Monday, December 31, 2012

Ruminations 45: Re-Thinking Consumption, Shaping Consumer Reality; On the Triadic Relationship Between Consumer, Object and Enterprise

In two recent posts I have suggested (1) the importance of belief in the construction of governance (law, moral, ethical, religious, etc.) systems and the subversive power, the evil, of suspicion and disbelief to that order (Ruminations XLII: Conformity and Forbidden Knowledge--The First Rule of Fight Club, the Invisible Hand and the Semiotics of Obedience, Law at the End of the Day, Dec. 26, 2012) and (2) that the task of science and the function of law is to manage the premises and judgments about things that form the reality of the relation of people to the world (Ruminations XLIV: If Reality is not Fixed Can we Train People to Accept Anything?, Law at the End of the Day Dec. 28, 2012).  

But I am afraid my discussion has been perhaps necessarily abstract. For this post I want to try to weave the ideas considered in those two posts around a very precise and concrete occurrence that is helping to reshape the way in which individuals perceive and thus understand the reality around them and thus reinforce the connection between object, meaning, action and meaning framework. The object of a recent study: GlobeScan, SustainAbility, and BBMG. Regeneration Roadmap--Re-Thinking Consumption:  Consumers and The Future of Sustainability (Nov. 2012) (an in-depth online survey of consumer attitudes, motivations and behaviors relating to sustainable consumption among 6,224 respondents across six major international markets conducted in September and October 2012).

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Investigation Regulations for the Discipline Inspection Organs of the Communist Party of China -- An English Translation

I am considering the nature of intra-Party discipline within the Chinese Communist Party and its relationship to issues of law and state power. See, e.g., 
 The study is part of a larger project considering the legitimacy and structure of Chinese constitutionalism. See, Backer, Larry Catá, Party, People, Government, and State: On Constitutional Values and the Legitimacy of the Chinese State-Party Rule of Law System (January 12, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, 2012;Thoughts on Emerging Trends in Chinese Constitutional Thought on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress, Law at the End of the Day, Nov. 6, 2012.

What follows is an English translation of the "Investigation Regulations for the Discipline Inspection Organs of the Communist Party of China."  These are the critical regulations around which intra-Party discipline is organized. 
My hope is that this translation will help policy makers and Western academics in their study of the institutional structures and operations of the Chinese Communist Party -- a subject that deserves substantially more sustained study now in the aftermath of the 18th Party Congress. My thanks to my research assistant, Keren Wang (Penn State MIA expected 2013) for his usual excellent work.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Ruminations 44: If Reality is not Fixed Can we Train People to Accept Anything?

Reality is supposed to be the state of things as they actually exist rather than as they might appear or be imagined.  It presupposes some sort of objective conditions again which behaviors can be judged, policy determined and people assessed and managed.
(From Polly Kahl, The 12 Steps of Reality TV Addiction Recovery, Technorati, Oct. 3, 2011)

But what if "what actually exists" exists in part only in your mind as a function of judgements and expectations that you internalized from the aggregates of premises that form the common knowledge and interpretive structures of a social order? It appears that science has provided clues about the way in which reality is not merely constructed from out of the relation between individual and sensory stimuli, bit also the extent to which the meaning of those stimuli and the valuation of their effects, are both managed and taught in an interactive process between the individual and object, the collective body of experience, judgments, conclusions, interdictions and directions  that serve as the referent for making sense of and determining the appropriate response to stimuli.   

