Archive for the ‘introductions’ Category
Our blog has been very lucky this past month to have Beth Berman as a guest blogger. She’s generated a lot of interesting ideas and discussion during her short stint. We’re thrilled to announce that Beth is taking a permanent chair at the orgtheory table. Starting now, Beth is a regular member of orgtheory.net. Welcome Beth! We look forward to many more insightful posts about economics, organizational sociology, or on any other topic that is on your mind.
Hi, everyone, this is Beth. I’ve been reading orgtheory since somewhere near the beginning but have never been much of a commenter. But I’m really looking forward to guest blogging. Thanks to Katherine for extending the invitation and to all the orgtheory folks for producing so much stimulating content over the years.
It feels a bit strange being behind the scenes. I now know that the most popular post of all time is, tragically, about ferrets (critical realism doesn’t even make the top 20!) and that people got here today by searching “why is sociology considered poor” and “famous-sociologist-I-won’t-name sex.” (That’s me not naming him, not what they actually Googled.)
At any rate, I’m going to save the real content for the weekdays, when people aren’t off enjoying the sunshine. But I did want to get a quick intro up.
I’m a recently tenured associate professor in sociology at SUNY Albany, and received my PhD from Berkeley in 2007. I took one of my comp exams in organizations, and I teach it at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Most of my work has been been about why university science became more entrepreneurial and market-focused over the last few decades.
The answer — that policymakers started to think that they could use technological innovation to drive the economy, in the process transforming universities’ regulatory and resource environment — got me interested in how the discipline of economics affects the policy process. I’m currently writing a second book, tentatively titled Thinking Like an Economist, about how economics — particularly the center-left, technocratic kind — helped to restructure U.S. public policy in important ways from the 1960s to the 1980s.
More about that later, but for now, a couple of teasers for some of the things I might write about in the weeks to come. I actually bit the bullet on guest posting because of Brayden’s post a couple of weeks about about whether org theory is out of touch with sociology, which kept stewing in the back of my mind, and I’m planning to post some thoughts on that soon.
But I’m also hoping to write a bit about the current challenges — crisis really isn’t too strong — of higher ed in the U.S. and elsewhere, and how org theory can help us to understand (solve?) it. I’m going to share some interesting bits from my book in progress. And I’ve been dying to revisit the most useful orgtheory post I’ve ever read, about what movie clips are good for teaching organizations to undergraduates.
So get out and enjoy spring, if you’ve got it, and I’m looking forward to interacting more soon.
new book on work and family: Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy
When I visiting another university to give a talk a few years back, I met two faculty members for lunch. One was wincing visibly in pain. When I asked what was wrong, my colleague explained that he was suffering a migraine but that he would still teach class. When I suggested cancelling class that day to recuperate, he felt he couldn’t. He explained that he needed to save his vacation days for helping his ailing father, who was aging in place in another state. Moments like these made me realize that for workers of all ages, attending to family matters is not easy or well-supported in the US.
Such policy issues are addressed in a new book by sociologist Ruth Milkman and economist Eileen Appelbaum: Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy (2013, ILR/Cornell University Press).
Here is a description of Unfinished Business: Paid Family Leave in California and the Future of U.S. Work-Family Policy provided by the authors:
This book documents the history of California’s decade-old paid family leave program, the first of its kind in the United States, which offers wage replacement for up to six weeks for all private-sector workers when they need time off from their jobs to bond with a new child or to care for a seriously ill family member. Based on original fieldwork and surveys of employers, workers, and the larger California adult population, it analyzes the impact of paid family leave on employers and workers in the state, and explores the implications for crafting future work-family policy for the nation.
The book makes three key arguments. The first concerns the politics of paid leave. In contrast to most government-sponsored social programs, which are under attack and often have little popular support, paid family leave (and indeed work-family policy more generally) is a crossover issue politically. Conservatives see it as an expression of “family values,” whereas for progressives it is a much-needed element of the safety net for working families. As a result it has strong support across the political spectrum. Business routinely opposes any and all legislative initiatives in this area, which is a major obstacle to passing laws like the one that created the California program. But because the population generally is so highly supportive of paid leave, that opposition can be overcome by means of coalition organizing, as the passage of California’s landmark 2002 law – documented here in detail – illustrates.
