Friday, October 29, 2010

Links on India-Japan CEPA

It appears an internal voluntary Indian steel import tariff exemption on semi-finished is being considered on re-exports:

Interesting interview with President/CEO of JFE Steel regarding general Indian interests.

Recent article on possible Japanese steel market growth plans in India.

Specific to rolled steel semi-finished products to be exported to India.

Nothing specific to coil or the agreement yet other than, "The Devil is in the Details." Many sectors face almost immediate reductions in tariffs while others will be slowly staged over the next nine to ten years.

This steel news website might provide better intel?

It appears we are not alone in having few details about this CEPA?

Thus how could it be considered "free trade" if no one can even read the text of the agreement?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Research Managers: Hanging on the Wicks of the Fingernails

Research Managers: Hanging on the Wicks of the Fingernails

Rob Norman details the unique struggle of his collective stakeholders in a multi-party group of researchers forming their own institute to ensure that necessary resources are directed towards the continuation of their funding efforts and projects. Earlier Professor McMillen had discussed that university administration could supplement and jump start funding challenges and even provide stop gaps where certain grants might have challenging lead time delays.

However Norman reveals that early university support waxed and waned and while providing a small investment to ensure that the foundation of the collaboration could be implemented could not be relied upon to generate operational income for several hundred researchers. In his case, team members include a dedicated marketing manager and a funding applications manager whose purposes are to focus entirely on acquiring and maintaining minimum funding resources. He describes that while the opportunity to win competitive category one Australian grants income is slight the returns on generating a winning proposal could be 48 million dollars of funding. Aside: did he get the funding?

The funding sources and categories pursued would rely upon consistent planning and revision on the conditions of the institute's orientation itself limited in scope to ensure research is conducted which meets the vision and mission of the organisation. Norman describes his role as a sandwich between the institute researchers and the Board of Directors which while not necessarily at odds possibly gripe and nip at each other through Norman. Therefore managing relationships between these two groups could require calm and patient nerves of steel.

CSIRO appears to mitigate risks by including large scale core areas of research innovation and a decades long development of its key success factors to provide a holistic and historical inter-generational record available to its own cadres. In terms of its scope while possibly not considered "too big to fail" or "too big to cut funding" probably has many opportunities to share resources across disciplines when and where there are shortfalls in funding. Smaller groups such as the Woolcock, CW+L and the Centre for Sleep Research are highly segmenting their research pursuits and probably benefit from the niche orientation of the nature of their disciplines. For example, I would imagine that sleep research centres are few and far between and while I realize that more than sleep is researched there the opportunities for funding are more narrowly classified and possibly with few other competitors for similar funding than compared to CSIRO research domains.

Cooperative research centres and efforts at greater collaboration are aiming for similar efficiencies and focused results as Norman's specialized but diverse stakeholders whereby a collective approach to funding and grants applications may result in higher successful approval returns or as one of our classmates earlier summarized, "united we stand, divided we fall." The purposes of the ARC and NHMRC are also intended (whether results support intention would be my contention) to streamline funding applications and sources to reduce overlap and redundant or duplicated results. For the purposes of discerning nightmarish but realistic scenarios Professor Dawson at SARDI reflects upon the less than complementary world that the majority of Australia's finest researchers find themselves in. Namely that these innovators and creators be they applied or "head in the clouds" social scientists are hanging on by the wicks of their fingernails in full-time part-time or full-time contracts subject to perpetual uncertainty in terms of future or continued funding. Commercial project collaborations may be the refuge of those researchers seeking to fill their bowls with more than a crust of bread when annual funding chops whittle their portions further.

Personally for all my learning pursuits I have been a boot-strapper. I've paid for it all out of my own meagre pocket. But it has given me the freedom to select among options and choices which only seem to multiply around the world. While I have yet to call myself a contract researcher I still see it as potential future possibility. I eagerly await to ride the international waves of possible incentives to my adding my lot to the grants applications and proposals process. But that would require a completed PhD. As I focus on short to medium term risks in funding such a three to four year process I do appreciate the complexities and variations in strategy necessarily dependent upon the size and scope of the research group itself and its ability to ensure success. Good results are useful and expand knowledge. If only the field of research could claim successive decades of peerless accountability and benefit to society. Any groups which can demonstrate that should be blessed with the longevity which adequate funding supports. I am loathe to rely or depend upon governments or their agencies for that support. They appear too fickle for my taste.

