Monthly Archives: December 2006

Teaching SNA resorsz

David Lazer at the Kennedy Center for Networked Governance has a nice collection of syllabi and course links.

I’ll need to check out what other people are up to.

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Networks and Movements

This looks interesting. And it is the kind of work I think I should be doing. I don’t know the (vast?) social movement literature real well, but what a chance to explore it. The obstacle I wonder about is how to get data in such a compressed time frame.

Are these topical special issues more for people already for people well-entrenched in their sub-sub area, as opposed to being incentives for hungry young scholars like me to branch out? Or maybe incentives for wiley old scholars (not me) to reinvent themselves?

And to collaborate with someone presupposes I am appealing to collaborate with. How do you become very appealing? Seems like a chicken-and-egg problem.

Cluck, cluck…


Special Issue on Social Movements in Organizations and Markets

The Administrative Science Quarterly is seeking papers for a special issue on Social Movements in Organizations and Markets, guest edited by Gerald Davis, Calvin Morrill, Hayagreeva Rao, and Sarah Soule. Social movements are motors of cultural, technological, and institutional innovation in organizations and markets and have increasingly attracted the attention of organizational researchers. Organizations are both actors in, and sites of, social movement activities; moreover, movements and organizations share common mechanisms of organized action. A special issue provides an opportunity for ASQ to develop better theory about organizations and organizing in the light of contestation and collective action.

The guest editors encourage submissions of theoretical and empirical work on social movements in organizations and markets. We invite contributions that span the interorganizational, organizational, and the person level. The call for papers, and some prospective topics, can be viewed at:

The last date for submissions is May 1, 2007. Manuscripts in ASQ format can be submitted to, with the subject-line heading “Social Movements Special Issue.” See the Notice to Contributors on the ASQ Web page ( for information on preparing manuscripts.

The last date for submissions is May 1, 2007. Manuscripts in ASQ format can be submitted to, with the subject-line heading “Social Movements Special Issue.” See the Notice to Contributors on the ASQ Web page ( for information on preparing manuscripts.


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Variety of opinions on letters

I am applying for a tenure track job at Bucknell. I need three letters fo reference. I have been canvassing folks to find out if my third pletter is better to be from someone who is topically simialr (organizations) but in a different field (Socioloy) and who can say more about me than a necessarily more shallow letter from someone at another univeristy who is more clearly a network/management scholar.

So far, the opinions range widely from the first option is good tpop the first option is a mistake.

Anyone want to weigh in?

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Teaching OT… impossible?

So a colleague tells me that no one knows how to teach Organization Theory [OT]. He tells me about seeing a presentation by an author of an OT textbook in which the author claims that she/he won’t teach OT anymore.


This is one of the classes I am teaching next semester.

Before I read his message, I had just spent two hours in vain trying to find reviews of Mary Jo Hatch’s Organization Theory; Modern, Symbolic, and Post-Modern Perspectives and Gareth Jones’ Organization Theory, Design ,and Change. No luck.

Three ideas I am kicking around now include
1) Groups of students will select a rich, ethnographic or narrative book-length account of a particular organization. I looked for works with lots of detail and engaging stories and little analysis. This way they can deeply engage with this story, almost treat it as a source of qualitative data, and test drive some OT perspectives.
2) Use cases and case preparation to foster in-class discussion.
3) Maintain a “scrapbook” of organizational theory ideas and links based on news and current events. I was initially imagining an actual scrapbook, but am toying with the idea of a blog. Students could be required to post regularly and comment on each other’s.

More later…

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My World, circa now

There is much to do in the next month. Classes to plan, jobs to apply for, papers to write. Through all of this, I am focused on how to define my scholarly trajectory. The Spanish word is “rumbo” meaning the bearing a ship follows while navigating.

In the revising stage I have a paper on brokerage and closure. I would like to revise this so it more accurately reflects the most current research including Burt’s 2006 book by the same title. I also have some additional data to collect if I can that is domain experts being asked to rate ideas on a radical-incremental scale so I can test reliability. I need to find a study that does that as well.

In the drafting stage, I have “Innovation^Social.” (the title has social as the exponent). This is a poster/paper for the Organization Science winter conference. I went two years ago and it was a great conference for meeting people and seeing how ideas come about. (Capped off by a mock trial for the paradigm wars with Bill McKelvey and Ralph Stablein squaring off and Stewart Clegg as the judge. I should revisit that event). To do this paper, I will immerse myself in SIENA, the cool longitudinal network statistics package. If I get it, this will allow me to take longitudinal data of networks and node attributes and tease out direct and interaction effects for multiple dependent variables.

Of course, there is my dissertation. I am waiting to see if it needs more revision. Also, moving forward there is this fundamental trade off between trying to extract more publications or material from that data, which may prove futile, versus starting newer projects which, for the same amount of effort, may lead to more concrete success. Ha! It’s an exploitation versus exploration problem!
A third paper possibility that is kicking around in my head is to take the core ideas from the introduction about how to integrate OL and networks and develop that into a theory paper for AOM, a conference (Europe?) and maybe AMR or some other venue down the road. This would involve revising, looking more a literature to see if someone else is not already doing this, and fleshing out what networks would do to each stage of OL (creating, retaining, and transferring). Finally reading Argote’s book that develops the C,R,T model is probably also a good idea. D’oh!

