL.

Welcome to the best season of the year – hockey!  Hopefully, these resources will help you develop a love for the game – or a better understanding of the hockey fan in your life.  Don’t forget to update your Accredible Profile for any course you opt to take.

Exploits in Education: Week 4

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Congratulations on making it to the halfway point in the course!

This week we met David Boughey as we learned more about how large business functions, Rogue Traders and the Financial Crisis. Now, to clarify one point for any of us who grew up in the ’80s – we are learning from David Boughey not David Bowie – which to my Canadian ears sounds exactly the same…just saying (and yes, I did half wonder in a pre-coffee moment if I should be expecting eye-liner, wild hair and spandex and then I woke up…LOL).  Grab a beverage and let’s jump in…

Who Has The Biggest Business?

Time for more honesty…I started thinking about this solely based on brands and from a very North American outlook.  Walmart, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Apple were my top 4.  I wasn’t right.

And I’m glad of that.  It forces me to look at things differently.

Using the Forbes 500 list, I picked 4 of the top 18 (Apple #1, Coca-Cola #3, McDonald’s #6, and Walmart #18), but when using the UNCTAD by Foreign Assets report, I was very wrong (Apple #19, Walmart #31, Coca-Cola #90.  McDonald’s didn’t make the list).  While I recognized many of the company names, they were not companies that I talk about on a regular basis.  Six of the top 10 were petroleum explorers/refiners/distributors – other than to complain about the price of gas or to discuss the dismantling of a local refinery.

So what makes the “biggest business”?  Is it brand recognition?  Foreign Assets?  Number of employees located out of the home base country?  Global sales? Every report uses different methodology so no one answer is right.

But for me, I’ll stick with Brand Recognition!

Rogue Traders

This was a very well done video.  I actually had to just stop and listen the first time – no pencil in hand, no arguments forming in my head and really just listen. Then I watched again and took notes.

In the beginning of the video, Gary Abrahams talks about risk aversion/aversion to loss and that the way a question is worded influences our tolerances towards risks.  I suspect anyone who is “good” at scamming people (and by “good” I mean able to consistently perform and achieve his/her desired results) must have a fundamental understanding of the psychology at play and frame the scenarios in such a way as to maximize the potential gain and minimize the loss.

Add to that the reality that we (collectively) are lazy and don’t WANT to have to research the details make us likely to fall into the trap of available information and if we do any surface research, we look for what confirms our hopes. I’m not sure if it is “greed” as it is the belief we have that people will tell us the truth and not just what is in their best interest.

As I thought about it, it made more and more sense to me.  I often wonder why when playing poker, people will go all in and state they were “pot committed“.  That they “had” to take the chance to win big even though they could lose it all.   Their aversion to loss at that moment is more important than their risk aversion.  They just use their available info (their hand and the flop, maybe a River card) and jump in.

I saw the rogue trader as more of a Charlatan selling snake oil and the investors as the naive people who WANTED to believe in something so much that they failed to do their part, their responsibility in ensuring they were making smart, effective, reasonable decisions. But after finding this article, I’m left uncertain – while finding this article was not in the best interest of my arguments, I do like going beyond the “available information” and look for information that just agree with my hypothesis.

Technology, Business and Society

This week we had an assignment – to write a 300 word essay around a quote about technology, business and society.  Upon submission, we were assigned another essay to read and comment on.  I like peer assessments in online courses – I find it interesting to read and review and well as to be reviewed.

After thinking about it, I could have written it differently…but isn’t that always the way?  I thought I’d share it with you:

Jonathan Sacks once said, “Technology gives us power, but it does not and cannot tell us how to use that power. Thanks to technology, we can instantly communicate across the world, but it still doesn’t help us know what to say.”
Never has this been more true than today. Discussion forums, Twitter, blogs, instant messenger – each day there seems to be a new way to connect with people, new ways to connect with more people and build our networks, but for what? To have nothing to say?
In order to best take advantage of the communication technology available to us today, we need to put down said technology and open a book, our minds, our hearts and our mouths.
In order to have something to say, we need to have a topic to discuss, information on said topic and time to sort out our thoughts and feelings on a subject. We need to form opinions based on facts that we sometimes find while looking for something else. We need to stop worrying about having an unpopular opinion and use real facts and figures to back it up.
It takes courage to speak your mind and not the drivel that is spoon fed to us via editorials, talk radio and phone in talk shows like Nancy Grace. Whilst it is easy to jump on-board the latest thought train and agree with the message being spouted by the conductor, it is harder to point out that the train which should be travelling east, is actually travelling west.
And if they did point it out, would they use their mouth to say something or their fingers to tweet it?

