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is the title of an engaging management book by Thurston P. Howell a prof at Harvard Business School. Howell may be known to some of you from his presentation at TED on the social networks of members of drug cartels where he uses the Bonacich measure of centrality to identify drug kingpins.

Howell has been running a well received executive development program for cartel members in Colombia and other Latin American countries. The students are exposed to the basics of finance, accounting, marketing and courses on the public-private interface, media relations and crisis management. That experience has allowed him to interview, at length, some of the major figures and ask about the leadership challenges they face as well as how they deal with them. The findings from this fieldwork have been distilled into the present volume.

The book makes a welcome addition to anyones library of airport business books. It complements very nicely `The leadership secrets of Attila the Hun’, `The leadership secrets of Hilary Clinton’, `The leadership secrets of Colin Powell’, `The leadership secrets of Genghis Khan’, `The leadership secrets of Billy Graham’, `The leadership secrets of Jesus Christ’, `The leadership secrets of Elizabeth I’, `The leadership secrets of squirrels, priates, Navy Seals, Bismarck, Santa Claus, King David, Dumbledore, Hornblower, Gandalf and the Trigan Empire’.

The field trials to the women’s 100 meter dash for the London olympic games had a little unusual twist: Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh had the same result of 11.068 seconds. Three runners will represent the US in this event. The problem is that Felix and Tarmoh finished together at the third place. I read contradicting articles regarding whether the USA Track and Field, who is in charge of the procedure of choosing the representatives, did or did not have a rule to handle such a case. In any case, it was decided that both athletes will be given the choice of a run-off or a coin toss to determine the final representative.

I will let the poor runners and the USATF solve the issue of who will represent the US in the women’s 100 meters in London. What interests me is what Bobby Kersee, coacher of both Felix and Tarmoh, thinks of the suggested solution of flipping a coin.

Yahoo reports that Bobby Kersee told the Associated Press that “Nine times out of 10, most athletes aren’t going to want to flip a coin. Would you go to the Super Bowl and after two overtimes or what have you, have the referees take both coaches to the middle of the field and say, ‘We’re going to flip to see who wins the Super Bowl?’ I don’t see that.”

Why not? Suppose that a game does not end, like the three-month long quidditch game or the 6 overtimes basketball game between Indianapolis Olympians and the Rochester Royals in 1951. Does driving the players to death make more sense than flipping a coin? After all, the way players play when exhausted does not resemble their usual play, and it might well be that eventually the result is as random as a flip of a coin. It is easy to make a case for play-until-the-end. But sometimes, as in the Felix-Tarmoh case, such a solution might not be feasible due to various constraints, like deadlines and other races. In that case, why not flip a coin?

Tayfun Sonmez was at Northwestern recently to give a mini-course on market design. Naturally he discussed Kidneys. Tayfun pointed out that the use of money to procure organs was illegal in the US. What is more, physicians would show you the door should you mention its use. I think Tayfun used the stronger `throw you out.’

The opposition of (many?) physicians to the use of money to procure organs attracted my curiosity. Yes, they object (as do others) on ethical grounds. Should one accept that at face value? Could they object because it is in their incentive to do so? A transplant requires both a kidney and a team of physicians. Trade in kidneys is outlawed so depressing the supply of kidneys. This makes transplant opportunities scarce so allowing physicians to raise the price of a transplant. In other words physicians get to capture the rents from scarcity. Not just from transplants but from dialysis (a substitute for kidneys) as well.

So much for the theory. What about the evidence? I suppose one would look at the profitability of dialysis and transplant centers as well as the rate of entry. I would guess there have been large increases in dialysis centers. The Economist magazine in August 2010 describes the US dialysis market as

…….. the world’s most lucrative dialysis market, with the government spending $24 billion a year, or $71,000 a year per patient, on dialysis, and private insurers paying yet more.

As an aside, a recent paper  claims that patients at for-profit dialysis centers are 20% less likely to be informed about transplant options and referred for operations than those at nonprofit centers.

The average hospital admission fee for a kidney transplant in the US is $91,200. However, the profitability of transplant centers is more difficult to determine because of how a hospital can choose to allocate its costs among its different divisions. I suspect  that they must be profitable for the incumbents because of the 2002 fight between transplant centers over the geographical distribution of organs.

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