Management Discussed Culture (as in, corporate culture) and how to make or break it. The case was Mary Kay (the cosmetics sold through direct, rather than retail sales). Obviously, the team presenting the case had a lot of fun cross-dressing into the pink Mary Kay-wear. Mary Kay's culture/philosophy, as expressed by her in a 60 Minutes interview, was quite entertaining, too: "from 0 to 14 a woman needs parents, from 14 to 40 - looks, from 40 to 60 - personality, and after 60 - cash". Another gem: put God first [which God? were Jews allowed? for some reason, I decided not to bring this up in class], family second, and work third. Now, how much of this would fly now, as opposed to the seventies? Apparently, not much - their website no longer mentions either God or stay-at-home Moms. Thank God I did not have be a woman in the seventies!
Then we went back to Tuesday's case about Automated Travel Systems with the employees trying to hold the company hostage and asking for raises. We got a continuation of the case today - it turns out this was a particular group of employees, who have worked together before, and... were all immigrants from Russia :-(( Somehow, I could totally see how this could happen.
Name Remembering I had an insight about remembering american names - it's very hard because I/we just don't have the associations with these names that an american-born person would. I tried to remember all of my section-mates by associating them with someone else with the same name and for many of the names, I just don't know anyone like that - Ken, Stuart, Cecil, Kimble... For any Russian name I can think of at least 5 or 10 people. When I think of a Russian name, an image or five immediately pops into mind; when I think of an American one, I just see the spelling of it in my mind's eye. The point I am trying to make, however circularly, is that remembering foreign names is inherently more difficult than native ones.
Economics Discussed Game Theory with many examples and watched the Bar Scene from The Beautiful Mind movie about John Nash (with guys forgoing the beautiful blond in order to get dates with other girls) as illustration. The crown jewel here is the Prisoner's Dilemma, a game where the dominant strategy equilibrium solution is worse for both players than some other outcome. The classical statement of the problem is this:
Two criminals are captured by the police, immediately separated and interrogated. Neither can hear what the other says. The police don't have enough evidence to convict unless one confesses. Each prisoner is offered a deal: if he confesses and the other doesn't, he'll be set free and the other will get a very harsh sentence. If both confess, they'll both get convicted but with a lighter sentence. If neither confesses, however, they'll both be let go. Consider long term - what's the smartest move for each prisoner?
As a wonderful illustration to this particular game, we watched the final scene of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with Clint Eastwood. It turns out that in real life, as in the movie, the best strategy is to cheat a bit. This cheating is really socially-optimal, a concept that the professor tried in vain to explain to his first wife.
A Night On The Town The last night of Hell Week, gotta spend it in style. At dinner, we had 2 Verizon execs argue passionately with 2 execs from independent telecom companies about the pros and cons of phone service deregulation. 'Twas fascinating to watch. Afterward, a bunch of us, led by a current Peruvian and a Columbian-born, got together to go to a Cuban Salsa club in the heart of Philly - my first venture out of the confines of UPenn. Had a couple of Passion-fruit Mojitas, mingled, danced Salsa (people still remembered my self-intro about dancing), watched a show of pro dancers. Definitely need more dancing in my life!