The Business and Logistics World

“Business is fascinating at the organizational and logistical level. I’m more interested in books and music than I am in business. But that is just my personal preference. People who act as if their interest in, say, indie rock is intrinsically more deep than an interest in org charts are simply misinformed…the world of how things get done in business – the world of factory floors, imports/exports, incentives, distributors and retailers etc. is mind-blowing, and only becoming more so as more and more markets are knit together. If you go to Dubai you can see Nigerians selling generators made in China to a mix of Urdu and Persian speakers who captain wooden boats down the Dubai Creek to Al Ain. That is interesting, no matter what your leaning.”

That is an annonymous reader posting about his/her experience in the business world on The Daily Dish at the Atlantic.  When I was studying economics as an undergraduate I was always annoyed by people who assumed I was going into business; I never much cared for business, or at least what the popular conception of business is, nor the pretensionness of many of my heading-to-business-school classmates.  I studied economics because it gave me a toolset for analyzing a wide range of interesting problems related to incentives, institutions, and public choice, and I naturally gravitated toward applied microeconomics.

Now, I find myself increasingly thinking about organizational structure, management, and logistics.  Partially because Shoulder to Shoulder is in a major transition from a small mom-and-pop shop to a legitimate international non-profit organization with 70+ employees across multiple sites, partially because my boss, while a computer scientist by training, spent his career as an executive at Procter and Gamble, and partially because I have spent a lot of time working with our Director of Operations on both organizational structure and using information management technology to facilitate our day-to-day operations.  And while I still don’t much care about business, the challenges in creating a structure that incentivizes employees to perform and a system that enables us to know what we have, where it is, and how to move it somewhere else efficiently are fascinating.

Hat tip to Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution.

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