Monday, October 22, 2012

Learning to Learn

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Learning to Learn

The most important feature of learning is making the basic effort to discover key facts on your own. The cutting and pasting that is becoming increasingly popular since the web has made it possible to find a wide range of material has little to do with learning. Monkeys could accomplish the same thing if banana oil were spread on the keys of a computer keyboard.

Even worse, much of the cutting and pasting done by students today involves theft of material from other people. It is dishonest or even illegal in many cases. Perhaps the saddest thing is that few instructors currently teach the limits of what constitutes acceptable use of other peoples? work. Students submit papers that are almost entirely stolen without even realizing that they are violating important rules.

However, the saddest thing is that people just don?t learn from this process. Even if you do a weak job on your own, you will learn more than if you steal someone else?s work. In the long run, your grades will be better if you learn to learn and you also will do better on the job. Employers frequently complain to university faculty about the fact that new graduates have limited ability to learn and upgrade their skills on the job. Of course, the comments are not that polite ? terms like ?worthless? are applied to people who graduated with respectable grades from recognized universities.

The rest of this paper will be throwaway trash added simply to fill up space. Good luck ? if you are reading this you already need it. Try working on your own instead. Just like going to the gym, it builds mental muscles.

Since Stephen Hymer introduced the concept of disadvantages of foreignness

in 160, it has received scholarly attention from various fields. Although

Hymers definition of the liability of foreignness (i.e., costs of doing

business abroad) seems rudimentary, the concept has helped us to better

understand the behavior, decisions, and performance of MNEs during

international expansion. Indeed, most foreign direct investment (FDI)

theories assume that foreign subsidiaries are at a disadvantage relative to

domestic firms with respect to some aspects of doing business in

host-countries. To succeed in foreign markets, international companies need

to overcome the liability of foreignness through the commitment of dynamic

capabilities that can generate ownership-specific advantages superior to

those of local firms.

While the concept of the liability of foreignness has become more widely

used, the majority of the writing has been anecdotal in nature, and few

studies have rigorously investigated it, theoretically or empirically. Most

MNE and FDI research has focused on investigating the sources and types of

advantages, such as intangible assets, foreign investors must posses to

overcome whatever disadvantages they face. While the success of FDI does

depend on the advantages investors possess, disadvantages faced in the

host-country also affect performance. Understanding the nature of

disadvantages facing foreign subsidiaries could uncover ways to minimize

these liabilities of foreignness and improve the management of FDI.

At the turn of this new century, MNEs, whether large or small, are operating

in a global environment that differs in many aspects from the international

setting over the past decades. Many emerging markets provide MNEs with new

business opportunities but enormous liabilities of foreignness as well. Such

liabilities are derived and heightened not only from the complexity and

uncertainty of the regulatory and legal environment, but also the

specificity and criticality of the social and cultural environment. The

coexistence of more promising opportunities and higher liability of

foreignness in this new international context has many MNEs adjusting their

market entry, local operations, and global integration strategies.

There are several challenges to improving our understanding of liabilities

of foreignness. A primary challenge is that this construct is not well

developed or defined in the literature. Another challenge stems from the

idiosyncratic nature of these liabilities. Because host-country environments

differ significantly, the types of liabilities of foreignness vary across

countries. Consequently, increased understanding requires investigation of

specific liabilities of foreignness in many different focal countries.

Seeking to help advance our understanding of liabilities of foreignness, the

Journal of International Management is soliciting papers for an upcoming

special issue. A variety of theoretical and empirical approaches to

investigate this construct will be considered for this special issue. The

following list is meant to be suggestive and is by no means exhaustive.

Theoretical papers defining, developing, or modeling this

concept For instance, how should it be accurately defined? What are major

environmental conditions influencing the level and pattern of the liability

of foreignness? How is it linked with the antecedent and consequence

factors? What should be appropriate strategic response to mitigating this

liability while expanding internationally? How should it be positioned in

the Ownership-Location-Internalization framework? How does this liability

influence the evolutionary process of internationalization? What are key

strategic assets, resources, or capabilities MNEs can leverage in order to

attenuate this liability, and how should these assets, resources, or

capabilities be deployed and configured in order to mitigate specific

liabilities of foreignness? Papers investigating interactions, theoretically

or empirically, between MNEs competitive advantages and liabilities of

foreignness are also welcome.

Qualitative or quantitative empirical research

operationalizing or investigating specific liabilities of foreignness in

focal countries For example, is it necessary to differentiate between

overall and specific liabilities? How should they be operationalized and

measured? In a focal country, particularly an emerging market, what are

reasonable indicators or proxies for these liabilities? For specific

liabilities, are there any components that are common to all countries while

others are peculiar only to a specific country? How does the liability

affect MNE performance at either the subsidiary or the parent levels,

ceteris paribus? What are the organizational or strategic factors (parent or

subsidiary) that significantly reduce a hazardous effect of the liability?