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ruminations 42: Conformity and Forbidden Knowledge--The First Rule of Fight Club, the Invisible Hand and the Semiotics of Obedience

(From Adam Fisher, Skipping Stones, Genkaku-Again, May 25, 2009)

 The cultural importance of veiling the underlying presumptions and mechanics of actions and beliefs-- of seeing reality and of being satisfied to follow instructions that are bound up in a reality that must neither be seen nor questioned--is very strong. The triadic relationship between follower-obedience and rule-maker serves as the basis for systems and systems theory grounded in the core premise of stability of social and power relations through the control of the way in which  symbols are understood and action managed. I offer three categories to suggest both the scope and the ordering power of this semiotic arrangement, visible only when visibly invisible; there are more. These are tales of the perils of disbelief;  tales of punishment for acquiring forbidden knowledge (the perils fo knowing more than your station in a social-power hierarchy requires); and  tales of the vaue of silent acceptance and conformity.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Jiang Shigong 强世功 on "Written and Unwritten Constitutions" and Its Relevance to Chinese Constitutionalism

Jiang Shigong (强世功), Professor and Deputy Director, Peking University Office of Educational Administration at Peking University.  He is well known in China for his work, Fazhi yu Zhili: Guojia Zhuanxingzhong de Falv (Legal System and Governance: Law in the Transformed State) (Beijing: Zhongguo zhengfadaxue chubanshe, 2003) and and Lifazhe de Falixue (Legislator's Jurisprudence) (Beijing: Sanlian shudian, 2007).

He recently published an article on Chinese constitutionalism that deserves careful study.  Jiang Shigong, "Written and Unwritten Constitutions: A New Approach to the Study of Constitutional Government in China," Modern China 36(1):12-46 (2010). Here is the abstract:
 Criticizing the formalism in China’s constitutional studies over the past 30 years and following an empirical-historical perspective to deal with the dilemma of representation and practice, the author argues that both a written constitution and an unwritten constitution are basic features of any constitutional system, and China’s constitutional order can only be understood if China’s unwritten constitution is taken into account. Selecting four important constitutional issues (the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and the National People’s Congress; the position of state chairman and the trinity system of rule; the relationship between the center and localities; and the constitutional structure of “one country two systems”), the author explores four sources of China’s unwritten constitution—the party’s constitution, constitutional conventions, constitutional doctrine, and constitutional statutes—and calls for taking into account China’s unique political tradition and reality to enrich current constitutional scholarship.
This post reviews and considers the insights developed in that article.  My thanks to my research assistant Yuanyuan Li for her excellent work.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Michael Komesaroff on China's Long Term Demand for Steel and Its Implications

Michael Komesaroff, principal of Urandaline Investments, a consultancy specializing in China’s capital intensive industries, and a former executive in residence at the School of International Affairs, Pennsylvania State University, has produced an excellent analysis of China's long term demand for steel. 
 (Pix from Patti Waldmeir, "China Steel Takes 96% Hit," Financial Times, July 2012 ("Chinese steelmakers saw their profits plunge by 96 per cent in the first half compared to a year ago, a Chinese official said on Tuesday, as the economic slowdown turned the industry into a “disaster zone”."))
Komesaroff notes that recent declines in world metal prices raise the question of whether Chinese demand has peaked. This is especially so with the precipitous declines in the price for iron ore and steel. In Michael Komesaroff, "Still time to peak," China Economic Quarterly 6-8 (Sept. 2012) he argues that China’s demand for steel should peak at about 1.2 billion tonne and that this is still a decade away. "Still time to peak" can be found here.  Of particular interest in the presentation is the conclusion that China's steel demand has not peaked--that has significant geo-political implications.  It also challenges, in significant ways, an argument popular int he West that China's political system would face sever stress in the wake of economic slowdown. This post presents a summary of Mr. Komesaroff's presentation.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tomonori Teraoka on "Transnational Networks of Poly-Centralized Governance in Nuclear Arms Control"

I have been considering the manifestations of the rise of polycentric global governance systems, ones that have challenged the once unquestioned monopoly of the state as the sole legitimate global governance actor. E.g., Larry Catá Backer,  On the Tension between Public and Private Governance in the Emerging Transnational Legal Order: State Ideology and Corporation in Polycentric Asymmetric Global Orders.I have posited global governance orders as increasingly grounded in fracture, Larry Catá Backer, "The Structural Characteristics of Global Law for the 21st Century: Fracture, Fluidity, Permeability, and Polycentricity," 17(2) Tilburg Law Review 177 (2012). 