In Summary

Well, I’ve shared my assignment (which will get uploaded to my Accredible profile soon!), we’ve talked about Rogue Traders, Poker, 80′s Rock Stars, and who has the biggest business and made it through the half way point!  Next week we are talking about Heroes, Villains and Leaders…now that sounds exciting!

Exploits in Education: Week 3

EIE 844

Welcome back!

Last week we worked through the concept of companies (or corporations) as a person; rules, regulations and laws and ways they can help the economy; taxation of companies; and finally what Canada is doing to promote economic growth via taxation.  This week we are tackling Cattle Markets and the Stock Market. Grab a drink or a snack and let’s jump in!

How Much Should We Trust Business Leaders?

This topic was quite interesting – I’m always torn personally.  Frankly, we know there is a lack of transparency – just consider the Global Financial Crisis of 2008,  AIG (2009), or Enron (2001).  It’s relatively easy to hide sales, profits, loss, loans and improper depreciation of property and equipment apparently!  Considering that many companies run three sets of books (Financial, Tax and Managerial), it is easy to misrepresent finances…

If we consider adding in a layer of communication by having an external auditor examine the books and “publish the truth”, we may find we are disappointed!  According to my accounting notes, “Auditors are hired by the Board to “express an opinion” about whether the statements are prepared in conformity with GAAP”.  They don’t prepare the notes, they just examine the documents and “express an opinion”.

Obviously this needs to change – and change quickly.  If an informed market (i.e. everyone knows the process and has good information) works best, then an uninformed market (i.e. no or bad info) leads to failure (see American Bank Bailout).

An exciting list of Accounting Scandals can be found here – a word of advice, only read if you have time to spare!! It’s easy to get caught up in the intrigue!

Who Will Be the Next Economic Powerhouse?

This topic made me rethink a lot of things that I thought I knew.  Population density, urbanization and literacy rates had always been touted as key indicators for future success.  But they might not be what matters.

Predicting Comparative Advantages in something becoming increasingly valuable was interesting.  I loved the discussions around how changeable a country’s comparative advantage might be…it got me thinking about two countries who are doing VERY interesting things in education – India and Malaysia.  Both are developing free education via MOOCs to any citizen, regardless of background or location to access the best in education. How will this impact the economic situations in these countries?  Create a new, upcoming Comparative Advantage? Develop new skills and technologies?  As a fan of MOOCs, (self)education, and learning at every opportunity, I am looking forward to following India and Malaysia as they develop their most valuable asset – their people…and how it impacts their economy and their global leadership role.

Fruit Stall Game

ACCA fruit stall game

 

This week would not have been complete without the Fruit Stall Game from ACCA.  I don’t know about you, but I had a blast playing it – and learning on the go!  If you’ve not tried it, you should – it will help tie things together and teach you to read and analyse data, about ethics, determining costs and making a profit.  I’ve shared my second attempt below (and no, I won’t share my first!  How embarrassing!)

ACCA fruit stall game 2Don’t forget to share your results below – or on your Accredible profile!

In Summary

We’ve considered a lot this week – trust, transparency and truth.  We’ve reviewed past scandals, looked at what needs to change and tested our own resolve by playing the Fruit Stand Game.  There was so much more that we could have discussed and I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!  Next week we look at Big Business and our behaviours; the organization, ownership and control; and the implications for decision-making…

Featuring World Science U

World-Science-U-is-a-site-dedicated-to-making-science-education-open-and-accessible-to-all.

world-science-u-march-2014-672x372

World Science U is currently offering short courses (2-3 weeks in length), but with signs pointing to longer courses coming soon.  Using the best methods of classroom teaching and pushing them into the future, World Science U aims to make complex science understandable for all.  Check out their introduction video!