Could a better relationship with a local government, for instance, help

reduce such an effect?

Well-developed case studies investigating aspects or types

of liabilities of foreignness It is particularly interesting to compare and

contrast different experiences, and ultimately consequences, of MNEs which

have dealt differently with the same liability of foreignness.

Papers must be received by March 1, 001. Authors should prepare manuscripts

in accordance with JIMs style guide. All submissions will be subjected to

the usual review process and judged based on the following criteria

conceptualization of this construct, advancement of our understanding these

liabilities of foreignness, likely utility to researchers and practitioners,

and novelty of the arguments advanced by the papers. Submissions (in

quadruplicate) and inquiries should be directed to

The Strategic Management Society has created Interest Groups to foster the generation of new ideas in a more interactive forum, providing a means for integrating its members as well as members-to-be (A-academics, B-business practitioners and C-consultants) in creative discussions on themes of common interest.

The Interest Group ?Managing Knowledge? organizes two kick-off workshops to launch its activities. The workshops will be devoted to the exploration of ?The Role of Knowledge and Learning in Strategic Management?. The emergence of what is increasingly recognized as a Knowledge Economy has dramatically changed the conditions for business and management, opening up new ways to think about strategy and creating urgent needs for addressing the issues of managing learning and knowledge.

We are inviting scholars as well as practitioners to jointly participate in the exciting exploration of innovative and creative ways of studying, theorizing and developing new concepts and tools to address the complex issues of building and leveraging knowledge. The workshop format will provide a set of in-depth interactive discussions, making it possible to explore issues such as

-What exactly is organizational knowledge ? How to go about conceptualizing and investigating learning and knowledge ? Are existing theoretical models of knowledge of any use for practitioners ? What can we learn from the variety of experiments which companies conduct on Knowledge Management ?

-How does organizational learning take place and how does it feed into knowledge ? How does it contribute to innovation processes ? How is it affected by innovation ? Can we learn more about communities of practice ? How useful is storytelling ? Is it relevant to study languaging ? How is knowledge shared and transmitted in strategic alliances ?

-How do organizations memorize what they have learnt and what they know ? What is the social capital of an organization ? How can firms build strategies to best manage knowledge ? How can organizations manage their knowledge workers ?

-How can organizations best leverage their knowledge base strategically to build competitive advantages ? How promising and useful is the real options approach ? To what extent and how is strategy formulation affected by the new form of competition brought about by the so-called Knowledge Economy ?


The very open character of the Interest Group on ?Managing Knowledge? and the workshop format of both kick-off events with focus on exchange and discussion mean that we welcome management researchers from different disciplines as well as practitioners with different interests in knowledge to take an active part in the discussions.

We encourage participants to join for both meetings, in Durham on April 14-16, 00 and in Paris on September , 00, the day just before the SMS 00 conference starts.

Call for Contributions & Papers

-Participants willing to contribute to the preparation and content of the workshops are kindly invited to write a one to three page contribution, sending it before Feb 1st for the Durham event and before July 1st for the Paris event. These contributions may raise specific issues around the general theme, address a specific point, suggest a research agenda, etc. These contributions will feed into the structuring of the workshops. The organizers may decide to circulate some of these contributions to registered participants prior to the workshops.

-The format of the events do not really allow for formal presentations of papers. However, those who wish to submit a paper for the workshop are invited to send a page abstract (typical SMS conference format) or, if available, a full paper before Feb 1st 00 for Durham and before July 1st 00 for Paris. These will be reviewed by at least two members of the Core team of the Interest Group. Acceptance of papers will be notified to presenters one month later.

All contributions should be sent to Thomas Durand both by e-mail ( )

and in three paper copies Thomas Durand, Ecole Centrale Paris, 5 Ch√Ętenay, France

Workshop fee for the Durham event will be £5 (approx. Euro 500). This includes accommodation at the University of Durham Business School plus all meals. Bus transportation (at cost) to and from Newcastle Airport will be arranged for those arriving and departing by air.

Workshop fee for the Paris event (the Interest Group workshop on Sept only) will be 100 ? (Euro 100). This includes coffee breaks, lunch and documentation.

For accommodation in Paris, participants should follow SMS indications for the 00 conference.

