Looking in from Outside

Enhancing Demographic Perspectives on Business Concerns

by Peter A. Morrison

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Demographers periodically are drawn into the business arena as outside advisers, and their effectiveness depends on certain characteristics of the business setting. Providing composite examples from personal experience, the author presents several practical guidelines for strengthening one's effectiveness in this particular role: (1) clarifying business concerns, which may span a wide spectrum including marketing, human resources, and strategic planning; (2) setting potential objectives, which may be to elevate management thinking from an operational to a strategic level, to advance some internal corporate agenda, to shatter old stereotypes, or to change an organization's culture; (3) framing information to be relevant, via the capacity of demographers to envision issues in statistical rather than clinical terms; and (4) developing a procedural strategy that will mesh with whatever underlying agenda prompted the decision to retain an outside demographer in the first place.

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