Bohlander (2006) when analyzing the development of the manufacturing system at Toyota, interprets it through the formation of peculiar organizational capabilities at three levels: manufacturing routines, learning routines and evolutionary learning. In them, the decisions also appear implicitly; especially in learning routines, considered as a specific organizational ability of Toyota to perform troubleshooting cycles more competitively than its competitors consider. Bohlander (2006), a former Toyota executive in Canada, has approached more of the operative question with the publication of his experience and reading of how Toyota plans and deploys its values to the rest of the organization (Bohlander, 2006).
Discussion – Strategic HR Roadmap
The HRM is the administrative process applied to increase and preservation of effort, practice, health, knowledge, skills, etc., of the members of the structure, the benefit of a subject, of the organization and the country in general. Similarly, we can say that through the process of helping employees achieve a level of performance and quality of personal and social behavior that meets your personal needs and expectations (Boudreau et al, 2003).
The HRM is to plan, organize, and develop everything related to promoting the efficient performance of staff making up a structure. The Human Resource Management in an organization representing the medium that allows people to collaborate on it and reach directly or indirectly with work related individual objectives. Managing Human Resources means conquer and keep people and members of an organization, in an atmosphere of harmonious, positive, and supportive work. Represents all those things that make staff to remain in the organization. The objectives of the Human Resource Management derived from the objectives of the organization (Jackson et al, 2011).
Strategic HR Roadmap
The prime HR functions are:
Create, maintain, and develop a set of people with skills, motivation, and satisfaction sufficient to achieve the objectives of the organization.
Establish, maintain, and cherish organizational conditions that allow the implementation, development and the satisfaction of the people and the achievement of individual goals.
Achieve efficiency and effectiveness of human resources (Strategic HR Roadmap)
The Human Resources Management performs the integral management in different functions from the beginning to the end of an employment relationship as:
Recruit and select staff with the selected profile
Training and coaching
Evaluating job performance
Describe the responsibilities that define each position in the organization
Develop programs, workshops, courses, etc., and any other programs that vallan commensurate with the growth and improvement of the insights of staff.
Promote leadership development
Provide counseling to employees based on maintaining a harmonious environment together.
Resolve conflicts and problems that cause the staff
Inform employees either through newsletters, meetings, memos or via mails, policies, and procedures of human resources.
Oversee the management of test programs
Develop a personal framework based on competencies
Evaluate the Strategic HR Roadmap
Endorse the variety of jobs as a form or via a company’s success in different markets.
Toyota Strategic Planning
In recent years, the search for efficiency and cost savings has led many organizations to implement processes of implementation of methodologies and tools like Lean, Kaizen, 5 S`s, Six Sigma. Furthermore they are effective, often have not yielded the expected results, not going linked to a process of transformation of people. This model, applied to leadership, will enable the deployment of Lean in the company sustainability and with guaranteed success.
The Strategic HR Roadmap. Toyota continues to re-validate, year after year, his position as one of the first global companies investing in R & D. Toyota Motor Manufacturing France SAS (TMMF) was established in 1998 in Valenciennes (France), near the border with Belgium, as the second Toyota manufacturing base in Europe. Production began in January 2001 and since then has applied TMMF slogan ‘Green, clean and adjusted’ to reduce the environmental impact, based on the Toyota Production System, which seeks to eliminate muda, mura and muri (disposal practices generating waste, irregularities and unreasonable requirements). These are key features of the Strategic HR Roadmap at Toyota.
One of the basic concepts of Toyota is that the quality must be part of the process of production. This concept, known under the name of Jidoka, guarantee that problems have no impact on the chain from one job to another. Its principle is to stop work when a problem arises, in order to avoid the production of defective items (MacDuffie et al, 2011).
The Jidoka is also used when a team member encounters a problem in your workplace. The rest of the team has a responsibility to correct the problem. Failure to do so could indicate a problem pulling a Andon cord, which makes the number of jobs in the panel optical control lights, so that the team leader deal with the problem while the chain keeps moving.
If the team leader fails to fix the problem, the chain stops at the fixed position following the end of a process. After solving the problem, the chain restarts. Jidoka can also refer to the use of integrated security to prevent human or mechanical error. In this empirical study, Strategic Human Resource Management stands as precedent Balanced Scorecard model. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between Strategic Human Resource Management implemented in organizations with the three perspectives (customers, finances and processes) of the Balanced Scorecard.
Another perspective of the BSC is the customer. Modern organizations have to identify market segments, existing and potential customers, and then select the niches you want to compete. In this sense, should have a set of core indicators both client (increase, acquisition, satisfaction and profitability) and market share, and product / service must also be assessed the intrinsic attributes and their expectations, and prestigious image thereof.
The final perspective of BSC is critical to getting the previous three. It is the prospect of learning and personal growth. The BSC makes explicit reference to the importance of human resources in achieving business goals. This perspective touches on three key aspects. On one hand, it seeks to enhance the capabilities of employees, improvement ideas should come from employees who are close to the processes and customers. Otherwise, organizations must acquire information systems towards employees regarding their satisfaction, retention, and performance. Members of an organization must be motivated, should be free to make decisions and act (empowerment), and should have a consistency in its objectives. To evaluate the parameters of the BSC we built a scale called BSC-14 (Boada and Gil, 2007a).
Toyota Decision Making Policy
The decision-making process in the lean production model appears as a factor scarcely studied. The elements that make up the decision-making process appear marginally when discussing factors such as just in time, partnerships with suppliers, product development and the built-in quality in the process. Regarding the way, authors who, within each content are concerned with structure it analytically, with greater or lesser wealth of details, setting the process in phases and describing it now in order to explanatory goals, sometimes taking in view prescriptive actions (MacDuffie et al, 2011). On the other hand, there are those that shape the content focusing more on the context of the aspects involved in the process, exposing the structure or system that supports it, and wait for results (Strategic HR Roadmap). If we understand that everyone living in society participate in each moment a certain level of organization, Simon’s contribution was fundamental to inaugurate the decision studies with broader perspectives and next of social life and its complexity.
The decision-making appears as an unexplored factor in the work of diffusion of lean production model in which Toyota is the recognized worldwide as a pioneer in creating a production system focused on continuous improvement of productivity and quality indicators. Thus, even in works that are more recent that recognize the model of lean production as a broader model, organizational or business, clear link elements with the decision structure arise identified over the design elements aimed at troubleshooting.
Bohlander, G., & Snell, S. (2006). Managing human resources – Strategic HR Roadmap. Cengage Learning.
Boudreau, J., Hopp, W., McClain, J. O., & Thomas, L. J. (2003). On the interface between operations and human resources management – Strategic HR Roadmap. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 5(3), 179-202.
Jackson, S., Schuler, R., & Werner, S. (2011). Managing human resources – Strategic HR Roadmap. Cengage Learning.
