Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Final Post

Final Post

            Having some prior experience with an Econ 490 course, I expected this class to be almost all theory. To my surprise, Econ of Organizations offered a balance between the theory and applications of organizations. I had no prior knowledge beforehand of the great effect that organizations played within firms and the overall market and I was introduced to its effects from the first week of the semester. For example, I became immediately intrigued with the class when I found out that improper organization and coordination played a big factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. It also surprised me how small companies could compete with larger corporations and even surpass them in production with proper organization.
            Coming into the class, I was unaware on how complicated organization can become. I always believed that organizing was just a matter of shifting the allocation of resources, yet this class showed me how much one has to consider when coordinating organization. For example, certain aspects such as being low or high risk, such as in insurance, must be consider when making choices.
            The live class was structured like your typical discussion class would be. It was small enough that it allowed students to ask question and have them answered in class. Though most of the time only a few, and sometimes the same students were the ones discussing, the class did encourage student involvement. What I did like from the live class was that it covered the topics we encountered in the excel homework and the blogs, something that is not always the case in college classes. It was a nice change since we are usually given textbooks and forced to learn a good chunk of the material on our own in other classes. 
            What was one of the most unique aspects of the class was the blogging. Though I hate writing, I found the blogging quite beneficial since it allowed students to apply what they learned to the real life events that they’ve had. The blogging also served as a method for us to reflect if we really understood our readings or what we were shown in class since we had to really understand for us to be able to apply those aspects to our stories.
            In my case, writing my blog would take an average of three hours since the process would compromise of other work besides the pure writing. I would usually take sometime reflecting on applicable life events and would usually review some of the economic terms or lessons we had learned throughout the week in order to properly create a connection. 
            I’ve had prior classes that required me to work with excel but this excel homework was by far the most unique I’ve encountered through my college career. It was unique in the sense that it offered an in depth explanation of the material that would be covered in the upcoming questions, not only that, but once you arrived to the correct answer excel would give an explanation on why that was that was the correct answer. It was also interesting how excel would automatically modify itself and add graphs once the correct answer was achieved. There was a few things that at times were confusing within the excel homework but questions were quickly answered in the discussion posts. On average, the excel homework would take about an hour, though there were about two that took more than that.
            Besides the blogging and the excel homework, this class offered other resources as well. PowerPoint’s were available explaining the lessons we learned in class. We also had videos that explained things we missed or didn’t cover as in depth in class. To even further complement those resources we had the two required textbooks that explained economic terms in depth just incase we needed to review certain aspects of the class.

            One thing I would have loved to have seen in class is a project were groups managed their own virtual firm. I think such a project, if possible, would have given students real practice on how to coordinate and allocate resources to develop a successful firm.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Personal Reputation

