Category Archives: Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies)

Powerful Committees Aphorism

Someone asked me why a particular committee had not done a task that impeded the progress of a mutual friend.

I said:

“Because powerful committees grow thick skins.”

 

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Filed under Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies), pithy expressions, writing

Mapping Projects, poeple, and orgs: Software to map square and bimodal networks

Sent to Socnet.

Hi,
I sketched on a napkin the other day a “map” of social innovaiton at my campus.
On it I had as “nodes”
  • – Projects
  • – Actors (like students, faculty, centers)
  • – Amorphous constituencies like “faculty” from which actors could come, or whcih projects could serve or interest.
I drew some ties for relations like
  • – created
  • – fund
  • – are interested in
I was thinking, I could make a “figure” of this, but any new data would involve manual additions.
Is there a software tool anyone recommends?
In mu ind, it is like a hybrid of a square matrix, like all the actors to the actors, and a bimodal network, actors or constituencies to projects.
Plus, I was thinking of differing relations which could be visualized.  So, maybe behind the visualization are different matrices that can be added or removed from the visualization.
Finally, I was thinking of this evolving over time.
I realize some of this relationships may not theoretically make sense with some kinds of lay out algorithims.  For example, I am not sure what it would mean to try to find the most central node when there are both actor-actor and actor-object (bimodal) relations, but at the moment, I was more looking for a tool to visualize these relations and dynamically update data to create newer visualizations.
I added a picture if that helps…
IMG_20140212_113043_381
 

 

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Filed under Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies), Social Networks

Theory and Practice and… Blueprints

So, in my classes, I emphasize how management, and our approach to it, is the nexus of theory and practice.  Moreover, there is always negotiation, always “play” in the ways theory and practice align or don’t.
And I see it everywhere…
Walking into Taylor today, I noticed the workmen hunched over a very formal-looking blueprint that said “School of Management.”  They were clearly engaged in some collective problem-solving about how to translate from blueprint to whatever they are doing (must be above my paygrade).
I pointed out that the blueprint had stamped in the corner “not for construction.”

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Filed under humor, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies)

Burritos, Homogeneity of Bites, Marketing and Capitalism

Also on my FB feed…

 

Burrito thought. is there some sort of Burrito aesthetic I don’t know about? That dictates the ingredients be like in strata inside the burrito? Because I’d rather have more mixing. Why not put all ingredients in a bowl (at like an eatery), THEN nix them and then into burrito. More bite similarity across the eating experience.

Very Sporkful question.

 

Comment thread from FB:

(1) Burrito thought. is there some sort of Burrito... - Jordi Sunshine Comas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, several important  themes are here.

1) Why have no burrito joints created this innovation?  are there costs to bowls and cleaning that make it not viable?

2) If people want it, why have the markets not provided what we want?

3) Are there proper aesthetics or culinary philosophies guiding burrito creation and consumption?

 

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Filed under Food, humor, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies)

Small Brained Managers- Are They Out There? Porac and Tschang

So, my friend and collaborator, Ted Tshang, have this short essay in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

It is really good!

Unbounding the Managerial Mind : It’s Time to Abandon the Image of Managers As ”Small Brains”, is the title (link to pdf) and it comes in the section called “Provocations,” which is exactly the kind of creative format that makes me enjoy JMI so much.

In a nutshell, the essay points out that the idea of “bounded rationality,” so famous and groundbreaking for organization science (especially the “Carnegie School“) has run its course in part because it puts too restrictive of a model on our operating metaphor of cognition.  As the put it so eloquently, the boundedly rational manager ALWAYS faces a world more complex than his (poor little) brain can comprehend either because of limits on what we can know (capacity) or learn (acquisition).

However, recent work in cognition at the neurological level, or even in the more novel “cognitive archaelogy” which tries to study how brain and culture co-evolve, has shown that neither clear invariant limits to what we can know (capacity) or learn (acquisition) conclusively exist.  It is not that we can learn everything quickly!  Of course not.  Rather, the complex ways we think, consciously or unconsciously, in patterns, in distributed cognition (across networks or even organizations), with heuristics and symbols, and using various constructions like optimization math, all mean that managerial thinking, so much like human thinking ( 😉 ), can be AS complex as the complex environments that it emerged from and that now also turns its attention towards in the effort to live and organize, to decide and manage.

I enjoyed all the references to various scholars whose work supports this view of cognition as what they describe is certainly how I see human cognition.  And, of course, like any org scientist, I think we are always in the middle range between theories of the individual (microfoundations) and of society (macro stuff).  Hence, it is valuable to update our core ideas at those two levels that form the sandwich cookie goodness around our yummy oreo-org theory middle layer.