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

My student and research assistant, Tomonori Teraoka (Penn State SIA '2013 expected), has been considering the implications of fractured and polycentric global orders in the context of nuclear power.  He has written a paper Transnational Networks of Poly-Centralized Governance in Nuclear Arms Control: Shift from State-Centered to Transnational Discourse and Gaze in which he develops his views on the profound changes that fractured power is having on the conventional state based architecture for the regulation of nuclear power and arms.  .  The abstract and a short excerpt follows. The paper may be accessed HERE.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Announcing New Book: "Lawyers Making Meaning: The Semiotics of Law and Legal Education II"

I am very pleased to announce the publication of a new book:  Jan M. Broekman and Larry Catá Backer,  Lawyers Making Meaning:  The Semiotics of Law and Legal Education II ((Dordrecht, Netherlands, Springer 2012) (ISBN 978-94-007-5458-4) (available as hard cover or e-book). Dedicated homepage; unique electronic identifier.

Book overview: This book present a structure for understanding and exploring the semiotic character of law and law systems. Cultivating a deep understanding for the ways in which lawyers make meaning—the way in which they help make the world and are made, in turn by the world they create —can provide a basis for consciously engaging in the work of the law and in the production of meaning. The book first introduces the reader to the idea of semiotics in general and legal semiotics in particular, as well as to the major actors and shapers of the field, and to the heart of the matter: signs. The second part studies the development of the strains of thinking that together now define semiotics, with attention being paid to the pragmatics, psychology and language of legal semiotics. A third part examines the link between legal theory and semiotics, the practice of law, the critical legal studies movement in the USA, the semiotics of politics and structuralism. The last part of the book ties the different strands of legal semiotics together, and closely looks at semiotics in the lawyer’s toolkit—such as: text, name and meaning. 

I have posted the Preface and a brief explanation of the larger law and semiotics project of within which this book fits. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Katherine Pearson on Resident Rights and Responsibilities in Virginia's Continuing Care Retirement Communities

My colleague, Katherine Pearson has been doing great work on issues involving the treatment of the aged. Especially interesting for me has been recent work on the institutional regulation of enterprises that provide nursing and related services to the aged.  More specifically, the issue of stakeholder versus shareholder rights in the management and operation of these facilities provides an additional and important wrinkle on current debates within corporate an international law on the nature of corporate enterprises and their relationship to stakeholders.  In this case, Professor Pearson considers the value of resident representation on the governing boards of nursing homes. She argues that "Voting membership on boards can promote trust among current and future residents, while also encouraging decisions-makers to listen directly to the residents’ perspectives on financial stability." (Testimony p. 4).

Sunday, December 02, 2012

International Conference on the Realisation of Socio-Economic Rights in Emerging Free Markets: Perspectives from China and India

The Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law (RCCL) of the School of Law of City University of Hong Kong organised an marvelous International Conference on “Realisation of Socio-Economic Rights in Emerging Free Markets: Perspectives from China and India”. The Conference will took place in Hong Kong on 29-30 November 2012.My great thanks to the conference organizer, Surya Deva, Associate Professor, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong for a thought provoking program that sought to push the envelop both respecting the institutionalization of social and economic rights norms and the important work of comparative study of China and India. 

The conference brought together a group of scholars from China, India and the West, all of whom sought to consider the role of socioeconomic rights developments in China and India.  This post includes the Conference Concept Note,  Conference Objectives, Program, and a short Biography and abstract of the presentations of the conference participants.

Friday, November 30, 2012

World Justice Project--Rule of Law Index 2012

WJP Rule of Law Index 2012® Released

  "The WJP Rule of Law Index® is an innovative quantitative assessment tool designed by the World Justice Project offering a detailed and comprehensive picture of the extent to which countries adhere to the rule of law in practice. It provides original data regarding a variety of dimensions of the rule of law, enabling the assessment of a nation’s adherence to the rule of law in practice, identify a nation’s strengths and weaknesses in comparison to similarly situated countries, and track changes over time." (From World Justice Project, The Rule of Law index).

