Economic Psychology

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Economic Psychology

How and why markets aren't rational. Navigational tips for charting the Bermuda Triangle of human economic behavior.

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Technical Difficulties
I am trying to figure out where my archives are going. I have them on my ftp spades. I just can't seem to get them onto this page. So I am posting this to see where it ends up on the server, in hopes that it will help me to figure out where to put my archives.

Happy Thanksgiving.

(Follow-up note (written a day later): By jove, I think I've got it! It's just more proof that persistence pays off, and that it occasionally does so before you drive yourself and everyone else crazy!)

As if!
I just love the term "manage," at least when I feel like sneering at someone. I especially love it when applied to concepts like "change," "diversity," "innovation," etc.

I can't decide whether the notion of "managing diversity," for example, is a case of wishful thinking or of plain old hubris....As if anyone could "manage" something they cannot comprehend and do not live; as if anyone could be "in charge" of something over which they neither deserve to nor are capable of having control... As if one small person taking few, if any, personal risks in a massive conglomerate is larger than the forces of nature, evolution, and progress. Martin Luther King once noted that "the arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice." This post is not about justice per se (although I do endorse it), but about the delusion that anyone is such a big shot that they can "manage" (e.g. control) things that are beyond their grasp.

I hate to be a wet blanket, fellas, (term used as gender-neutral in this context) but things just don't work this way. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you will be able to make a real difference.

Wouldn't it be better to cultivate an attitude of curiosity*--to become interested in learning about other people-that is, people from different backgrounds/countries/races/cultures --and/or about those who cannot help but live the concepts of creativity and innovation (hint: they were rarely 'popular' in high school and they are rarely 'popular' with corporate executives)?

On this same topic, I deeply believe that the the true measures of commitment to transformation include: willingness to jettison the safe and familiar; interest in the "other" sufficient to motivate getting inside their experience, learning from it, and incorporating this learning into one's own identity. (Example: "Ich bin ein Berliner"--either its momentous version, wherein JFK asserted that he stood with all Berliners, holding dear the concepts of freedom and justice in the face of communist repression, or in its alternate, more awkwardly translated version, wherein he proclaimed, "I am a jelly doughnut.").

Once, during the Q&A period at a big technology conference, I suggested to the presenters on change management (whose position was: "we mandate openness") that no person could affect change unless they were willing to be changed themselves. I then asked them how they themselves had changed in the course of managing change. I was met with a series of blank stares, a couple of red faces, and a quick change of subject. The social indicators shouted "faux pas!" In summary, I asked the right question.

* See "Einstein," below.

The day after.
Today, I am embarrassed to be an American. Also angry, scared, confused, and a bunch of other things.... Although I did sleep well last night, utterly pleasurable and certainly well-earned.

I had a long conversation with my daughter (age 13) today regarding the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. It seems to me that along with bigotry, selfishness, greed, and stupidity on the one hand-- indifference, passivity, apathy, and lack of curiosity (a.k.a. willful ignorance) on the other, are sins of equal magnitude.

So what? It still happened. What good is it to blame other people, who I don't even know and certainly can't control? After all, short of the tactics the oppressors already employ, one person cannot control another (viz, you become what you oppose).

Many years ago, Jesse Jackson exhorted us to "keep hope alive." Great advice. Hard to implement. How can I do it? How can I make a difference? I honestly don't know. But the hope of finding a way is the one thing standing between me and my potential future life as an ostrich.