The second argument is that contrary to the claims of the Chamber of Commerce and other business lobbyists, paid family leave and other programs like it do not impose any major burdens on employers. This book presents survey data that show that in California, employers themselves concluded that the impact of the new state program on their productivity, profitability and performance was minimal and often positive. In addition, paid leave often reduced turnover and improved workers morale, at little or no cost to employers. The tax supporting the program is paid for entirely by workers, and many employers enjoyed cost savings as a result of the program’s creation, because they could coordinate their own wage replacement benefits with now offered by the state.
The third argument is more disturbing. This book shows that although workers who use California’s paid leave program and their family members have benefitted greatly, and although the program is well-managed and easy to access, awareness of its existence remains low. Moreover, those who are in most need of the program’s benefits – low wage workers, young workers, immigrants and disadvantaged minorities – all of whom have little or no access to employer-provided wage replacement benefits when they need to take time off to care for a new baby or a seriously ill relative – are least likely to know about it. As a result, the program’s potential to act as a social leveler, making paid leave available not only to managers and professionals, who are much more likely than lower-level workers to have access to paid time off in any form, but to all private-sector workers, has not yet been achieved. Instead the longstanding pattern of inequality in access to paid leave has remained largely intact. And even workers who are aware of the new state program are often reluctant to take advantage of it because they fear repercussions on the job.
Here’s the front and back of the book cover:
I am really excited to join the fray again as a guest contributor, and thankful to the team for inviting me. In my other posts I’ll be speaking on behalf of Steven Tepper and Danielle Lindemann (both of Vanderbilt University), my collaborators in the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP). This one’s just me.
We’ve been asked to post on the state of arts graduates and artistic employment and skills in the contemporary U.S. I think the topic is timely and appropriate for this blog as we’ve discussed the value and relevance of an arts or humanities degree in the past. In particular, OrgTheory hosted a discussion in November titled, “why job hungry students choose useless majors.” The gist of Fabio’s argument, I think, is that college students are practical credentialists who want a BA to avoid service sector and manual labor; the least talented of these are drawn to majors that require the least “academic ability,” namely, the arts and humanities.
I won’t comment on the claim that arts and humanities disciplines require less “academic ability” (except to say that I think it’s bonkers), but I do want to remark upon the fiction that a firewall exists between math and science on the one hand, and the arts on the other. Read the rest of this entry »
We’d like to welcome Neil Fligstein as our newest guest blogger. Neil needs no introduction really. He’s a professor of sociology at the University of California-Berkeley. He’s written some of my favorite sociological articles and books. His latest book (coauthored with Doug McAdam), A Theory of Fields, is a big idea book that makes connections between economic sociology, organizational theory, social movement research, and political sociology.
We’re glad to have him join us. Neil was so excited to start blogging that he beat us to the punch and already has a post up. Welcome Neil!
We’d like to give a big welcome to a new guest blogger here at orgtheory, David Kirsch. David is an associate professor at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. David is an economic historian. Much of his work, including his book The Electric Vehicle and the Burden of History, has focused on the early years of the automobile industry. Currently he is working on building a digital archive of the Dot Com era. You can find more information about this project and David’s other work on his website.
We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to orgtheory, Jeff Sallaz. Jeff is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Arizona. His work is at the intersection of a number of subfields, including economic and organizational sociology, political sociology, and the sociology of work. Jeff has published in numerous academic journals, and he’s well known for his fascinating book about working in the gambling industry, The Labor of Luck: Casino Capitalism in the United States and South Africa. I couldn’t think of a better guest blogger as many of us prepare to enter the heart of the gambling world next month for ASA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas. Jeff, it’s great to have you here!
We’d like to welcome Steve Kahl as a guest blogger at orgtheory. Steve is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His research focuses on the historical analysis of technology adoption and innovation in organizations. If you want to know something about the early use of computers in business, Steve’s your go-to guy. Welcome Steve!
