Tag Archives: organization theory

Organizing Christmas- A Festive Symposium

OTists with a sense of humor!

Organizing Christmas- A Festive Symposium
Organizing Christmas – A Festive Symposium
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Warwick Business School 15th-16th December 2008

Organizing Christmas is a one day symposium taking place at the University of Warwick between the 15th and 16th of December 2008. A truly international, and indeed trans-hemispheric event, it is being jointly organized by colleagues from Warwick Business School in the UK, the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, and the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

The aim is to bring academic colleagues together in order to discuss the true (organizational) meaning of Christmas. We invite proposals for papers and presentations from all those who might share our interest in this increasingly excessive festival of indulgence and mass-consumption. Be it working at Christmas, shopping at Christmas, or even simply trying to organize a happy Christmas, we are keen to encourage a range of perspectives and interests as the basis for this event. Of course, just because it is a period of holiday and frivolity – well for many of us anyway – we don’t expect you to leave your academic integrity and critical faculties behind in favour of an easy eggnog. But hopefully fun and meaningful academic debate can go hand in hand at this time of goodwill to all.

Please feel free, therefore, to browse the website and perhaps consider dropping us an abstract. Further details of the event will appear here as they become available, and remember, like the promotion round, Christmas comes but once a year so submit early and beat the rush.
Papers/presentations are invited in relation to any aspect of the symposium theme, but suggested topics might include:

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Filed under conferences, organization studies, organization theory

The variable jumping-off point: some meta-thoughts on writing theory

From early morning, post-espresso mental house-cleaning…

  • As younger scholars, we suffer from a limited horizon problem. When we look backwards for cues or jumping off points for theory, we take for granted a particular jumping off point without absorbing or acknowledging its jumping off points. This is one source of theory drift. For example, Neo-instit was determined to take down rational actor models. Hence its focus on isomorphism made the case that the environment was absolutely critical and single organizations were over emphasized as the unit of analysis. But, if, as a student of orgs, you start with DiMaggio and Powell, then you overlook or take for granted the point about stability. You start with the idea of micro-macro linkages between cognition and broader forces. And you start theorizing how those dynamics change or start to vary. Voila– a different problem-of-interest arises because the younger scholar has a different jumping-off point. There is no solution, of course. If you start going back to each jumping off point, you’ll just end up recreating the totality of all human knowledge.
  • So, I guess, a la Weick, successful theorizing is about strategic forgetting.
  • Another way to say it: I feel like we are all marooned in particular time streams of accumulating theory. This is the reality hidden beneath a presumptive world of seamlessly organized and coherent theory development. The title, the premise- “frontiers of Org Science” is one face of the presumptive world. These time streams of theory have different start points, end points, and paths. Some paths overlap, some streams merge or divide. But each scholar is on her own, _makes_ her own.

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Filed under organization theory, social theory, writing

Comparing fourth and fifth editions of Organizations by Richard Scott (And Gerry Davis for fifth)

So, a new edition of Organizations:Rational, Natural, and Open Systems by W. Richard Scott is out. Its co-authored by Gerry Davis (Who was a student of Scott’s at Stanford, apparently) and has a newer, more active title (stamp out nouns!). This book was an absolute classic for me doing my PhD at IESE. It also helped me bridge sociology and management. So, like the priests we are, it is good to turn back to the canon and see what is there.

Organizations and Organizing: rational, natural, and open systems perspectives.

I wanted to see if it is worth reading/buying the new version. A quick comparison of the two tables of contents reveals that some major changes were made. After Break for table.

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

10, no 15, Commandments of Writing Theory

A conversation with a collaborator about how to write and publish theory led Ted to send me the hot-off-the-press Editor’s comments from the most recent AMR. Got me thinking about some of the other badly needed comments on theory in our field. Distilling them led to the following list. There are many other resources out there about how to think theoretically. These have the advantage of being about the craft of writing and publishing theory. These are all my paraphrases (including colorful language in a few places).