Then there are new possibilities. I feel like I have to be careful because I tend to be seduced by the glint of novelty. Nonetheless, several factors come together to induce me to ponder new possibilities. One, I just savor the feeling of new vistas now that I pulled myself up to a new plateau with the dissertation. Two, I am sick of the Mg 101 data. Three, the organizational change class I taught this semester gave me a real hunger to be close to ground truth; to practitioners, to tangible value creation. So, I would love to develop some scholarship that gets me closer to OD or change efforts. I use scholarship pointedly because I mean research but also more practical efforts. I have flirted with the ideas of action science, praxis, or my own consulting practice before. Being scholarly, then, is about developing this way as well. Fourth, I am interested in how to take my new network knowledge and skills and link them up with other fields including organizational development and consulting. Synthesizing networks and other research domains extends to networks and innovation, networks and social entrepreneurs, networks and public management, networks and power, and networks and social movements. Fifth, I am more and more interested in social entrepreneurship, social innovation as they like to say at Stanford. Its optimistic nature fans my own idealism and its practicality feeds the hunger for practical action.

Immediate possibilities that grow out of this convergence of inducement factors:

☼ The IBM grant program through its business of government program. My kernel of an idea is about local government using social capital strategies to encourage business innovation or to solve sticky problems like regional planning.

☼ The NSF grant program for Maybe there is something with Keystone Innovation Zones and Regional planning and land use.

☼ Exploring Food and Green innovations in terms of longitudinal networks and developing local trust-based economies. This is Dreamcatcher, Sweet Meriam’s, and maybe others.

☼ Looking an network coaching for organizations and companies. This would be the Cross and Parker approach in terms of using fairly straight forward approaches to networks to help companies improve innovation, knowledge flows, adaptiveness, and positive sense of community. I am not sure how much off the shelf software there is to do for this.

☼ An idea Mark Ciavarella and I kicked around awhile ago was to look at leadership and networks over time. This would use similar methodology to the InnovationSocial paper for OSWC13. We could have MG 101 companies answer network surveys at two or three point sin time, as well as some standard leadership trait questions. We could combine this with advocacy and adoption info to test whether network position or leadership or both mattered more for formal leadership roles (won through elections).

☼ Network Fascism. This is an idea inspired by Stephen Barley’s speech at AOM last year. His argument was that lots of organizations that used to be variably arranged in temporary alliances to influence the government have now coalesced into a solid ring mediating all relationships between the “people” and the government in our republican democracy. He had some nice case studies. This is a scientific and normative question. What struck me was the intersection of private and nationalistic interests. This seems to me one of then tenets of fascism. Whereas Italian or German fascism may have had organized fascism, the idea that wide-ranging and flexible networks of organizations could have the emergent effect of merging capitalist and nationalistic agendas struck me as “networked fascism.” This sounds interesting and important, but I am not sure what data to use or where to go from here in terms of theory. For data, military contractors seem obvious, maybe too obvious. Astroturf, oil companies, and energy policy? Pharma and Medicare part D? These seem like just big guy versus under dog stories. I am not sure there is something new there in terms of networked fascism.

Any ideas? Any collabroators out there?

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Through the big push

Well, well, well… I pushed through the big push and ended up with a better product. The beast still has a monstrously too long introduction that is like the bastard offspring of a book proposal for an unpublishable book on organizational learning as meta-theory and a dissertation proposal I never wrote.

Sandra and Rafael, my intrepid advisors, told me they were working on bringing in a network expert. There is a professor at IESE, Fabrizio Ferraro, who came in after I was no longer in resident. I read an AMR article he did with Pfeffer. He does organization theory and networks, so that would seem like a great match. Meanwhile, I played catch up on classes and grading and also family time.

Now I am on the cusp of next stage of life as a scholar. I have many goals and half-cooked aspirations. Some new, some leftovers from the last ten years of professional meander. The sense of having passed through a stage has brought this jumble of ideas back. I am excited by new possibilities even as I remind myself to try and build profitably from all that I cooked up in dissertation. And, that particular pie is still in the over, so to speak.

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A colleague of mine, Skip McGoun, told me a good j…

A colleague of mine, Skip McGoun, told me a good joke the other day. I can now add it to my repertoire of economist jokes.

Three economists go hunting for deer. They come to the edge of a meadow and they see a deer. The first economist aims, fires, and misses five yards in front of the animal. Startled, it doesn’t move. The second economist aims, fires, and misses by five yards behind the deer. Poor beast is paralyzed with fear. The third economist throws down hhis rifle and says:
“Damn, we nailed it!”

Skip then told me he wrote a paper about the other famous economist joke. He emailed it and I need to read it ASAP! I love the idea that he wrote something about a joke!

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