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- BEING ETHICAL
AN AMERICAN LEADER IN EUROPE
Since Nancy McKinstry moved from New York to Europe a year ago to run Wolters Kluwer, the specialist publishing group, she has had plenty of experience of national and cultural differences in business. She has rarity value as an American woman at the head of a Dutch company, an issue she feels strongly about. 'In Holland, there aren't a lot of women in senior management That is a legitimate criticism, of the business community,' says Ms McKinstry.
'It's changing but very slowly. Often the schools don't have any lunchtime programme so the children are expected to go home for lunch. If you're a working parent, whether you're male of female, that's pretty tough to accommodate as well as work. In the US, you have more day care and more opportunities for women to balance working with having a family'.
Although an outsider by nationality, she is a corporate insider, having spent 13 years with the publisher, which produces journals and electronic information services for professional in medicine, the law, tax, accountancy and education, and reported sales of (eur)3.4bn ($4.2bn) last year.
'The benefits of being an outsider are that I'm able to do things in Europe from a restructuring perspective that would be much more difficult in the chairman was a European.' This includes cutting 1,600 jobs, or 8 percent of workforce, as part of the three-year recovery strategy she announced last October. 'People expect that Americans 'come in and have more of a bottom-line approach.'
But she admits it can be heavy going, even when the is American. 'In certain geographies in Europe it can take you a year or two to reduce 100 positions. That was described to me as a board member. I understand now how these things work in a very different way. One of the things I've learned in my time here is that in Europe there isn't one approach,' she says. 'If you have a product or a customer problem in France, there might be an approach that works extremely well. But if you took the same approach and tried to solve the exact same problem in Holland, you might fail.'
She points to differences in communication style. 'The Americans tend to be pretty direct, but optimistic. In other geographies, the communication is more subtle. You have to really listen not only to what people are saying but what they're not saying. In southern Europe, there's far more nuance to what people are saying. You often find they don't want to say 'No' to you, especially as the chairman, but in fact they may not be able to achieve what you've asked them. I try to listen really hard, and to say: 'How are you going to meet this goal?'
Being ethical can be a clever marketing strategy. Increasingly, consumers are influenced by 'non-commercial' factors such as whether a product harms the environment. Firms such as Ben & Jerrys's, an ice cream maker, and Body Shop International, a cosmetics retailer, have strengthened their brands by publicising their ethical standards. Cummins Engine, a maker of diesel engines, made its products greener while lobbying for stricter pollution laws.
But such ethical self-promotion can be dangerous. Body Shop was publicly forced to change a claim that its products were not tested on animals (some of the ingredients in its cosmetics had been tested on animals by other firms in the past). The error led many consumers to question Body Shop's ethical standards.
Some think that the best way to persuade managers to think more ethically is to take more account of stakeholders. Laura Nash of Boston University's Institute for the Study Economic Culture argues that managers should see their role in terms of 'covenants' with employees, customers, suppliers and so on. Such covenants should have a single goal: to ensure that a business creates long-term value in a way that is acceptable to all these 'stakeholders'. A manager would view his business in terms of relationships rather than products; and see profit as a result of other goals rather than an objective in itself. But such ideas tend to go against shareholder capitalism.
The best answers may be simple ones. Ethics rules should be clear (for instance, should an employee pay bribes where this is accepted business practice?) and they should be regularly tested. Some companies are turning to 'ethical audits'. In its annual report Ben & Jerry's carries a 'social performance report' on the firm's ethical, environmental and other failings. Carried out by Paul Hawken, a 'green' entrepreneur, the audit has sometimes frustrated Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfiled, the company's founders. So far, however, they have always published it. That may be why Ben & Jerry's reputation remains good where others fade.
The most popular tool used when mining is artificial intelligence (AI). AI technologies try to work the way the human brain works, by making intelligent guesses, learning by example, and using deductive reasoning. Some of the more popular AI methods used in data mining include neural networks, clustering, and decision trees.
