Diversity in the face of globalization

Researchers from Canada and Morocco are working together to define globalization and to place it in the context of culture. They write in the Journal of Global Business Advancement how globalization is a self-contradictory phenomenon. Across academia where efforts are made to understand the nature of engagement and interaction in the global market with respect to cultural diversity, the negotiated exchanges of human capital, the allocation and distribution of financial resources, the fair exchange of goods and services, and the flow of shared information in a borderless world, there are controversies surrounding how culture affects globalization and vice versa.

Abderrahman Hassi of the School of Business Administration, Al Akhawayn University, in Ifrane, Morocco is working with Giovanna Storti of Employment and Social Development Canada, in National Capital Region, Canada to understand this interplay. Their research suggests that insightful and logical debate can arise with a clearer understanding of cultural diversity within organizations as their activities unfold on the world stage through globalization of modern economics.

Moreover, the team suggests that “nations that are part of cultural global exchanges on a regular basis do not lose sight of their cultural distinctiveness. They interpret cultural rudiments in ways that make them compatible and functional with their culture.” The worry always having been that globalization equates to loss of diversity through “homogenization” of different cultures, the Americanisation of language and pop music, for instance. “Standardization does not have to mean the taking on of all aspects of a Western way of life. Individuals in human societies instinctively rely on what is deeply rooted and entrenched within the core of their being in order to express their particular differences in respect to their customs, traditions, inventions and discoveries,” the team reports”. Indeed cultures, nations, organizations and individuals within those can grasp the benefits of globalization, but can, nevertheless, also cling to what makes them different culturally.

The team adds that, “Globalization by definition promotes the flow of cultural customs, practices and norms along with cross-border exchanges of goods and services, however, both individuals and organizations need to grasp the cultural implications of these flows to get the most out of interactions that occur with other cultures.” They conclude that “If we choose to follow a route based on standardized practices across cultures, organizations need to familiarize themselves about these practices and should adjust their plans accordingly to reflect and respect indigenous cultural particularities.” Of course, whether or not that happens remains to be seen. It might be that ultimately globalization means homogenization and not the preservation of diversity.

Hassi, A. and Storti, G. (2017) ‘Interplay between the convoluting forces of culture and globalisation‘, J. Global Business Advancement, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.261-280.

The rise and fall of the automobile

Back in September 2015 the world discovered that a leading car manufacturer had been cheating in its emissions tests. The company had illicitly installed engine management software, known as a “defeat device”, in its diesel vehicles. The software switched the engine to a lower performance, cleaner exhaust emissions mode that allowed it to pass the US Environmental Protection Agency, and other regulators’ emissions tests. When the car was on the road rather than on the test ramp, however, the software switched the engine to a more polluting, higher performance mode and allowed the vehicles to spew out higher levels of pollution than are allowed under regulations.

The defeat device gave drivers the performance they were after from the vehicles but hid the e environmental cost of that performance behind false emissions data. The company in question, Volkswagen, one of the most prestigious vehicles marques of the last half a century is now paying the price in terms of perception of its global brand. Research published in the Journal of Global Business Advancement, suggests that this fraud has had a significantly detrimental impact on the company and muses on how consumer trust in the brand might be rebuilt.

Adnan Latif of the College of Business Administration, at the University of Dammam, in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, asks “Is it the beginning of the end for this giant brand or will it restore its image among its millions of consumers?” Volkswagen has its origins as a company founded in Nazi Germany in 1937 as Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Later it was renamed Volkswagenwerk but was operated and controlled by the German Labour Front, the Nazi Party initially. After World War II it subsumed Audi and Bentley but it was many years before the US market would ignore its Nazi origins. By 2014, however, the company had factories in 31 countries and was a multinational company with an enormous share of the ever-expanding vehicle market. Global brand value was $8 billion and brand revenue $139.5 billion.