            Reputations are built around the image people develop of you and the standards to which they will hold you. From a young age, my grandfather from my mother’s side told me that people would always appreciate a hard worker; he explained to me that people enjoy being around someone who is always working towards his goals and who does things well when doing favors. I took my grandfathers advice to heart and from an early age I worked hard on the things I did whether it was my schoolwork, doing shores at my house or doing work at my job. With that being said, I developed a reputation of being a hard worker within my friend group, family and work site.
            The first memory that comes to mind of someone referring to me as a hard worker is when I was in the fourth grade and I memorized the entire times table (from 1 to 12) while everyone else was still practicing how to multiply by 2. My mother had told me that it never hurt to get ahead, which inspired me to get ahead of the pack; I would do extra math problems from the text book we were given and I would look at the times table when I was bored. My fourth grade teacher was so surprised that she even used me to teach the other kids how to multiply higher numbers. My reputation as a hard worker within my family developed when I would always offer to help with shores. I would help my mother with house shores during summer vacation whether it was doing the dishes, sweeping or taking out the garbage. My reputation went beyond my immediate family and my family from Mexico took notice of my servitude when I would always offer to clean dishes after a big family dinner.
            I furthered developed my reputation as a hard worker once I entered my freshman year at college. When alumni from my high school would go and speak about their college life they would always mentioned how ridiculously difficult college was in comparison to highs school. Such a thought ignited some sort of panic within me and I became a workaholic thinking that would be the only way for me to succeed in college. I studied whenever I had free time and my friends took notice of that, further enforcing my reputation as a hard worker. My reputation didn’t stop at schoolwork, my team members from organizations I was involved in and co-workers also took notice of my work ethic. Team members from my RSO’s took notice on how quickly I got my work done, sometimes even helping other of my team members get their respective work done as well. At work, my supervisors and manager took notice of my work ethic when they realized how many extra shifts I would pick up and how I was always motivated to get out on time with the job being well done, eventually leading to a promotion.
            Being a handworker sometimes gets me in trouble as I tend to pick up more than I can handle at times. There have been various occasions were I though I could handle tons of work and either didn’t perform the tasks as I should have or had to postpone their completion. There have been times when unrealistic expectations have been set for me as well due to my reputation. Back when I used to work summers at Millennium Park my boss would write me up to work multiple double shifts that accumulated to a dozens of overtime hours over the summer, which eventually took a toll on my physical health. At times, I have been too stubborn to realize when I have too much on my plate, but as of recently I’ve learned how to manage my time more effectively so as not to overwhelm myself, but most importantly I’ve learned to say no when too much is being piled up on me.

            Though not proud of some choices I’ve made, I’ve cashed in on my reputation to get immediate gains and therefore sacrificing future gains. For example, I have given up study time that could have guaranteed higher grades in order to have more leisure time. Something that might have been nice in the moment but not in the long run. There have also been times were I pretend I’m not as hardworking as I really am so the expectations of my work wont be as high as they would otherwise. Again, choices that concentrate on the short run since I won’t be considered as highly as someone that gives their all at work.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The principle-agent model

In theory the principal-agent model is bilateral but in real life the agents is sometimes faced with a set of dilemmas. One of the main dilemmas that come about is when an agent is motivated to benefit only one of the sides or himself rather than acting on behalf of both principals or is unable to benefit any principle at all. One situation in which I acted as the agent to a multi-principle is this semester where I’m acting as a project director for a team of consultants for an RSO I’m involved in called the American Marketing Association. My team’s job is to gather research on how companies use Instagram to promote themselves in order to achieve higher followers and to advice Busey Bank on how to manage their Instagram account. My job as a project director is to hold weekly meetings with my team in order view their progress and to update them on what work needs to be done while also reporting such progress to the president of the organization. Once the presidents has reviewed our internal progress and approved our work I am too contact a representative of Busey Bank to offer our advice.
            The work my team and myself produce has to be precise and professional, and I am required to keep an optimistic and friendly environment within the team in order to maximize their efforts. It has been said multiple times that people are more willing to do something efficiently and right if they like what they do, so I allowed each member of the team to choose what topics they could research within our project to encourage them to work hard on their part. Though that promoted internal efficiency I am required to achieve our main goal, which is to keep our client happy by providing them with precise advice.
            The first issue that came about after our first meeting with our client (which included my team, the president, and myself) was that the president and some of the members of my team held different perspectives on what the client wanted from my team. The president wanted us to come up with advice on how to manage an Instagram account as efficiently as possible with a deep analysis on how other companies utilize social networks, while some of the team members thought that we needed to explain why Instagram is better than other social networks with less emphasis on analyzing other companies; a perspective that was incorrect since I had messaged the client and I had received the same interpretation as the president had.
            As the agent between the president and my team, I was put in a difficult situation because I had to keep internal peace within my team while making some of my team members understand that their perspective was inaccurate. It wasn’t easy making those specific individuals understand the actual scope of the project specially due to the fact that many people get defensive when they are told they are wrong. After sitting down with those members and openly communicating with them that the client specifically asked for certain steps to bet taken, and that both the president and myself had the same interpretation those individuals were swayed to take my stance. Though maybe not the best way to get my point across, I did use some of my authority and threatened to cut of the members that weren’t cooperating to our interpretation of the project. Using my authority in that way could have gone bad and may have resulted in unwanted tension, but they did not take it to heart and decided to fallow my lead.
            If the two principals don’t see eye to eye, the best thing to do is to realize what the issue is, communicate with those who hold opposing viewpoints and analyze the situation in order to resolve it. For example, the issue with my team was that some of the members misinterpreted what our job actually was. Once proper communication was achieved everyone agreed to the same terms and things began to get done. There probably was other ways to resolve the tension; I could have offered the members that weren’t fully cooperating to join another project since they were doing more harm than help when they went on their stint of doing their own work.

