-- Cynics of the world, rejoice! A new study has found that inept plant managers have a more damaging impact on company morale than the downbeat behavior of workers who identify themselves as cynics. A three-year Ohio State University study of more than 1,000 workers at a Midwestern auto-parts plant found that cynical workers feel less of a sense of commitment to their organizations than other workers. But they also filed fewer grievances. Factory bosses tended to blame morale problems on small groups of disaffected employees, but in reality, the study concluded, such problems tend to start at the top. But business professor John P. Wanous says the survey did note that cynicism spilled over into perceptions of financial rewards. In the case of plant workers, the most cynical salaried employees were less likely to think they would be paid more if they performed well.
-- First e-books, now e-wallpaper. It looks like digital printing technology could help save the shrinking wallpaper industry. Even with new-home construction at a decade-long high, sales of wall coverings continued their slide last year, falling by 3%, to $1.5 billion. For paper companies, making wallpaper is expensive, storing it can lock up capital for years, and old stock keeps new trends from hitting the shelves. Digital color printing offers a whole new set of economics, says consultant IT Strategies of Hanover, Mass., allowing suppliers to update patterns as tastes change, store them electronically, and print on demand.