As mentioned, these courses are meant for anyone – from beginner to advanced learners.  The current courses are short and have no homework or exams but do  They provide non-technical explorations, which go beyond traditional science popularizations.  The first two courses are all about Einstein‘s Special Relativity as well as his theories on space, time and energies.  Designed for those with an interest in science – even those who don’t love math – anyone can walk away with a better understanding of

E=mc2-explication

 

Special Relativity
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Einstein’s Special Relativity upended our understanding of space time and energy. While the ideas are subtle they only require high school algebra so join this math-based introduction. For a conceptual introduction check out Space Time and Einstein.

 

Space Time and Einstein
Self-paced — no deadlines free
Join a visual and conceptual introduction to Einstein’s spectacular insights into space time and energy. For a mathematical introduction to Special Relativity check out Special Relativity.

Be sure to update your Accredible Learner’s Profile once you’ve selected your course and be sure to share your feedback on the course community page!

Coursera Courses Starting in October

Coursera Starting Soon

Once again Coursera has offered a wide array of courses.  Listed below are a sampling of the courses presented in English – with more available in other languages!  Whether you are looking for an education, business, science or social course, there is something for everyone!

 

October 1st – 4th

October 5th – 11th

October 12th – 18th

 

October 19th – 25th

 

 

October 26th – 31st

 

Whichever courses you opt to take, please remember to update them to your Accredible Learner’s Profile and to upload your supporting material as you work through the course!

If you are having trouble choosing, the Introduction to Marketing course is relevant to everyone who makes purchases – you can understand why you impulsively pick up certain items, why shampoo shelves are lined the way they are and why different colours effect your mood – among many other interesting topics (like being product or customer centric – would share more, but we can’t give the entire course away!).

Featuring MR University

MRUniversity (1)

Tyler Cowan and Alex Tabarrok, economic professors from George Mason University, launched MRUniversity to offer education that is better, cheaper and easier to access.  Courses offered consist of multiple, short videos that allow you to watch between tasks.  Have 6 minutes to spare on the bus/train/subway?  You could watch a video and still have 30 seconds to spare!

In a neat and unusual twist, some of the content is crowd-sourced!  Students are encouraged to vote for the next lot of content or to suggest new material.  Instructors are encouraged to create a flipped economics classroom – using class time to drive discussions, explanations and interactions while the videos are watched at home as “homework”. Best of all – the courses are free!

This month we will focus on two courses offered by MRUniversity.

Development Economics

 

“Why are some countries rich and others poor? This fundamental question has been on the mind of economists since Adam Smith wrote “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776.  This is a full course that covers all the major issues and developments in the field of development economics. Unlike typical college courses, we will take you to the frontier of the discipline, covering recent research as well as more established material.”

 

Great Economists: Classical Economics and its Forerunners

“This course covers the history of economic thought up until the “Marginal Revolution” in the 1870s and features a video for each chapter of Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.” The videos will answer important questions such as: Who were the first economic thinkers? What are the very origins of economic thought? What did earlier economists understand but has been lost to the modern world? Why is Adam Smith the greatest economist of all time? How did the economic issues of the 18th and 19th centuries shape the thoughts of the classical economists?”

There you have it – two economics courses that will keep you awake and interested this month.  Which will you sign up for?  Don’t forget to update your Learners Profile!

Exploits in Education: Week Two

EIE 844

Hello!  Welcome back – grab a beverage and let’s jump in!

Last week we covered technology advances, globalization, the increasing challenges in management and business versus organizations.  That was a lot of material!!  This week we are looking at rules and regulations, taxes and laws.  Lynne Oats and Greg Morris did a great job explaining some pretty tough topics.

