Category Archives: organization theory

Social Entrepreneurs, Networks, and Technology

I am revising a draft of a paper about social entrepreneurs to give at EGOS.

Here is the core idea:

Broadly, I am trying to connect what is known about the research into new forms of organizing with internet with innovation and networks studies

Some baseline assumptions:

1) Innovators and entrepreneurs of any flavor are in a brokerage position and they engage in brokering behavior.   (Research by Burt, Obstfeld, Gargiulo, Hargadon comes to mind… I need to find others).

2) New ICT changes make #1 different.  Easier in some ways, harder in others.

3) Social entrepreneurs face special circumstances due to value orientation they use.  Social entrepreneurs solve social problems or market failures.  They move towards a new equilibrium.  The “social” of what they do emerges from social change processes unfolding in networks organizations, and institutions of contested agendas (or, formerly contested and now newly legitimate.  These include poverty reduction, public health, green design, education access, rural development, climate change, and so on.  Looks like usual suspects of civil society concerns.  But of course, it should.)

4) The process is usually gradual (uniform)- incremental innovations and experiments accumulate into profound change.  The initial recognition can then lead to rapid scaling and diffusion.

5)  To fully conceptualize the problem, we need to draw on four research streams: 1) entrepreneurship, 2) networks and innovation, 3) social movements, and 4) technology and socity.

6) A research agenda based on the assumptions and findings includes three questions:

  • 1) Do new technologies, by lowering search and coordination costs for actors, spawn more emerging or possible social entrepreneurs (as in, that is their intention)?
  • 2) Do technologies, through their ability to foster relations and community, create new value propositions?  Transparency, memory, search, and interactivity mean that thick webs of relations, which people value, can create new opportunities for social innovation or entrepreneurship.
  • 3) The same properties that create more potential social entrepreneurs and opportunities will also pose new start-up challenges because soc entrepreneurswill be more tied to the necessary networks and institutions that create legitimacy for the social of social entrepreneurs.

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Filed under activism, innovation, organization studies, organization theory, participatory technology, social innovation, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship [SiSe], technology

Resources on Internet and Politics

Participating in orgtheory.net thread I whipped up these resources which I thought ought to be useful here also.

Question:

How has the Internet changed political organizations? Is it just one tool in the service of traditional politics? Or is there a new politics associated with online life?

I agree that this is going to be a really important area of study in the future. In talking about how protests get organized with activists, it’s pretty clear that Facebook has turned into the medium of choice given its flexibility and relational scope. If nothing else Facebook helps cut down the coordination costs of collective action, but I suspect there’s an identity element to the story as well.

So why don’t we have very many studies about the impact of the internet on other sorts of organizational decision-making and/or organizing? Most of the studies that look at organizational life and the internet that I’ve seen tend to look at the counterproductive aspects of the internet (e.g., lost hours of productivity due to blog reading). What about the efficiency-enhancing aspects of online coordination? Anyone?

I feel like there is a lot that is at least descriptive or celebratory of lowering the coordination costs for civil society or political organizations.  You mean more rigorous, empirical research?  And do you mean campaign organizations (as oppose to governing or politically engaged?)

A few things I pulled off my shelf-
Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope: Lessons for Dean Campaign for the Future of Internet Politics Techout, Zephyr and Streeter,Thomas. Has stories from campaign and some framing/theory chapters.

Society Online Edited by Howard, Philip and Jones, Steve. Has a chapter on voting and Internet in politics 1996-2000 (wow! Pre-history!).

Globalization from Below: Transnational Activists and Protest Networks della POrta, Donatella et al. Has a Chapter on Networks and Organizing.

Causewired By Watson, Tom. Whole book is rah-rah on wired activism. HAs chapter on politics (6, I think).

The Media in the Network Society: Browsing, NEws, Filters, and Citizenship Several chapters on politics, political systems, case studies of other countries (East Timor, Portugal e.g)

Is any of this on the mark?