The executive summary of the 2012 index and additional introductory material are posted below.
WJP Rule of Law Index 2012 report:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Posted New Paper: "Sovereign Investing and Markets-Based Transnational Legislative Power: The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund in Global Markets"

I have been considering issues of the ways in which states may now be seeking to develop strategies for governing through markets.  My focus has been on the use of sovereign wealth funds for that purpose.  I just posted a new paper to the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) that considers an aspect of this issue: Sovereign Investing and Markets-Based Transnational Legislative Power: The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund in Global Markets.

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

The object is not to study the way in which sovereign wealth fund activity in markets can eb regulated but instead the way that sovereign wealth funds may themselves regulate transnationally through their global market activities. The initial paper was presented at  “A Market is a Market is a Market: Financial Regulation and the Role of Law in an Era of Globalization,” International Conference hosted by the University of Ferrara, Italy, Nov. 9-10, 2012, about which I will write soon.

The abstract follows:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Melissa Tatum --"Native Americans: Underappreciated, Misrepresented and Job Creators

Melissa L. Tatum is a Research Professor of Law and the Director of Indigenous Peoples Law & Policy Program at the University of Arizona James E Rogers College of Law, the only University in the world to offer three law degrees (JD, LLM, and SJD) with a concentration in Indian and Indigenous peoples law

For Thanksgiving, Professor Tatum published an opinion essay, a portion of which was published  in the Arizona Daily Star (Melissa Tatum,US culture, justice system owe much to Indians, Arizona Daily Star, November 22, 2012. The essay is notable for its reminder of one of the more important consequences of globalization, the opening of borders and the emerging system of polycentric governance. The entire essay is reproduced here.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Blog From Jena Martin Amerson: The Business of Human Rights

Folks interested in the area of business and human rights might want to chack our Jena Martin Amerson's new blog: The Business of Human Rights.  

Here is the post introducing the blog.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ruminations 43: Dominus Illuminatio Mea

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

If the Lord is my illumination, then does God guide me as I create God? More importantly, it suggests that the approach to the sources of knowledge will substantially affect the way it is seen.

Martin Sirakov on Social Capital's Overlooked Influence

The World Bank Group defines social capital as "the institutions, relationships, and norms that shape the quality and quantity of a society's social interactions. Increasing evidence shows that social cohesion is critical for societies to prosper economically and for development to be sustainable. Social capital is not just the sum of the institutions which underpin a society – it is the glue that holds them together."  World Bank, What is Social Capital. Francis Fukuyama, understands "social capital is an instantiated informal norm that promotes cooperation between two or more individuals. The norms that constitute social capital can range from a norm of reciprocity between two friends, all the way up to complex and elaborately articulated doctrines like Christianity or Confucianism. They must be instantiated in an actual human relationship." Francis Fukuyama, Social Capital and Civil Society, Prepared for delivery at the IMF Conference on Second Generation Reforms (Oct. 1, 1999).

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

My former student and research assistant, Martin Sirakov, has written a nice essay on social capital.  He has consented to write a summary of the essay as a guest post.  That summary follows. The paper may be accessed HERE.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Thoughts on Emerging Trends in Chinese Constitutional Thought on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress

I thought it appropriate, on the eve of the 18th National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party to reflect on some of the major themes that are now confronting Chinese intellectuals and Chinese Communist Party leaders.


What follows are contemplations grounded in eight parts.  This is very much an opening to a more sophisticated analysis.  But it suggests one way of thinking through current issues of Chinese constitutionalism  that may be of most interest within China (even if less interesting to foreigners, and especially foreign intellectuals).  I look forward to reactions and additional conversation. A later version has been published as "中国共产党创造出世界上最活跃的发展体制" interview by Zhao Yining, Decision and Information, 2012 Vol.12, December 2012, ISSN 1002-8129.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Nicholas Rowland on Govind Gopakumar’s Paper: "Acting from a distance: States, scales, spatiality and STS."

My colleague Nicholas Rowland has just returned form the meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) at the Copenhagen Business School in (no surprise) Copenhagen Denmark. Nicholas Rowland, Back from 4S: Insights and Directions, Installing (Social) Order, Oct. 2012).

