Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review about the class

I think the structure of this class is really creative. It also provides me lots of interesting organizational management concept to think about. For example, I think the Illinibucks idea and transfer pricing is interesting because I never think about the charge of goods and services between different divisions within one organization. I remember we write blog post about Illinibucks. When I wrote a paper about Bitcoin for my final project, I relate my concern of the market to this idea, even though their functions are different. But I realize that people’s behavior in hoarding Illinibuck might create deflation in the market. I have a better understanding of my opinion and rationale of it. I used to think this class is not that relevant to pure economics because it somewhat focus on human’s behavior in the organization. But at the end of semester, I realize that we can use some economic knowledge to explain the reasons of these behaviors. In my opinion, this is the most valuable take away point for this course.

Online blogging is really a good idea because people can learn more by self-reflection and think about the material in a more freedom way. I think the interaction in comment is really important because sometimes we learn more from other’s perspectives. However, the shortage of blogging is that it is too freedom. Sometimes I don’t know whether I am right or wrong, and getting panic if I see the comment that I did something wrong. It allows me to read other’s post before I start writing, even though I try to not do it and finish the post independently. But sometimes I will just be influenced by other’s thought and hard to come up some creative one after that. And I feel like I can derive the concept relevant to class from one experience, such as group project or previous internship, which is both a good and bad thing. But overall, I like this format of constructing the class because it is easier to relate course materials to our experience and make it more applicable.

It usually doesn’t take me a long time to do Excel homework and blogging. For Excel homework, I will go through the instruction in Excel and watch the tutorial on Youtube if necessary. Honestly, I am often stuck by several questions in Excel homework. So sometimes I will discuss them with my classmate or send them an email to make sure my understanding is correct. It usually takes me longer time to write the blog post, depends on how I familiar with the topic. However, since most of them are based on experience, the average time for me to do blogging is about an hour.

Sometimes I think that it is a little bit harder to think about examples different from the example in guidance before we really learn the concept. So sometimes we will misunderstand the purpose of the pose. I will suggest that for some abstract concept, we can have a 100-150 words reflection post after the discussion section and clarify some misunderstanding concept in the original post. This might be easier for the instructor to monitor whether we really understand the idea. Also, I feel that in this structure, honestly I will seldom read textbook and only refer to some concept when I prepare for the exam. I am not sure whether there will be better substitute of reading textbook. But if we can have more updated news article to help us understand the concept, it will be more interesting than rarely reading textbook.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Company's Reputation

I believe that a company’s branding and public image can significantly influence public’s perception of the company. I never worked for named brand in the U.S. However, as a consumer, I have more or less experience with all kinds of brand. My first reaction to this topic is Starbucks. As a coffee company, it includes social responsibility in its mission. For Starbuck’s fans, the fair trade coffee can be a reason for people to purchase it. And it successfully constructs its brand as doing decent trade and being responsible for society. No matter how its coffee taste and its capacity/price, its reputation in being responsible and decent becomes an incentive for consumer to purchase and a feature of marketing and branding in foreign countries. In fact, the public perception of Starbucks is different in other countries than in the U.S. I believe that Starbucks is a quite common and affordable brand that represents coffee in every day life in the U.S. However, in China, it used to be branded as luxury and targeting high-end consumer. A recent news report even stated that Starbucks in China has the highest price all over the world. I think it is part of its branding strategy to trigger curiosity to a new brand and utilize some people’s vanity. However, I appreciate more on its branding strategy in the U.S. because its reputation is more positive because it involves with social responsibility and the quality of products.

I also think of a bad example of brand and its reputation. Chick-Fil-A is one of the first brands that I choose to against after having some sense of it. Chick-Fil-A experienced a controversy for it against same sex marriage. I also saw some news about racism issue of the employee of Chick-Fil-A in California. As a result, my perception of the brand’s reputation turned bad and I decided never purchase in this food chain. Even though I don’t sure whether other will do the same thing, I perceive minority issue as very serious topic and I will prefer to purchase in a brand that has more inclusive culture and more friendly to various groups of people. In this case, even though there is no impairment on the reputation on the quality of product itself, consumer might still choose to against a brand just because it has bad reputation on the issues they are concerned about.

In my opinion, reputation of a brand is not only tied to its product quality, but also relevant to its mission and opinions in social issues. For those industries that has minor difference in product among brands, customer might choose to purchase relies on its reputation on other aspects, such as social responsibility or its entertainment effect. Besides the condition I mentioned above, we can see some organization sponsor sports and venue. It is also a way to brand companies’ image and manifest its concern of the community. Since different people have different perception, organization should figure out its targeted preference and what they value the most. Then trying to cumulate reputation in these aspects.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Personal Reputation

When considering ourselves as customers, reputation of business is an important element for us to choose brands and sellers. From business to personal level, we still own our personal business to represent the “brand” of ourselves. I guess it might be a little hard to consider our reputation because college students haven’t exposed to the real world too much. However, I found some interesting skills and personality traits can be built as reputation in individual level.

As an international student, there is no doubt that I have a strong reputation in my English skill in my whole family. The reputation development process is pretty simple in the case because I am the only person study aboard and major in communication and economics. It is interesting to see people’s intuition on the relationship between major and proficiency in English. One of my cousin studies accountancy in Australia. But the perception of his English skills is lower than mine because my family tends to think B.A. requires a stronger skill. It somewhat makes sense even though I believe that this stereotype is not necessarily true. People also perceive this reputation during my summer internship in China. I usually helped my colleague to translate documents. I don’t perceive the reputation in language skill is an intentional development process. Sometimes it is just something people believe and they insist their perception no matter how you explain. I felt like reputation itself is not necessarily making me feel good, but I try to maintain it by satisfying people’s needs and requests. For example, I was responsible for teaching my younger cousin’s English during my summer break. Even though I don’t like teaching kids, this is something that my family perceive as I have obligation to do. In workplace, sometimes it also bothers me. I was asked to help my supervisor to write an English essay to pass a journalist certificate exam. It is quite similar as helping her to cheat but I didn’t refuse it because I didn’t want to make her feel bad and have a hard time with me. Even though I maintain my reputation in my skill, sometimes I personally don’t appreciate it too much in this circumstance.

It is obvious that different reputations require different process to develop; some are easier, while some are harder. Comparing my two majors, I felt like I have more reputation in communication major and especially about gender communication. I didn’t realize it until my friends invite me to speak about feminism in China in their RSO’s weekly discussion and my professor of that class recommend me to assist a research conducted by her PhD student. To develop some reputation in certain academic or research area as an undergraduate student, I think taking a relevant class and keep passion in doing research and sharing some updated news and findings with people are important. I don’t consider myself as an expert and I am not that interested in academic field. I just have passion on it and wrote a blog about it for my James Scholar project. I also keep sharing relevant news and articles after finish that class. I think people have more incentives to maintain reputation in the field they are interested in. For example, I participate in that research even though I knew it would make me really busy in this semester. It can help me not only maintain the reputation, but also gain some rewards from it. For example, I can get recommendation letter from relevant professors and easier to be admitted by communication department if I apply their programs as grad school. I can also get something write in my resume and broaden my network. I don’t think it is wise to “cashed it in” reputation and abandon the coming opportunities because a long-term relationship with low uncertainties will always be more helpful. Though I don’t have experience in cashing in my reputation, I think this is something that might bring me rewards and new opportunities. So I have incentives to do extra work to maintain it.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Principals Problem

As far as I am currently studying to get my public relation certificate, my intuition on this topic will be the task of a public relation practitioner. The structural model of associate in public relation is similar as the example of law firm. Public relation associate should report to both client and the firm. This is a common model in real world practice. Once we have clients, we need to balance both clients and company's needs.

If we consider the professor as the boss in company and the class is an organization, my project in public relation class can be a triangle model. This project require us to choose a RSO and do a communication audit on them, then develop strategic plans to realize its goal with $1,000 budget. Even though the syllabus is based on assumption and does not require us to implement those plans, we tried to set it as practical because we really want this RSO have more awareness on campus. However, if we directly write what we really suggest it to do on the assignment, it might become a less fancy one and imply a sense that we don’t fully understand the course material. As a result, we decided to write a different plan in the assignment, such as 5k run and social events, instead of something we really suggest them to do. This is a little bit far from real world experience because it doesn’t have profit and budget involved between the “company” and “client.”

In real world experience, triangle conflict is something must be solved rather than make up plans and statistics. I used to intern in an investment bank during summer and observed many inconsistencies between clients and company. One possible solution is “end justifies means,” which means associate will take the success of getting clients pleasant and finally earning the deal as their primary consideration. In this circumstance, they might ignore some needs of the company. For example, they might use the company’s resource and network to solve the client’s personal project in order to make an unofficial connection with the clients. This is a grey zone of company’s policies because associate sometimes inappropriately utilizes company’s resource but they can justify themselves as achieving the goal of company. I felt like it’s the implicit rules for industry with triangle structure. Both principals have some tolerance level of something that might incompatible with their goals in short run. Their concerns are whether this associate can help them achieve their goals in the end.

There are absolutely various ways to resolve the condition. If both principals can sit down and negotiate about the deal, it should be the ideal condition. But due to the limit on time and resource, associate must act independently without noticing both principals in lots of circumstance. I also had experience that when our associate ignored some request of the clients, they just turned to another investment bank, which can provide them more benefits. I think the balance of clients and company’s needs are based on the market structure. If the competition in getting the clients is really intense, the associate might ignore the company in some situation. But it really depends on the circumstance and base line in different people’s concerns.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Parallel experiences of team work

Teamwork is an important skill of interpersonal communication. It is challenging because it is not absolutely on individual level. Instead, lots of external factors, such as personality of teammates, rules and norms within a team, and roles of team members, can strongly influence teamwork performance. Also, there is no doubt that some external incentives can enhance quality of team work.

I am currently doing a group project for another class and I really enjoy it. The professor set up really clear grading policies with rewards and punishment. All group members were asked to set up a common goal together and reach a mutual agreement about how to conduct the project, such as never miss meeting unless emergency. It set up an informal rules and norms for small group and really made things done more effectively. The grading policy also provides some incentives and punishments for members' performance. For example, he suggested that all team members should vote for the most contributing and cooperative person in the final assessment. Even though every one in the team basically share the same grade, the member with highest vote will be rewarded some extra credit in his/her individual grade. On the other hand, if most of group members compliant on a certain group member's behavior or attitude, he would investigate and might lower that person's letter grade. The informal role setting in this group project also works really well. To prevent waste and noise in communication, all teams should appoint only one person to be the representative to communicate with professor and consolidate information. Even though it might cause inefficiency in some circumstance, it save our time and make the feedback process easier.

Honestly, I don't think I really have terrible teamwork experience. Even though sometimes people worked inefficiently, we could still finish the task on time. I had painful experience to figure out the communication process. In some project that requires external communication, it might be confused to figure out different people's responsibility. Usually, people have formal roles and responsibilities in a structural organization. But for external personnel who are not familiar with the process, they might choose people to contact based on proximity and intuition. My supervisor used to get really frustrated when she knew one of our external partners directly reach me via email. Then she emphasized the hierarchy of the organization that people should assign task by contacting the director first, because I am not responsible for reporting to people outside the organization. And some of the requests actually confuse me. However, after my supervisor talked to both part, this person started directly reaching to another student intern. Some of his requests haven't been negotiated and reported to people who are in charge, so we sometimes we receive requests that are contradict to each other and waste time in communication. I think this is the drawback of unclear communication flow in a team and in the organization. It might also due to different people have different viewpoints about their jobs. For this external person, his goal is obtaining his need as soon as possible so he will reach student intern because we usually reply email more timely. However, as far as we are concerned, we need to make sure the accuracy of our job. And for management level, they want to keep a structure of the organization.