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Filed under Books, Information and Communication Technology, Networks, organization theory, Politics, Power, Activism, Protest, Research, sociology

Indian Attacks Carried Out by Armed Teams

Armed Teams Sowed Chaos With Precision – NYTimes.com
But from interviews with witnesses and survivors, it seems clear that the men on the boat were joining a larger terrorist force, which included some attackers who, unconfirmed local news reports say, had embedded themselves in Mumbai days before the attacks. Their synchronized assaults suggested a high level of training and preparation.

So I have a paper under review that argues that to understand terrorism as an organization, we have to see them as a blend of formal organization, social movement, and network.  This is an argument I want to refine.  The above passage about today’s tragic attacks captures the need to consider terrorism the result of formal organization and network.  A formal organization is necessary to deliver the training and operational sophistication of these attacks; a network allows them to move in and out of Mumbai, to recruit informants or new members.  To the extent that we discover that these terrorists are from an organization supported by the Pakistani intelligence agency, then the network lens helps us to see how nodes become activated on an as-needed basis allowing for loose elements to coalesce for momentary action.

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

Long Tail Debates

Wish I had more time now to review this:

Long Tail Stops Wagging.

Matt Stoller over at Open Left argues that this means that technoutopian libertarian dreams are dead and there is a necessary role for government.

Maybe.  I have never read enough of the Long Tail arguments to have a Strong opinion, but I do want to point out that there maybe radical inequality in revenues between a Google or Facebook and other web services that aim to make a profit.  In fact, a long tail is premised on that.  But, the question was whether a business can survive in the long tail, as opposed to have equal revenues.  If you have the head and not tail then you have an oligopoly which was never the merit of the long tail.

Finally, aggregators seem complicated.  They get a little revenue from a massive volume of transactions, but if those transactions are distributed to a number of smaller players (ebay, Amazon marketplace, emusic, and so on), then you may have a viable market where one did not exist before- again, it is about viability, not equality.

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Filed under digital culture, management, organization theory, technology

Research ideas for Six Degrees Students

Research Ideas for My Students

Hello folks. This is by no means a comprehensive set of resources. It more reflects sources that seemed to be of interest to two or more of you AND that I thought might not jump out at you as pertinent. It is a mix of search terms, blogs, alternative media, as well as books and scholars.

For a few of you, I had specific ideas and those are at the end.  So read through to the end. If I did not comment on your specifically all it means is that your topics are either covered below, or, I don’t have any special suggestions.

General Ideas

The FIRST place for everyone to start if they are basing their paper on a topic in Six Degrees or Tipping point is to look at the references in the back of each book.  Watts provides a guide to different topics, and Gladwell has notes with references.

Also, you can get a one on one appointment with BU librarian once you have your topic.

EVERYONE should make an appointment with a Bucknell research librarian.

You are welcome to search my blog.  You can search or simply use the tag cloud to clickt hough to a set of posts.

Also, I use a social bookmarking service called del.icio.us.com. Basically it is like a big scrapbook of links I collect.  You are welcome to look there for any tags that match your research keywords.

http://delicious.com/jordisunshine

Click on “all tags” on the left to see my tag taxonomy.  For example, Jen mentioned technology and the presidential election in her topics.  I have a politics tag, and when you click on that, you can see what are “related” tags to narrow it down.  Politics+ technology has three links. One of those, to a book called “Netroots Rising” might be useful.

How to use blogs I recommend: browse them.  Use them to identify key ideas.  Use them to look for book, or article suggestions from more reliable sources (scholarly journals, mainstream press).

How context shapes roles

Stanford Prison Experiment

□ Look for social psychology on the impact of groups or roles

How social network affects a company

□ Work by Rob Cross

David Krackhardt

David Obstfeld

How breakthroughs happen…

Mob Mentality or “Wisdom of Crowds”

□ See Swarm intelligence as a search term. Also this book and tool.

□ See Smart Mobs as a search term. Also, this site and book.

Internet and Society

Pew Research Center on Internet and American life

Financial Bubbles…

Bill Moyers with Kuttner

Interviews with Greenspan

Greenspan debate Naomi Klein, a critic (bubbles and feds role comes up)

□   Planet Money Blog

□   Big picture blog

□   Brad DeLong Blog

Fanatic communities

MeetUp

Org theory post

Size of communities (Rule of 150)

□    Gore-Tex maker

□   More on Gore

□   Another article.