MacDuffie, J. P., & Krafcik, J. (1992). Integrating technology and human resources for high-performance manufacturing: Evidence from the international auto industry. Strategic HR Roadmap and Transforming organizations, 209-226.
Yeung, A. K., & Berman, B. (1997). Strategic HR Roadmap – Adding value through human resources: Reorienting human resource measurement to drive business performance.
This article is intended to evaluate the case study on Electron Corporation and highlights main key points pertaining to team building as well as enhancing the effectiveness of team productivity, established team environment and performance. Building of teams and effectiveness of team performance can be derived from various primary attributes (Zaccaro & Klimoski, in press). Teams are firstly needed to successfully contribute their individual efforts because their certain needs and responsibilities will form the basis of the collective success of the team. Secondly, since teams need to operate in complicated and ever changing organizational environments, they need to tackle multiple organizational team characteristics such as conflicting agendas, load of greater information, swift changes in the situations as well as enhanced dynamic changes (Zaccaro, Rittman & Marks 2001).
A small overview of the company includes; Electron is a small manufacturing organization established in 1997 in North of England. It manufactures components for telecommunication division. It employs 150 people along with 90 people in the manufacturing division. It was originally a department of a huge telecommunication organization and the Electron’s team bought the component manufacturing section as a portion of an outsourcing plan presented by the parent company in 2007. Electron has acquired both full time and part-time employees. In 1990s, its management realized that the company was striving for increasing competition and innovation in the industry. So in order to enhance their competition in the market, they have found the need of a more proficient and effective production procedures while emphasizing on enhancing organization’s culture, customer services, improved performance and responsibility and loyalty towards teamwork.
However, the subsequent sections of the assignment involve literature review which will cover the benefits and dysfunctions of teamwork. The Tuckman’s (1965) model of team building is also been employed in relation to the case study which demonstrates how teams must be efficiently formed. Whereas, the last sections will demonstrate the conclusion of the study as well recommendations on how to enhance the team performance more effectively and the steps that need to be taken for creating a subtle team environment.
The use of teams seems to provide several advantages; they may not be the most appropriate tactic for all types of organizations and not all of the organizations face similar and all challenges imposed by the teams. The influence of teamwork (both optimistic and pessimistic) is dependent upon several features such as company’s culture and environment, efficiency of team leadership, company’s efforts etc. Primarily, a team can be described as a small group of people along with a set of performance objectives, who are responsible to a common goal and the attitude they carry themselves mutually responsible (Katzenbach & Smith 1993). This definition explains that organizational teams should be of a manageable size and all of the team members should be accountable to achieve the shared team objectives. Moreover, all of the team members should be mutually responsible towards their activities and the results of those activities.
The Enticement of Working with Teams
The power of team work roots from several factors particularly when teams are employed. Various researchers demonstrated that teams are increasingly being employed as a response to ever increasingly global marketing competition (Heap 1996; Roufaiel & Meissner 1995; Sundstrom, De Meuse & Futrell 1990). Because of this increase in competition, it is also viewed that catering niche markets is also a growing concern. Since, electron emphasizes on enhancing organization’s culture, customer services and improved productivity; as a result, Electron manufacturers not only need to compete on cost but also strive to compete on innovation by establishing distinctive goods and services that could not be countered by the other rivals in the market. However, this will originate a problem where the company is not supposed to rely on mass production as well as economies of scale in the industry.
Most organizations still believe that working with teams is the only answer to this problem (just as Electron did). In their view teams are the source to optimize company’s innovation as employees have increased self-sufficiency, increased involvement and autonomy for making decisions (Harvey, Millet & Smith 1998). The employees no longer need to be guided about what is required to be done. In fact, they are provided with the objectives or develop objectives along with their team leader and then give autonomy to choose the best way in order to accomplish those objectives. Additionally, organizational innovation can also be optimized if teams are able to provide other enticements to the organization the situation in which they operate.
For instance, firstly, teams can optimally utilize human resources since they permit companies to achieve access to a person’s knowledge and capabilities (IRS Employment Review 1995). Albeit, the enhanced intricacy of the companies means that not all the managers know everything regarding each and every facet of the company’s operations. In this circumstance, it is important to utilize knowledge and capabilities of the employees/teams. Secondly, teams can be utilized to optimize company’s learning as employees are capable to design best strategies being suited to their work objectives (Wageman 1997). Thirdly, Teams are also capable to enhance individual’s performance levels and his/her efficiency, thereby establishing a synergy (Katzenbach & Smith 1993). Finally, team work is greatly associated with various numbers of objectives, tasks and additional accountability for each member of the team, which in turn resulted in enhanced job satisfaction, employee motivation and more work commitment. This will also result in lower employee turnover and absenteeism, thus, decreasing company’s costs and enhancing company’s knowledge base (Kirkman & Shapiro 1997).
Dysfunctions or Challenges Accompanied Teamwork
The employment of teams is primarily a change to an organization as well as a developmental procedure. Thus, teams can be easily affected to any challenge that might emerge during an organizational change. Particularly, resistance among employees may occur when they are needed to work along with other employees who are unfamiliar to them. In this way, teams are more likely to have broken established social relationships. This has already done in the Electron when huge number of new employees was hired and was integrated into one of the Electron’s teams. Those workers were new to their team’s values and consensus where they exerted greater challenge to the already existed relationships among the older employees.
In accordance to Bettenhausen (1991), one way to cope this problem is by forming teams. Building of teams will enhance group productivity by enhancing communication, minimizing conflicts and establishing greater bonds and commitment among all the working team members. Resistance among employee can also occur as a result of other factors. For instance, teamwork may need job enlargement where each team member is required to perform his/her conventional role along with his/her team role (IRS Employment Review 1995). In this circumstance, it is essential to minimize their certain responsibilities or to change the structure of their rewards or compensation.
Besides job enlargement, team work is also coherent with autonomy, ownership and additional commitments. Managers frequently perceive that employees must participate in decision making instead of simply being directed of what needs to be done. However, this might be true for certain situations but not for all situations. This will, in turn, may resulted in employee job dissatisfaction, increased employee turnover and/or reduced work productivity. The similar case is also viewed in Electron, when it hired new employees on temporary basis and let the managers to decide who must be hired on as full-time employee. Those workers initially were also unfamiliar with the team procedures and were expected by the managers to know the team’s values and conform and act accordingly to their team’s norms. Teams at Electron started exerting their concertive control over the new individuals which as a result new employees began controlling themselves and those norms and values become rationalized rules for the new members. There is no simple solution for catering such problem; however, training or changing positions can be probable within the company.
Other associated problems with “empowered teams” originate when there is a lack of trust in the team when they are no longer trusted enough to participate in decision making. This will result in teams and organizations losing full potential to accomplish their desired objectives. The situations in which teams are needed to seek consent before executing any idea or timeliness, ownership is likely to reduce. Organizational innovation will also decrease as teams are compelled to suggest ideas that will be likely to accept (Nahavandi & Aranda 1994). Moreover, team members may also perceive that their management is paying insincere respect to their proposed ideas of teamwork which will certainly result in reduced employee morale.