As they wrap up, Porac and Tschang point out that the urge for a more realistic model of rationality cna lead to enumerations of types of rationality (March had 14 at one point?)?  This reminds me a little of tow other conclusions by other scholars.  First, Howard Gardner‘s “multiple intelligence” work, love it or hate it, made the idea of a multidimensional intelligence more accepted.  Second, in some parts of Weber (yes, that one, the Economy and Society guy), I have  a hazy memory that he starts trying to get into various rationalities in addition to formal rationality.  One is value rationality- that is, letting your values shape which ends you will use- and this, in my idealist-pragmatist mode, can leave room for a Weberian sociology without the “CLANG” of the inescapable Iron Cage.   Is it useful to think through a typology of cognitive or Weberian rationalities?  I don’t know.

But the idea of rationality and institutional logics seems important to me.  I keep describing logics as an internalized set of criteria for legitimacy;  I think I am recycling parts of Weber here and what he called rationality where rationality is expected means-ends chains.  Praying to the sun god for sun is not irrational if you believe the one leads to the other.  From Weber, I inherited that we are no more or less “rational” in our prayers to technology or formal rationality.  We act “as if” we believe in a set of ends-means and the belief is legitimacy.  And, hence, various logics can provide other sets of legitimate criteria.  A manager in a virtual world, if she believes it is a play world, acts rationally in one way that is different than she acts if she believes it is legitimately a “profit” world.  Bottom line: I think there is some deep connections between Weber and legitimacy and what Porac and Tschang are pointing out about types of rationality that humans posses (or use).

Seeing how Ted linked “unbounding” cognition to appreciating how managers can think like designers was also helpful as the design idea pops up in some current work: to use a virtual world, for example  managers need to think of its design (and even how design structures a la Giddens- it constrains AND enables).

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Filed under organization studies, organization theory, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies), social theory

SJ Gould Quote and Org Theory

Found this gem buried in Alan Meyer’s (and Tsui and Hinnings) essay on Configurational Analysis….

 

The history of life contains “long periods of boredom and short
periods of terror.”
Stephen Jay Gould, The Panda’s Thumb

I realize now this essay for me was a key link from the kind of deterministic quality of pop ecology stuff and the re-emergence of institutional theory point to where I mean to be myself: moving beyond a kind of narrow fit to envronment of contingency theory to one that sees a multivariate and dynamic relationship betwenn an organization,, multiple fields, and complex environments.

 

Meyer, Tsui, and Hinnigns citation:

Configurational Approaches to Organizational Analysis
Author(s): Alan D. Meyer, Anne S. Tsui, C. R. Hinings
Source:
The Academy of Management Journal,
Vol. 36, No. 6 (Dec., 1993), pp. 1175-1195

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Filed under Great Quotations, organization theory, writing

A Clutch of Random Goodies- finance, net neutrality, deficit…

Here is just a clutch of good randomness that has been accumulating on my desktop…

PS featured image is Simon Johnson.

Bucknell and Truth

Bucknell gets unexpected reward for being honest about a mistake.  Is this worthy of an ethical snap?

Net Neutrality?

What the hell is net neutrality?  Baratunde Thurston  one of our tech/no speakers, explains it so well, it got picked up by Raw Story.   I love how Bucknell can be a producer of information and wisdom and not just a user. 

Organization Theory is Cool

A book review about organization theory I really need to read.  Orgtheory.net is the one blog I wish I read more.

Learn from Nice Rich People

Lessons for failure and management from philanthropists.

We are drowning in deficit! (are we?)

Compare your answers to the US public and, um, the reality.

Change Doesn’t Happen.  Until it Does.

From AFL-CO vs Home Depot, through Frank-Dodd, to Citigroup.  Is corporate governance and executive compensation changing?  Maybe.  Read abotu some pretty big changes at the link.

Is a Tax Better than Regulations?

You want policy ideas?  You like finance? You dislike “regulation” that tries to dictate firm behavior?  Try this one.  Instead of trying to tell financial firms what they can or can’t do, how much capital to have on the books, and so on, how about you tax a vice- like we do with alcohol and tobacco- and simply tax financial transactions to make trading for the sake of microscopic gains on immaterial price shifts non-economic?  Read. here about Europe’s experiment with a different, and I would argue,  less intrusive form of regulation to change financial markets and firms.

You want even more financial regulation news?

You are really, really troubled.  I hope Vinny, Loukas, Mike, and… (who else are finance jocks?) are reading this. Simon Johnson.  yes, THAT Simon Johnson, had this blog post about the 12 “angry bankers” of the Fed and their ideas to push for transparency in money market fund valuations as part of the (yes, that same one) Frank Dodd bill reforms that created the systemic risk council.  In a nutshell, the financial industry does NOT WANT such valuation while the regulators do.

