Why Martha Stewart gets pilloried

In a Toronto Star story June 9 about public glee at charges of securities fraud against seemingly perfect Martha Stewart, Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York University’s Schulich School of Business, said that whether people hate her or not, they pay attention because she’s a senior executive and she’s in trouble. “It started before Enron, but Enron really powered it,” he said. “CEOs have always been quite high-profile, particularly in the States. Look at Business Week and Fortune.” Stewart’s an icon, he said. “The company is very much a personal extension of her life.” However, he said, the “male establishment has somewhat looked down its nose at what she’s done. If she had been a man, she would’ve made the front page of the business section. Because she’s a woman, she’s become front page of the national news sections.”

US drug companies ‘smear’ Canadian system

An Ottawa Citizen story June 9 looked at how American drug companies are intensifying their lobbying efforts to eliminate subsidized prescription drug prices currently enjoyed by Canadians. Dr. Joel Lexchin, a professor at Atkinson’s School of Health Policy & Management at York University, said the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, known collectively as PhRMA, wants to smear the Canadian system because prices in Canada make US drug companies look bad. “Lots of other countries have similar regulations,” he said, “but it’s Canada’s proximity to the US that makes the difference. It puts pressure on [the] US government to do something about drug prices in the States. So PhRMA will want to create the impression that government-funded health care is bad for you, in the sense that you can’t get services or access to some drugs.” Lexchin speculated that an intensified lobbying effort in Canada against the Canadian system and Internet pharmacies could be more about PhRMA’s concerns over the United States market. With the Bush administration readying for another presidential election campaign, counter lobbying, especially on behalf of seniors, is pressuring the Bush administration to force prices down.

MBA students blame corporate scandals on personality

York University’s Schulich School of Business was one of 12 major international business schools that participated in a recent survey that found that MBA students believe it is the personality of the executive, rather than the corporate culture, that is the most significant factor contributing to a corporate scandal, reported the National Post June 9. The 2002 survey, “Where will they lead?”, is the latest report on MBA attitudes to business and society by Aspen ISIB, soon to become the Business and Society Program at the Aspen Institute. Other participating business schools included Yale, Columbia and London.

York prof hopeful of winning Mars bid

While stormy weather forced NASA to postpone yesterday’s launch of a robot explorer to Mars, Canadian scientists – including a York University professor – remained hopeful they would win a bid to search for life on the red planet, reported a Canadian Press story printed in The London Free Press June 9. Diane Michelangeli, an atmospheric science professor in York’s Faculty of Pure & Applied Science, is part of a Canadian contingent still in the running for a 2007 NASA scout mission to Mars. It is one of the American space agency’s first competitions for an up-close, scientific study of the planet. “The projects are designed to be simple, cost-effective and include all of the scientific instruments aboard,” said Michelangeli. About 25 of North America’s best scientists and engineers entered competing proposals, and only four were chosen as finalists. The winning proposal will be chosen in August, with the project cost capped at US$325 million, the equivalent of about C$440 million.

Profs stand by criticism of labour funds

The findings of a study co-authored by Yisong Tian, a finance professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business, that criticize manager compensation and the performance of labour-sponsored investment funds in Canada have been rejected by the manager of British Columbia’s Working Opportunity Fund, reported The Vancouver Sun June 9. The study won a $10,000 prize for excellence in Canadian capital market research and concludes that, despite the 30-per-cent tax credit received by investors, most LSIFs will probably be inferior to alternative investments such as mutual funds. Co-author Scott Anderson, a professor of finance at Ryerson University. told the Sun that he and Tian stand by their findings.

Business slow to use technology

The National Post on June 9 examined how the federal government draws top marks globally for its rapid adoption of new information technology, but Canada’s small and medium enterprises are slow to embrace e-business. “The public sector is doing very well indeed. It is smaller enterprises that are slower to act,” said Ron McClean, a professor of information systems at York University’s Schulich School of Business and a spokesman for the Canadian e-Business Initiative (CeBI). “Retail and manufacturing’s adoption of e-business are particularly discouraging.”

Little Italy, little York

In a June 8 list of facts about the city’s Italian-heritage population, the Toronto Star noted that 16 faculty teach in the Italian Program at York University.