This post described the session Nicholas and Jan-Hendrik Passoth put together for that conference, and Nicholas’ comments on "Acting from a distance: States, scales, spatiality and STS," the paper presented by Govind Gopakumar, Associate Chair and Assistant Professor at the Centre for Engineering in Society, Concordia University, Canada. 

Corporate Social Responsibility Cultures and the Protection of Sexual Minorities in the United States

One of the most contentious issues for corporate social responsibility is that of the protection of women and sexual minorities. E.g., International Council on Human Rights POlicy, Sexuality and Human Rights – Discussion Paper - The ICHRP (2009) ("On a number of issues, rights activists differ in their views: the disputes between them defy attempts to formulate simple standards or conditions for legitimate sexual activity." Ibid., 32); UNESCO Bangkok, Human rights protections for sexual minorities in insular Southeast Asia (2011). The issues involved serve as a nexus point for the sometimes quite irreconcilable governance frameworks of states, international organizations, organized religions, deeply held ethnic and cultural views and the realities of local practice. At the same time, it is becoming clear that, however defined, there is emerging a movement, if not a consensus, toward the acceptance of some minimal level of protection for the rights of women and sexual minorities in the construction of international soft law frameworks for business and human rights. Yet this movement must be understood against the background of local law and practice, and especially of the public law of states within which many of the most powerful multinational corporate actors are organized. 

Wang Yang

There has been some speculation about the appointment of Wang Yang to the Politburo Standing Committee at the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress next month, though also equally strong speculation that he will not. See, e.g., Jamil Anderlini, “Mystery Shrouds Leadership Change”, Financial Times October 27, 2012, p. 2 (“The fixation on the final list of names is fed by apparent misinformation campaigns from groups who hope to influence the process).

 (Pix from TIME 100: The List: Wang Yang, Apparatchik, 2012)

Wang Yang is less well known in the West than his more left leaning contemporary and rival Bio Xilai. (But that may be ending, see Austin Ramzy, TIME 100: The List: Wang Yang, Apparatchik, 2012.  But he is still understood in Soviet terms (note the apparatchik reference in the Time 100 listing). Both Wang Yang and Bo Xilai had similar aspirations and for a while followed similar paths. But that, perhaps is where the similarities end. Whether or not Wang Yang is appointed to the Standing Committee, he is unlikely to remain in the shadows and it is important to begin to follow him more closely. My research assistant Keren Wang has put together a brief description of Wang Yang for the purpose of introducing him to non-Chinese readers, and to contrast, at least preliminarily, Wang Yang’s approach to that of the now discredited Bo Xilai.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Presenting Paper "Beyond Colonization—Programs of U.S. Legal Education Abroad by Indigenous Institutions" at Drexel Law Review Symposium, Innovations In International Legal Education

On Friday, October 12, the Drexel Law Review and the Drexel International Law and Human Rights Society hosted a one day symposium on "Building Global Professionalism: Emerging Trends in International and Transnational Legal Education." The symposium was held at the Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law, 3320 Market Street, Philadelphia. 

From the Program:
As the practice of many areas of law — including those conventionally regarded as wholly domestic — has come to have international and transnational dimensions, it has become increasingly important for graduating law students to have greater knowledge and understanding of international, comparative, and transnational legal perspectives as part of their basic legal education. While most U.S. law schools have not traditionally placed these aspects of legal education, legal practice, and the legal profession at the core of their pedagogical missions, a growing number of law schools have sought to more proactively develop the place of these global perspectives in their educational programs. This symposium examines and assesses a series of conceptual and practical themes at the leading edge of these developments, including innovative approaches to integrating international, transnational, and comparative perspectives into the law school curriculum; pioneering methods of bringing these perspectives into experiential and legal methods programs; and critical perspectives on all of these emerging ideas and trends.

