The power system is in the midst of the digital revolution, driven by a rapidly evolving technology that is transforming the grid into a “smart grid.” This chapter focuses on this technological revolution and begins by discussing what is the smart grid, what are its drives and its challenges, followed by a framework for analyzing its costs and benefits. Such an evaluation requires taking into account the reliability and resilience of the grid, the flexibility to assimilate distributed energy resources (DER) and the impacts on the workforce, among many variables. This discussion necessarily requires considering the role of different technological innovations that are penetrating the electric system and its impacts on the utilities. We explore what are the utilities of the future and what are the alternative business models that may arise. Finally, we consider the interplay of the different technologies and the new challenges that these revolutions will bring to regulators.
Geoffrey E. Wood
Christine Bischoff and Geoffrey Wood
This chapter draws from a small but growing body of human resource management (HRM) research in Africa. Increasing attention is being paid to contextual circumstances, with attention shifting to the relationship between institutions and HRM practice, particularly drawing on the literature on comparative capitalisms and rational hierarchical accounts. This chapter further extends reflections on cultural and institutional factors influencing HRM in the sub-Saharan Africa region, including an exploration of the emerging body of research on Chinese multinational corporations in Africa.
Christine Bischoff and Geoffrey Wood
Many developing and mature economies (including the UK and Australia) have come to accept industrial decline as an irreversible fact. Yet, although industrial production has increasingly become concentrated in a handful of economies (most notably, China and Germany), a number of other economies have managed to retain significant industrial sectors. South Africa’s relative fortunes have been mixed. Whilst the country has been very successful in the exports of minerals, food products (notably deciduous fruit and wine) and motor cars and components, many other sectors have not fared nearly as well. Historically South Africa had an extremely large clothing and textile industry; however, in recent years, many firms have been forced to close, and others to radically downsize in the face of low-cost Chinese imports.
Geoffrey Wood and Mehmet Demirbag
This book seeks to shed further light on the type of capitalism that has emerged in Central Asia, the Caucasus and other peripheral areas of the post-state socialist world, drawing out the implications for both domestic and overseas firms from a broad perspective that is founded in the literature on comparative institutional analysis. We call this cluster of countries the ‘transitional periphery economies’, to set them apart from other emerging and more mature types of capitalism; this reflects the more complex mix of political and market mediation, and informal personal ties, than is encountered in the more developed states of the post-state socialist world. This collection is a wide-ranging one, and incorporates both detailed country studies and chapters dealing with broad thematic issues. What these accounts have in common is that liberalization is not a one-way street, and that there is little connection between liberalization and growth. At the same time, international firms are pragmatic and creative in finding ways of coping with quite different yet durable forms of institutional mediation and coverage. COMPARATIVE CAPITALISM AND THE TRANSITIONAL PERIPHERY Although the early literature on comparative capitalism focused on the case of the developed world, there has been a growing interest in the types of institutional arrangements prevalent in key emerging markets (Lane and Wood, 2012; Wood and Demirbag, 2012; Demirbag and Yaprak, 2015). The early literature on comparative capitalism held that only in the developed world were there the institutional foundations for stable and sustained growth and high levels of overall prosperity, and in other economies there would be strong pressures to converge with either the liberal or coordinated market ideal (Hall and Soskice, 2003). However, since the early 2000s, it has become clear that many emerging markets have proved capable of generating significant growth despite a failure to evolve towards one or other of the mature institutional archetypes, and others have become locked on suboptimal trajectories, with little prospect of meaningful institutional redesign (Lane and Wood, 2012). This has led to efforts to identify new capitalist archetypes that might best describe such persistently different economies. Again, much of the early comparative literature on institutions has tended to focus on the firm as a transmission belt, whereby specific sets of institutional pressures resulted in some outcome or other; what went on inside the firm was, at best, described in terms of stylistic ideal-types (Wood et al., 2014). This, in turn, has led to a subsequent interest in exploring variations in intra-organizational practice, and the effects of the entrants of new players from abroad.