Social Interactions


Social interactions establish the role that people play in a society and their authority responsibility pattern. Their roles and patterns are supported by a society’s institutional framework, which includes, for example, education and marriage.

Social roles are established by culture. For example, a woman can be a wife, a mother, a community leader, and/or an employee. What role is preferred in different situations is culture-bound. Most Swiss women consider household work as their primary role. For this reason, they resent modern gadgets and machines. Behavior also emerges from culture in the form of conventions, rituals, and practices on different occasions such as during festivals, marriages, get-togethers, and times of grief or religious celebration.

With reference to marketing, the social interactions influence family decision-making and buying behavior and define the scope of personal influence and opinion. In Latin America and Asia the extended family is considered the most basic and stable unit of social organization. It is the center for all economic, political, social, and religious life. It provides companionship, protection, and a common set of values with specifically prescribed means for fulfilling them. By contrast, in the US the nuclear family (husband, wife, and children) is the focus of social organization. The US wife plays a more autonomous role than the Dutch wife in family decision-making. Thus social roles vary from culture to culture and are likely to affect marketing behavior.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

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Leveraging better Payment Terms


Negotiating better payment terms is always easier if a company has some bargaining chips. The party with the most to lose or the most to gain is always on the defensive; therefore, the secret to successful negotiating is to develop leverage that forces the other party into one or the other of these positions. Other than not meeting payroll, only two conditions might create circumstances more detrimental to a company on the brink of failure than to a creator: (1) being evicted from the building that houses the business, and (2) not receiving critical materials and services to keep the business going.

 

Not much can be done about either situation. A business must be housed, and it must have materials and services to make and sell products. That’s why landlords and critical suppliers top the payment priority list. Some leverage can be achieved, however. Most lessors would rather work out an extended payment arrangement than go to the expense and aggravation of a formal eviction. As long as the renter’s market holds, deferring rent payments for at least several months should be a real possibility. That’s not a permanent solution, but it does provide some breathing space.

 

It might be possible to leverage critical suppliers to gain better terms. The threat to go to a competitor usually brings even the most recalcitrant supplier to terms. In most cases, a supplier has more to lose (the overdue amounts plus legal costs to sue) or gain (future sales) than a debtor company does. At least making suppliers think that’s the case is good negotiating ploy.

 

Assuming that you have taken reasonable precautions to safeguard your personal assets, the worst thing that can happen is that you will be forced to liquidate the business. Granted, this can be a blow to any entrepreneur’s ego. It might also reduce personal income for a while, however, once the liquidation is over, you can always begin again. As long as creditors believe that they have the most to lose, you’re in driver’s seat. The ultimate creditors’ threat is to force the company into bankruptcy. By making it clear that this won’t hurt and that other plans for the future are in the works anyway, such leverage vanishes abruptly.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Culture and Marketing


Culture influences every aspect of marketing. A marketing oriented firm should make decisions based on customer perspectives. Customers’ actions are shaped by their lifestyles and behavior patterns as they stem from their society’s culture. Thus, the product that people buy, the attributes that they value, the principles whose opinions they accept, are all culture-based choices. As a matter of fact, it is not an overstatement to say that a person’s perspectives or resources, problems and opportunities to a considerable extent are generated and conditioned by culture.

 

A practical example of cultural impact is illustrated by the foods that people prefer. Of all the cultural universals that constitute “culture,” few, if any, are so ingrained and consistently reinforced as are food habits. The daily physiological requirement of nutrition in some form exists for every human inhabitant in any society or culture—there is no escape from eating for any extended period. Food consumption, acquisition, and perception also are interrelated with many of the other universals of the culture, including religious observances and ceremonies, feasting, folklore, and the division of labor.

 

The human perception of edibility has little to do with logical nutritional fulfillments. Culture creates the system of communication among humans about edibility, toxicity, and repleteness. Cultural pressures easily overrule physiological necessities; therefore, it becomes even more difficult for an individual alien to a culture to predict that culture’s preference for or rejection of certain food habits.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Public Management


There will be absolutely changed conditions under which public managers will operate in the future, some of the areas of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that they will be required to possess, and some of the pathways public managers might explore in order to move toward the future.

