What Peter Drucker Would Be Reading

Peter Drucker

Recent selections from around the web that, we think, would have caught Peter Drucker’s eye:

1.   The Pitfalls of Using Online and Social Data in Big Data Analysis: Facebook, Twitter and other engines of social media look so temptingly representative of markets and consumers that it’s easy to be misled by them. A piece in the MIT Sloan Management Review points out, “These platforms represent skewed samples from which it is difficult to draw accurate conclusions.” Meanwhile, a study by Zeynep Tufekci of the University of North Carolina backs this up, noting, “Each social media platform carries with it certain affordances which structure its social norms and interactions and may not be representative of other social media platforms, or general human social behavior.” So, caveat Tweeter.

2.   Why African Entrepreneurs Outperform Their Peers When the Playing Field Is Leveled: What African curse? If you account for the corruption and other disadvantages faced by businesses in Africa, entrepreneurs there are actually doing better than their counterparts in wealthier parts of the world. That, at least, is the argument of a paper by Ann E. HarrisonJustin Yifu Lin and L. Colin Xu, as summarized at [email protected]. The authors’ counter-intuition doesn’t stop there. Having lots of tribes, they argue, is good for the economy. “Indeed, ethnic fractionalization is robustly and positively correlated with labor productivity levels and growth,” they write. “The heterogeneity encourages creativity and cooperation.”

3.  In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters: If you’re born poor in Seattle, then odds are much higher that you’ll be in the wealthiest quartile of households as an adult than if you’re born poor in Atlanta. The New York Times looks at the “economic geography” of the United States and concludes that some places allow for much more economic mobility than others. “Income mobility was also higher in areas with more two-parent households, better elementary schools and high schools, and more civic engagement, including membership in religious and community groups,” it adds.

4.  Dx Comment of the Week: Last week, when we looked at people choosing satisfying careers over lucrative ones, we asked our readers if they had ever turned down better-paying work for the sake of more meaning and fulfillment. Reader georgia had this to say:

Yes. I turned down the COO position in the biggest film studio from Romania and Eastern Europe to fight against negative and fraudulent business conduct that affected my life, my small business, and my family. . . . The only success you get is not loosing yourself. One may get lost in this crazy world from time to time, but when you still have yourself you never feel lost.