It is also viewed that when teams are involved in making decisions, they take more time than the system they reinstate. This is also needed where team coordination is required and where team members are independent. This issue can be partly cope by the formation of the team, but this also requires continuous training and development of groups teams. Such kind of training can be specifically appropriate for the new hired staff as there may be no established procedures for them to follow. Also, for effective teams, there must be strong coordination among them (Harvey, Millet & Smith 1998). Similarly, the lack of participation in decision making and coordination among employees for building of more strengthened team culture is seen in Electron’s eight teams (red, blue, white, green, silver, aqua, purple and yellow). This is due the fact that the older and long tenured employees have tried to impose strict concertive rules and procedures to conform to the group norms.
In case of organizational environmental changes and developmental initiatives, culture of the organization and environment must also be considered. It must not be perceived that the objectives and values of the individuals are similar to those of their management or congruent even across the entire organization. The attitude of individuals towards teams will demonstrate the success of those teams. If teams need to be executed more successfully, the extension of already existed values must be there (Carr 1992). Therefore, Electron when working with teams also demand shift in attitudes that a company may turn to it when it wants to accomplish a cultural shift, for instance, when it becomes more quality or customer oriented (IRS Employment Review 1995).
Five Team Development Phases as Proposed by Bruce Tuckman
This model as proposed by Bruce Tuckman (1965) tends to highlight and guides the areas where teams can be successful and/or become failure to achieve desired team goals. For forty years, Tuckman’s classical model of team development delivers ease and new perceptions to managers to either charge to run a team or attempt to function within a team while assuring each member that they are not alone and that the uneasiness is a normal part of the team journey towards an efficient and pleasant unit. Tuckman speculates that these stages are essential and unavoidable. In order for the Electron teams to grow, to face the hurdles, to cope up with the problems, to search for solutions, to organize work and to deliver desired outcomes; these five phases can be elaborated as follows.
Phase One: Forming
In this first phase of team building, Electron teams must be formed. Where the attitude of the individual is driven by the desires which are likely to be accepted by the other individuals and prevent any controversy or conflict. Solemn problems and attitudes are prevented and people are required to concentrate on their busy work routines. Individual members also try to gather knowledge regarding each other, regarding the scope of the task and how to reach it. This phase is considered to be an easy stage but prevention of controversies and conflicts mean that not much objective is actually accomplished. The teams will together meet and learn about various opportunities and confront and then agree on objectives and start to tackle the tasks and objectives. Members of the team will quite behave autonomously.
Each team member must concentrate on his/her team leader by accepting the leader’s guidance and authority while maintaining a respectful distant association with other individuals. At this phase, the leader must open two way communications and be ready to reply any of the queries that may come on his/her way; limitations, potency and vulnerabilities must also be tested including those related to the leader.
Phase Two: Storming
Each Electron group then will enter into the next stage where different ideas for competition are considered. The teams address distinct issues such as what kind of problems they need to solve, how they must function autonomously as well as mutually with each other and which leadership model they must accept to follow. Each team member will have the privilege to confront others’ ideas and perceptions. In most cases storming is solved more quickly while in others, most of the teams never leave this phase (this depends on the maturity of the team). Most team members concentrate on the ins and outs to dodge the problems. This second phase is essential for the teams to grow which could be controversial, distasteful and often excruciating to the team members who are opposed to the conflicts. Tolerance of each team member must also be emphasized because without patience, teams will likely to fail.
This stage can be proved destructive for the teams if they are permitted to go out of control. Managers/supervisors of the teams might be more accessible but need to be directive in their professional and decision making attitudes. The teams therefore, will solve the problems and differences and contribute more comfortably with one another. In this way, they cannot be judged and can share their stand points and ideas easily with each other.
Phase Three: Norming
At this phase of team building, Electron managers will set one objective and one mutual plan for the team to accomplish. Some of the members will be motivated to give up their certain ideas in order for the team to effectively function. At this phase, each team member feels his/her commitment to the team and has the aspiration to work towards the success of the team’s objectives.
Phase Four: Performing
It is probable for certain teams to reach to this stage. The high performing teams can be able to work as one unit as they able to identify best approaches to get their job done mutually, comfortably and without irrelevant controversy or the requirement of any external management because they become motivated and knowledgeable by this stage. When the members of the Electron teams are now skilled, independent and experienced, they can tackle the process of decision making without the burden of any supervision (however, supervisors are also directive and participative at this stage but team make more appropriate decisions). The Electron teams must pass through this stage several times because of the global and organizational dynamic changes.
Phase Five: Adjourning (and Transforming)
This stage involves un-forming the groups which sometimes create a sense of loss often feel by the team members. This stage will include ‘dissolution’ which leads to the end of the Electron team members’ roles and responsibilities, the accomplishment of objectives and minimization of reliance. This procedure can be traumatic specifically when the dissolution is not planned. Thus, team members must be acknowledged at this phase that at the successful achievement of the productivity levels and outcomes, teams will be dissolved and that new teams will emerge for new targets.
In order to execute and sustain teams to operate effectively within the organization, sufficient organizational changes are required to be considered as well as various issues required to be catered. Those changes not only influence team members but also the responsibilities and commitments of the supervisors and managers, the organizational framework, work procedures and techniques and employees’ social bonds. That’s why due to the dynamic environmental changes, Electron manufacturers also face multiple challenges which occur as a result of teams’ implementation. However, it is also evident that in case of teams’ implementation, various organizations will not opt for going back to their prior organizational frameworks (IRS Employment Review 1995). Consequently, it is also seen that teams, in spite of the emerging challenges, are capable enough to offer several advantages to firms in the long run.
In case of Electron manufacturers, new hired team members were unknown of the team’s values, norms and consensus that proved greater challenge to the already existed relationships among the older employees. Moreover, managers were also expecting that each new member must be familiar with the procedures and norms of the groups to act accordingly and conform themselves to those groups. However, besides the implementation of their concertive procedures and motivating employees (by providing them rewards), Electron teams still lacking certain key aspects which formed the basis of a strengthened team. Such as two way communication, participation of employees in decision making, lack of trust among team members, sharing of opinions and ideas among each other to resolve any critical issue regarding production and enhancement of work performances and employees’ morale.
Thus, as a result of this, Bruce Tuckman’s (1965) model of team building is employed in the context of Electron manufacturers. According to his model, teams are to be developed step by step by ensuring performance effectiveness in each team building phase. This model consists of five stages i.e. forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning. This can be concluded as Electron must forge its eight teams in a manner such that each individual must know his/her accountability, change his/her attitude according to the organizational culture so that teams will effectively function with minimum conflicts and controversies (forming). Second, teams must be encouraged to share their wide scope ideas and opinions and can confront the other’s ideas for making better decisions and improved productivity (storming).