Companies are Recognized as a Person

An admission here: this topic taxes my brain.  How can a concept be treated or recognized as a person under the law?  I’ve struggled with this one for years.  What I gathered from this lesson was probably the best explanation that I’ve ever received.  I’m going to take the risk and share what I got out of it:

Companies vs Person - Gradient

 

What I gathered is the area of overlap is what allows a business to be considered a person.  A point of interest – when the course discusses “company”:

In American English the word corporation is most often used to describe large business corporations.[4] In British English and in the commonwealth countries, the term company is more widely used to describe the same sort of entity while the word corporation encompasses all incorporated entities. In American English, the word company can include entities such as partnerships that would not be referred to as companies in British English as they are not a separate legal entity. (Wikipedia)
(This may ease some confusion for you as it did me)

The rules, regulations and laws in which a company can exist vary from country to country.  I was surprised to learn that companies were a relatively new invention – but I guess when looking back, most businesses were family owned, single location operations like a single pub or shop – and they took all of the risk.  If their shop failed, burned down or faced litigation the owners were financially responsible and it could leave a family in the poor house!

In 1843, William Gladstone took chairmanship of a Parliamentary Committee on Joint Stock Companies, which led to the Joint Stock Companies Act 1844, regarded as the first modern piece of company law.[19] The Act created the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies, empowered to register companies by a two-stage process. The first, provisional, stage cost £5 and did not confer corporate status, which arose after completing the second stage for another £5. For the first time in history, it was possible for ordinary people through a simple registration procedure to incorporate.[20] The advantage of establishing a company as a separate legal person was mainly administrative, as a unified entity under which the rights and duties of all investors and managers could be channeled.(Wikipedia)

This lead to the concept of Limited Liability where the maximum amount of money a shareholder could lose was equivalent to their investment except in specific situations.

If you have a better understanding or I’ve made a mistake – please let me know!!

Rules, Regulations and Laws

As previously discusses, a company can only exist within a system of rules, regulations and laws.  This is meant to give guidelines for operating a business – what they can and cannot do.  These rules, regulations and laws are designed to strengthen the economy.

Restrictions can improve the economy????  How about not only the economy but society?

I kid you not!  Let’s think about Health and Safety rules.  Yes, they restrict what a company can do – they are obligated to provide a safe working environment, proper safety gear, safety instruction and the right to refuse unsafe work.  That means the company has to spend more time to complete a job and more money for training. However, it does reduce injuries, provides specific liabilities for managers and companies should an injury occur and creates an environment where you can expect your spouse/parent/loved one to return home at the end of their shift.

Other regulations that have improved the economy would include stricter environmental rules, competition laws and employment regulations.

Taxation of Companies

The purpose of taxation is to transfer funds into government coffers which then is used to run various programs.  Taxes are used for things such as the redistribution of wealth (think of transfer payments within a country or even social welfare) and controlling behaviours (lower taxes for greener companies).  While taxes have traditionally been paid by the individual, a recent change has been taxing businesses.

Not all countries tax businesses (and are known as tax havens) which encourages some businesses – but not all – to establish within their borders. So why doesn’t everyone establish their business in these countries?  Convenience.  Sometimes the resources or the skilled workforce just aren’t available there.

Who really pays the taxes? Who knows! Do the taxes come off the profit line and reduce the amount of dividends paid to the shareholders?  Do the taxes get paid from increased profits by increasing the price so the customer pays for it? It varies from industry to industry and business to business.

What does your country do to stimulate economic growth via taxes?

I live in Canada, so I will share what the Harper government has issued based on the latest budget regarding fostering job creation, innovation and trade as well as supporting families and communities.  To not appear biased, you can read the whole report here.  As you can see, Canada is stimulating growth by not increasing taxes on business or creating any new taxes and by reducing the red tape that goes along with setting up a business.  It is an effort to promote the entrepreneurial spirit!

In Summary

This week we’ve worked through the (head hurting) concept of companies (or corporations) as a person; rules, regulations and laws and ways they can help the economy; taxation of companies; and finally what Canada is doing to promote economic growth via taxation.  Next week we tackle Cattle Markets and the Stock Market – this I can’t wait to cover!  I love watching the stock market – and one day I will be brave enough to play it! Until then, you and I can play this game instead….