This post includes program information; links to the video of the Conference and to my  paper and presentation:  "Beyond Colonization—Programs of U.S. Legal Education Abroad by Indigenous Institutions."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

On the U.N. Working Group Report to the U.N. General Assembly on the Issue of Business and Human Rights A/67/285

I have written about the UN Working Group on the issue of business and Human Rights before (e.g., Outcome of the second session of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises; On the New UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights: Building on the UN Guiding Principles.  The Working Group provides an institutional framework for carrying on the work of John Ruggie, who as Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Business and Human Rights was instrumental in developing and the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Working Group released its report to the General Assembly, where it outlines recommendations to States, business enterprises and other stakeholders on implementation of the UN Guiding Principles.  General Assembly 67th Sess, Report of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises A/67/285 Aug. 10, 2012 (the "Working Group Report").  The Working Group Report is best read alongside the Report of the SG on the contribution of the United Nations system as a whole to the advancement of the business and human rights agenda and the dissemination and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights A/HRC/21/21. This post provides a critical summary of the Working Group Report.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Digital Humanities in American Universities: A Report From CIC Universities in the US

Headquartered in the Midwest, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) is a consortium of mid-Western public and private universities including the University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Northwestern University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It understands itself this way: "For more than half a century, these world-class research institutions have advanced their academic missions, generated unique opportunities for students and faculty, and served the common good by sharing expertise, leveraging campus resources, and collaborating on innovative programs. Governed and funded by the Provosts of the member universities, CIC mandates are coordinated by a staff from its Champagne, Illinois headquarters.!" About CIC.

The CIC was pleased recently to announce the report by the CIC Digital Humanities Committee that is the product of the first CIC Digital Humanities Summit, held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in April 2012. The paper is said to reflect the consensus reached by the sixty faculty, librarians, and administrators attending that there are significant shared requirements necessary to foster thriving Digital Humanities communities, and a common belief in the importance of interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and open access and open source models. 
This post includes the executive summary of that report.  It is the intention of CIC to host a meeting of university administrators to discuss this further. Its is to take place in Minneapolis and is to produce a report and recommendations.  No current plans for involving university faculty governance organizations have been made.  Perhaps that is unnecessary to the project, though no one has asked.Still, it is also understood that those involved with the report will also present at an international conference on digital humanities next summer. 
The CIC encourages responses to local administrators (but not faculty governance unit heads; again another puzzlement) or to Amber Elaine Marks, Associate Director, Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC), 217-265-8106 OR

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Marching Toward the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party

My research assistant Keren Wang (SIA MIA 2012 expected) have been doing research in the run up to the 18th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (中国共产党第十八次全国代表大会).  This is an important event--one that will set the course of both state and Party for the next decade. For background, See Malcolm Moore, China's Communist Party Congress: Q & A, The Telegraph (UK), Sept. 28, 2012; Cheng Li, Preparing for the 18th Party Congress:  Procedures and Mechanisms, Hoover Institute 9-2012.

(The Communist Party leadership was out in force on Monday for a ceremony to commemorate National Day in Beijing. Edward Wong and Jonathan Ansfield, With a Transition Near, New Questions in China, New York Times, Oct. 1, 2012)

This brief post suggest some important contours of the upcoming meeting that might be a useful baseline for analysis as the Congress goes forward.  In later posts I will consider some issues of Chinese State Party constitutional organization in more detail. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Administrative Bloat and Institutional Power Structures

I have been struck recently by the relationship between the construction of administrative apparatus and its direct effects on the power relations among important stakeholders in an organization.  More importantly, I have noticed the way that manipulation of administrative structures can successfully change governance cultures from ones that are more collegial and transparent to ones that are more hierarchical and closed.  And most important, I would posit that these changes can be undertaken without changing the outward structure of institutional norms. I had thought this set of relationships were unique to the institutional transitions from Republic and Imperial organization in Rome, but I am beginning to think there is much to learn there.