Latif has an interesting take on the VW deceit and scandal in that it does not represent a fault or safety issue but rather suggests even greater engineering skills, albeit illicit, among the companies’ designers, engineers and programmers to have pulled of such a deception for many years. “Even though the news is negative it does have a twisted positive side and is different from all the rest of auto malfunction cases,” Latif explains. “It does not carry the scar of incompetent auto engineering as has happened with several other manufacturers in recent years.” He adds that “Instead it could be perceived as a well-planned genius covert engineering operation that fooled the world for almost half a decade.” Adding: “Young high-tech consumers might now be attracted even more to VW diesel cars which they might perceive as not being made by incompetent people but by VW engineers possessing the hacker’s evil genius mind.”

Latif, A.A. (2017) ‘Volkswagen brand: the fall of an auto empire‘, J. Global Business Advancement, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp.281-304.

Research Picks Extra – June 2017

Signing on the dotted line, online

A new efficient and dynamic approach to signature recognition has been developed by an international research team. Their approach extracts the stroke-associated features of the signature for the global recognition phase as well as for signal pre-processing prior to local recognition. They explain in detail how the algorithm works and how it can distinguish between genuine and forged signatures with a good degree of accuracy against 100 signatures randomly selected from a database of 5000, with half fake and half genuine in their samples. The algorithm defeated the forgers 96% of the time.

El_Rahman, S.A. (2017) ‘An efficient approach for dynamic signature recognition‘, Int. J. Intelligent Engineering Informatics, Vol. 5, No. 2, pp.167-190

Using weeds to optimize

Optimization algorithms are an important component of countless complicated problems, especially those involve multiple inputs and outputs, random factors, and networks. Scientists in Iran have now turned to the way in which weeds colonize a garden to develop and algorithm that finds solutions to a complex problem by colonizing the network, for example. The green shoots of the weeds represent the solutions to the problem that best fit. The team has demonstrated proof of principle for their discrete invasive weed optimization (DIWO) algorithm to successfully solve a maximum-weighted tree matching problem (MWTMP) a problem of efficiency in hierarchical systems such as sales networks.

Zandieh, M., Shokrollahpour, E. and Bagher, M. (2017) ‘Maximum-weighted tree matching problem: a novel discrete invasive weed optimisation algorithm‘, Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.95-105

Fixing autocorrect

There’s a joke that one might say is an old joke, at least in terms of modern technology: “The computer scientist who invented autocorrect has died, the funfair will be held next monkey”. It’s old, I didn’t say it was funny! However, it does cut to the quick of a problem many of us face in modern society, the lack of context recognition in autocorrect that leads to spelling errors and malapropisms galore in our personal and business messages, even our presidential tweets. Now, researchers from India are working on developing a new mechanism that can identify context and so boost the accuracy of autocorrect. No more monkey funfairs when the funeral is to be held on Monday from now on.

Nejja, M. and Yousfi, A. (2017) ‘Context’s impact on the automatic spelling correction‘, Int. J. Artificial Intelligence and Soft Computing, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp.56-74

Do you like good music?

Cataloguing music has been an issue for music publishers, artists and shops and suppliers since the days of printed sheet music back in the 19th century, all the way through vinyl era of the 20th century to vinyl’s digital successor the CD and then into the digital download era of mp3, Ogg, and FLAC files. It is possible to categorize a piece of music based on artist and perceived genre, it is also possible to search lyrics for songs. However, a universal classification system that ignores genre (much music crosses genre or cannot be pigeonholed) and does not rely on a listener’s opinion would be most valuable to the music industry, musicians and artists and music consumers alike. A team from Algeria is developing a system that might solve this perennial problem by providing a faithful representation of the semantic content of songs, facilitating music information retrieval in heterogeneous collections by indexing all types of songs from the same concepts, and enabling intelligent search by exploiting the semantic relations between indexing concepts.

Lachtar, N., Bahi, H. and Bouras, Z.E. (2017) ‘Conceptual search of songs using domain ontology and semantic links‘, Int. J. Intelligent Systems Technologies and Applications, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp.153-168