Tag Archives: James D. McNiven

Universities in Crisis: a series

Reed College, Portland, Oregon. Photo by Deborah Jones © 2010

Reed College, Portland, Oregon. Deborah Jones © 2010

Jim McNiven wraps up his three-part series The Future of the Global University System (public access) with thoughts on Globalizing Access to Higher Education. An excerpt:

Let’s take a tour d’horizon of what seem to be the relevant pieces of the situation outlined in the preceding two Parts of this essay. Governments, either quickly or slowly, are withdrawing from public funding for post-secondary education. As a general rule, governments everywhere are operating with deficits and growing debt loads, which are becoming unsustainable, either mathematically or politically. Something has to give. If there is a cheaper way to provide post-secondary education, then this has to become an issue, even where today’s governments are dedicated to providing the service for free. A French Premier once noted famously that, ‘to govern is to choose.’ By implication, something expensive will be hardly be chosen against its cheaper alternative.

Not all parts of the existing university system will be discomfited equally as the choice against traditional post-secondary education continues to become widespread. Technical colleges, where hands-on training is important, will continue to be supported. Small, residential teaching institutions, charging high tuitions but performing both socializing and education functions for those who can afford them, will continue to exist. Some of the most famous larger institutions, which have brand-names that are prestigious, will continue to be filled and paid for by the world’s top students and by the world’s elite families. Research institutions that train only graduate students (MA and PhDs) and which derive their funding from research sources may actually increase their small numbers.

The rest will find it difficult to survive…. read  Part 3: Globalizing Access to Higher Education (no charge*)

Here is Jim McNiven’s column page, including the series, The Future of the Global University System.

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Flash Boys: Nathan Rothschild redux

McNiven for F&O bio

Jim McNiven

Michael Lewis’s latest book, Flash Boys, is the 21st Century version of the story of those British financiers who lost out to Nathan Rothschild in 1814, and of their attempts to figure out how Rothschild did it, writes Jim McNiven in ThoughtlinesToday, semaphores and carrier pigeons have been replaced with fibre optic cables and microwave towers. There is nothing illegal in getting to the market microseconds ahead of the other guy by using up-to-date technology. And yet, in the aftermath of the trauma of the crash of 2008, the unethical and the illegal easily flow together, especially when the risk is of another crash. An excerpt of McNiven’s new  column: 

“I Stole It Fair and Square.” I have sometimes used that quote to describe what went on in much of the United States’ land policy with respect to Native Americans. An awful lot of land was acquired from various ‘chiefs’ who were deemed by the American authorities to have the legal right to sell property presumably owned by their tribes. Often the ‘purchase’ was made for a pittance, especially from chiefs who were largely unaware of the import of what was being discussed, since in their world view no one could own the land. Treaty in hand, the ‘buyers’ would then move in and evict the tribe from the land, survey it, and sell it off in parcels to eager settlers, all legal and proper-like.

Cross this with another story: that of Nathan Rothschild in London in 1814. Two hundred miles away, across the English Channel, British and Allied forces were meeting the French army at Waterloo, near Brussels. The outcome would affect the British financial market. Rothschild had operatives in Brussels who reported the outcome to him, not with the standard technology of the time, of fast horses and Channel sailing ships, but through semaphores and carrier pigeons. He got advance information, and did well out of it.

Now, ratchet these two early 19th century stories forward 200 years and we arrive at Michael Lewis’ latest book, Flash Boys.  … log in to read I Stole It Fair and Square.*

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Frederick W. Taylor: the man who made us

Our world is Taylor-built, and we don’t even realize it because, rhetorically asks Jim McNiven in his new Thoughtlines column, “Does a fish know it’s wet?” An excerpt of his thoughts on Frederick Winslow Taylor:

Frederick_Winslow_Taylor_cropThis application of research and science to human work behaviour is so much a part of our lives that we hardly notice it today. It has led to a system that produces and distributes more goods and services to everyone than has ever been seen before. Without Taylor’s application of experimental research to the problems of production in the late 1800s, Henry Ford could not have created his version of the assembly line, Ray Croc could not have developed McDonald’s systems, Ray Walton could not have developed Wal-Mart’s logistics — and so on.

Log in first to read McNiven’s column, The Most Influential Man of the 20th Century. *

Jim McNiven’s columns are available to monthly subscribers or with a $1 site-wide day pass to Facts and Opinions. Independent, non-partisan and employee-owned, F&O performs journalism for citizens, funded entirely by readers. We do not carry advertising or solicit donations from non-journalism foundations or causes.

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On corporations and democratizing prosperity: McNiven

The word “corporation” has lately been vilified in polarized political discourse — but not so long ago, it was the political “left” that championed corporations, writes Thoughtlines columnist Jim McNiven. “Democratizing prosperity would have been virtually impossible without ‘freeing’ the corporation, he argues in his new column, The Logic of Incorporation. Excerpt:

McNiven for F&O bioThe great French historian, Fernand Braudel, saw capitalism in its basic form as the injection of capital between the actions of buyer and seller. This is both simple and profound. It explains the difference between a farmers’ market and a supermarket. In the former, the producer/seller and the buyer meet face-to-face for the exchange. In the latter, the producer sells to an intermediary, who then may process, transport and resell the good to a supermarket chain that, in turn distributes it and resells it once more to the final buyer. Capital is used to conduct the producer/buyer economic relationship at a distance …

Jim McNiven’s Thoughtlines column is available to subscribers, or with a $1 day pass to Facts and Opinions.

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Introducing Thoughtlines, a new column by Jim McNiven

McNiven for F&O bio

Jim McNiven

Facts and Opinions is pleased to welcome aboard Jim McNiven and to introduce his new regular column, Thoughtlines, in Commentary.

In his inaugural column, Bill, Shane and Jim, McNiven tells the tale of three men who changed the modern world, from the baseball field to major political campaigns, but who remain almost unknown.

McNiven is Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, where he still teaches part time, and Senior Policy Research Advisor with Canmac Economics Ltd. He has been a Fulbright Research Professor at Michigan State University’s Canadian Studies Center and, at Dalhousie, was the R. A. Jodrey Chair in Commerce and Dean of the Faculty of Management. He has served as Deputy Minister of Development for Nova Scotia, and President of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council.

He has also been CEO of a small technology company, served on numerous corporate and government boards, and was a member of the Canadian Royal Commission on National Passenger Transportation. McNiven, who has a PhD from the University of Michigan, has written widely on public policy and economic development issues, co-authored three books, and has a special interest in American business history.

In A Lesson Passed On, his piece in October for the Loose Leaf salon of Facts and Opinions, McNiven wrote about taking his young grandson to a museum for Cold War-era Titan nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles – and how that trip put the ghosts and goblins of Halloween into perspective.

Posted in Gyroscope

Fright night?

At Halloween this year, Jim McNiven’s thoughts turned to his grandson – and a tour he took with the nine-year-old boy at a museum in the American Southwest.

The Titan Missile Museum – built during the Cold War to launch nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles at enemies of the United States – puts to shame the scary ghosts and goblins that prowl North America’s streets each October 31st.

Log in to read McNiven’s account of their adventure, available to monthly subscribers or with a $1 day pass to Facts and Opinions. 


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