On Internationalisation, Global Workforce Selection, and Fish Tanks

On Internationalisation, Global Workforce Selection, and Fish Tanks

Sorry to hear of your negative experience with what appears to be a failed attempt to engage cross-cultural bridging without representational dimensions of quantitative differences in cultures as exemplified by Geert Hofstede's cultural dimensions model. Yes he is a white man.You would not be the only Asian to consider the comparable usefulness of variations in cultural values to be fairly limited in scope as Ha-Joon Chang demonstrates in Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and The Secret History of Capitalism (2007). He reviews history to exemplify that cultures change and that for example barely a hundred years ago most literature published among formerly imperialist nations considered Japanese and Germans to be lazy, untrustworthy and disreputable. However it is perhaps white man's nature to seek categorize differently from that of the Asian.

Another book which appeals to me in terms of international perspectives is perennially The Geography of Thought (2003) by Richard Nisbett. My Korean students often react strongly to the idea that Canadians and Koreans might perceive a picture of a fish tank much differently.

However there is a lot of evidence out there to suggest that most multinational corporations have carefully selected their global-local employees and often discover their inter-cultural gaffs only when it costs them millions to billions of dollars in lost revenue. Employee selection among global companies is often according to highly specific cultural values selecting among individuals whose results in various HR competitive tests, interviews and performance reviews best support the mission and vision or values of their own corporate organisations. As a result these workers may often reflect greater similarities in terms of values across cultures than within them. Singapore would appear to be an Asian nation which provides opportunities for like-minded but culturally dissimilar people to innovate and create new opportunities based upon shared vision and mission whether on a corporate or multicultural level.

I agree that a key function of human resources needs to be geared towards cross-cultural inclusiveness however much of the research I have read in international HR functions suggest that best practices are often few and far between especially in recent efforts among nations like Canada for example to integrate needed new medical professionals from abroad. There is also a large body of evidence to suggest that many equal opportunity programs do not account for quality of skills or experience among selection practices which place priority on addressing disparity in proportional representation among various cultural or ethnic groups alone which often appear to leave the suitability of a white male candidate dead last. As well there is a dawning reality in Canada that the universities and researchers themselves appear to be facing similar increased selectivity among funding agencies for more calculated and commercially viable results generated from tax-payer funded programs. This would accord with what we are witnessing in Australia. Would increases in claims of academic misconduct not also be possibly tied to decreases in funding resources? Through increased equal opportunity would such claims of misconduct then not possibly be proportionally represented among perceived minorities and other special interests formerly under-represented?
Canada: "Lagging innovation leads feds to launch review into R & D," The Vancouver Sun, October 13, 2010

We have already learned an incredible amount in the course of these studies of the challenging nature of even simply increasing domestic collaboration alone. Just adding an international dimension to the course of innovation results in research can only magnify and highlight inherent weaknesses in systemic ineffective or inefficient management of research funding, accounting and reporting which already exist in national innovation systems around the world.

I am sure Singapore does have much to teach the rest of the world in terms of ensuring smooth successful collaboration results among multicultural groups and participants.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Child's Song

The Dark Night of the Soul

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Invitation to Mom's Funeral

Invitation to Mom's Funeral

On Friday Oct 1 Mom went into an unconcious state. She was receiving morphine as needed. She was unable to take nourishment. Her organs were gradually shutting down. At approximately 10 PM she went to be with the God who gave her life, and we will carry her with us always. Maman's funeral is being held at 11 AM on Wednesday October 6th with reception to follow at the church hall. Visitation will be on Tuesday October 5th 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm. She is currently at White Family funeral home in Kentville. This is such a sad message to be sending anyone. I can tell you this is a funeral I will not miss and welcome you to join us in celebrating her life. Please pass the message on to anyone I may have missed.