Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 a.m. Kitchen Observations

1) People in my household, including me, seem to think that the last 10-20% of a jar of jam is both priceless and inedible.

2) The people who make yummy jam and then put it into an octagonal or other non-circular vessel are secretly sadists who enjoy watching people try madly to get that last bit of yummy jam out of the corners.

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View from my desk.

image

Trying to take a pic everyday to see how much progress can be made towards getting it cool again.

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November 15, 2012 · 12:14 pm

Unemployment Bad, Stock Markets Good

Among other puzzle son my mind these days is why if the economy is so bad in the US and globally, then the stock indices bounced back so much since January 2009.

increases in stock indices

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Business Government & Society III

As you may know, my father emigrated from Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain.  I was named for the patron saint of Catalunya, San Jordi (Saint George).

Today is one of my favorite celebrations from my second home- Barcelona.  April 23rd is “la diada de San Jordi.”  Traditionally, women receive a rose, and men a book.  But you can mix it up how you like these days.  Of course, this is especially apt as you have done your book posts!  The city is covered with street book stalls.  A whole city celebrating the love of the book!  Nothing could make me happier! Flowers, meh.

Here is a short (2 min) video from BCN.CAT, a public broadcaster, checking in with average folks.  You can hear mostly Catalan, a different language.  For example, you will hear “roses”= roses, “llibres”=books (the “ll” in Catalan has no English equivalent.  It is somewhere between “l” and “e”)…

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Countdown is on!

I have 158 days until I submit my fourth year review materials.  Roger convinced me to add a countdown to my desktop. I use TimeLeft.

 

Goals:

1) Finish Virtual Worlds Chapter

2) Submit Paper on multiple logics and VWs

3) Submit revised terrorism paper

4) Submit something from my dissertation

5) Work on Relationalism and Networks essay

6) EGOS 2012 conference paper on collaboration and virtual worlds

7) Beyond that there are many good ideas and I’ll need to look at them and decide on priorities.

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Libertarian confusion about organizations and non-profits

A post at orgtheory.net took me to this libertarian blog and site.

The author wondered why people would assume non-profits do more for a community than firms.

I forwarded this to some colleagues with similar interests and we may have run aground of some moderating policies as our comments do not seem to have been posted.  Hmmmmm.  I guess even free market of ideas people need some ground rules.

I’ll see if my comments go up later.

Basically, I pointed out that

1) The author seems to work for a non-profit.  So his stance of “who are those people” is ironic.

2) Non-profit versus profit is a meaningless distinction to make when discussin what they do or how they are perceived.

3) NPs that perform vital services are seen as more community-oriented because they ARE.  That does not mean that they are immune from critique.  Likewise, firms that push externalities onto communities or that use their political and economic power to suck up more value are seen as less community-minded because their actions ARE.

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What I Don’t Like About Theory Writing I

Inspired in part by the idea of an on-going series at org theory.net, (grad skol rulz), and my own desire to blog more frequently, I would like to launch a semi-recurring series of what I don’t like in theory writing.

I am reviewing conference submissions for a conference, and I have come across an example of the kind of figure or image I don’t like.

The Curse of the Everything-Is-Connected Figure.

This type of figure is usually used in a conceptual article.  And, to make matters worse, it is usually in the kind of article I am quite sympathetic to.  The author wants to get past static or overly-reified depictions of organizations.  They talk about the need for multi-level analyses which means looking at process, and, more often than not, mixed types of data.  They probably cite Gareth Morgan’s Image sof organizaions of book, or Mar Jo Hatch’s Organization Theory or Joel Baum (and others?) use of the metaphor of a fish scale to discuss org studies as a multiscience.

But, when you look at the figure, you realize that it explains everything and hence nothing.

Full disclosure: I am probably guilty of this kind of figure and when I find one, I will poke fun at myself too.  Here is mock-up I made of the type of figure.

Mock-up of the Everything-Is-Connected Figure. Are You Guilty of Producing One?

One problem with these is that they don’t specify what is moving between cells/circles/whatever-other-shape-tickled-one’s-fancy-in-insert-shape-in-MS word..

A second problem is they don’t deal with time.  Does sequencing matter?  How do changes agglutinate or accumulate?

So, throwing caution to the wind, have you seen one of these in published work?  Do they drive you a little nuts too?

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Popular Economics Writing

Like most of us, I want to understand the economy and the political economy for my teaching and for my own sake.  I enjoy reading what we might call “popular” economics writing.  For example, I always try to check out James Surowiecki’s column in the New Yorker called the “Financial Page.”  Recently he wrote about the classic arguments about the source of unemployment: structural or cyclical factors (January 3,2100; page 23).  He pointed out how a blind allegiance to a vague ideology explains the persistence of belief in the idea that there must be something structural with unemployment this time.  In other words, the problem is that we do not have the “right kind” of workers for the available jobs.  Stimulus can do nothing since we just need to wait for people to retrain or leave the labor force, or die, I suppose.  If structural, then we just have to let labor markets “sort themselves out.”   The problem with the structural argument, as Surowiecki points out, is that there is scant evidence for it.  Payrolls are down and hiring stagnant across the board and not just in certain industries.  What are the industries with openings and not enough supply of workers?  None.