Third, Electron managers must establish one objective and direct the team to mutually accomplish the objective which enhances the members’ sense of responsibility towards the team success (norming). Forth, when Electron’s team members become more experienced and capable enough, they will be able to make decisions without any supervisor which in turn, gives employees more autonomy, understanding of each other’s roles, increase employee social relationships, enhance their morale as well as enhance work productivity (performing). Finally, when the production target is successfully achieved, teams will be terminated at the final stage so that new teams will be developed to achieve new production targets with the passage of time and make the organization subtle to dynamic industrial changes with the help of new teams’ formation.
Following are some of the recommendations that can be further considered for making organizational teams more strengthened and intensified.
In accordance to Tuckman’s strength deployment inventory (SDI) model, employees must be nurtured with the help of managers without directing rewards in return. They must be motivated to enhance their self-worth by accomplishing tasks and other significant orders.
Fulk, Bell & Bodie (2011) also employed Tuckman’s five stages of team development to enhance team performance. According to them, the first stage ‘forming’ must also involve hiring and selecting right individuals at the right time who also possess the qualities of solving critical problems, controversies, communication gaps, decision making, setting of plans and goals and organizing tasks within teams.
At the second stage ‘storming’, managers must anticipate to unexpected events that are likely to lead the whole team to the conflicts which are likely to arise as a result of differences in opinions, styles of working and priorities. The managers must be vigilant to take all those conflicts into consideration and encourage teams to take appropriate and productive actions towards mitigating those conflicts.
The third stage ‘norming’ must involve working with teams with specific as well challenging goals and those goals must be present in writing. Here team performance can be enhanced if teams revisit their initial goals, clarification of the goals and the commitments towards those goals.
At the fourth stage ‘performing’, managers must monitor their teams ‘objectives and their feedback on a regular basis in order to enhance teamwork. That feedback must be timely basis as well as concrete to be acted upon.
At the final stage ‘adjourning’ the team members instead of felling a sense of loss, team members must be expected to enjoy their success resulted in successful completion of the task.
Bettenhausen, K.L. (1991) ‘Five Years of Group Research: What Have We Learned and What Needs to be Addressed’, Journal of Management, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 345-381.
Carr, C. (1992) ‘Planning Priorities for Empowered Teams’, Journal of Business Strategy, vol. 13, no. 5, p. 43-47.
Fulk, H.K. (2011) Team Management by Objectives: Enhancing Developing Teams’ Performance. Journal of Management Policy and Practice, 12(3), 17-26.
Heap, N. (1996) ‘Building the Organisational Team’, Industrial and Commercial Training, vol. 28, no. 3, pp.3-7.
IRS Employment Review (1995) ‘Key Issues in Effective Teamworking’, no. 592, pp. 5-16.
Katzenbach, J.R. & Smith, D.K. 1993, The Wisdom of Teams, McKinsey & Company, New York.
Kirkman, B.L. & Shapiro, D.L. (1997) ‘The Impact of Cultural Values on Employee Resistance to Teams: Toward a Model of Globalised Self-Managing Work Team Effectiveness’, Academy of Management Review, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 730-757.
Nahavandi, A. & Aranda, E. (1994) ‘Restructuring Teams for the Re-engineering Organization’, Academy of Management Executive, vol. 8. no. 4, pp. 58-68.
Performance Coaching Training (2010) Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming & Performing Team Development Model.
Roufaiel, N.S. & Meissner, M. (1995) ‘Self-Managing Teams: A Pipeline to Quality and Technology Management, Benchmarking for Quality, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 21-37.
Sundstrom, E., De Meuse, K.P. & Futrell, D. (1990) ‘Work Teams: Applications and Effectiveness’, American Psychologist, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 120-133.
Natural environment – all living and non-living things that occur naturally on Earth, including the climate, weather and natural resources
Built environment – the part of the physical environment that is constructed by and for human activity
Environmentalism – advocacy for or work toward protecting the natural environment from destruction or pollution
Ecology – a branch of Biology that deals with the relationship between organisms and their environment
Political ecology – the study of the effect of politics and economy on ecology and vice-versa
Pollution – the introduction of contaminants into the environment (for instance air, water, soil) resulting in instability, disorder or harm
Sustainable development – development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
Recycling – the process of collecting and reprocessing materials that would typically be considered waste into new products
Clean energy – energy produced through renewable resources and that does not pollute the atmosphere when used
Resource efficiency – using the Earth’s limited resources in a sustainable manner, while reducing the impacts on the environment
Climate change – a long-term change in the earth’s climate, especially a change due to an increase in the average atmospheric temperature
Biodegradable – a material capable of being decomposed by biological agents in a relatively short time
Biodiversity – the variability among all living creatures on earth, within species or between species and ecosystems
Demography – the study of the characteristics of human populations, such as size, growth, density, distribution, and vital statistics
Desertification – the transformation of arable or habitable land to desert, as by a change in climate or destructive land use
Ecosystem – the relationships and interactions that occur between organisms or between organisms and their environment
Endangered species – a species facing the danger of extinction due to natural or man-made changes in its environment
Greenhouse effect – process which accounts for the absorption of thermal radiation coming from the planet’s surface by greenhouse gases and then re-emitted in all directions. This effect is the way through which global warming occurs.
Greenhouse Gas – a gas which is in the atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation on an infrared spectrum, the high levels of these gases in the atmosphere are the prime causes of the greenhouse effect.
Habitat destruction – the destruction or damaging of a natural habitat to such an extent that it can no longer support the species particular to it
Intensive farming – a system of cultivation used in agriculture characterized by the use of large amounts of capital and labor in relation to the size of an area
Natural resources – naturally occurring substances that are considered to have an economic value
Overpopulation – excessive population of an area to the point of overcrowding, depletion of natural resources, or environmental deterioration
Ozone depletion – the steady corrosion and depletion of the ozone from the stratosphere, leading to a decrease in the protection against ultraviolet radiation
About The Environment
The term of “environment” is generally used to designate the circumstances and conditions that surround an individual or an organism. From its early beginnings, humanity has not only adapted to the natural environment, but has modified it in order to better suit its needs and to provide comfort.
The issue arose from the fact that human activity considered the possible repercussions on the natural environment. Starting with the Industrial Revolution, technologies became increasingly harmful to Earth’s ecosystem, resulting in the pollution and often the destruction of various natural habitats, as well as of the life forms that inhabited them. Furthermore, the alarmingly rapid growth of population led to excessive urbanization and use of limited resources.
It was only in the late 19th century, early 20th century that the concern for environmental issues became a serious matter in the public view. Britain’s “Alkali Acts”, passed in 1863, concerned the excessive air pollution resulted in the production of soda ash and are considered the first large-scale laws in regard to environmentalism. Environmental movements soon gained in importance as they attempted to raise public awareness to issues such as air, soil and water pollution, initially, as well as global warming, overpopulation and genetic engineering in the contemporary society.
