Harley-Davidson a model of good marketing

No one would ever deny that Harley-Davidson Inc. has loyal customers, began a July 14 Globe and Mail story on the marketing success of the motorcycle company. "More companies should pay attention to what they do," said Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business. "Their business model really does seem to work…. They listen to their most critical customers because those are the ones that care the most," Middleton said. "They talk to a very narrow target group – 40- to 50-year-old men who want to recover their youth. They don’t try to be everything to everybody." Middleton emphasized the importance of the Harley Owners Group, a fan club that has 700,000 members around the world, including 29,000 in Canada, as a brand builder. "Your customers are apostles for you," he said. "They sell your bikes."

Nation state far from declining, writes prof

It still comes as a bit of a shock to realize the proportions of American global dominance, as outlined by Ellen Meiksins Wood in her new book Empire Of Capital, wrote Toronto Star book editor Philip Marchand July 13. "It has been said that the US now possesses a military force greater than the next eight powers put together (and by some measures, greater than all other countries combined), while its budget is equal to the next 12 to 15 combined," writes Wood, a political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts. Talk about globalization, in particular, and the declining importance of the nation state – in the face of at least one nation state armed to the teeth – has prompted Wood to argue in her book that the nation state is far from declining. "It may be that the opposite is true and that global capital is more dependent on the territorial state than any imperial power has ever been before."

Forget business, try human resources

As the latest crop of business graduates stumble out campus doors in search of their first job, many are taking a serious look at a decidedly non-sexy field: human resources, reported the National Post July 14. "There has been a fundamental change," said Monica Belcourt, a professor of human-resources management at York University’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. "Ten years ago you probably couldn’t find one HR practitioner who planned to go into it – most of us just stumbled into the field. I think every profession goes through its decade. Without a doubt, this decade is for human resources." York’s human-resource management program had to triple the size of its cohort to 150 because of rocketing demand in the field since the program was first offered two years ago. Belcourt, also the president of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario noted that because of a tough economic climate, employers have had to restructure and downsize workforces. This has driven demand for professionals who know how to terminate employees, are familiar with labour law and can help a company avoid litigation, she said. 

Car is Hollywood’s new star

"It’s reached the point where, with video and television pre-sales and product placement, you can pretty much pay for your movie before it’s released," said Don Thompson, professor of marketing at York’s Schulich School of Business. He was commenting in a Toronto Star story July 12 on cars as the new stars in Hollywood movies.

Place as important as plot in crime fiction

Writing from a sense of place came naturally to York grad Peter Robinson (PhD ’84), the Yorkshire-born, Toronto-based author of the Inspector Banks novels told The Globe and Mail July 12. "That was one of my interests as a poet," he explained, adding that he wrote his PhD thesis at York University on the sense of place in contemporary British poetry. "I don’t know that writers consciously do it," he said, pointing out that "an Agatha Christie could take place in any country," while the sense of place in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles is "almost like an extra character" that precipitates the action.

York alum’s son earns high school diploma at 13

The mother of a boy who has earned a high school diploma at age 13 is a York grad. Charlene Mahon, who earned her BA in 1987 and MA in 1990 in psychology from York University, home-schooled her son Josiah, who started reading when he was two years old. Now 13, the advanced teen has obtained the equivalent of a high school diploma and scored an impressive 1320 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT’s), reported Sarnia’s Observer July 11.


Associated with a leading lab

A story in Regina’s Leader-Post July 12 mentioned that York researchers are affiliated with a University of Regina’s Anxiety and Illness Behaviors Laboratory, which is becoming a national leader in anxiety and illness behaviour.

Unclear impact of aging population

A seniors advocate objecting to Sudbury’s call for yet another study of the local senior population to determine future housing needs, recalled the Age Wave Conference he attended in 2002 at York University, reported the Sudbury Star July 14. Even experts in the field couldn’t agree what the ramifications of Canada’s aging population will be, he said. "You could study it literally forever and never have a definitive answer," said the spokesman.

On air

  • David Wiesenthal, psychology professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed anger as one of the seven deadly sins, on CBC Radio’s "Sounds Like Canada" July 11.