The name “Proto-Renaissance” is employed in fine art to describe a certain duration in Italy, referred to as the pre-Renaissance times. Several academicians involved with the study of art argue if the artistic works in Italy between the 13th and 15th centuries were the final stages of medieval art or the commencement of rebirth, also termed the French renaissance. Despite this minor controversy, the artists agree that this period faced significant changes in Western art. During this period in history, several artists contributed to this major change in fine art. Some of them include Giotto, whose works were exhibited between 1267 to 1337, Nicola Pisano during the 1259 to 1260 period and Giovanni Pisano, who had great influence during 1302 to 1310 by his artistic works, among others.Continue reading
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The majority rule does not defend individual rights. Majority rule is used in various democratic societies where political decisions are made by attaining majority support. This majority support is believed to protect the needs and rights of all people; however, this is not the case. One reason why majority rule does not defend individual rights is that the majority might be against the protection of individual rights, especially the rights of the minority. In many cases, the majority mostly choose laws or systems that protect them at the expense of the minorities. This then undermines the rights of the minorities. Instances of the majority using their rule to undermine the rights of the minorities can be seen in various countries, including the United States. In the US, the majority used their rule to create and support racial systems. These systems affected crucial aspects of the lives of the racial minorities, including employment, housing, credit, and immigration. As a result, minority races such as African Americans experienced a declining quality of life (Pager & Shepherd, 2008). Cases of discrimination by the majority have also been reported in South Africa. In South Africa, the Colored and Indian citizens and representatives are reporting cases of discrimination in access to opportunities. This discrimination is in favor of the Black majority (Murray & Simeon, 2007.Continue reading
Technical communication is part of scientific discourse and genre in which the subject is always of a specialized nature, and the audience involves people of particular expertise. The structure of a technical paper, therefore, reflects unique attributes of sentence structure and standard paper formatting requirements. For instance, the form may require a preamble and organized tables of contents and systematic way of citing the sources used and bibliographic annotation. Traditionally, technical writing mainly addressed subjects of engineering and specialized social sciences in which advanced research and knowledge were relevant. This paper explores the field of technical communication through the lens of technology and mechanics of writing, schemes and styles and the grand rhetorical tropes involved in the field. As opposed to journalistic and creative writing, technical writing manifests a focus on a particular subject through expository and explorative writing style to convey knowledge.Continue reading
One of the most baffling questions that economists have to contend with is why people in different geographical regions in the world have entirely different living standards despite the proclaimed influence associated with globalization. Despite the answer being elusive due to its multifaceted nature, it is an important one to ask nonetheless as it helps to identify root causes and bridge the existing gaps. A common observation is that developing countries will, at times, respond favorably to recommended solutions, while others continue to stagnate. Scholars have developed several theories to address the issue of economic stagnation, but most seem to revolve around the idea of reduced investment in the regions. According to Lecuna & Chavez (2018), institutional voids and barriers may encourage unproductive and destructive forms of entrepreneurship and breed negative societal attitudes towards entrepreneurs. Hence, high-growth entrepreneurial activity from domestic or foreign investors may not thrive in an institutional context of voids and barriers. The current research focuses on corruption as a factor argued to undermine institutional ability to promote investment in developing countries and foster growth (Asiedu & Freeman, 2009; Amarandei, 2013). The primary argument made is that corruption adversely impacts resource distribution and that developing economies need to develop robust institutions, in addition to anti-corruption policies, to help identify and solve corruption-related problems.Continue reading
Value creation refers to the perceived benefit to the customer, in line with the microeconomic concept of utility from a company’s offering to its customers, whether it enhances the quality of life for the customer (B2C) or the company’s profitability (B2B) (Verdin & Tackx, 2015). Therefore, the customer value proposition describes the value firms promise to deliver to its targeted market consistently. It communicates how a firm’s product or service offering effectively meets the targeted consumer needs or solves their problem relative to a rival’s offering (Sheehan & Bruni-Bossio, 2015). The success of the customer value proposition is contingent on how well the consumer needs analysis is, relative to competitor offerings and the firm’s core competencies. The insights help develop the alternatives that will help structure a product or service with attributes that align with customer needs. Ultimately, customer value creation improves service quality, customer satisfaction, and loyalty. It also promotes higher productivity through quality and quantity of service and significant cost reduction for the firm (Gong, 2016). The current report explores the value creation model for OK2B Apparel.Continue reading