We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to orgtheory, Celeste Watkins Hayes. Celeste is an associate professor of sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University where she is also affiliated with the Institute for Policy Research. Her research is at the intersection of urban sociology, inequality, and organizational theory. Her book, The New Welfare Bureaucrats: Entanglements of Race, Class, and Policy Reform was published in 2009 by University of Chicago Press. We’re very excited to have Celeste blog with us for the next month!
We’re happy to welcome our newest orgtheory guest blogger, David Meyer. David is Professor of Sociology, Political Science, and Planning, Policy, and Design at the University of California-Irvine and is a prolific scholar in the field of social movements. He is the author of several books, including The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America and A Winter of Discontent: The Nuclear Freeze and American Politics, and numerous articles. David also has a blog, Politics Outdoors, where he writes about politics from the perspective of a social movement scholar. We’re very excited to have David join us as a guest blogger.
First, congratulations to co-blogger Kieran Healy. His political philosophy group blog, Crooked Timber, was mentioned in the NY Times by Paul Krugman. Now, I want to focus on what Krugman wrote in that post after he praised Crooked Timber:
Some have asked if there aren’t conservative sites I read regularly. Well, no. I will read anything I’ve been informed about that’s either interesting or revealing; but I don’t know of any economics or politics sites on that side that regularly provide analysis or information I need to take seriously. I know we’re supposed to pretend that both sides always have a point; but the truth is that most of the time they don’t. The parties are not equally irresponsible; Rachel Maddow isn’t Glenn Beck; and a conservative blog, almost by definition, is a blog written by someone who chooses not to notice that asymmetry. And life is short …
I am agreement with Krugman’s point. I really don’t feel any need to analyze what Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh say. And sometimes being “open minded” turns you into this guy. They’re entertainers and not serious thinkers. Also, they spew garbage.
But hold on, let’s apply the economic way of thinking here. Not everyone who disagrees with me is Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. Also, I am not infallible. So it seems that the optimal amount of listening to people who disagree with me is somewhere between 0% and 100%. What’s the percentage? How do I optimize input from people who appear to be wrong?
I don’t know, but maybe it helps to provide a checklist:
- Experts. If you have spent the time mastering a topic, maybe I should listen to you.
- Truth seeking. If you seem to care about logic and evidence, maybe I should listen to you. I should not listen to you if you ignore evidence, fabricate it, or distort it to suit yourself
- Clear comminication. If you can transalte your ideas into terms I can understand, maybe I should listen.
- Novelty. If you satisfy #1-3 and you can show me a new way of looking at something, I might listen.
I should not pay attention if:
- You know almost nothing about the topic and yet pontificate.
- You engage in ad-hominem attacks.
- Your point is entertainment rather than communication.
- Repitition. If I’ve heard it before, I can tune out.
Using these rules of thumb, I can probably tune out most mass media. It clearly doesn’t exist to transmit knowledge. I can also tune out much political discourse as it repeats, it is ad-hominem, and not truth seeking. Blogs are probably out, including this one when it veers into fun topics that aren’t management or sociology. And of course, I should definitely pay attention to Kieran when he explains the subtleties of organ donation.
We’d like to welcome Ed Walker as our newest guest blogger at orgtheory. Ed is a sociologist at the University of Vermont and is currently a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation fellow at the University of Michigan. Examining emerging organizational forms that individuals and businesses use to construct institutional change, his research has relevance for organizational theory, social movements, and political sociology and has appeared in journals like the American Sociological Review and the American Journal of Sociology. Glad to have you here Ed!
I’m happy to welcome our newest guest blogger, Matt Kraatz, to the orgtheory fold. Matt is in the College of Business at the University of Illinois and is one of my department’s outstanding alumni. His research touches on various core issues in organizational theory, including institutional and strategic change, organizational adaptation, reputation dynamics, and organizational character. His 1996 paper with Ed Zajac about adaptation among private liberal arts colleges, in which they demonstrated the “limits of new institutionalism,” is one of his best known papers. We’re excited to have you with us at orgtheory Matt!
We want to thank Sean Safford for guest blogging here at orgtheory.net for the last several weeks. Sean’s posts about the new spirit of capitalism and the future of unions are instant orgtheory classics. You can read all of his posts here. I’ve also written a couple of posts about his wonderful new book (here and here), Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown. If you haven’t read it yet, I encourage you to pick it up over the summer.