            In my case, I could have failed by just satisfying one principle while ignoring the others. For example, had I worked just to please my team I would have failed the ultimate goal of our project and the client would have gotten irrelevant advice. On the other hand, if I had worked to just please the client and the president without bringing internal peace within my team, I would have created tension that would have led to inefficient work. Overall, what accounts for a good performance by an agent is his ability to get the job done while having everyone on the same terms. Being able to accomplish that feat maximizes efficiency since each member is more willing to communicate without tension.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Conflict Resolution

            I started working at Millennium Park as a custodian during my high school summer breaks and went back every summer for four years. The job was fairly easy besides short spurts of hard work, the job paid two dollars over minimum wage and you got to enjoy the scenery. Everything ran smoothly besides certain days of the week were we would work with the park manager Sal. We had four park managers, working with three out of the four was doable, but Sal was short tempered, impatient with little compassion for his workers.
            The main problems that came about with working with Sal was that workers would get nervous whenever he was on shift, not only that but his work request were at times unreasonable or illogical. He would continuously yell at people to work faster or to do a better job, which was contradictory because if he wanted work done quickly that would mean giving up the quality of the work, and if he wanted quality that would mean giving up time. Also, some of his work requests were silly to say the least. For example, when I was still in high school I would work every weekend and in the winter I had to remove snow from a bridge that leads to the neighbor park. In retrospect, one would imagine the job to be fairly simple, pick up the snow with the shovel and toss it to the sides of the bridge, except that Sal had other thoughts. He wanted me to pick up the snow with the shovel, put it in a rolling garbage can, roll it to the bottom and then toss the snow on the sides of the bridge. Thinking it was silly I ignored his request at first and did it my way but he became furious once he found out and made me do it his way.
            My perspective of the situation was that his requests were silly and illogical, and most of the other workers thought the same things. The job could have been done faster and more efficiently had I been able to just toss the snow to the side of the bridge. On the other hand, Sal’s perspectives were probably different. Maybe he did know that his method was inefficient but perhaps he was trying to get a point across; maybe he wanted to impose his authority on me to show that it was his way, or the highway, a line his had said multiple times to some of the other employees. Another theory to why Sal might apply that managerial method is that he believed that his workers were uneducated and he knew best. But a problem that arose from Sal’s managerial style is that workers felt uncomfortable working with him and worked inefficient most of the time. And as said in B&D, the relationship between the workers and the managers determines how effective they are at work.
            People would not act to the problems that Sal brought to the working environment. The workers were too scared to express their opinions and if they did they would be punished by doing harder work of if the worker was seasonal they would get fired. People’s fears of Sal were so real that people would work their schedule around Sal’s shift, sometimes even giving up work days to avoid working with him. The conflict with Sal never got resolved, and in his anger tantrums escalated so high that he yelled at the wrong person one day. He began harassing a girl that worked at the bar located in the park because she had used park resources that she was not allowed to use; he said degrading things to her and got to her so bad that she went home in tears. What came into effect from that was that the girl’s boyfriend showed up to Sal’s house (no idea how he knew were he lived) and began beating on Sal so bad that he was sent to the hospital with internal bleeding.

