Archives for Ray Fisman



The Authors of The Org Answer Your Questions

Last week, we solicited your questions for Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan, authors of The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office. Below you will find their very interesting answers. Thanks to all for playing along, and especially to Fisman and Sullivan.

Q. I work in an office with stark contrasts in the cultures of different departments. Has there been research on the success/failures of forcing departments to assimilate/work together more? -Drew

A. A 2003 experiment by economists Colin Camerer and Roberto Weber was designed to speak to exactly the question you’re asking: What are the challenges of cross-cultural interaction, and what difficulties present themselves when two distinct cultures are forced together?

Each participant in their experiment viewed a matrix of sixteen office scenes on a computer screen. The participants were randomly paired up and put in the roles of “manager” and “employee.” Managers’ screens highlighted and numbered eight of the pictures. Their job was to communicate to the employee, through instant messaging, the eight highlighted scenes in order. The employee had to identify the picture the manager was describing. Simple enough. Read More »



Is There Such a Thing as “Office Logic”? Bring Your Questions for the Authors of The Org

We have been exploring, on this blog and especially in our Marketplace radio segments, the mores of the American office, from bosses to morale to the benefits of working from home.

If these topics interest you even a little bit, then you might want to check out The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office, a new book by Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan. Fisman, who has appeared on the blog before, teaches at Columbia, writes at Slate, and is the co-author of Economic Gangsters; Sullivan is the editorial director of Harvard Business Review Press. Read More »



Worried About Unemployment? Find a “High Touch” Profession

Writing for Slate, Ray Fisman (who’s been on the blog before) explains why “the bottom 20 percent of American families earned less in 2010 than they did in 2006, the year before the recession began”:

There are two broad shifts that account for much of this decline: globalization and computerization. From T-shirts to toys, manufacturing jobs have migrated to low-wage countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and of course China. Meanwhile, many of the tasks that might have been done by middle-income Americans employed as bookkeepers or middle managers have been replaced by spreadsheets and data algorithms.

Fisman argues that in order to succeed in the new economy, American workers need to shift away from construction and manufacturing jobs to “high touch” professions. “If jobs are being lost to low-wage Indians and computer programs, then what today’s worker needs is a set of skills that offers the personal touch and judgment that can’t be provided by a machine or someone 12 time zones away,” writes Fisman.



A Corruption/Parking Tickets Map

Forbes‘s Jon Bruner has made a cool map of economists Raymond Fisman and Edward Miguel‘s paper “Cultures of Corruption: Evidence From Diplomatic Parking Tickets” (noted here earlier). The paper measured diplomats who used their immunity to dodge parking fines, resulting in a list of violations per U.N. diplomat. Kuwait tops the list at 246 violations per diplomat. The map is paired with corruption scores from Transparency International, Bruner notes:

Fisman and Miguel set out to use the parking data to understand the impact of social norms on official corruption. The idea is that diplomatic parking violations are essentially consequence free, except for any approbation that might come from the diplomat’s home state. A political culture that doesn’t mind its diplomats racking up parking tickets might not mind outright corruption.

Read More »



The Canseco Effect?

The economists Eric Gould and Todd Kaplan have used data to evaluate Jose Canseco’s claim that he taught many teammates to use steroids and growth hormones. Read More »



Bad (and Worse) Corruption

For businesses, some kinds of corruption are better than others. Read More »



Is Home-Country Bias Inevitable for Figure-Skating Judges?

In response to allegations of vote-trading and home-country bias among figure-skating judges at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, the International Skating Union changed judging procedures. But have those reforms been effective? Read More »



Plan Colombia: A $5 Billion Failure?

The U.S. has spent more than $5 billion on military and anti-narcotics aid for Colombia in recent years. In a new article for Slate, Ray Fisman points to a new paper that analyzes conflict and coca production in areas with and without Army bases to determine the impact of all that aid. Read More »