These efforts also led to the discovery of various technologies that would aid people in protecting the environment and possibly restoring it. One such example was the implementation of clean or green energy through the use of hydro power, solar or wind power. Many other sciences, such as chemistry or IT, developed a green branch that would use as little hazardous or polluting material as possible. Finally, some importance was placed on the education of the young in these matters and various methods of recycling, preserving energy, water or materials were presented to the public.
In spite of all these efforts, however, the number of people who act and live with the welfare of the environment in mind still amounts to a minority. Due to financial inconveniences or simply due to the reluctance to change that most people display, the planet is now more than ever in great danger as it is slowly becoming an uninhabitable environment for both human beings and other life forms.
Causes Environmental Issues
Some of the most harmful agents when it comes to the health of the environment are the population overgrowth and the consequent excessive waste and resources requirements, the unsustainable use of these resources, poverty, urban development or habitat fragmentation and destruction.
More than 7 billion people currently inhabit the planet, compared to only 3 billion in 1967. Every year about 135 million people are born and 55 million people die, adding 80 million to our global population, a fourth of the United States population. This overpopulation means that the demand in resources such as water and food also increases to an unsustainable level. Furthermore, excessive amounts of waste are dumped onto overflowing landfills and even into the water, causing grave disturbances in the natural ecosystems.
Due to these changes in population, the gap between the poor and the rich has drastically increased over the past few decades, statistics pointing out the fact that more almost half of the population of Earth relies on a mere $2.5 US dollars for their daily living expenses. Poverty is another major cause of environmental issues because it involves a very low standard of education, an even higher rate of population growth, precarious hygiene conditions and a damaging intensive agriculture.
Urban development has also been deemed harmful to the environment, mostly because of the fact that it involves the fragmentation, the damaging and even the destruction of natural habitats. Between 200 and 2000 species go extinct every year due to the disappearance of their habitat and the intervention of man.
Another concerning fact is represented by the constant greed mankind displays when faced with a less profitable alternative. Greenwashing is a means through which a company actively and deceptively promotes eco-friendliness. Greenwashing is the way in which companies lie to the consumer in order to profit from the average consumer’s naivety. For example, in 2009 European McDonald’s had changed the traditional red and yellow logo to a green and yellow one. A spokesman for the company outlined the change as being a clarification of their concern for the environment – maybe concern whether there is anything else left to exploit or not. A similar situation is Coke’s 2007-2008 greenwashing campaign related to the company being water neutral. Chairman Neville Isdell declared that the company had “pledged to replace every drop of water we use in our beverages and their production: to achieve balance in communities and in nature.” However, the improvement in water-use for an average coke drink only fell 2%, in the timeframe of one year, 2006-2007, whereas they declared a 20% improvement from 2002-2007. Later on, a group of water scientists including coke’s managing director of water stewardship wrote a “concept paper” about water neutrality, clarifying what it actually refers to.
Finally, pollution is a well-known agent in the damaging of the environment, whether it refers to air, water, soil, sound, radioactive or even visual pollution. For instance, one great source of concern in the contemporary world is the global warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases produced by such human activities as the burning of fossil fuels or deforestation. Its already visible consequences include the rise in the sea levels, changes in the pattern of precipitations and frequent extreme weather events leading to loss of crops or of habitat and to natural disasters such as floods.
One of the biggest causes of death is pollution, having a toll of over 100 million people every year, in the close vicinity of diseases such as malaria or HIV.
CO2 emissions have increased with 50% over the past 40 years than they have since 1776. They are still increasing.
In the U.S. over seventy different kinds of pesticides (chemicals used for crop preservation) in groundwater, which is a potential source for potable water.
More than 90 different pesticide compounds are suspected of being the cause of cancer, genetic mutation and even birth malformations.
R.I (World Resources Institute) shows that deforestation has peaked historical limits, having more than 80% of the world’s forest cover lost to deforestation.
The world’s population consists of nearly 10% children out of which close to 3 million under the age of five pass away annually because of environmental causes.
Though Botswana has only 2 million people, it is the second most polluted nation in the world. Pollution from the mineral industry and wild fires are the main causes.
Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels is a major killer. It claims the lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis.
In Kabwe, Zambia, child blood levels of lead are five to 10 times higher than the allowable EPA maximum.
Every year, the Ecuadorian deforestation releases 2 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing 20-to 25% of global warming.
Over 80% of items buried in landfills could be recycled instead.
Although Americans sum up to almost 5% of the population of the world, they manage to produce 30% of the global waste and use a staggering 25% of the available natural resources.
If every American recycled just one-tenth of their newspapers, we could save about 25 million trees each year.
Americans buy over 29 million bottles of water every year. Making all those bottles uses 17 million barrels of crude oil annually, which would be enough fuel to keep 1 million cars on the road for one year. Only 13% of those bottles are recycled. Plastic bottles take centuries to decompose—and if they are burned, they release toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals.
If all the tires Americans throw away each year were stacked on top of each other, the pile would reach 32,000 miles high—a greater distance than the circumference of the earth at the equator (24,901 miles).
Close to 2 million premature deaths are attributed to indoor air pollution and most of them occur to children under the age of 5, because of factors which cause pneumonia.
1/3 of the population growth in the world is the result of incidental or unwanted pregnancies.
At least 150 million couples throughout the world want, but do not have, access to reproductive Health Services.
Outdoor air pollution causes almost 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year.
One of the more common and dangerous pollutants in the environment is cadmium, which kills human fetal sex organ cells. Its widespread presence and its use in the fabrication of containers and cans means it is in almost everything we eat and drink.
Research conducted by NASA scientists reveal that the main cause for extreme weather conditions in the past years (floods, hurricanes, drought or tornadoes) are due to an overall global warming.
On 16th September 2009, the Vienna Convention and the Montreal Protocol became the first treaties in the history of the United Nations to achieve universal ratification.
In 2008, the U.S.A is officially recognized by International Energy Agency as the world’s second largest GHG (greenhouse gas) emitter, in the close vicinity of the leader, China.
In May 2009, Cyprus’ government allowed the development of luxurious golf courses which waste water amounting up to over 1/3 of the annual need of the local population.
Debates and Controversies
Why would we “go green” instead of trying to improve the actual life-style and technology?
Engineers and scientists have proven that green and sustainable technological development helps to reduce pollution and saves resources.
The government might argue that eco-friendly technologies are expensive, require high maintenance and are very hard to implement at large scales.
Teachers support the fact that educating people towards awareness for environmental issues helps preserve the natural resources and contain pollution.
Some citizens contest that the outcome of the efforts and awareness of one individual cannot change much on these issues that are already at a global scale
Automotive companies have, for some time now, mass-production cars that protect the environment.
A teenager might wonder why anyone would spend more money on a car that is not even cool.
Economists indicate that saving energy does not only help your budget, but in the long term, it means that less resource is spent for the making of energy.