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DESCALING SOLUTION Generally, a flush through descaler uses

about .5 to .75 fluid ounces (1 to 1.5 tablespoons, or 8 to 1 grams)

of citric or tartaric (grape) acid powder dissolved in 1 liter of

water. This is a .5% to .5% solution, equivalent to % to 50%

dilute lemon juice. Cleancaf and other coffee manufacturers descalers

use this formula. Theoretically, these amounts will dissolve about 1

to 18 grams of scale per liter, but that would require leaving the

solution in for several days; in practice, it is used for an hour or

two to dissolve up to 5 grams of scale.

The formula is mild enough to be harmless to espresso machine

components, but it will come out of brass or copper machines with a

slight greenish tinge. This comes from milligram levels of dissolved

copper and is no cause for alarm.

5 lb bags of citric or tartaric acid cost about $10 at home

brewers or soapmakers supply stores. This is roughly a 0 year


DESCALING INTERVALS Know the hardness of the water youre

using, and how much you use the machine. Descale when accumulations

are between .5 and 5 grams. More often is a waste of time, less often

may result in scale build up. Check out section 1.7 for instructions

on determining your set ups scaling rate.

SINGLE BOILER MACHINES For single boiler machines, preventive

descaling is no problem, just follow the instructions given by the

manufacturer. In general, this involves filling the boiler, letting

the solution work for about ten minutes, and replacing it by running

it out of the steam wand under pump pressure. This procedure is

repeated three to five times, until about a liter of descaler is used

up. Then the machine is flushed with water until any taste is gone.

Manufacturers recommendations differ on whether the brewhead

should be flushed or not. This is not surprising. The waters

temperature drops and LI rises as it moves from the boiler to the

head, so scale wont form there. In scaled machines however, fragments

can move from the boiler into the head, fouling the gicleur valve. My

guess is that with regular descaling, flushing the head is unnecessary

but harmless.

I do not know if the dual boiler Techno can be descaled in

this way, or if there is some procedure peculiar to it.

HEAT EXCHANGERS HX machines have two things to descale, the

boiler and the heat exchanger(s). Any descaling of a plumbed in

machine will involve moving the water inlet pipe to a tank that can

hold the solution.

Doing the heat exchanger is as easy as a single boiler

machine. Just run descaler through it until it exits the brewhead (or

HXed tap). Leave the descaler in for 5 to 10 minutes with the machine

off (or to 4 with it on), then run out a /4 cup worth, repeat six

times until youve used up a liter of descaler. If the boiler refill

comes on during this period, very little harm is done, since it will

be adding only 0 ml or so to a liter or more of boiler water. Boiler

flushes (see below) can be scheduled after an HX descaling to minimize

this problem even further. However, ONLY USE CITRIC OR TARTARIC ACID

FOR HX MACHINE DESCALING, since if any remains in the boiler its no

big deal, whereas smelly vinegar or cleancafs detergent could be a

problem even at low concentrations.

HX MACHINE BOILERS Descaling the boiler is much more of a

headache. If you cook, you know that scale preferentially forms at the

waterline. This means that filling the boiler with descaling solution

only to the autofill line is not going to be very effective, since the

descaler will barely be in contact with the bulk of the scale.

Disconnecting the autofill (a wand like device sticking out of the top

of the boiler with a single wire attached) will fill the boiler to a

higher level and allow the descaler to work on this rim.

In machines with a direct boiler tap, the boiler can be filled

by opening the water tap, and letting the autofill refill the boiler

with descaler. When thats done, close the tap, and disconnect the

autofill for 0 seconds or so to fill the boiler a little above the

regular water line. On machines without a direct boiler tap, the

autofill has to be disconnected, and the fill may have to proceed by

flushing the boiler through the steam wand. If theres an easily

accessible drain, it may be easier to use it in conjunction with the


If youre draining via the steam wand, dont let the machine

get too cold, otherwise the vacuum breaker will leak.

Disconnecting the autofill at the sensor risks shifting the

sensors depth, so its best to buy a spade lug and its mate, or an

inline switch that is rated for 10C ambient, and use them to make a

disconnect in the wire to the sensor. One can even extend the wiring

so this can be done without removing the case (i.e. so its reachable

at the water tank).

Once the boiler is filled with descaler, leave it in for two

and half hours with the machine off, or one hour with the machine on.

The descaler is flushed out using the same procedure that

brought it in, either via the tap, steamwand or drain. Keep flushing

and refilling until theres no more lemon taste. This may take about

twice as much water as is usually in the boiler. Its best to refill

the boiler with RO water (see below). Add 5% to 10% tap water to keep

the autofill happy.


Obviously, no one in their right minds would want to go

through the hassle of doing a boiler descaling at monthly or bimonthly

intervals. Fortunately, one can reduce the descaling requirement to

virtually nothing, even when running the 0 mg/l hardness, 50 mg/l

alkalinity water best for coffee by using this trick.