□   Leaderless organization

Advertising and Marketing

Changes that the internet has brought about

Viral garden blog

□   Any search on word of mouth or viral marketing

□   Paradox of Choice.

General blogs on organizations, networks, and sociology: Search them for your topics.

Orgtheory http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/

Complexity

Connectedness

Visiblepath

Jen:

About politics and technology.  The Dean campaign of 2004, and also the Bush Campaign of 2004, started the use of web 2.0 technologies as political organizing tools.  I think this book could be useful.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594514852

Will:

It would be interesting to look at the distribution of hit records over time.  In other words, what proportion of records sold are just a few?  Were the Beatles bigger superstars than a recent “big act” measured as % of all record sales?  How has shift to consuming songs as downloads changed that perception?  Are there fewer superstars now?  What does that mean for music as a business and as a cultural activity?

Charlie:

About diseases: it would be interesting to compare biological and social factors in contagiousness of diseases.

Jeff G:

In terms of channel capacity and music: this reminds me of research now on the cognitive structure of experts vs amateurs.  An expert musician can distinguish more than 7 tones, I think.   What is the evidence that we can increase channel capacity?

Kayla

I am not sure what the best search term for outside-in emotion is.

Emma:

You can do a special kind of search called a cited reference search with a database called Web of Science.  Basically, it tells you who cited a work.  You could look at original article “The Strength of Weak Ties” and see what more current research is saying.  The reference librarians can show you how to do that kind of search.  There will be thousands of articles, so you will need to use narrowing terms.

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Filed under Business, economics, innovation, organization theory, Politics, Power, Activism, Research, Social Networks, sociology

Fields in Institutional Theory

Every time I write about fields from an institutional theory perspective, I get hung up on what they mean.   I suppose that means I should write more about them.  Or that there are underlying tensions in how different scholars use them?

Somewhere in the various Virtual Worlds paper drafts that litter my “My Documents” like the broken and sunken galleons rising out of the Carribean Sea are probably the various definitions.  Maybe I should pull them all together and have that as my own reference file.

This post also represents the level of musing, free writing, and beginnings of conversations that I imagine I might use this blog for.  Sometimes I look at what I put here and it seems so NOT representational of the scholarship I am doing or currently working through.  It ends up looking more like my miscellaneous folder.  This is partly due to a concern  about not wanting to expose the messy writing process.  It is party because somehow I worry about giving away good ideas.  It is partly because fuller treatments of core ideas or puzzles I am working on require more time to write well and then it seems like the blog is time wasting instead of useful scholarly communication.

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Filed under organization theory, sociology, writing

Politics inside or outside the magic circle?

The magic circle seems a key concept in virtual worlds and gaming.  For origin of the term from Huzinga, see here.

The wikipedia article, in summarizing Castronova’s arguments, states:

Even though there are political activities inside synthetic worlds, it is interesting to note that “debates, which really do involve legitimate political interests, almost always occur outside the membrane rather than inside it.”[16

How about for SL?  Do these discussions happen inside or out?  What about other VWs?  Isn’t the story in Second Life Herald all about sparking these types of discussions in-world?  In TSO and also in SL?  And the apocryphal account of LambdaMOO discussion about the cyber rape was also in that world.

And is the point whether the discussion is between self-identified people or avatars?

Lastly, ignoring above distinction for the time, one of the lessons I draw from how discussions happen outside the membrane is that it is further proof of how users of VWs and MMOs are part of a broader institutional field.

“The organizational field isolates for analysis a system of organizations operating in the same realm as defined by relational linkages and shared cultural rules and meaning systems(118)”

(from: Scott, W. R., Davis, G. F., & Scott, W. R. (2007). Organizations and organizing : Rational, natural, and open systems perspectives (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

So, in the out-of-membrane discussions about politics, we see a network of players, or a community, instead of an organization formally, but nonetheless engaging in joint enterprise.  THis network is defined by its relation to the virtual world and also to other networks of players/users and also worlds.  They discuss and strategize about political questions pertaining to the synthetic world in ways that reveal shared (or contested) cultural rules and meaning systems,  What makes for  a good game?  What is fair?  What should different parties do?  These are questions relevant only in the context of a field.

