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Don’t Judge the Economy by the Number of Start-Ups

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More new businesses are better for society, right?

That’s a common assumption. For instance, take this recent Washington Post piece, headlined, “More businesses are closing than starting. Can Congress help turn that around?” Sounds ominous at first. But wait a minute – is starting more new businesses always a good thing? Isn’t it a basic economic tenet that well-functioning markets will have many entrances and exits, that weak businesses (including thousands of one-person enterprises) will get recycled quickly (fast failure) and that over time, vigorous, ...

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Alibaba’s Next Move: Grow Abroad, or Go Deeper into China?

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After raising $25 billion in a U.S. initial public offering earlier this month, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma and his leadership team have a tough task ahead: positioning the company for its next growth phase.

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The Biggest Questions Facing Post-referendum Scotland

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Now that the majority of Scotland has voted no to independence, the country, its business community and the rest of the U.K. must decide where their future lies.

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How AIG Moved Toward Evidence-Based Decision Making

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New developments in data science offer a tremendous opportunity to improve decision-making. Machine learning, pattern recognition, and other predictive analytics tools can constitute a source of competitive advantage for those companies that adopt them early on; but like any new capability, there is an enormous gulf between awareness, intent and early engagement, and achieving significant business impact.

How can companies better manage the process of converting the potential of data science to real business outcomes?  How can companies go beyond merely ...

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A New Approach for Managing Organizational Time

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Companies have elaborate processes for allocating and investing capital. Yet, in contrast, in most organizations, time goes largely unmanaged. Companies are awash in e-communications and teleconferences. Meeting time has skyrocketed. Dysfunctional meeting behavior is on the rise. But formal controls for managing organizational time are rare and there are few consequences when employees waste precious organizational time. As a result, time is squandered and wasted.

But some forward-thinking companies are taking a different approach—they are treating time as a scarce resource ...

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The Most Engaging Ideas Leave Something Out

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The white circles you see in the grid below don’t really exist, nor do the white diagonal lines you see connecting them. Yet they are the most interesting part of the illustration. Even if you try to ignore the white space, your brain will override the order:

Grid-circles

As any visual artist will tell you, the white space is just as important as the drawing. In music, too, the pauses matter just as much as the sound. And yet in ...

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What the Mission to Mars Shows About India’s Innovators

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The success of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in placing the Mangalyaan satellite into orbit around Mars last week has three important lessons for companies about winning in emerging markets: big ambitions are critical, constraints can be liberating, and India can be an R&D powerhouse.

There have only been three other successful orbiter missions to Martian orbit: probes from the United States, Russia, and the European Space Agency. Even more impressive than India succeeding in its first attempt is the ...

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When Not to Use Feminism to Sell Stuff to Women

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Marketing to women by championing feminist ideals has never been more timely, or more popular. But it’s a dangerous proposition that businesses now and in the future need to treat very carefully.

Case in point — yesterday in Paris, the  Chanel SS15 runway show ended with a “protest” march that included a group of (all white) models strutting in couture wielding signs that read pro-women statements that said things like “Ladies First” and “Feminist but Feminine.” It felt contrived, and there didn’t seem to be a lot of ...

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Understanding China’s Hard Line on Hong Kong

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When Chinese students first took to the streets of Beijing in April 1989 — initially to mourn the death of reformist former Premier Hu Yaobang, then to protest for more democracy — nobody in the Chinese leadership seems to have been planning for it end with tanks rolling into Tiananmen Square.

As Ezra P. Vogel tells it in his painfully long but hugely informative biography Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China — which I read on trains and planes and ...

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Online Bootlegging Surges Ahead

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Despite crackdowns and arrests by U.S. authorities, illegal file sharing still accounts for a large proportion of online traffic: Media analytics firm Tru Optik reports that of the nearly 10 billion movies, television shows, and other files downloaded globally in the second quarter of 2014, only about 6% were legal, according to The New York Times. Attitudes haven’t changed much either: A study by Microsoft Research found that young internet users tend to not see a problem in lifting images ...

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