August 22, 2006
Rigidities & Employment: Small Details, Large Effects
In my small note last week, on MENA Trade, Business Culture & Americans our colleague Shaheen rightly raised the issue of negative effects of apparently small issues as well as the negative impact of what I might call "sand in the wheels" - such as heavy visa regulations that can kill time sensitive deals - an increasingly common issue in a world of accelerating decision cycles.
Aside from the conversation in comments on the challenges of visas for the entrepreneur looking to build exports (as I note, supposedly a key policy concern for the US), my own suggestion with respect to visa services was rightly critiqued for the remaining bureaucratic braking effect.
Working on recruiting some interns for a project, I had the occasion to reflect on the very criticism Shahine made regarding my suggestion as well as why government job-exchange schemes have such low efficiency and success rates - and further on the advantages of the free-wheeling anglo system versus the heavy bureaucratic habits of the continental system in employment. Somewhat stereotyped, but the facts on the ground support the stereotype.
My experiences so far in simply beginning to attempt to recruit interns with the local schools has been entertaining at one level - depressing on another. As has been the attempt to use the governmental job exchange.
Illustrative of the bureaucratic approach, rather than a free market approach, the so-called "private business" schools generally want me to establish a "convention" - or some bureaucratic piece of nonsense formally committing me to internships although I have fuck all for confidence in any of them else I might bloody hire right away. As well as "justify" my need for interns. Well, I bloody well want them - why should I "justify" an internship to some school clerk who clearly barely understands my business to begin with?
This of course presumes that one can navigate the bureaucracy to actually speak with someone who is supposedly dealing with internships for their students. Only my persistance has gotten me to that point. North Americans would be shocked at the almost total incomprehension and near total indifference of this supposed business schools at the idea of actually putting themselves at the disposal of firms seeking interns. Never mind the reaction (as in putting me on hold hoping I will go away) to someone actively seeking interns.
The conceptual framework is dominated by the same Continental bureaucracy attitudes found in the governmental sector where my mini-Kafka-esque attempt to use the supposed national employment agency - whose of course real purpose is merely to generate paper shuffling jobs but I did have to try - stopped at the point of my refusal to sign an engagement to engage their interns proposed. Why the fuck would I do that? I don't even know what they'll send me. I confess I was quite nasty to the person in question, so it is entirely possible that the turn of events was not reflecting policy but me and the person getting at total logger-heads.
Regardless, the contrast with the Anglo Saxon model where business schools active seek out firms to place interns with, and further positively fall over themselves if you approach them, is stark.
A small illustration of the "sand in the gears" that while trivial by itself leads cumulatively to lost opportunities whose effects themselves cumulate.
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ahh yes i know that process quite well except from the intern side of things. it was like pulling teeth to even get an audience with GCT in spite of fancy letters from two continents and presidents of universities. i ended up settling for training at the factory of a former school-mate of one of my professors. i learned plenty about the marble tile business but never got my chance to really play with phosphates.
i assume you've checked with your contacts for elligible children/nieces/nephews/cousins/hangers-on?
Heh, you gave me a good laugh with this one L. Boy I know what you're talking about, I have some quite ridiculous anecdotes to recount in that sense, from both sides of the Med.