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Filed under Gaming, organization theory, Research, social theory, technology, virtual worlds

The emergence of a new research paradigm: Relationalism?

I remember how excited I was to read Emirbayer’s 1997 “Manifesto for a Relational Sociology.”  I was in grad school, and I was eager for a manifesto to inspire me to academic arms.  The essay did just that.  But, as I tried to work it into PhD papers and a dissertation, I didn’t cite it as much as I might have.  It was too big, too bold, too general for a dissertation.  And I had the feeling that it was too “out there.”

One of the things I liked especially was the way it seemed to leave behind a debate about networks as method or networks as theory.  Network analysis is a method, of course, but to ask the right questions, to understand the implications, requires a relational perspective.  Borgatti and others have since started their power points on networks, I’ve noticed, with an intro to a “network perspective.”

Now I see this book over at Edward Elgar called :

Relational Perspectives In Organizational Studies

Not only that, but I was put onto it because of a review of the book in AMR.

Three quick observations

1) It seems that relationalism as a rallying point has emerged and my early reading of Emribayer was part of many schoalrs picking up on those ideas and beginning a process of importng them into org studies and management schoalrship.

2) The Above volume draws heavily form work done on identity, inequality, and feminist theory.  The influence of feminist theory on relationalism is new to me, but makes sense.

3) there was not much on the study of networks and relationalism in the TOC.  Maybe that is a niche that can continue to be exploited/developed? Or is network analysis simply a tool that is appropriated differently by scholars depending on your prior interest.  if you are focused on how to strategically manage alliances, you use networks one way, and if you are interested in the way interdependence leads to emergence of inequality, you use network analysis a different way.  The use of the suite of network analysis tools does not imbue the scholarship with a particularly relational and there fore challenging or radically different epistemology to normally static and atomistic social science.

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Filed under Books, organization studies, organization theory, social theory, sociology

Miracles and Nasty Surprises

Miracles and Nasty Surprises
This blog is an experiment in presenting an academic work for public commentary. We have taken the web introduction to our book Miracles and Nasty Surprises (found at http://remedy101.com) and converted it into smaller segments. Each segment is available for commentary (call this the talmudic approach).

The authors of the above book used a blog to try and spark discussion. They broke the introduction up into discrete chunks and blogged each chunk.  neat idea.

Possible book for teaching org theory?

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Filed under Books, organization studies, organization theory, pedagogy

Summer Reading List

OK, I leave for five weeks in a week. Its mostly vacation, but I am looking forward to spending some time reading some of the dense social theory or social science books that I rely on, but have never finished or even read (ouch, hurts to admit that in print). I’ll probably get drummed out of the bidness (its like our omerta) for saying this, but when you read lots of journal article,s you start to know what are the foundational texts and how they are used. Its like seeing the shape of a plane by its shadow. Foucault, is, I think a classic in this regard. Everyone cites, few have actually read (beyond strategic skimming). And Weber. (Although I did take a grad school seminar where we did nothing but read Economy and Society. That’s a story for another time).

Anyway, for the sake of _actually_ reading some of these from my ever-expanding list of books, I am limiting myself to two. So, this is the fun part, like choosing courses from a stellar menu. Which two?

Possible summer reading list (In Progress):

  • Identity and Control by Harrison White
  • Sociology of Philosophy by Randall Collins
  • Constitution of Society by Anthony Giddens
  • Volumes 2 and 3 of The Information Age by Manuel Castells
  • The Hacker Ethic By Pekka Hinamen
  • something by Bourdieu…
  • Brokerage and Closure by Ron Burt
  • Something by Charles Tilly, Big structures, large processes, huge comparisons or Identities, Boundaries and Social Ties
  • Code v 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig
  • The Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen (for  teaching really).

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Filed under Books, Castells, New Projects, organization studies, organization theory, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies), Social Networks, social theory