february guest bloggers: john padgett and woody powell
It is my pleasure to announce our February guest bloggers: Woody Powell and John Padgett. Professor Powell is Professor of Education and (by courtesy) Sociology, Organizational Behavior, Management Science and Engineering, Communication, and Public Policy at Stanford University. Professor Padgett is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago.
Woody and John are both leading figures in the study of organizations and networks. Professor Powell is co-author, with Paul DiMaggio, of the groundbreaking “iron cage” article and then went on to publish a series of highly influential papers in social network analysis. John Padgett is one of political science’s leading formal modellers, having written seminal papers on budgeting & garbage can processes, the courts, and state formation. His most well known work is likely the “Medici paper,” which used network analysis to describe the cultivation of political power in early modern Italy and introduced the idea of “robust action” into modern social theory.
They will be discussing their new book: The Emergence of Organizations and Markets. Here’s a summary:
The social sciences are rich with ideas about how choice occurs among alternatives, but have little to say about the invention of new alternatives in the first place. These authors directly address the question of emergence, both of what we choose and who we are. With the use of sophisticated deductive models building on the concept of autocatalysis from biochemistry and rich historical cases studies spanning seven centuries, Padgett and Powell develop a theory of the co-evolution of social networks. Novelty in new persons and new organizational forms emerges from spillovers across multiple, intertwined networks. To be sure, actors make relations; but the mantra of this book is that in the long run relations make actors. Through case studies of early capitalism and state formation, communist economic reforms and transition, and technologically advanced capitalism and science, the authors analyze speciation in the context of organizational novelty. Drawing on ideas from both the physical sciences and the social sciences, and incorporating novel computational, historical, and network analyses, this book offers a genuinely new approach to the question of emergence.
This week and next week, I’ll post some thoughts that John and Woody have shared with me. This is *required* reading for sociologists, management scholars, political scientists, and economists. And yes, there, will be a quiz!
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