An average consumer believes that using solar panels and eco-friendly light bulbs implies enormous costs.
Business analysts have proven that because of the global-use of machineries that burden the ecosystem with polluting chemicals, soon enough there will be no more “business”. Furthermore, future generations will inherit an uninhabitable world.
Other people involved in business, state that environmentally friendly technology is more expensive and provides less profit than polluting ones.
Workers in the health industry point out that every year there is a great percent of people actually dying because of pollution – whether it’s in extreme weather caused by global warming or chemicals that they breath, eat or drink.
Even though every individual bears a moral responsibility for contributing to the destruction of the environment, a lawyer would point out that, legally speaking, they cannot be held responsible or accused.
Sentimental environmentalists are promoting the conservation of the nature as it has been our home. We should strive not to dominate the natural world around us, but try to develop a harmonious relationship with it.
Some scientists and economists point out to the fact that if we had the possibility of creating our own resources and habitat we would not need to care about the environment or nature anymore. We should develop our technology to the point where humanity could break from nature altogether.
Aldo Leopold’s book is known to be one of the most influential discourses on the conservation of nature and his research has led to the foundation of the wildlife management branch of science.
Rachel Carson’s book deals with the subject of chemicals involved in crop-growth and it led to the prohibition of DDT, a highly dangerous substance that can cause cancer. Her publication led to the awareness of issues such as air pollution and petroleum spills and the formation of notable groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of Earth.
Lovelock’s work forms the hypothesis that Earth can be perceived as a single organism, which became an important part of the Deep Green ideology – which integrates a more radical approach to the harmful effects of civilization upon nature.
International treaties and protocols concerning the environment
The Montreal protocol has opened for signature on 16 September 1987. The document is an international treaty on which now all the UN member states have agreed upon and ratified. It refers to the reduction of ozone depleting toxic emissions.
The Kyoto protocol is an international treaty that sets binding obligations on industrialized countries regarding the emissions of greenhouse gases. Although the treaty was signed during the Clinton administration by the United States of America, it was never approved by the Senate. In 2011, Canada, Japan and Russia openly declared they would not follow Kyoto targets anymore, Canada officials announcing their withdrawal from the protocol, effective as of the end of 2012.
Although, in the beginning, it could not provide enough energy to even light a light-bulb, scientific research in the past 50 years has managed to create hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles – but they are still too expensive for mass production.
Bio gas is a clean and environmentally friendly source of renewable energy. It is the by-product of organic waste materials and with a small labor input it can replace firewood or fossil fuels. It also has a positive influence on crop-growth.
Bio filters are now the main component in the recycling and management of waste water.
Famous People, Organizations and Movements
John Muir (naturalist and writer) – spent most of his life trying to preserve the wilderness of western America; due to his perseverance, the Yosemite and the Sequoia National Parks were created, along with uncountable other conservational areas.
Rachel Carson (scientist and author) – considered by most people the founder of the modern environmentalist movement, she studied Biology and then wrote eye-opening literature that led to the banning of very harmful pesticides.
Aldo Leopold – an American professor who published “A Sand Country Almanac”, a book considered to be one the most influential discourses when it comes to the preservation of nature. He upheld environmental ethics and wilderness conservation and his studies have led to the founding of the science of wildlife management.
Greenpeace – a non-profit environmental organization which has extended in over forty countries. They state that their goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity”. Known for its highly direct actions, it has earned the name of the most visible environmental organization in the world.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) – unites over 182 countries, international institutions, civil society organizations, as well as the private sector in the search for sustainable, long term development initiatives. Nowadays, it is the largest public founder and sustainer of projects that improve and conserve the global, natural environment.
Bono – the Irish rock star of the band U2 is renowned for his philanthropic and environmental activism. An active member of the Greenpeace organization since 1993, he also participated in a tree-planting ceremony in Tokyo Bay, in 2008 where efforts were being taken to turn a landfill into a forest of over 88 hectares.
Al Gore – former vice-president of the United States, co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, has been involved over a number of decades in initiatives meant to raise environmental awareness, especially regarding climate change. He founded two non-profit organizations in 2010 that deal with climate change issues.
Opinion Articles and Commentaries
The Economist provides an in-depth and long term analysis on the rate of consumption and effects of shale gas and oil. The great American companies that exploit these resources are now growing skeptical in regards to long-term profitability. Because of the low price of shell gas, the industry is slowly shifting towards gas consumption from petrol, a resource that has been over-exploited in the past decades and that consequently is now very expensive. The big picture is presented by scientists who promote eco-friendly technology and support the fact that, as petrol, shell gas is more and more needed. Therefore, the costs to keep the offer will rise through the roof and the resource will eventually end up depleted given its consumption rate.
NBC News recently posted an article about carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions are the main cause for global warming because of the effects they have on thinning and weakening the ozone layer – the protective shield of our planet that keeps it safe from solar radiation. Although recent studies show that our climate is not so sensible to these toxins, we have already produced more than half of the amount of carbon necessary to warm our planet above an acceptable limit.
Environmental Health News provides an article showing efforts for the reduction of mercury-based healthcare utensils. Although the presence of this toxic gas in the atmosphere is majorly attributed to coal industry, the elimination of thermometers and sphygmomanometers from hospitals will have an impact. Even if the digitized version of the devices is not so accurate in some cases, proper use leads to full measurement accuracy. Furthermore, these alternatives are much more expensive still, but the price that is constantly being paid for properly dealing with accidents that include mercury spills far outweighs the initial payment. Moreover, the immediate and astounding impact which mercury has on the human organism is not to be neglected, being a substance that spreads easily through air or water and accounted for grave neurological effects in fetuses or children going to immune and cardiovascular system failures. Lastly, after all of the above mentioned is considered, pollution with this toxic substance needs to be stopped, whether it is because of the harmful consequences it has on the environment or on ourselves.
The Guardian provides coverage on the 2013 UN summit on climate change, which has taken place in Poland. The economic issues are the clear obstacle for these negotiations, causing great delay in a time where action is essential. However, the polish representatives disagree on the negative effects on the environment caused by coal exploitation, instead of admitting to the nature of their discontent.
UNEP newsletter on the progress of the conservation of the local mountain gorillas – nearly extinct population of great apes. Besides the creation of a natural habitat, which is proving to be an important fundamental for the economy of the region, the project has involved several countries. This cross-country involvement has offered political consensus in a region where diplomatic relations are tense.
I do hope enjoyed reading this post on environmental assessment methods and the environment in general. There are many other titles available in the construction dissertation collection that should be of interest to construction management students and building professional. There are many dissertation titles that relate to other aspects of construction such as project management techniques, environmental management, building and construction methods to name a few. It took a lot of time to write this post and I would be grateful if you could share this post via Facebook and Twitter. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you.
