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Week of 12 February 1999

Vol. II, No. 23

In the News

"Many organizations are facing such rapid change in their business environment that it's not just critical, it's a necessity that their people are lifelong learners," says William Bigoness, SMG associate dean for executive learning, in a Wall Street Journal story January 27 about a unique new MBA program. "The question is," he says, "when employees are working 50 hours a week, how do you get them that kind of opportunity?" The answer: busing -- for professors. SMG has teamed up with Thomson Financial Services to deliver an on-site MBA program at the company's South Boston headquarters, financed through TSF's tuition reimbursement program. (See full story in last week's BU Bridge.)

"You are buying an option on a brave new world, the information superhighway or whatever you want to label it," says Jay Patel, associate professor of finance at SMG, in the January 17 Chicago Tribune. His remarks attempt to explain the current infatuation with Internet stocks. The boom in such stocks is fueled by a not uncommon psychological trait, he says: "You wind up convincing yourself things are what other people say."

The issue of punishment of perpetrators of mass murder arises today in many countries, but it raises other issues that are "much less clear and unequivocal than one might think," says David Fromkin, CAS professor of international relations, in the New York Times January 25. Citing the Cambodian Khmer Rouge's use of people who now allege they were coerced to take part in the Communist terror and whose prosecution might dangerously shake the country's stability, Fromkin says Cambodia "is faced with questions not only of law and morals but also of politics."

Less than two months after a holiday shopping season in which he reigned, Furby seems to be going the way of Tickle Me Elmo, Cabbage Patch Kids, and the Rubick's Cube. "I think [Furby] is old news already," Frederic Brunel, SMG assistant professor of marketing, says in the January 21 issue of the Boston Herald. "I don't see any reason why it's not just a fad." Brunel, who studies consumer behavior, says it takes more than a clever gimmick and savvy marketing to put a product like the battery-operated Furby, whose gibberish vocabulary gradually assimilates English words and phrases as he records bits of his owner's speech, on the top of everyone's Christmas list. "It goes beyond placement, the right talk shows," Brunel says. ". . . it's like a wildfire rumor that spreads." That fire can fizzle just as quickly, however, as the fickle consumer's attention span exhausts itself. It's too early, Brunel says, to tell if Furby will be a toy that endures in its owners' hearts once the buying boomlet has completed died out. "The people who paid a fortune, six months later will they be kicking themselves or thinking they did the right thing?" he asks. "The jury is out on this."

"In the News" is compiled by Alexander Crouch in the Office of Public Relations.