Yesterday, I posted on the new Prosperity Index that ranked Finland first, Canada seventh, and the United States ninth. Last evening, my colleague Charlotta Mellander took a quick look at some factors that might be associated with a high ranking, running some simple statistical correlations. The most highly correlated factors (all with a correlation coefficient above .75): total factor productivity, human capital, the creative class, GDP per capita, and entrepreneurship. The Prosperity Index was highly correlated with the UN Human Development Index (at nearly .9) and reasonably so with a Gallup’s measure of subjective well-being or happiness (just a hair under .75).
Archive for October, 2009
A new report on prosperity ranks Finland first and the United States ninth. Scandinavian and North European countries dominate the top spots. Canada is seventh. The report looks at nine factors that shape prosperity – economic fundamentals, entrepreneurship and innovation, democratic Institutions. education, health, safety and security, governance, personal freedom, and social capital.
Hello friends. It has been a minute. In the interim between now and then I have certainly seen better days, but I’ll save those gory details for that autobiography I might eventually write. Lots of stuff has happened though. Let’s run down a few things:
- I initiated a program teaching music to youth through the art of sampling records. It’s called Beat Roots Ottawa, and it starts in January.
- I’ve been working with the CHRA getting them all socially networked and improving connectivity within the Youth House.
- I went to Aspen to present at an international cultural policy symposium with WESTAF. As the only Canadian, I’ve never felt more Canadian.
But last, and perhaps most important of all:
- I GOT A JOB!! For now and the foreseeable future I will be working for the City of Ottawa in a cultural planning capacity. The project, as I’ve chosen to accept it, is to renew the 20-year arts, culture, and heritage plan for the city by designing and executing a very broad and deep consultation process. All related to a much broader sustainability planning initiative for the National Capital Region called Choosing Our Future.
So this is interesting. From waxing philosophic in cyberspace to on-the-ground work for the municipality. I have not had much time to adjust, but going to work at city hall every day has certainly been a serious change of pace from my impoverished-dilettantish-freelance lifestyle. I’m sorta getting used to it. The other day I was leaving city hall and helped direct a gentleman to the gallery on the first floor. He ended up asking me what I did there, and when I explained it to them he looked at me curiously and said: “Well you don’t look like a bureaucrat…” Let’s hope that never changes.
In the spirit of theory-to-practice I wanted to share the work of Windsor Ontario’s Broken City Lab with you. These folks are doing the real, arts-based, on-the-ground work that engages people with their city in ways that might cause them to think about it differently – perhaps as more than the sum of its parts. Plus they tie their event-based activities to research. This is a genuine attempt to mend a broken place with a lot of youthful energy and ideas. Take note. I certainly am.
So a bit more stability should bring about more consistent blogging. I’ll keep the CCE abreast of what’s going on around here, now from a slightly different perspective, and hopefully we can share the kinds of ideas that will help to make this place the kind of city that it can be.
And with that, I’m back.
Do you live and work in the same building?
In various North American cities in recent years, planners, residents, and others have introduced the notion that there should be more housing built that can also be a person’s workplace. Live-Work differs from “mixed use,” in which an apartment or condo tower may exist above an office or retail building, however apartment dwellers will not necessarily or even likely work in the commercial space below.
Under these discussed Live-Work scenarios, a self-employed individual would work from home. The developer of the housing (and/or the municipal zoning) would need to make accommodation for this type of use. I’ve seen some older buildings converted into artist Live-Work spaces, designed for an artist to have a studio space often at ground level, and their home above it. Newer buildings have often been designed with an office beside the front entrance to the apartment or condo, theoretically allowing someone to receive a client without the client needing to see or enter the rest of the home. However, many units in “live-work” buildings simply have an office off the master bedroom.
A few weeks ago in a casual chat, Richard raised the question of whether Live-Work capacity would be something that residents of future apartment buildings in downtown Toronto might require. Given shifts that happened during the recession in which tens of thousands of Canadians shifted to self-employment, one could wonder if this accelerated a trend toward more free agents. Live-Work might be a trend in both how we live and how we work.
All this got me thinking about the attempts to implement Live-Work in Vancouver with some of the new towers (such as The Hudson or Shaw Tower), and how, according to some observers, almost no purchasers bought with the intention of having a home office (they just wanted to live downtown, either because they work in an office building, like the abundant amenities, or both.)
In the case of artist Live-Work spaces, I read (I believe in Elizabeth Currid’s book) that in New York these spaces are typically sub-let to lawyers, accountants, and others who love their locations and trendiness – and who have a lot more money.
