A valuable resource for business leaders and policymakers.

JUST BUSINESS

MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

A discussion of the creation of a new global standard for business and human rights.

The rapid growth of multinational corporations in the 1990s created “permissive environments for wrongful acts by companies without adequate sanctions or reparations,” writes Ruggie (Human Rights and International Affairs/Kennedy School of Government), who, in 2005, was named special assistant to then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to establish guidelines for corporations in relation to human rights. Multinationals grew rapidly in scope and power during that period, outsourcing production to low-cost, often remote areas of the world, yet they were not subject to global regulation. Ruggie discusses familiar cases of business-related human rights abuses—working conditions in Indonesian plants making Nike products, Shell’s conflict with local communities in Nigeria, etc.—and recounts his six-year stint developing the widely hailed U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which detail how businesses and governments can help ensure that corporations respect human rights in their own operations and through their business relationships. When he started his work, fewer than 100 of the world’s 80,000 multinational corporations had any policies in place regarding the risk of their involvement in human rights controversies. Now there is “an unprecedented international alignment” behind the belief that states must protect human rights, companies must respect them, and those who are harmed must have redress. Unlike mandatory or voluntary responses to such issues, the new global standard makes respecting rights an integral part of business and relies on “a smart mix of reinforcing policy measures” to encourage long-term change. Ruggie believes his heterodox approach will lead to more effective human rights protection and may also prove useful in addressing other global governance gaps, such as climate change.

A valuable resource for business leaders and policymakers.

Pub Date: March 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-393-06288-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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