There are many nations in the world that have warring political parties, or nationalistic ideas that help shape the political system of the country, but North Korea is not like that. Instead the political system uses nationalism to help shape the views of the people in the country on what it is and what it should be like. In an interesting turn of events, the political system in North Korea is the cause of nationalism, and not the other way around, but it is this system that keeps North Korea in the favor of the people in the nation. This isn’t necessarily widespread love and acceptance, as many people in North Korea do not enjoy living in the country, but it does help solidify the fact that North Korea has a long standing political system that will not change, and people must find some way to express their love and acceptance of the nation whether they agree with it or not. The promotion of nationalism through the political system of North Korea has shaped the nation in a number of ways. It has led to a unique military system, eternal leaders, and a form of expression that constantly pushes the views and philosophies of the Korean people in a unique way.
The concept of North Korean nationalism is known as Juche or the Juche Idea. This idea promotes three key factors. These factors are Independence in politics, self-sustenance in the economy, and self-defense in national defense. It is this idea that promotes North Korea and it promotes nationalism in the country. There are no fighting parties in North Korea, there is simply one party, and it is that party that promotes absolute control over the nation. Through the implementation of its Juche Idea and propaganda, the political system of North Korea remains relatively unchanged, and it has a strong impact on the people around it. Using the Juche Idea, North Korea remains under communist rule, and it has held onto that political system since its original institution. It was their initial resistance and freedom from Japan that led to the doctrine and political viewpoint of North Korea. It was and still is run by a small group of people that fought in the Japanese resistance. By the time the 1960s came around the Juche ideal had come into play, and it led to the people of North Korea being constantly fed the idea of self-sustainment. This idea help promoted the North Korea political structure today, and more importantly the nationalism that exists in the country today. Through the use of these ideals, and the forceful manner of the political structure of the government, a manner that promotes self-sustainment and patriotism, the political system is not so much structured by nationalism, but it has been allowed to remain intact due to the strong sense of nationalism by the people. Being as it that nationalism is something that is promoted constantly by the government it is clear that the end goal of the group is that being self-sufficient is the best way to be successful.
North Korea constantly uses sources of propaganda and other forms to promote the Juche idea presented by the government so long ago. Because of the fact that it is run solely by the government, there are no competing groups. Being a country founded by socialism and communism, there is no opportunity for there to be competing groups. If a group were to compete against the government, it would be fighting against the rules of the government and in turn it would soon be destroyed. Nationalism is used for one main purpose, and that is to keep the people of North Korea knowing and believing that the policies of the country are not only effective, but they are what’s best for the nation. It is this belief that propels North Korea to work in the manner that it does without any opposition from its people. In fact, all expressive aspects of the North Korea have some sort of Juche touch to it that helps promote the nationalistic views of the nation. North Korea, dominated by the communism and socialism, uses its arts and literature to help legitimate the thoughts of Juche and what the government believes. The artistic activities in the country are based on the Juche Thought of socialism.
There are many reasons as to why North Korea continues to push nationalism in the country. The nation has followed suit with communism and socialism despite it failing in many nations in the late 1900s. It is this nationalism that preserves the support of the people of the nation. This nationalistic view also allows North Korea to preserve its unique political system. The political system of this country focuses on centralization. Although the people of North Korea do have their basic human rights, it comes at a cost. When it comes to freedom of expression, the people do not have the ability to express themselves openly. In fact, people are watched very closely by the government. The Worker’s Part of Korea is the one and only political party that is legally allowed to exist, in essence there isn’t really a political party just one political system that cannot be argued against or contested by the people of North Korea.
This party has been in place since North Korea first existed in 1948. It is this concept of nationalism that has kept Korea from failing despite its many negative aspects. More importantly is the fall of the nation’s economy and the subsequent famine that occurred after the cold war. From 1994 to 1998 there was a severe food shortage, and several people died and experienced malnutrition. North Korea was heavily reliant at the time on Soviet Union aid, but when it collapsed, the North Korean economy collapsed as well. Without the fast response of the government, the North Korean economy continued to drop. Men, women, and children were facing malnutrition. Even the military, who received the military first treatment, were unable to get any rations, and if they did it was of the very basic amount. This lead to one of the most severe famines in the world, which concluded with an estimated three million people dying from starvation, but despite this famine the North Korean nation, still remained strong, and there was no talk or dispute of whether or not the nation would undergo any change. There was still strong nationalism in North Korea that helped hold up the nation and people’s view of the nation even during this time when there was constant starvation amongst the people of the country. Even today, after receiving constant aid from other nations, North Korea still stands at the precipice of widespread famine, and people still have trouble getting food.
The way that nationalism is strengthened in North Korea is through propaganda. People are constantly being shown pictures and videos that demonstrate what the leaders of the nation are doing or how they feel about the country or how they plan on helping out others. During the food shortage mentioned earlier, there were pictures of Kim Jong-il choosing to eat the same meals as other people in North Korea. In fact, the entire famine was called a food shortage that was due to bad weather and a failure for people to implement the teachings of Kim, but still stated that the situation was better than being outside of the nation. There were even attempts to urge people to eat things that were non-nutritious and harmful to the body. Everything about the North Korean culture has some sort of propaganda aspect to it. The art features militaristic themes usually, and it helps promote the military first ideals of the country. Music involves songs being dedicated to the leaders of the nation. Korean films have the central theme of showing how good Korean life is, and how bad western life tends to be.
Nationalism is a strong driving force in North Korea. It serves as a way for people to keep their faith in the nation, no matter what situation may occur. It did not just lead to the institution of the current political system, but it also has kept that political system alive, even in recent years as the nation experiences issues in malnutrition and economic problems. North Korea has received a lot of bad publicity and press within other nations, which include South Korea and the United States, but the propaganda and growth of North Korea in terms of nationalism and pushing its Juche ideas have continued to rise. Even now, the country has created social network accounts and media in order to reach out to more people and promote the belief and ideals of North Korea for its people. It is these accounts that promote the state of North Korea whether it is doing well or doing poorly, and it helps keep the political system alive, by force feeding the people in the country specific view and ideals.
Yim, Haksoon. “Cultural identity and cultural policy in South Korea.” International journal of cultural policy 8.1 (2002): 37-48.
Frank, Ruediger. “Economic reforms in North Korea (1998–2004): Systemic restrictions, quantitative analysis, ideological background.” Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 10.3 (2005): 278-311.
Lee, Sook-Jong. “The rise of Korean Youth as a Political force.” Bookings Northeast Asia Survey 2003-2004 (2004).
English law refers to the legal system of England and Wales which is the also, the basis of common law in Ireland and other Commonwealth countries.