In both cases it may be that typical downtown workers (such as lawyers, accountants, bankers, etc.) end up wanting the live-work condos or artist studios and can afford to pay more for them. But these people work in an office building where they interact with myriad other people all the time.
Most people I know who “work from home” as private contractors or consultants do so largely to avoid a commute and because they prefer to live in quieter, suburban, or exurban surroundings rather than in a dense urban area (in part they may prefer more distant living because of the ability to afford a larger home for the same money as a condo).
So, I am wondering whether Live-Work places downtown (or in denser, urban areas) will grow in the future, or diminish – or stay the same, somewhat fringe phenomenon that they are now.
Do you or any of your friends, clients, or colleagues live and work from a downtown apartment? Or from an urban artist-studio?
Would you want to?
Last week, the Pew Research Center recently released its report on marriage in America. Based on data from the U.S. Census American Community Survey for 2008, it provides a wealth of data on marriage and divorce across the 50 states. Check out the map here. Catherine Rampell provides a nice summary over at Economix.
The thing that jumped out at me was the “Larry King” statistic – the number of people who have been married three or more times.
About one-in-twenty Americans who ever have been married said they had been married three or more times. That comes to 4 million men and 4.5 million women.
States varied a lot on this. Arkansas had the highest percentage of “serial marrieds,” 10 percent. This was five times more than New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts with just two percent. The study found that multiple marriages were less likely in states with high concentrations of college-educated people, and more likely in states with lower incomes and smaller college-educated populations.
Over the weekend, I enlisted my number-crunching colleague Charlotta Mellander to look at what other factors might be related to such serial marriage. We looked at unemployment, the class composition of the workforce, immigration, gay population, religion, and levels of psychological well-being. Our analysis points to associations and not causal relationships. It shows that a relationship exists, but not that one causes the other.
Class: Serial marriage was less likely in states with high creative class concentrations (a correlation coefficient of -.59). Conversely, it was was much more likely in working class states (.63). The effect of class was about the same as for income (-.58) and human capital (-.65). When we controlled for income, the association between class and marriage remained significant (-.33 for the creative class and .39 for the working class). Class appears to have a relationship to multiple marriage which is distinct from income.
Immigrants, Gays, and Bohemians: Multiple marriage was significantly less likely in states with high immigrant concentrations (-.38), though the association was less than for class. Bohemians: Multiple marriage was also less likely in states with high bohemian concentrations (-.49). So much for the libertine bohemian lifestyle – at least when it comes to multiple marriage that is. There was no correlation between multiple marriage and the share of the gay population.
Religion: The Pew study did not a strong correlation between religion - measured as the percentage of people who said religion was “very important” in their lives – and marriage or divorce patterns. Our association suggests at least a moderate one. Religion was positively associated with multiple marriage (.43). Multiple marriage was more likely in more religious states
Well-Being: Multiple marriage was less likely in states with high levels of psychological well-being (-.37).
When I went grocery shopping last week, “sunflowers” were on my list, but with details. I was looking for non-variegated yellow petals and black centers (my wife has a much better artistic sense than I do, so I sometimes get these kinds of instructions). When I got there nothing exactly matched the description so I whipped out my iPhone, took a picture of the sunflowers they had, emailed it home, and called my wife. She said those were fine so I picked them up and, feeling very pleased with myself for my new-media savvy, turned around to find that someone had walked off with the cart that had my shopping list in it. While I was focused on the e-world, the real world had gone ahead without me.
This reminded me of a recent cab ride. We were at the airport and got in a taxi. I told the driver the address and what route to take – a well-known shortcut I had learned years ago when I drove a cab. He was flustered and angry because he didn’t know where I was talking about going – he usually just entered an address into his onboard computer, which gave him a route with instructions. He didn’t actually know where he was. I realized that this isn’t unusual, many cabbies don’t learn their city anymore because they don’t have to. Another disconnect from reality.
As with Wendy’s recent post about Blackberries in meetings, it looks like the ubiquitous electronic virtual reality is disconnecting us from the world we live in. From people walking down the street listening to earphones, to drivers talking on cell phones, more and more we’re not in touch with what’s happening right around us. We’re dependent on Google or Wikipedia for information, or GPS for directions, or e-mail and texting for communicating with people in the same building.
What does this mean for our ability to live and work in the real world? Are we losing the ability to find our way and work out solutions on our own? Are computers making us stupid?
What, exactly, is entrepreneurial strategy, anyway?