The good news is that, while Sean is exiting as a guest blogger, he’s here to stay as a permanent resident of orgtheory! I’m happy to announce that Sean is joining us as a regular contributor on orgtheory. We look forward to many insightful (and relevant) posts from him in the future. Welcome again Sean!
We’re excited that Sean Safford is joining us as a guest blogger on orgtheory this month. Sean is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. His research draws from an eclectic mix of theoretical areas, including industrial relations, economic sociology, social movement theory, social networks, and management theory. Sean’s fantastic paper with Forrest Briscoe, “The Nixon-in-China Effect: Activism, Imitation, and the Institutionalization of Contentious Practices,” was recently published in the Administrative Science Quarterly special issue on social movements and markets.
Sean has a new book out that we’ll be discussing while he’s blogging at orgtheory. The book, Why the Garden Club Couldn’t Save Youngstown: The Transformation of the Rust Belt, compares two Pennsylvania steel towns – Allentown and Youngstown – that faced economic decline when the U.S. steel industry collapsed. The book assesses why Allentown was able to revitalize its local economy while Youngstown’s development efforts failed. Sean generates a rich historical explanation for the differences between the two communities’ approaches to development, noting the distinct kinds of networks and civic infrastructure available for the revitalization efforts. Sean’s book manages to speak quite clearly to a broad group of organizational scholars, including those who care about social movement theory, network analysis, and industrial relations.
Over the month we’ll be posting our thoughts about the book. You can post your own reactions either here or on our Facebook discussion board. Welcom Sean and we look forward to hearing more from you!
We’d like to extend a warm welcome to our newest orgtheory guest blogger, Jennifer Lena. Jenn is an economic, organizational, and cultural sociologist at Vanderbilt University. As readers of the blog know, I’m a big fan of her paper in the most recent issue of ASR. Jenn is no stranger to blogging; she’s a veteran of the blogosphere, regularly stunning readers with her wit and sarcasm. We’re thrilled to have her with us for a month. Welcome Jenn!
We’re happy to introduce Ezra Zuckerman as a new guest blogger at orgtheory. Ezra is an associate professor of strategic management and economic sociology at MIT. Ezra’s research is highly influential in economic sociology and organizational theory, contributing to a number of theoretical areas, including institutional theory, organizational ecology, and social network analysis. You can find copies of his publications and working papers on his website. Welcome Ezra!
Keith Sawyer, a social scientist studying various interesting phenomena (creativity, learning, innovation, emergence) and successfully bridging many disciplines (psychology, sociology, education, philosophy), will be a guest blogger here at orgtheory.net – we are thrilled to have him!
To learn more about Keith’s research, you can visit his website (here’s an AJS piece of his that I enjoy). Also, see his latest book: Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration. Keith has a remarkably multidisciplinary perspective, something we love here, we look forward to the opportunity to interact.
Orgtheory.net is proud to announce that Mukti Khaire will guest blog with us for the next couple of weeks. Mukti is an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School where she does research on entrepreneurship, cultural industries, and economic sociology. Some of the industries she’s studied include the magazine, winemaking, and fashion design industries. I for one am very excited to read more from Mukti. Welcome!
Orgtheory.net would like to announce a new regular blogger to our fold. Kieran Healy, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Arizona, is joining our organizational revolution. Kieran is well-known in the blogging world as a regular at Crooked Timber. He was also one of the first sociologists to have a blog. He ushered in what we now celebrate as the “Arizona school of blogging.” Oh, and in his spare time, Kieran writes books and stuff.
Good news for the orgtheory enthusiast or even casual follower! Fabio Rojas has agreed to join our organizational-minded
cult blog permanently. Omar, Teppo, and I are glad to have him join forces with us in promoting all that is organizational.
And with Fabio secured as a blogger, we are inching closer to fulfilling Jeremy’s plan to take over sociology and institute a blogocracy. Get your posters and bobbleheads now, before it’s too late.