Obesity and being overweight are conditions affecting over a third of the global population today (Hruby & Hu, 2015). The increasing prevalence of obesity emanates from increasing industrialization, economic growth, urbanization, sedentary lifestyle culture, mechanized support, and nutritional transition to processed foods. Obesity is a global economic problem due to the strain it places on the healthcare system spending, which comes from taxpayer money through government finance (Dobbs & Manyika, 2015). As much as an economic burden may have some significance in the criticality of reducing the menace, it is the health effects of obesity that cause more concern. Some of the comorbidities related to overweight and obesity include cancers (breast, endometrial, ovarian, colorectal, esophageal, kidney, pancreatic, prostate), Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, Coronary Artery Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, asthma, chronic back pain, osteoarthritis, pulmonary embolism, gallbladder disease, and an increased risk disability. Additionally, obesity contributes to an annual mortality rate of three million deaths (Djalalinia et al., 2015).Continue reading
Globalization, broadly defined as the increasing interdependence between countries, has changed the rules of competition in business by enhancing capabilities that allow the transfer of information, skills, technology, products, and culture (Bodislav et al., 2015; Wiesmann et al., 2017). It has allowed companies to develop critical strategy approaches that leverage the different alternatives available to them to survive in complex, dynamic, and competitive global value chains. One such type of strategic approach is offshoring/outsourcing. Offshoring is a popular strategic practice where companies disaggregate fine pieces of activity from their value chains and relocate them across national objectives to save on cost, enhance performance, or learning opportunities (Mykhaylenko et al., 2015). Companies will typically outsource their services from high-cost to low-cost environments, mostly characteristic of developing countries. However, the success of this offshoring depends on the ability of the low-cost environment to balance supply and demand. The failure to which the offshoring company could seek alternatives in the form of reverse offshoring. According to Wang & Song (2017), reverse offshoring can involve a backflow of offshoring where companies move their offices back home from developing countries, outsourcing tasks of enterprises in developed countries, and developing countries becoming contract issuers.Continue reading
The body comprises an interconnected network of physiological systems fine-tuned throughout evolution to achieve and preserve a relatively stable internal state – homeostasis (Everly & Lating, 2019). Sometimes this equilibrium will be in a state of disharmony arising from intrinsic, extrinsic, real, or perceived forces, known as stressors, which the body needs to counter to maintain or reestablish the threatened homeostasis (Tsigos et al., 2016; Cool & Zappetti, 2019). The disharmony reflects the body’s inability to allocate sufficient resources to restore the balance, meaning that the body is in a stressed state. When the brain perceives stress, it activates coordinated neurophysiological responses in the brain and the periphery to initiate behavioral and physiological responses that facilitate allostasis (stability through change) and adaptation (Cool & Zappetti, 2019). It takes place through a process referred to as adaptive stress response, which enhances resilience and facilitates coping mechanisms to prevent future adverse impacts from stress stimuli (Suri Vaidya, 2015). However, there is a notable variation in individual response mechanisms to stress, perhaps due to people’s uniqueness, which is why it would be prudent to consider this aspect when recommending stress management strategies. Consequently, the current review explores the significance and feasibility of nature/plants as a stress-reduction strategy.Read more
Role of Nature in Stress Management
Nature provides a range of services and benefits to the ecosystem, much of which past research has extensively covered. The least appreciated is perhaps the impact it has on psychological well-being and health through what Bratman et al. (2019) refer to as psychological ecosystem services. These services encompass a range of cognitive and psycho-physiological outcomes stemming from two mechanisms, considered to be the two primary environmental psychology theories (Jiang et al., 2020).
Attention Restoration Theory (ART)
The first is Kaplan & Kaplan’s (1989, as cited in Ohly et al., 2016; Jiang et al., 2020) Attention Restoration Theory (ART). The basic premise underlying the theory is that natural environments contain elements that provide a relaxing space through which humans can relax and reduce mental fatigue, which helps restore voluntary/direct attention. Direct or voluntary attention refers to the human ability that allows people to pay attention to a particular task requiring effort (Ohly et al., 2016). However, this ability is finite and becomes exhausted with use, especially if overworked or overloaded with mental processes. For example, focusing requires the individual to exclude other thought stimuli from nearby environments. Voluntary attention makes this possible by suppressing distractions that may be inherently more interesting. Nonetheless, fatigue may set in when there is no motivational draw to rest or restore the ability. Attention fatigue leads to poor decision-making and self-control, potentially threatening individuals’ health through neural and behavioral pathways to cause conditions like obesity (Ohly et al., 2016). ART proposes that individuals experience nature as it offers a relaxing and refreshing environment that facilitates and enhances their ability to reflect and consider any unresolved issues. According to Jiang et al. (2020), the “softly fascinating” aspect associated with natural elements like trees, water, and sunsets helps capture an involuntary attention sphere in humans, which provides a means through which rest and recovery can take place. The reason is that the inherent characteristics associated with these elements that draw human interest require minimal mental effort to process, thus causing no strain on the voluntary human attention paid to them.