Neural networks look at the rules of using data, which are based on the connections found or on a sample set of data. As a result, the software continually analyses value and compares it to the other factors, and it compares these factors repeatedly until it finds patterns emerging. These patterns are known as rules. The software then looks for other patterns based on these rules of sends out an alarm when a trigger value is hit.
Clustering divides data into groups base on similar features or limited data ranges. Clusters are used when data isn’t labeled as fraudulent or not fraudulent. But after analyzing patterns within clusters, the mining software can start to figure out the rules that point to which claims are likely to be false.
Decision trees, like clusters, separate the data into subsets and then analyse the subsets to divide them into further subsets, and so on (for a few more levels). The final subsets are then small enough that the mining process can find interesting patterns and relationships within the data.
Once the data to be mined is identified, it should be cleansed. Cleansing data trees it form duplicate information and erroneous data. Next, the data should be stored in a uniform format within relevant categories or fields. Mining tools can work with all types of data storage, from large data warehouses to smaller desktop databases to flat files. Data warehouses and data marts are storage methods that involve archiving large amounts of data in a way that makes it easy to access when necessary.
When the process is complete, the mining software generates a report. An analyst goes over the report to see if further work needs to be done, such as refining parameters, using other data analysis tools to examine the data, or even scrapping the data if it’s unusable. If no further work is required, the report proceeds to the decision makers for appropriate action.
The power of data mining is being used for many purposes, such as analyzing Supreme Court decisions, discovering patterns in health care, pulling stories about competitors from newswires, resolving bottlenecks in production processes, and analyzing sequences in the human genetic makeup. There really is no limit to the type of business or area of study where data mining can be beneficial.
COMPUTERS MAKE THE WORLD SMALLER AND SMARTER
The ability of tiny computing devices to control complex operations has transformed the way many tasks are performed, ranging from scientific research to producing consumer products. Tiny ‘computers on a chip’ are used in medical equipment, home appliances, cars and toys. Workers use handheld computing devices to collect data at a customer site, to generate forms, to control inventory, and to serve as desktop organizers.
Not only is computing equipment getting smaller, it is getting more sophisticated. Computers are part of many machines and devices that once required continual human supervision and control. Today, computers in security systems result in safer environments, computers in cars improve energy efficiency, and computers in phones provide features such as call forwarding, call monitoring, and call answering.
These smart machines are designed to take over some of the basic tasks previously performed by people; by so doing, they make life a little easier and a little more pleasant. Smart cards store vital information such as health records, drivers’ licenses, bank balances, and so on. Smart phones, cars, and appliances with built in computers can be programmed to better meet individual needs. A smart house has a built-in monitoring system that can turn lights on and off, open and close windows, operate the oven, and more.
With small computing devices available for performing smart tasks tike cooking dinner, programming the VCR, and controlling the flow of information in an organization, people are able to spend more time doing what they often do best – being creative. Computers can help people work more creatively.
Multimedia systems are known for their educational and entertainment value, which we call ‘edutainment’. Multimedia combines text with sound, video, animation, and graphics, which greatly enhances the interaction between user and machine and can make information more interesting and appealing to people. Expert systems software enables computers to ‘think’ like experts.
Medical diagnosis expert systems, for example, can help doctors pinpoint a patent’s illness, suggest further tests, and prescribe appropriate drugs.
Connectivity enables computers and software that might otherwise be incompatible to communicate and to share resources. Now that computers are proliferating in many areas and networks are available for people to access data and communicate with others, personal computers are becoming interpersonal PCs. They have the potential to significantly improve the way we relate to each other. Many people today telecommute – that is, use their computers to stay in touch with the office while they are working at home. With the proper tools, hospital staff can get a diagnosis from a medical expert hundreds or thousands of miles away.
в. план 2008, поз. 126/2
по обучению реферированию и аннотированию научной литературы для студентов магистратуры и аспирантов на английском языке
Тарасова Елена Петровна,
Рогачевская Анна Ивановна,
Субботкина Ирина Григорьевна,
Пинчук Ольга Владимировна.
Корректор Е. Н. Батурчик
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Издатель и полиграфическое исполнение: Учреждение образования
“Белорусский государственный университет информатики и радиоэлектроники”
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