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A thoughtful and illuminating study.

A look at the increasing complexities of ownership.

Law professors Heller and Salzman bring their expertise to bear on this cogent explanation of the myriad ways that humans define, claim, and defend ownership. Ownership, they assert, “is the scaffolding that society uses to structure every struggle over the things we all want.” Those things range from knee space on airplanes to inheritances, internet passwords to genetic codes, natural resources to online purchases. Illustrating their analysis with abundant examples, the authors identify six pathways to claiming ownership: possession, attachment, first-in-time, labor, self-ownership, and family. Possession “is a primal instinct rooted in animal behavior and hardwired in our brains,” but it does not always apply to disputes over ownership, such as in cases of inheritance and divorce. The authors cite lawsuits, for example, where husbands or wives claim ownership to finances based on their contributions to their spouse’s career and earnings—even future earnings. Awarding ownership because of labor (I’ve made it, it’s mine) becomes problematic when it applies to complex systems, such as technological or scientific discoveries. Patents, which were designed to protect the holder’s ownership, have created “ownership gridlock” that can inhibit innovation, such as the development of new drugs. The online world presents new complications. “When you buy online,” write the authors, “you get limited ownership of whatever you buy, with terms that the internet company can change at will.” They continue, “the companies we interact with online are masters of ownership engineering.” Because “much of our identity is bound up with the things we own,” the authors are rightly skeptical of the sharing economy, which fragments ownership. If, for example, Airbnb renters take over a community, neighborhood solidarity erodes. Being cognizant of rules of ownership, they hope, can make each of us “a more effective advocate for yourself, your community, and our common good.” For a more in-depth examination of ownership as it applies to physical land, pair this book with Simon Winchester’s Land.

A thoughtful and illuminating study.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-385-54472-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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