Stress Reduction Theory (SRT)
The second is Ulrich’s (1991, as cited in Jiang et al., 2020) Stress Reduction Theory (SRT). The primary argument is that the natural environment presents an unthreatening setting that provides humans with the space to calm down, generate positive feelings, and reduce arousal. Ultimately, natural environments will promote stress recovery by reducing the adverse psychological and physiological signs of stress (Jiang et al., 2020). According to Ulrich et al. (1991), humans may not have the same capacity to recover from stress in artificial settings as natural ones because human evolution mostly occurs within the latter context. Essentially, the argument Ulrich drives with SRT is that the natural environment can improve individuals’ positive affect and attention following a stressful event. It can operate as a remedy or solution in stress management as the natural environment possesses certain qualities that provide the individual with an incentive to adapt due to the positive affective appraisals derived from them (Ratcliffe et al., 2013). These qualities can either be aesthetic or semantic. Aesthetic elements may feature as perceived complexity, patterns, texture, or environmental mystery, while semantic elements through such aspects as absent threats or resource availability. Whichever the case, human beings can make use of natural spaces to reduce stress because these inherent characteristics reduce blood pressure, lowers cortisol levels in the body, self-reported stress, and increases positive mood (Jiang et al., 2014; Ewert & Chang, 2018). The SRT and ART environmental psychology theories support the idea that nature facilitates restoration from mental fatigue, stress, and negative moods, thus improving individuals’ health and well-being.
Several past authors have conducted tests and analyses to determine the relationship between nature and stress management, focusing on consequent impacts like performance, attention, health, and well-being. For example, Dravigne et al. (2008) sought to investigate whether having indoor plants in the office and having windows overlooking green landscapes could influence employees’ job satisfaction levels. The underlying motivation was that recreating a natural environment in the office or exposure to one could reduce employees’ stress levels by creating a calming and comfortable working environment to foster job satisfaction. The study results showed that employees perceive work environments exposed to nature as more comfortable, consequently influencing their job satisfaction and quality-of-life scores. A more recent study by Toyoda et al. (2019) corroborates the finding that plant or nature-oriented work environments enhance employee well-being by reducing office workers’ psychological and physiological stress. The author identified three levels of involvement that can help with promoting mental health in the workplace. These include passive observance, the prescribed activity of staring at the plant, and active involvement in selecting and caring for the office plant (Toyoda et al., 2019). These observations within a work setting context align with the SRT and ART functional mechanisms of stress management.
Nonetheless, the findings are not always consistent, as some authors find a very minimal association between nature exposure and improved performance and mental well-being. Bringslimark et al. (2007) carried out a study to explore the potential benefits of placing indoor plants in a work setting. The findings indicated a minimal association between nature exposure and proxies for employee well-being like self-reported stress, sick leaves, and productivity. These may infer that nature may not significantly impact mental health and well-being, as indicated in the SRT and ART theories. Authors like Korpela et al. (2017) and Lottrup et al. (2012) corroborate the outcomes by finding limited support for the link between employee well-being over time and nature exposure in a work setting. These investigations show that nature exposure studies can only explain a small portion of stress reduction variance within work settings. These studies may have differing opinions on the significance of nature/plant exposure in work settings to improve employee well-being and productivity. However, it is important to acknowledge that they do not return negative associations, meaning that nature exposure does have relevance in psychological and physiological balance. Furthermore, most people spend much time at work over their lifespans, inferring that these small associations could culminate in an overall significant impact in the long term.
It would be plausible that the pattern is limited to the work and office setting context, so exploring other stress settings would be appropriate to elucidate the outcome in other stress-associated settings. However, partial positive findings are consistent with the meta-analytic review conducted by McMahan and Estes (2015). An excellent example is school and learning institution contexts. Here, class and learning settings, including high expectations for success, schoolwork, low performance, fear of failure, and conflict, impose pressure on students, possibly leading to stress (Deb et al., 2015; Hirvonen et al., 2019). In one study, Daly et al. (2010) investigated the impact that indoor plants would have on student reading, spelling, and analytical outcomes. The results reported a 10-14% improvement, which categorizes as significant progress by educationists. The results also exhibited a lack of change in one of the schools. However, it could be perhaps due to the active gardening program involving ornamental and vegetable species, meaning that students were already exposed to nature and had a continuing relationship with it compared to those introduced to nature during the investigation.
