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 http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=5378. 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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One response to “My World, circa now

  1. v.

    With the IBM grant and others, you may want to include the local paper and local town website as key stakeholders in the grant. Here is one such developer of town sites:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/14/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/14Rhyperlocal.html

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