Teppo and I would like to enthusiastically announce a new guest blogger – Alan Schussman. Alan is a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Arizona. Alan's research is at the crossroads of social movement scholarship and organizational theory. He has published in various sociology journals including Mobilization and Social Forces. His recent SF article (with Sarah Soule) examines the dynamics of individual protest participation. Alan is also a veteran blogger. He started his own blog well before it was trendy among academics. I can say with some certainty that I never would have picked up this blogging thing had Alan and I not been officemates in grad school.
We're excited to have Alan here at orgtheory.net!
Many thanks for those kind words Teppo. I'm just a humble toiler in the groves of Academe, struggling with my own intellectual demons as best I can. Right now I am impassioned by knowledge management and what it might do for our theorizing – especially about how we deal with uncertainty.
My focus has always been on managers, on what they know and do. That interest arose from my own managerial experience and as Maggi Phillipps (Pepperdine U) said to me many years ago – 'JC, why don't you realize that academics try to do with their heads what they cannot do with their hearts'. That was a good lesson.
I find myself critical of much of what goes on in our community, partly because we read so narrowly and ignore the fact that many of our topics have been well covered by other disciplines, such as psychology, anthropology, or education theory.
We are also distressingly uninterested in and uninformed about the history of our own business of business education. There are important lessons to be learned from history.
I want to know about management because I regard organizations as the most significant of all human artifacts, for the limits to our ability to organize are precisely the limits to the changes we can make for the better in the world.
As soon as I stopped blogging in February, I knew it was only a matter of time before I fell back into the habit. Blogging is just too much fun to avoid forever. What can I say? I love to read my own words. About the same time that I called it quits, my colleague and friend, Teppo Felin, was getting his own blogging itch. After a semester of mulling the idea over, we decided to set up a blog oriented towards organizational research and theory. As Teppo says, despite the prevalence of organizations-related research in academia, organizational scholarship hasn't found its way to the Internets yet (or at least not to the part of cyberspace inhabited by bloggers – affectionately known as the blogosphere).(1) So, without much ado, we decided to make an entrance.
I expect that our blog will cover a wide variety of organizational topics. Teppo and I think very differently, and our scholarship lies in distinct areas of organizational theory. I imagine that if you hang around our blog a lot, you'll find several different kinds of posts. You will probably be able to classify posts into "organization-centric" and "extra-organizational" topics. Organization-centric topics focus on what goes on inside the organization, the factors that impact organizational decision-making, and issues that affect the organization as a unique social actor. Most management scholarship would fit into this category. We'll also have posts dealing with issues that lie outside the organization but that are inherently organizational in nature, such as inequality, conflict and power, and yes, politics.
You will probably also be able to divide our posts into those discussing organizational theory explicity and those dealing with other kinds of scholarship (e.g. sociology or philosophy) that might shed some light on an organizational issue. We welcome thinkers of all types.
I don't have much of an agenda for this blog other than I want to air some of my thoughts publicly and make conversation about interesting ideas.
fn1. Of course there are many blogs dealing with corporate law, economics, or other organizations-related topics, but we couldn't find many authored by organizational or management theory scholars. If you're an organizational scholar and you're out there in the blogosphere, let us know!
Brayden and I (Teppo – see details on us in the sidebar) have been quite surprised by the relative dearth of blogs dedicated to organizational issues – whether theory, strategy, ethics or any other related organizational topic. Thus, this is our foray into the blogosphere, an attempt to bring informal public discussion and debate on organizational issues to the net. Both of us are social science ‘junkies’ in the very broadest sense, and are hooked on the many excellent blogs in the fields of political science, law, sociology, economics, and philosophy. We hope, in similar fashion, to offer broad commentary and insight (? – this will be for the reader to judge) on organizational matters – specifically to a scholarly and professional audience interested in matters related to organization theory.
Welcome to orgtheory.net – we hope to give you a reason to visit frequently!
Caveats and disclaimers: This blog represents our own respective views rather than those of any group that we might be affiliated with (university, department, association etc). Also, Brayden and I certainly will not review each other’s posts before they are published here, we may in fact disagree on many topics (which hopefully will provide part of the richness of this blog), and thus our respective posts represent our own views.