Further studies have explored various other attributes related to the learning institution environment, focusing on performance, creativity, health, and well-being. The study by Studente et al. (2016) examined various attributes associated with nature, such as the use of live plants, nature views, and the color green and their impact on visual and verbal creativity. The results found that exposure to nature enhanced visual creativity among students and no impact on verbal creativity. There are three critical implications to these findings. The first is that it proves exposure to nature or green landscapes can improve creativity, which is a core tenet of performance as part of the critical thinking ability that enhances achievement (Gajda et al., 2017). The second inference is that creativity is domain-specific, meaning that practitioners must take caution in the approach used to mitigate stress. Some stress management methods may not have any impact if directed to the wrong domain (Studente et al., 2016). Nonetheless, the research does acknowledge that nature exposure has a positive impact on creativity but can also extrapolate to infer positive outcomes on well-being – the third implication. The assertion stems from Schutte et al.’s (2017) revelation that there is a significant relationship between visual stimulation or exposure to green landscapes and students’ positive affect and well-being. These observations
Aside from the work and educational contexts, using nature in stress management has also received attention for its use in general contexts. Given the progression of contemporary living and conditions, there is a need to evaluate the consequence of nature exposure and interior plants’ use in practice. The positive outcomes within learning institutions reflect those observed within the work context. Earlier studies like Lohr et al.’s (1996) observed a general impact of using interior plants on productivity. The research proved that plants and nature could resolve attention deficits and foster greater reaction times to tasks requiring some visual concentration. They can do so because the visual stimulation of plants possesses physiological and psychological relaxing effects, as observed in Ikei et al. (2014). The study recommended using foliage plants to help shift the sympathetic/parasympathetic balance to improve mood as a simple method strategy for reducing stress and improving mental health for high school students.
Park & Mattson (2009) at a similar conclusion but within hospital settings, noting the therapeutic value possessed by plants in hospital environments. Plants provide a non-invasive, affordable, and effective complementary medicine for surgical patients. The authors recommended their use to medical practitioners to enhance the healing environment for their patients. Lee et al. (2015) explain how this therapeutic mechanism operates in their study The therapeutic mechanism through which this occurs. The authors found that using interior plants in places requiring significant mental effort can reduce mental strain. Plants suppress the sympathetic nervous system activity and diastolic blood pressure, thereby promoting comfortable, soothing, and natural feelings that enhance one’s self-control. In so doing, individuals can more realistically and practically engage tasks with optimal outcomes.
In conclusion, there appears to be a bulk of literature that supports the idea that exposure to nature, green landscapes, or the use of interior plants in different settings induce positive feelings and mood, reducing or preventing instances of stress among individuals. The available literature has not yet identified any observation suggesting a negative relationship as yet. However, more empirical research should help provide a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of the potential benefits natural environments provide when dealing with stress. Nonetheless, the current literature supports its use as a stress management approach, even with minimal improvements as there is no notable shortcoming or loss from its application.
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- Critical Analysis of Google HR Policies
Every department must have a working policy detailing how to achieve objectives in the organization’s interest, including its workforce (Joshi, 2013). HR policies are an outcome of these working principles and rules of conduct governing the firm’s relationship with its employees. There are two perspectives from which do discuss Google’s HR policies. The first is the employee motivation perspective, which essentially focuses on how the company motivates employees and creates a comfortable working environment. According to Thomas & Karodia (2014), Google’s ability to attract a talented workforce stems from its attractive packages, which act as the pull factor. It offers employees competitive salaries, bonuses, and stock awards at regular time intervals. It also encourages and rewards outstanding performance achievement amongst the employees. The Google campus has a series of facilities, leisure and recreational activities, and benefits to promote a comfortable working environment, enhance employee wellbeing, creativity, and consequent performance (Samani et al., 2014; Aksoy, 2017). Google also offers its employees flexible work hours, work from home opportunities, telecommuting, and generous vacation policies to help maintain a proper work-life balance, reducing stress and increasing job satisfaction levels and performance (Adnan Bataineh, 2019). Finally, Google also offers employees career development opportunities by emphasizing 20% work, allowing them to dedicate 20% of their time to be creative and innovative. It an exciting feature for existing and prospecting employees, as it provides them with some level of autonomy, thus serving as an attractive tool to retain employees in the organization (Thomas & Karodia, 2014)Continue reading
Employment is crucial in ensuring that human needs are addressed. Employment refers to any connection between two people or an individual and a company that governs labour performance for a fee paid by the person or company who benefits from the job. In an employment relationship, employment rules preserve the working connection between the parties involved and control all actions resulting from the relationship. They primarily serves to safeguard both parties engaged in employment contracts. Any breach of the employment contract can result in legal or disciplinary action, as agreed upon before the employment agreement.Continue reading