There will be an extraordinary explosion of new knowledge and technological innovations, especially in the areas of information sciences, genetics, materials, instrumentation, automation, and space. Our public managers will wade into an age of extraordinary technological change and have to accommodate themselves and the institutions to dramatically different bodies of knowledge and technological innovations.

They will not only have to cope with and employ their expanded knowledge and technological capacity, they will have to learn to use this knowledge and technological capacity for the benefit of society. In the technological world of the future, there will be even greater temptations for them to be captured by technology, to fall prey to “technological imperative,” and to allow rational technical interests to supercede human concerns and those of values. Finding ways of employing advanced technologies so as to enhance rather than restrict their capacity for leadership, creativity, and personal responsibility will be a serious challenge.

In the future, knowledge and information will prevail. And if information is power, then those who have information will indeed have power. But who will have information? Information will be increasingly centralized, controlled and marketed through traditional economic and political processes. It will be widely distributed throughout society, so that increasing rather than decreasing numbers of people will have information and in turn have power. Such a possibility will lead to “the twilight of hierarchy,” to be inevitable.

Combining these issues, we can safely predict that the knowledge or information that our public managers will be able to access will be tremendous, to the point that the quantity of information will no longer be the most important issue. Rather the key question will be how to organize this information for human purposes. This means that public administration will have to learn to organize information in a fashion that will facilitate the pursuit of important public purposes. The great challenge will be to organize information so that we can enhance the process of democratic decision-making, of consensus building, and of dialogue and deliberation.

There’s no question that we will have the capacity to organize information for dramatic new public purposes, to restructure our structures of governance in dramatic ways. But what will our choices be? Imagine a computer in Islamabad that could reach out into every home, so that on any occasion that a major policy decision was required, an appropriate message could go out to all the citizens and their answers could guide public policy – a process that would approximate pure democracy.

The globalization of society is obvious today, though in twenty-five years or so, we may experience trans-globalization or beyond, as the frontiers of the oceans and space are extended even further. Already we are thinking more in global terms. However, our managers are still thinking in terms of traditional institutions operating in a new global context. They are not yet asking how they reconfigure businesses and governments so as to carry out a global vision. How do they encourage businesses and governments to assume global responsibilities rather than those defined in terms of one’s own self interest? For example, how can developing countries move toward sustainable development and environmental justice on a global basis?

One obvious casualty of the global age may be the nation-state, replaced not necessarily by a new global or interplanetary federation but possibly by new forms of governance far beyond those we can imagine today.

In future our public administration should know the importance of “responsibilities” rather than “functions” of government. While a large part of the current worldwide debate over privatization or outsourcing speaks to the question of which “functions” belong where, the new debate will necessarily focus on public responsibilities and speak in a language of ethics, citizenship and the public interest.

In reinvented government or the new public management, customers shall replace citizens – or, to put it differently, the integrative role of citizenship has been reduced to the narrow self-interest of customership – in government as in business.

Indeed, we think the job of all public managers will increasingly be more than directing or managing our public organizations. It will be not merely “steering” or “rowing” but “building the boat.” The new public manager will construct networks of varied interests that can work effectively to solve public problems. In doing so, it will be the job of the public administrator to promote pluralism, to create opportunities for constructive dissent, to preserve that which is distinctive about individuals and groups, and to provide an opportunity for diverse groups to share in establishing future directions for the community. The administrator will play a substantial role in diminishing polarization, teaching diversity and respect, building coalitions, resolving disputes, negotiating and mediating. The work of the top public managers will thus be – to build community.

There are two broad areas that public managers will need to explore in order to fashion a response to the trends. These emerging trends will turn public management both “inside-out” and “upside-down.” Public management will be turned “inside-out” as the largely internal focus of management in the past is replaced by an external focus, specifically a focus on citizens and citizenship. Public management will be turned “upside-down” as the traditional top-down orientation of the field is replaced – not necessarily by a bottom-up approach, but by a system of shared leadership.

In the past public administration has been largely focused on what happens within the public bureaucracy. The future will require that it dramatically refocus its attention on the world outside, particularly the world of citizens and citizenship.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight