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Business Continuity and Crisis Management: Advancing an Academic Discipline to Serve a Profession  

Carol Cwiak

The importance of the risk portfolio managed by business continuity management professionals challenges us to think beyond the field’s current state of existence to the purposeful establishment of an academic discipline that can underpin a recognized profession of business continuity management. Viewing and extending professional practice within, and beyond, baseline expectations based on a rich body of relevant scholarly literature is necessary to this effort. The relevant scholarly literature is distributed across dozens of disciplines and is often not identified or recognized as being within the parameters of business continuity management’s body of knowledge. The lack of a clearly defined body of knowledge is an impediment to the development of an academic discipline. An academic discipline of business continuity management would provide a platform to examine, support, and enhance practice in addition to supporting professionalization efforts. Recognized professions that base practice on a specialized body of knowledge and expertise are afforded the tenets of authority, autonomy, and monopoly. These tenets enhance the profession’s ability to elevate practice and serve its constituents and organizations. The importance of business continuity management discipline development and professionalization advancement efforts cannot be overstated. These efforts are key to both enhanced organizational resilience and greater societal resilience.


The Free Market  

Jason Brennan

Market-based economies outperform the alternative forms of economic organization on almost every measure. Nevertheless, this leaves open what the optimal degree of government regulation, government-provided social insurance, and macroeconomic adjustment is. Most economists seem to favor mostly, but not completely, free markets. Although regulation can in principle correct certain market failures, whether it will do so in practice depends in part on how pervasive and damaging corresponding government failures will be. Philosophers, unlike economists, tend to think that questions about the value of the free market are not settled entirely by examining how well free markets function. Some philosophers even claim that markets are intrinsically unjust. In their view, markets encourage wrongful exploitation, lead to excessive economic inequality, and tend to induce people to treat each other in inhumane ways. Among those philosophers who are more sanguine about markets, one major question concerns the moral status of economic liberty. Some philosophers, such as John Rawls, hold that economic liberty is purely of instrumental value. Citizens should be granted a significant degree of economic freedom only because this turns out, empirically, to produce good consequences. However, other philosophers, such as Robert Nozick and John Tomasi, argue that economic freedom is valuable in part for the same reasons that civil and political liberties are valuable—as a necessary means to respect citizens’ autonomy.


Political Budget Cycles  

Lasse Aaskoven and David Dreyer Lassen

The political budget cycle—how elections affect government fiscal policy—is one of the most studied subjects in political economy and political science. The key theoretical question is whether incumbent governments can time or structure public finances in ways that improve their chances of reelection; the key empirical question is whether this in fact happens. The incentives of incumbents to engage in such electioneering are governed by political institutions, observability of political choices, and their consequences, as well as voter knowledge, and both theoretical and empirical studies on political budget cycles have recently focused on conditions under which such cycles are likely to obtain. Much recent research focuses on subnational settings, allowing comparisons of governments in similar institutional environments, and a consensus on the presences of cycles in public finances—and in the reporting of public finances—is beginning to emerge.


Business in Peace Negotiations in Latin America  

Angelika Rettberg

Business—or the sum of privately run enterprises in all sectors of the economy, their owners, and managers—can have an important impact on the holding of peace talks, on agreement substance, and on the speed and depth of implementation. In fact, business has been part of peacebuilding processes in many conflict-affected societies in Latin America, both by spoiling ongoing efforts and by supporting negotiations, social dialogue, and transformative projects. The examples of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia show that there is not a uniform model whereby private sector actors define their interests and strategies in relation to peace talks and peacebuilding processes. Rather, factors related to the nature and intensity of conflict, the economic and international context, company traits and private sector organizational forms, as well as access to the policymaking process play an important role. Whether peace is achieved or not ultimately depends on a variety of factors. However, whether as spoiler, supporter, or simple bystander, the private sector is a crucial actor in societies seeking to build lasting peace.


Industrial Policy and Development in Africa  

Lindsay Whitfield

Economic development involves increasing agricultural productivity, building technological capabilities among domestic firms, export diversification, and industrialization. In the 21st century of fragmented production processes dispersed globally, it also entails positioning domestic firms in global production networks in order to create wealth and employment as well as increasing production for a growing domestic market. Despite two decades of high levels of growth between the mid-1990s and mid-2010s, very few African countries have created manufacturing industries that are internationally competitive and have diversified their exports away from dependence on a few primary commodities, and most African countries still import the majority of their manufactured goods. Economic transformation does not emerge from the interplay of free market forces but rather requires proactive, targeted government policies. Such industrial policies include providing infrastructure, access to credit, and training labor but also incentivizing and assisting locally owned firms to build their technological capabilities in order to become internationally competitive. Well-conceived industrial policies are only successful if they are implemented, and that is much more difficult. African governments have been relatively less successful with implementing industrial policies, in the past and the present. They pursued ambitious industrial policies in the immediate post-independence period in the form of import-substitution industrialization strategies. At that time, industrial policies relied on the creation of state-owned enterprises, as in other regions of the world, but unlike in other developing countries, these strategies did not support private firms as well. This trend is explained by the political settlements in the newly independent African countries, which were generally characterized by a small domestic capitalist class with low capabilities. The experience accumulated during the import-substitution period was undermined by rapid trade liberalization and privatization in the 1980s and 1990s. Liberalization and privatization opened up new economic opportunities and shifted the locus of capital accumulation from the state sector to the private sector, while democratization and elections created pressure on political leaders to find more political financing with which to maintain their ruling coalitions and to find it through avenues outside of the state, including starting their own businesses. Ruling elites’ strategies for political survival inevitably became intertwined with government strategies to promote economic development. Whether or not contemporary African governments pursue industrial policies and are able to implement them depends on how ruling coalitions are formed within the distribution of power in a particular society. No set of ruling elites is ever completely autonomous. What matters is how coalitional pressures shape the political costs of certain policies and the ability to implement them, given the resistance or support from powerful groups within and outside the ruling coalition. This is because industrial policies require decisions about resource allocation and institutional changes that usually are contested by some group in society and because they entail creating, allocating, and managing economic rents.


Decision Support Systems  

Sean B. Eom

A decision support system is an interactive human–computer decision-making system that supports decision makers rather than replaces them, utilizing data and models. It solves unstructured and semi-structured problems with a focus on effectiveness rather than efficiency in decision processes. In the early 1970s, scholars in this field began to recognize the important roles that decision support systems (DSS) play in supporting managers in their semistructured or unstructured decision-making activities. Over the past five decades, DSS has made progress toward becoming a solid academic field. Nevertheless, since the mid-1990s, the inability of DSS to fully satisfy a wide range of information needs of practitioners provided an impetus for a new breed of DSS, business intelligence systems (BIS). The academic discipline of DSS has undergone numerous changes in technological environments including the adoption of data warehouses. Until the late 1990s, most textbooks referred to “decision support systems.” Nowadays, many of them have replaced “decision support systems” with “business intelligence.” While DSS/BIS began in academia and were quickly adopted in business, in recent years these tools have moved into government and the academic field of public administration. In addition, modern political campaigns, especially at the national level, are based on data analytics and the use of big data analytics. The first section of this article reviews the development of DSS as an academic discipline. The second section discusses BIS and their components (the data warehousing environment and the analytical environment). The final section introduces two emerging topics in DSS/BIS: big data analytics and cloud computing analytics. Before the era of big data, most data collected by business organizations could easily be managed by traditional relational database management systems with a serial processing system. Social networks, e-business networks, Internet of Things (IoT), and many other wireless sensor networks are generating huge volumes of data every day. The challenge of big data has demanded a new business intelligence infrastructure with new tools (Hadoop cluster, the data warehousing environment, and the business analytical environment).