Business and Society in a digital Age ZAA 101


The contemporary workplace

Welcome to week 1 of Business and Society in a digital age. This week we will discuss some of the challenges in the contemporary workplace.

According to Schermerhorn, Davidson, Factor, Woods, Simon and McBarron authors of Management 6th Asia-Pacific Edition, the required text for Introduction to Management, some of the challenges surrounding the contemporary workplace are around intellectual capital, globalisation, technology, diversity and ethics. We will now look at these issues to introduce these concepts.

Intellectual Capital

Intellectual capital is defined by the management text ‘as the collective brain power or shared knowledge of a workforce that can be used to create value. The text goes on to say that if you want a successful career in the new economy you must be willing to reach for the heights of personal competency and accomplishment. You must be a self-starter, willing to learn from experience continuously, even in an environment that grows daily more complex and challenging’.

Four Key Skills to Lead the Future | Michael Lai | 12.19 mins


Essentially, we live in a global environment where the world is your oyster and not just for big business, small start-ups now have the opportunity to market to the world with their products. Even though we live in Tasmania, we do not just do business within Tasmania or even Australia. We have seen the rise of the middle class in China which has opened up huge opportunities for businesses to market their products to this growing demographic.

A local example is Bobbie the Bear from Bridestowe Lavender Estate in North East Tasmania. This is a lavender filled teddy bear that used to sell for around $24 and now sells for $70 online. Now they have a whole range of Bobbie the Bear merchandise. Bobbie the Bear even has his own television series

This all started when a movie actress in China was given a bear which went viral after being posted on Facebook. Everyone wanted their own Bobbie the Bear. So, from the humble beginnings of North East Tasmania even the President of China has his own Bobbie the Bear. He was was presented with the bear during a visit to Tasmania in 2014. Robert Raven the owner of Bridestowe Lavender Estate took an opportunity that presented itself with Bobbie the Bear and turned it into an astounding success.


In this day and age it would be extremely rare to find any organisation that doesn’t use technology in one way or another. For example, take the humble mobile phone, according to Wikipedia in 2014 Australia had a population of around 23 ½ million people and 20 ½, million mobile phones in operation. By comparison in 2014 China had a population of approximately 1.4 billion and 1. 6 billion mobile phones.

Wikipedia also highlighted that in 2015 the world population was approximately 7. 3 billion and there were 7 billion mobile phones. No wonder the mobile phone industry is so competitive.

To be able to survive in the contemporary workplace you will need to embrace technology as it is an integral part of any organisation. The following clip illustrates how important technology is and how it is transforming businesses.

Leading Digital Transformation Now - No Matter What Business You’re In | 35 mins


According to the management text, ‘the term workforce diversity is used to describe the composition of a workforce in terms of differences among members. These differences include gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and able-bodiedness’.

In the following clip Peter provides a great insight into the differences we encounter throughout the world due to us all coming from different backgrounds and cultures and how when we understand these differences perhaps then we too can make a difference.

The myth of globalisation | Peter Alfandary | 13.53 mins


One definition of ethics is the moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity.

In this day and age we expect our leaders to make ethical business decisions when managing organisations. On page 8 of the recommended reading on the contemporary workplace is a great example of how an unethical business decision by the CEO of Volkswagen affected the reputation of the company.

People expect organisations to be ethically and socially responsible. As the management text states ‘Organisations and their managers are becoming more responsive. Quite simply, they will not be able to keep customers if they do not treat them well and act in ways that are consistent with society’s values’.

As you watch the following clip, consider whether some of these new technologies are ethical and what impacts they may have for society.

10 Unbelievable Future Technologies That Will Change the world in your lifetime | 9.55 mins

As we navigate through this contemporary workplace, we need to be aware of these issues and the challenges that they may present. James Sun provides a good overview of diversity, globalisation and also touches on technology in the following clip.

Diversity and globalization | James Sun | 16.54 mins

In closing, intellectual capital, globalisation, technology, diversity, and ethics are all challenges faced by managers in a contemporary workplace but remember that challenges can also be seen as opportunities that just haven’t been realised yet.

In preparation for your first assessment task please watch the following clip which provides some insight into the future of work. As you watch start to think what sort of effect these issues will have on the workforce and what sort of skills will be required for the future.

The Future of Work | Peter Acheson | 21.12 mins

Reading list


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