I have also picked up two books that I am making my way through.  One is “Crisis Economics” by Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm.  I heard about him on the Planet Money podcast as one of the the economists who tried to sound the alarm bell on the housing bubble when no one was listening.  I am not sure that makes him clairvoyant all the time (of course!  He is an econmist!) but it seemed worth checking out.  I am only into the second chapter, but he already said something I have repeated so often in my classes: greed does not explain the bubbles nor their negative after effects.  My students almost universally will latch onto greed as the explanation and I see it as a key teaching need and challenge to get them off that well-worn groove.

There are two flaws in this kind of folk explanation.  First, greed can only be an explanation if you ignore the complexity of human systems and assume that what we observe as facts is due to the choices of a few people.  Given the complexity of human behavior and the way our actions are shaped by our history and context, one can not argue that it the recession is due to “some greedy people.”  This is the flaw of an under-socialized theory of human agency.  The second flaw is to grant the causal force of greed to the fact that some unspecified amount of people have just become more greedy.  As Roubini points out as well, why would wall street types become more greedy from 2002 to 2008?  Or from 1978 to 1998?  Aren’t they always very acquisitive and ambitious?  In fact, isn’t that exactly what my students admire and idolize about a career in finance?  There is no clear causal argument for why many more people would become greedy.  This line of folk reasoning makes invisible all of the inter-related organizational, institutional, and cultural forces that can interact to change the conditions of being “greedy” to make it either a controlled burn of energy or an uncontrolled conflagration. This is the second half of the under-socialized view (the term comes from the essay by Dennis Wrong) because it points out what needs to be added to have a more accurate theory of human agency.

In other words, greed ain’t enough to explain this shitstorm of economic problems.  To rely on this flawed reasoning leaves one to argue that the solution is for people to out of the blue just be “less greedy” and “more moral.”  To try to apply these solutions will only perpetuate an under-socialized view of human agency and any possibility for more effective action that addresses the conditions that enabled the recession.

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Solution to QDA Needs, Alpha

As I posted here, I was looking for a way to do some basic Qualitative Data Analysis with a colleague who is not co-located (very not!  Ted is in Singapore.)

Thanks to Debra Sarlin, of Bucknell, and this ethnographer’s blog, I isolated some possibilities.

Part of my search led me to Nvivo, an off the shelf product that looks like it has some great properties.  Bucknell has a license, but not the server version.  Without the server version, I am back in square one of needing a way to share data, protect data, and dynamically code data.  Hence, for now, I am proceeding with my Alpha solution.  In a nutshell, this has two parts.

  1. Use Google sites as a private site to create files of our own data like transcripts, chat logs, field notes.
  2. Use Zotero to cite and share third party data like blogs, news articles and so on.

The key to this is that Ted and I develop our  list of tags to identify relevant themes and then find those data points later.  Standard QDA methodology and our own experience tells us that this is an iterative, dynamic process.  There is no one best solution for the tagging piece.  I think our best bet is to keep a “master file” of tags in google sites.  We can each print it up and also access anytime we are on line to jar our memory and cue ourselves as to what is significant or salient in raw data.

Ted and I had a trial run last week and I think we both realized quickly that ideally we could have some sort of a floating box on top of all applications that would allow us to tag almost anything, and tag within documents or files.  This would be linked to the more powerful kinds of QDA tools.  Well, like a platonic ideal, that floats out there as something we are aiming towards in our little jerry-rigged solution.

Our solution has some side benefits

  • Google sites can also be used as a wiki-like creation to share our concepts or coordinate other research.
  • I _think_ if we ever want to turn on part of google sites as a public portal/URL we can.
  • We can use Zotero to share scholarly citations also.

I made the following graphic as a flow chart for this alpha solution.

Comments welcome, of course…

How to use a hybrid of google sites and Zotero to do collabroative QDA

I am not sure if this is legible…

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Where am I (summer 2010)?

Here is an overview of where we will be this May and summer as we embark on the zim-com caravan of fun!

Zimmerman-Comas Family Caravan of Fun – Summer 2010

Please let us know if we are ever near you!  We would love to see and visit with lots of dear friends and family.

Throughout our travels, we can be reached by e-mail. Until 31 July, we can be reached by cell phone.

May 10-14 JC in Knoxville.

May 14-16 Multifamily camping trip in RB Winter

May 17-June 11 Lewisburg

11 June                        Depart Lewisburg

11-25 June                   Red House Cabin, Yancey County, North Carolina (Time zone = EST)

25 June – 8 July          3928 Lincolnshire St., Annandale, VA, 22003 (EST)

[28 June – 4 July]        Jordi at EGOS conference in Lisbon (EST+6)

8 – 21 July                   Oregon (EST-3)

9-16 Newport; 16-21 Corvallis

21 – 27 July                 Annandale, VA again (EST)

27 – 31 July                 Reykjavik, Iceland (EST+4)

31 July – 18 August    Cuckfield, UK (EST+5)

18 – 19 August           Travel by Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Santander, Spain

19 August onward      Secretari Coloma 114-18-1, Barcelona 08024, Spain (EST+6)

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