Justice in ancient England both under the Anglo-Saxon regime and thereafter the Norman invasion, 1066 was delivered through a mix of local and royal courts. The local courts were presided over by a Lord or one of his stewards while the King’s court – the Curia Regis, was presided over by the King himself, and the royal courts began to emerge from the same. However, over a period of time they began to usurp the jurisdiction of the local courts. Under the Norman’s the practice of assizes was started by virtue of which judges were send across the country to hear cases locally. This laid the foundation for a common law to be applied to the whole country as it enabled the judges, over a period of 200 years, to take the least local laws and apply them throughout the land. This led to the establishment of common law courts. However, in course of time the remedies offered by the common law courts proved to be inadequate. The litigants in these cases petitioned the King as the fountain head of justice for appropriate relief. Due to ever increasing petitions, the King finally established the Court of Chancery administered by the King’s Chancellor adjudicating claims on the basis of equity.
Rule of English Law
The British Constitution is founded on the principle of rule of law. While C.J Edward Coke introduced this term to the world of legal terminology but it was essentially A.V. Dicey who propounded this doctrine and assigned to it several meanings. Its primary meaning is that everything should be done according to law or in other words no action whatsoever can challenge the supremacy of law. The secondary meaning is that Government’s discretionary power should be restricted by making them operate within a framework of recognized rules and principles. A third meaning of rule of law is that disputes as to the legality of acts of the government are to be decided by judges who are independent of the executive. To understand the concept of Rule of Law, which serves as the foundation of most legal systems of modern world, it is pertinent to appreciate the three features of this doctrine i.e. supremacy of law, equality before law and predominance of legal spirit.
The study of Rule of law in context of separation of powers of the organs of state especially the legislature and the judiciary, although it has never been applied in England in strict sense. As we all know, The British Parliament designed in accordance to Westminster model is a combination of House of Lords, House of Commons and the Queen commands as a supreme legislative body. Whereas, the supreme court of England maintains the stand of independent judiciary. Separation of powers, in simple words would mean that each organ can function without the influence of another. For instance, parliament is restricted from commenting on conduct of judges or any case pending before the judiciary whereas on the other hand the members of judiciary no longer have the privilege to amend the Bills laid down in Parliament. But since there is no strict application, the organs reserve the right to maintain checks and balances. It is in this sense only that the British Constitution though largely unwritten, is firmly based upon the principle of separation of powers. Thus, the exercise of the sovereignty of the British Parliament is also, subject to rule of law, although to a limited extent.
Common Law and Equity
The law of England may be said to be composed of three important elements: common law, equity and legislation or statute law. In simple words, common law may be defined as the part of English law derived from customs and judicial precedents and is not based on statutes. As such, in the absence of codified legislations, laws made by judges of common law courts based on common sense of reasoning and common customs that were recognized by the judges in their judgments came to formulate the law of the land known as common law. This is why it is also, known as law by precedent.
Due to inadequacy of effective redress available to the litigants in the King’s Court, the King through his Chancellor set-up a court known as the Court of Chancery, to provide redress in such cases. This laid the foundation for the development of law based on equity. It was based on the principle that when common law remedies would prove inadequate to grant relief in a particular case, the Court would grant relief based on equitable principles. It basically means a set of legal principles which supplement strict rules of law where their application would cause unwarranted injustice to either party. It is usually said to mitigate the rigour of common law, as it allows the courts to use its discretion and apply natural law in order to render justice more effectively. As such, it is also, important to note that in cases of conflict or variance between rules of equity and the rules of common law, the rules of equity should prevail. One of the important principles of equity is: he who comes to equity must come with clean hands. This means that a person seeking equitable relief should not have contributed to his injury or acted unjustly in any manner in relation to his injury or the defendant.
In the modern system of English law, statute law forms an indispensable part of the legal system. It is the most important source of law and takes precedence even over Common law. Common law can be changed by legislation, but cannot override or change statutes. In simple words, statute refers to a set of codified laws which are passed by legislatures. They are different from judge-made common laws in the sense that they are enacted to deal with specific situations or to govern a particular aspect of society. The legislature has the power to formulate laws relating to any aspect on which they have the authority to govern. For example, the Companies Act, 2006 is an act of the Parliament of United kingdom which forms the primary source of UK Company Law.
Statutory interpretation usually, refers to the process of interpreting legislation in the light of a factual scenario. It refers to certain set of principles developed by courts to interpret statutes. Some statutes take the aid of simple words with straightforward meaning to serve its object. In such case, interpretation does not pose any serious problem. However, when the Parliament enacts legislation, it is not possible to capture all the circumstances which may arise out of the same. As such, there may be ambiguity or vagueness that arises from the words used in the legislation. This is where the art of statutory interpretation applies. The judiciary through the aid of interpretation seeks to reconcile the legislative intent behind the enactment with the situations such legislation seeks to address. There are four primary rules of interpretation, the literal rule, the golden rule, the mischief rule and the purposive approach.
One of the difficulties that are faced by English courts while interpreting statues is perhaps where there is no assistance provided by treaties. This can be said as the drawback of not having a written constitution as there remains uncertainties with regard to legality of other statutes. Even if courts step forward to apply common law principles or ordinary literal meaning, there will exist a conflict as to choice of which principle of interpretation should the court lean on. Although there has been some success in this regard by development of presumptions that are applicable in case there can be two different interpretations of same statute.
So by this we come to understand that the words used in a statute, in so far as they are unambiguous, are the greatest reflection of the legislative intent. In this regard, two canons of interpretation are very important. First, the courts must seek to ascertain the legislative intent as it is only then that it can effectuate the purpose of the law. Secondly, an interpretation that suppresses any absurdity or ambiguity in the law is to be adopted.
“No Act of Parliament can be unconstitutional, for the law of the land knows not the word or the idea.” A constitution refers to a general covenant by virtue of which the spheres of influence of the government and its organs stand defined in relation to the state. The British Constitution is unwritten and as such it has not yet been codified. Most democracies of the world are governed by a codified constitution. In this sense, the British system is unique. Constitutional experts in England are of the opinion that an understanding of what the British Constitution involves entails a thorough analysis of several sources such as the Acts of Parliament, treatises, law of the European Union, Common law, Conventions, Royal Prerogatives and work of authority. In the British Constitution, power flows to the respective organs of the Government from the Crown. As such, one of its unique features is the arbitrary and unaccounted nature of power of the Government. However, the Crown although nominally, retains four key constitutional powers like the appointment of the Prime Minister, the power to dissolve the Parliament, the power to dismiss the Government and the power to withhold royal assent to legislation passed by the Houses of Parliament.
The Court system of a country usually refers to the system of law courts that administer justice and constitute the judicial branch of the government. It is important to note that the English court system is a complex structure of different courts adjudicating upon respective matters and sometimes even over conflicting claims. Therefore, the following chart is presented for a simplified understanding of the English court system.
Until October 2009, the final court of appeal for civil and criminal cases from England and Wales was the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords. However, the Supreme Court has now replaced it as the highest court in the United Kingdom. The Court of Appeal has only appellate jurisdiction for both civil and criminal cases. The High Court of Justice and the Crown Court have the power to exercise both appellate and original jurisdiction.