If the boiler autofill only runs to replenish water lost by

steaming, it only amounts to a few ounces per day. Suppose the water

in the boiler starts out very soft. Then these small additions of

moderately hard water wont bring it to scaling levels for at least a

week or so.

So once a week, put very soft water into your tank and flush

the boiler with it until the water has been softened down. The

flushing technique is the same as that described in the descaling

section. Then put your regular nuetral to moderately hard espresso

water back in and enjoy your shots with complete confidence. If you

regularly use boiler water for Americanos, etc., or do a lot of

steaming, adjust the frequency of soft water flushing to match [see

section 1.7]. If this is impossible due to very high use or boiler

inaccessability, you will have to go with a softer non-scaling water.

Straight RO can be used for this flushing since enough

minerals will generally remain to operate the autofill sensor. If the

pump doesnt go off due to low minerals, simply shut the machine and

replace the RO water with the regular water. It will only take a few

seconds of pumping to raise the mineral content enough to deactivate

the autofill. Alternatively, add 5% to 10% tap water to make it

conductive enough.

Even if boiler safe water is used, the boiler needs to be

flushed occasionally. The frequency can be calculated using the data

in section 1.

If these procedures are followed, theres technically no need

to descale the boiler at all. Nevertheless, an annual or biannual

descaling is wise to pick up any stray scale that may have formed due

to forgetfullness.

At the other end of the transaction-cost spectrum, transactions in goods or services that are difficult to measure or involve tacit knowledge or embedded information may be quite costly to manage through any form of inter-firm transfer. Repeated exchanges of this latter type may be more efficiently accomplished through full internalization within the hierarchy of a firm (Williamson, 185). Reliance upon US parent firms for operating routines or procedures may pose this type of problem for ventures. Operating routines and procedures may have important idiosyncratic or firm-specific features that are only imperfectly transferred or reproduced (Polanyi, 175). The implementation of operating procedures also may involve path-dependent learning and produce different results in different organizations (Mahoney & Pandian, 1; Nelson & Winter, 18).

Routines and procedures involving forms of knowledge that are difficult to codify are likely to take this form (Winter, 187). Efforts to supply these types of resources to an alliance may be inefficient and demand costly on-going involvement of personnel from parent firms in the operations of alliances. Complaints from US managers about high levels of support that must be provided to ventures in order to implement relatively modest alterations in inputs, specifications or technologies typically reflect this type of problem. The capacity to create and modify basic operating procedures and routines is a fundamental feature of organizational development, and failure to build the necessary capabilities internally may compromise the performance of a venture.

Dependence upon the US parent for operating resources such as materials, on one hand, routines and operating procedures, on the other, may have a negative impact on performance. This effect may be more readily observed for contributions of resources from the US parent than the Mexican parent. Operating resources of this type may involve some location-specific features when they are contributed by the Mexican parent, and it may be difficult to clearly distinguish operating resources from local resources in certain cases. US parent contributions of operating resources are less ambiguous and can be expected to have a more obvious adverse effect on the perceived performance of alliances.

Proposition Contributions of operating resources to the alliance by the US parent firm have a negative effect on alliance performance, as perceived by managers of the US parent firm

The three propositions above suggest a simple model of the relationship between different types of resource contributions and perceptions of alliance success (Figure 1). Combining these different types of resource contributions in a single model is appropriate, both because they may be interdependent and because they can be expected to simultaneously influence perceived performance. Contributions of certain strategic resources such as management personnel and technical skills can be expected to improve organizational development in the venture, which may have the effect of reducing the reliance of the venture on the US parent for basic operating resources. The three propositions above and the link between strategic and operating resources are represented by paths between constructs in the model in Figure 1.

Put Figure 1 about here

The approach to alliances outlined above has a good deal in common with research by Dunning (188) and Teece (186); however, it also differs from their work in certain important ways. Although Dunning (188) and Teece (186) both identified similar combinations of strategic advantage, local advantage, and transactional advantages as critical to alliances, their objectives were to explain the conditions that favor alliances as a form of organization. Their approaches involve ex post explanation based on underlying efficiency assumptions characteristic of economics (Kogut, 188; Tallman, 1).

The object of explanation here is quite different. Rather than explaining the incidence of alliances, the research is aimed gaining a better understanding of the conditions that are conducive to (perceived) success of alliance strategies. The observed alliances are not assumed to represent efficient solutions to economic organization under specifiable constraints. On the contrary, performance may vary among alliances depending, in part, on relationships with parent firms. This research also has different practical implications than work based on a more economic approach. Where the economically-oriented work primarily is aimed at identifying the appropriate form of organization for a specific type of exchange, this research is designed to explore the differential effects that the roles played by alliance participants may have on the perceived success of alliance strategies.

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