I am very grateful to to the cited authors for offering guidance and directions to those of us setting off across terra incognito.

□ Know that your audience are other scholars interested in same topic, not God, or ignorant savants. Talk to the Guild; the heavens ain’t listening (Rindova 2008).

□ Your theory shall start with a richly detailed problem statement that triggers theorizing (Weick 1989)

□ Your theory shall have a what (elements) a how (processes) and a why (fundamental logic) (Whetten 1989).

□ Your theory shall be a why account that emphasizes the causal nature of events, thoughts, and structure; it delves into reasons for systematic occurrence or non-occurrence.

□ Your theory shall not substitute references, list of variables, diagrams, hypotheses nor data for good theory (Sutton and Straw 1995)

□ Your theory enlightens, illuminates, surprises, delights, and narrates (Weick 1995; Sutton and Straw 1995; DiMaggio 1995).

□ Thou shalt know that the What and How of a theory describe; only Why explains (Whetten 1989).

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Filed under organization theory, Research, social theory, writing

The Information Society and Terrorism

I am deep into editing a paper about looking at terrorism from the perspective of OT and organizational studies.  Its been fun and allowed me to go back to the more recently resurgent grand theorizing of the likes of Manuel Castells, Charles Tilly, Ulrich Beck, and Anthony Giddens.

My initial reaction is that many of the themes of the grand social theory have been discussed and applied to terrorism. These include the idea that Islamic terrorism is very much a globalization phenomenon; the leaderless, self-organizing organizational structure of terrorism;  the shifting nature of identity in the information era.  There are more for sure.

I am not sure anyone has connected all the dots between the big picture of the theory of the network society and the multi-dimensional reality of Islamic terrorism (especially Al Qaeda).    One research task, it seems to me, to confirm that Al Qaeda is not so unique is to look at how “old line” terrorist groups are adapting (or not) to the contours of th enetwork society.   It may be that this ork has already been done and i just haven’t found it yet.  Suggestions are welcome, of course.  :<)

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Filed under Network Society, organization studies, Research, Social Networks, social theory, Terrorism

Osama Bin Laden is a Great Manager

I can’t take credit for first publishing this, but you’ll have to take my word that I came to a similar conclusion as this fellow on my own.

He said it very nicely though.

An organization that maximizes return on investment, builds up the world’s most
recognizable brand name overnight, creates synergy between PR message and HR
recruiting, attracts motivated loyal employees who make the ultimate sacrifice to extend
the mission into new markets and keeps expanding despite the world’s most hostile
environment is every manager’s dream. One manager turned this dream into a reality:
Osama bin Laden.
– Hans van der Weijden

From:  1 Hans Van Der Weijden, “Al-Qaida, The Business Model.” Interface, February 2005, p. 14, 15.
<http://www.sviib.nl/interface/magazine/pdf/21_3_alquada.pdf&gt;.

The same policy paper I found this made reference to the fct that when many terrorists are in custody and asked if tehy belong to Al_Qaeda, they are not sure (!).  This seems like a good data point for how it is much more of a social movement or even Caastellsian network organization as opposed to a normal, bounded organization than common perception would suggest.

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Designer fakes ‘are funding Al-Qaeda’- evidence of network organizing

One of the hallmarks of a network organziation is its flexibility and hence ability to reconfigure its operations, deftly linking up various partners in ever-changing networks of production and exchange.

Castells and others have remarked how there are structural inducements for terrorist and organized crime to reinsert themselves into the global economy.  Or maybe its about taking advantage of the space of flows themselves.   Seems like a good thread to weave into terrorism paper.

Designer fakes ‘are funding Al-Qaeda’ – Times Online
The designers are urging customers to think about who profits from the sale of fake goods. Intelligence experts believe that terrorists and organised crime syndicates are increasingly using counterfeit goods to raise money.

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Filed under Terrorism