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 20'12)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Conflict, Competition and Reputation--Structuring Market Behavior Within Risk or Regulatory Models

"Maintaining a strong reputation is critical for a company’s sustained success. Yet, almost every day a new crisis makes the headlines. These developments indicate a fundamental misalignment between growing reputational risk and its management." (Daniel Diermeier, The Need For Reputation Management Capabilities, The European Business Review 2012)

 (Daniel Diermeier, The Need For Reputation Management Capabilities, The European Business Review 2012)

Business is a risk taking enterprise.  And most forms have lots of competitors, each of which is delighted in enhancing their own markets at the expense of their competitors.  All enterprises have stakeholders whose interests sometimes align and sometimes conflict with those of the enterprise.  Each can affect the reputation of the others.  The new arena of conflict and competition centers on what had been a business backwater--corporate social responsibility--and its increasing significance in the economic decision making of enterprises.  This can pit national law against international standards and corporate against international regulatory frameworks. (Backer, Larry Catá, Multinational Corporations, Transnational Law: The United Nation's Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations as Harbinger of Corporate Responsibility in International Law. Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Vol. 37, 2006).  Nonetheless, the adverse effects of business activities on social, environmental or human rights interests of others is now an important component of business operation--and is assessed in part by its reputation. Still, there is a risk to a conflation of competition and conflict with reputation stress. Where reputation enhancement involves strategies that minimize risk taking, the result can be a move from a competitive to a regulatory/managed market environment.  That change in fundamental behavior approaches of enterprises can affect the nature and character of globalization in important ways. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ruminations 41: On the Social Construction of Preservation and Transparency in the Digital Age

 “We believe the way to protect books is you hold them close, and the way you protect digital data is you give it away.

(Doug Emery, an independent database handler, quoted in Mark Schrope,  "Raiders of the Lost Text: What Secretes Lie in the World's Oldest Library?, The Washington Post  Magazine, Sept. 9, 2012)

(Pix from Digital Collections / Archives, Mid Continent Public Library)

Consider the social construction of the preservation of knowledge in a digital age.  Preservation veils a highly charged issue of social ordering beneath the technical language of the techniques by which preservation is achieved.  Yet a closer look at preservation at this moment, when technology itself challenges the unquestioned connection between preservation and the power of the commodification of knowledge within the vessels in which they were preserved (e.g., physically tangible objects, like books) to support hierarchical social structures.  To speak of preservation of knowledge, then, is to understand the structures for the preservation of social order.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Nichola Gutgold on "Women and The US Presidency: From Symbolic to Viable"

Nichola D. Gutgold is an associate professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State Lehigh Valley.   She is a global leader in the study of women's communication styles in male dominated fields. She currently serves as Associate Professor of Communication Arts at Pennsylvania State University.  Professor Gutgold is author of a number of important books in this field.  Her books include The Rhetoric of Supreme Court Women: From Obstacles to Options (Lexington Books 2012);  Almost Madam President: Why Hillary Clinton ‘won’ in 2008 (Lexington Books, June, 2009), Seen and Heard: The Women of Television News, (Lexington Books, 2008), and Paving the Way for Madam President (Lexington Books, 2006). With Molly Wertheimer she co-authored, Elizabeth Hanford Dole: Speaking from the Heart (Praeger Press, 2004).

 (Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012))

She has been particularly interested lately in the rhetorical styles of women in politics.  She has just posted "Women and The US Presidency: From Symbolic to Viable" which I cross post here.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Always Uphold and Fully Utilize the Unique Advantages of the Party" (始终坚持和充分发挥党的独特优势) : Xi Jinping (习近平) and the Institutionalization of Intra-Party Democracy With Chinese Characteristics in the Chinese Communist Party