I am never surprised when practicing “capitalists” fight against actual free markets (with liquidity and transparency).  Businesspeople are often, perhaps usually anti-capitalist if you define capitalism not as maximum wealth accumulation, but as free markets that expand the prosperity of a society.  Am I alone in seeing this?

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Filed under Business, Government, innovation, macroeconomics, management, organization theory, policy, Political Economy, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship [SiSe]

The Schedule Rules- Schedule Reform Ideas for Higher Education (Bucknell)

I have a conflict.  I can’t go.  I have a meeting.  I have to be with my kids.

Read on to take the poll!

These are the various reason why students, staff, and others can not come to various worthy events at Bucknell.  For example, Tuesday nights are the one day without classes at night (lol except Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).  So the Bucknell Forum, as well as others, use Tuesday as the ideal night for these events.  Guess what?  It is also when students schedule their various clubs and organizations including the powerful Greek orgs.

At the same time, I have ahd students avoid 4-5 or 02-5 commitments because of sports practices or games/events.

Meanwhile, no one likes 8 a.m. classes.

And, most weeks there are 2-3 events which I would like to participate in but can’t because they are in the 7-9 at night window when I am with my family.

The schedule rules.  It is not sexy.  It is not “cool” like smart boards in classrooms, service-learning, or student-led expeditions to tag pythons for an ecology class.  However, I suggest that in terms of making life better AND using current resources better (as in more attendance at more events), the schedule is the most over-looked and also most urgent area of reform.

I have imagined various STRUCTURAL changes to the schedule which might help lessen some of these inherent conflicts.   Continue reading

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Filed under higher education, liberal arts, Org Design, Uncategorized

Getting Ready for “Ten Books that Influenced Me”

I had some money to spend.  A co-author mentioned Neil Fligstein’s new book, A Theory of Fields. So, I decided to get that book.  Then, I started looking at my wishlist and my recommendations.  I a few more items popped up.  Then, I wondered, “Well, what have been some influential books in social science or social theory recently?”

This led a google search, of course.  First stop, the ASA’s theory division.  They have a page of award winners.  Not very impressive.  While many great sociology or org theory blogs are out there, the official organs of professional associations (speaking of my experience with EGOS, AOM, ASA, and INSNA) have lagged, although EGOS and INSNA do better.  The ASA theory division award pages has many holes in it!  For example, it does not  the 2010 best article.  Was one not awarded?  The 2009 winner article is not hyperlinked.

But, there is good news!  Apparently, among blogging social scientists, there is a viral type of post: “My top 10 most influential books…”  I found several examples and I look forward to crafting my own.

Here is my list of others’ posts.

Ten Influential Books
http://asociologist.com/2010/03/21/ten-influential-books/

Ten Influential Books
http://crookedtimber.org/2010/03/20/ten-influential-books/

Books which have influenced me most
http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2010/03/books-which-have-influenced-me-most.html

Ten most influential books
http://jacobtlevy.blogspot.com/2010/03/ten-most-influential-books-see-tyler.html

Influential (Actually Published, Actually Read Cover-to-Cover During College or Graduate School) Books

http://inmedias.blogspot.com/2010/03/influential-actually-published-actually.html

My Top 10 Most Influential Books:

Finally, in assembling this, I found a book I had not heard of, Required Reading: Sociology’s Most Important Books It is from 1998, so it will not have any great books of last ten years.    Still, I am curious to see what it says (and which I have read or not!)

I know my own initial list of books I have read and which  find my mind turning to again and again include:

  • The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism
  • Castells’ The Information Age Triology
  • Berger and Luckmann’s Social Construction of Reality
  • Geertz’ Interpretation of Culture
  • Watts’ Six Degrees

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Filed under Books, organization theory, social theory, sociology

Digindigenous- Neologism for a Wired World

For a paper I am writing about virtual worlds and the way institutional forces are shaping the filed, I needed a word to refer to organizations or other social phenomenon that arose or operate from within digital spaces: virtual worlds, social media, and other mileux of the matrix, the cyberspace, the metaverse.

I was playing with this neologism which I do not see anywhere yet.

Digindigenous: organizations, collectives, or other social phenomenon that emerge from within the socio-economic interactions of various cyberspaces.  Examples: Tringo (a game form within SL), electric sheep company (and other VW designers), the Uru diaspora, any number of virtual objects businesses (such as avatar or fashion companies), and so on.

The word is derived from digital + indigenous.

Is this a keeper?

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Filed under organization theory, Second Life, social theory, sociology, virtual worlds, words