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The “Human capital” of a company

A research paper published by the Bank of Italy highlights the relationship between cultural upbringing and development opportunities

Training and development are concepts and practices which are intimately linked. This is also true for companies, of whatever type or size. And this is still true today. Especially when considering the differences or rather the similarities which characterise social structures, worker groups and production teams. Indeed, the culture of manufacturing is also built through learning and training, as it is through the social and family background from which an employee originates.

Marta De Philippis and Federico Rossi – respectively from the Bank of Italy and the London School of Economics -, have recently published a research paper which brings clearly into focus (including quantified data) the origins of the school population using the results of internationally standardised tests. This is an important research paper, because it sets out with mathematical precision, as well as from an overall perspective, the basic platform from which companies too can expect to draw on the human resources which are necessary for development and the creation of well-being.

The study, as has been said, looks into the extensive differences between countries in the results of students in internationally standardised tests: its purpose is to measure the importance of cultural-type factors. According to the two researchers, the latter vary not just as between the various schooling systems, but also within each of these, as between the country of origin of each student’s parents. The research paper compares the learning of students whose parents have different origins but who study in the same school, thus allowing them to maintain at a constant level other performance-determining factors, such as the curriculum, the school timetable or the quality of teachers. The sample population is a substantial one: around 40,000 students resident in 40 OECD countries during the years 2002 to 2012.

The results show a clear fact: a high percentage of the ability to achieve good results in the international tests is attributable to the cultural differences transmitted by the family of origin. This is a demonstration of the significance of culture in general but also of the importance of the type of teaching given and of the necessity to continue in a determined fashion the long job of increasing learning everywhere.

Not by levelling out differences, but by providing everyone with equal cognitive tools to allow them to express themselves. Everything, as is only natural, can have a significant effect, including in relation to a company’s culture, and thus upon the ability of different manufacturing systems to follow the path of growth, and of well-being

De Philippis and Rossi are right when they talk about “human capital”.  It is from this that is built an awareness of growth and development of an altogether different type and value.

Famiglie, scuole e differenze di capitale umano tra paesi (Families, schools and the differences in human capital between different countries)

by Marta De Philippis and Federico Rossi

Subjects for discussion, Bank of Italy, , September 2016

Families, schools and the differences in human capital between different countries