The 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (simplified Chinese: 中国共产党第十八次全国代表大会; traditional Chinese: 中國共產黨第十八次全國代表大會 will be the next major Communist Party Congress in China, which will likely be held in the sutom of 2012 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. It is widely expected that  Xi Jinping (习近平) and Li Keqiang (李克強) will succeed Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao as top Politburo Standing Committee members by October/November 2012, and take over the Presidency and Premiership in March 2013 at the National People's Congress.
It is not surprising, then, that Xi Jinping would make a major policy speech in advance of the Party Congress, one that would build on the theoretical lines developed by his predecessors from the foundational theory of the Chinese Communist Party and state and then seek to further develop these ideas. Xi Jinping did that in "remarks at the closing ceremony of a high-profile seminar attended by provincial and ministerial-level officials, ahead of the CPC's upcoming 18th National Congress."  Vice President stresses socialism with Chinese characteristics, Party building, Xinhua, July 24, 2012.  The speech, Always Uphold and Fully Utilize the Unique Advantages of the Party (始终坚持和充分发挥党的独特优势) was published in the  Qiushi Journal and remains unavailable in English.  A description was made available in English.  That article noted:
Xi said the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics is a developing undertaking which links the past and the future.

"We should adhere to the guidance of Deng Xiaoping's Theory and the important thought of the Three Represents, implemented the Scientific Outlook on Development, further emancipate the mind and firmly promote reform and opening-up," Xi said." (Ibid).
The central focus of the speech was on the institutional development of the Communist Party and of its role  in China. The speech is most significant le for the development of what is likely to be the animating statement on which policy will be developed--the Communist Party's "Five Advantages": theoretical advantage, political advantage, organizational advantage, and the advantage of close ties with the masses (回顾我们党的历史可以清楚地看到,在长期奋斗中党所形成的独特优势是全面的,包括理论 优势、政治优势、组织优势、制度优势和密切联系群众的优 势。).
This post seeks to make Xi Jinping's speech available to English speaking audiences.  It provides a partial translation of the Quishi Journal article focusing on its critical parts and summarizing the rest. A detailed analysis will be forthcoming.  I note, though, the strong connection between Deng Xiaoping's Four Cardinal Principles (Uphold the Four Cardinal Principles, March 30, 1979), the Three Represents (Sange Daibiao) and the Scientific Development and harmonious society principles that have each sought to add depth to Chinese constitutional theory. (e.g., Backer, Larry Catá, Party, People, Government, and State: On Constitutional Values and the Legitimacy of the Chinese State-Party Rule of Law System (January 12, 2012). Boston University International Law Journal, Vol. 30, 2012). My thanks to my research assistant Keren Wang (Penn State International Affairs MIA 2012 expected) for his translation.

The Consequences of Failures of "Engagement Transparency" and "Communicative Transparency"--An example from the University Sector

I am been working through the evolving conception of transparency.  Transparency is no longer merely a means of describing the discretionary choice of institutions to share information.  Nor is transparency only understood as a technique of post data harvesting utilization.  Transparency has both substantive and normative characteristics; it is an expression of power and of the means of managing relationships and behaviors within an institution and between an institution and its stakeholder.  (e.g., Backer, Larry Catá, Transparency and Business in International Law — Governance between Norm and Technique;  Backer, Larry Catá, Transparency and Business in International Environmental Law. Minnesota Journal of International Law (2012);  Backer, Larry Catá, From Moral Obligation to International Law: Disclosure Systems, Markets and the Regulation of Multinational Corporations. Georgetown Journal of International Law, Vol. 39, 2008). 

(Pix (c) Larry Catá Backer 2012)

The  evolving role and importance of transparency as norm and technique has reached all sorts of institutions--nor merely large enterprises and states, but also civil society actors and academic institutions. Particularly illustrative of the power of transparency and the consequences of failing to understand and deploy it in its engagement and communicative forms, is Penn State University.  Penn State has been engaged in a massive project of communicative transparency to outside stakeholders:  Progress at Penn State; and also a bit of communicative transparency among internal constituencies.  It is struggling with embedding engagement transparency systemically, still approaching this sort of transparency as an episodic, discretionary and top down derogation from standard operating procedure. The result, not surprising, is greater difficulty in managing the participation of important inside and outside stakeholders and more importantly, in affirming the legitimacy of its processes and decisions. The difficulties it is facing as it seeks to extract itself from a crisis precipitated by the arrest of a former employee for pedophilia suggests both the power of transparency in modern institutional behavior.  What follows is cross posted from the site I maintain for issues connected with my role as Chair of the Penn State University Faculty Senate.