            All those problems could have been solved had everyone acted differently. Sal could have avoided that eventual beating had he known how to show respect to his workers rather than being degrading. The workers could have acted differently as well by informing Sal’s higher ups about Sal’s actions since he would not listen to anyone below him. As said in B&D, communication is vital, Sal should communicate with his employees in respectful manner to get his point across, and employees should use their rights to report Sal’s improper behavior rather than just taking his harassment.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Gift exchange

The article was quite interesting and it is surprising how children so young were able to somehow analyze when to share and when to be greedy. Though I did not expect such an analysis by children on the events, it could be reasoned that one would be more willing to split the gains when work is divided up evenly, to keep the gains when one comes up lucky and to keep all the gains when on did his own work even if both challenges were the same. Events that occur day to day can be compared to the experiment with similar outcomes. For example, lets say Tim and Jim are to friends walking down the road and Tim sees a twenty dollar bill on the floor and picks it up, what are the odds that Time will go out of his way to split the twenty in two tens to share with Jim? Slim to none. On the other hand lets say Tim and Jim want to make some cash and decide to mow their neighbor’s lawn for fifty dollars. They do an even amount of work and decide to split the fifty to twenty-five/ twenty-five. The reason I’m making these scenarios up because I believe that the “share the spoils” button is activated by a sense of fairness or perhaps a sense of security. What I mean by a sense of security is that someone will be more willing to help you out if you help them out, especially if both are facing the same troubles.
             When I was younger, roughly from ten till like seventeen, I would go to my home country every summer. My grandparents would house and feed me every summer but I would feel bad asking for spending money, so two of my cousins and msyself came up with an idea to make some money. An uncle of ours owns a Torta restaurant in our village, and we offered him to sell the tortas around town in an ice box (tortas are similar to sandwiches in that both contain a bread but the ingredients that go within the torta are similar to those in tacos). Our uncle was happy to help, and he even said we could keep the whole profits of out sales as long as we helped clean the restaurant after closing time.
            On our first day working for our uncle, my two cousins and myself met up at the restaurant to discuss what route we would take.  We figured that we would all start in what would be the downtown of our village, split up, and then meet back at the restaurant. Once we came up with our game plan we filled up our iceboxs with tortas and went on our way.
            I made quick progress with my sales in the downtown of our town since it was the most densely populated area and I decided to continue with my sales at other locations that would have a large population of people. I sold at parks, went to the waiting rooms of the clinics and to local businesses. By the end of the usual dinner time (5 o’clock), I had sold all of my tortas. I headed back to the restaurant to meet with my cousins but I only found one. We decided to wait for our other cousin but it took him about an extra hour to finally meet up with us and he still had some of the tortas claiming he was unable to sell them.
            What had happened was that one of my cousins and myself had a similar strategy of selling at densely populated areas, while my other cousin decided to take a more isolated route simply because he knew it better. At the end of the day, the cousin that took the densely populated route and myself had made more money than the other cousin. Though we took different routes, the both of us who had made more money believed that we had put in the same amount of work, especially since our other cousin walked around for and extra hour, so we concluded that it would be fair to divide up our profits evenly, giving my “poorer” cousin a gift.
            Though our conclusion seemed noble, I thought ahead and considered my income risk for the future. For all I knew, both my cousins could make more profit than me next time around, so it would behoove me to share some of my gains from today to achieve some security in the future.
            I think my experience with team production and gift exchange correlates with the piece. For example, the three of us thought we put in about the same amount of work, since cleaning up the restaurant was also part of the deal, so we thought it would be fair to divide up the profits evenly just like the children who had to work together to get marbles divided up their profits. To be honest, the outcome would have probably been different if we felt we had done more work than our “poorer” cousin. For example, if we had found out that he decided to take a break, explaining his extra hour or work, we would have decided to keep our own profits. The same can be said if we got lucky and a customer decided to tip us or if we had found some money on the floor, I highly doubt that would have been shared.