I regularly teach classes on entrepreneurship and new venture development, and more than occasionally drop in to provide my perspective on topics of interest to those forming or funding technology-driven, high-growth companies. Since I have been spending a lot more time up in front of students (and, thus, getting peppered with great questions), I have been giving a lot of thought to what passes for “entrepreneurial strategy” courses (or sections of courses). To me, it seems that the bulk of entrepreneurship pedagogy has, in a relatively brutish way, simply ported over the issues relevant in a typical strategic management class and attempted to convert those topics into material appropriate to the new venture setting. The more I think about it, the less persuaded I am that this is helpful for students; and I continue to have my suspicions that this approach forwards the research frontier.
Why we have decided to believe that the theories and questions in strategic management – relevant to large, established firms – apply equally well to either nascent or newly established firms merits further consideration. What evidence do we have that the same proscriptive advice we give in the case of large-firm strategy applies to nascent or newly established firms? And does that advice apply equally well for both innovative, high-growth firms (the software startup) and replicative entrepreneurship (a neighborhood bakery)?
In Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Peter Drucker notes, “I have not come across any discussion of entrepreneurial strategies. Yet they are important, and they are distinct, and they are different.” Consider that the next time you are perusing your local bookstore seeking insight on how to build a business.
D.C. has the lowest rate – a fact which was not lost on D.C. blogging circles. NY did well too. The worst performers were Alabama, Tennessee, and Ohio, where about eight in 10 workers drive alone - more than double that of D.C.
With the help of my colleague Charlotta Mellander, we took a quick look at some factors that might be associated with this geographic pattern. It’s not an exhaustive list: We examined some key economic factors like income and economic output, human capital and the creative class, and psychological ones like happiness, stress, and personality. We removed D.C. from the analysis because it was such an extreme outlier. We did not develop or run any serious multivariate analysis – just simple correlations, or associations, between variables.
Still the findings point to some reasonably clear patterns.
Income and Economic Output: The richer the state, the less likely people were to drive alone. Driving alone was negatively correlated with state income levels (-.46) and output per capita (-.41).
Class and Human Capital: States with higher percentages of college graduates (-.47) and the creative class (-.43) were less likely to have people driving alone. Driving alone was much more likely in states with large working class concentrations (.62).
Professional and Creative Jobs: Driving alone was less likely in states with high concentrations of virtually every type of professional, knowledge-based and creative jobs. But it was least likely in states with large concentrations of artists, designers, and entertainers (-.63), architects and engineers (-.61), scientists (-.56 ), and lawyers (-.55).
Diversity – Immigrants and Gays: Driving alone was less likely in states with high concentrations of immigrants (-.51) and gays (-.41).
Happiness: Happiness research tells us that commuting is one of life’s least pleasurable activities. Driving along was negatively associated with state levels of happiness and well-being (-.46) and positively associated with states with higher levels of stress (.29).
Personality: Psychologists identify five main personality types. Driving alone was more likely in states with high levels of three of them: extroverts (.29), conscientiousness (.36), and agreeableness (.44). Interestingly, there was no association between driving alone and the two other types – neurotic and openness to experience, which some might say makes it harder to explain New York.
At least, ban their use in meetings suggests a Forbes article this week.
Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. To avoid wasting time in meetings, hardcore multitaskers sit there with their faces glued to their BlackBerrys, reading e-mails while they follow the discussion with one ear. But all they are doing is making the meeting longer for everyone else.
“Being busy and being productive are not the same,” says Denise Landers, a time-management consultant based in Houston. “I definitely believe that banning BlackBerrys from a conference room would lead to shorter and more effective meetings. We simply cannot multitask and perform at 100%.”
Another recent study, this one by the University of Texas at Austin, offers hope. Titled “The Social Influences of Electronic Multitasking in Organizational Meetings,” this report concludes that people don’t multitask because they have to; they multitask simply because they can. They see other people reading e-mail during meetings, so they do it too. But if the office culture discourages multitasking during meetings, they will stop, and focus on the issue at hand.
Even deeply ingrained habits are subject to change over time, Crenshaw notes. As every fan of Mad Men knows, smokers once routinely lit up during meetings. Now they don’t. The same thing can happen to multitasking.
“I view myself as an evangelist,” he says. “It’s going to take probably another decade of talking about this before people get the message.”
Does your workplace have a Blackberry policy? Do you?
Where I work people rarely if ever use a Blackberry while in a meeting, unless to look something up or to take a quick glance to ensure no emergencies have arisen (a few colleagues need to be available 24/7 to put out virtual “fires”). If the senior people and mentors follow this policy, it seems others stay in line.