let’s put malcolm gladwell out of business; and, the creation, diffusion and evolution of concepts
Interesting essay in the Journal of Management Inquiry by Andrew Hoffman, University of Michigan: “Let’s put Malcolm Gladwell out of business.” Here’s the full set of essays (including a Gladwell interview), with various prominent organization theorists weighing in.
On roughly the same note, a recent post by Tyler Cowen at MarginalRevolution notes how a Gigerenzer book is too late given Gladwell’s work. Too late?! The imputation or assignment of ideas and concepts to particular persons of course is an interesting exercise, but, Gigerenzer is only late in popularizing, certainly not in theorizing. (Undoubtedly Cowen meant that Gigerenzer was late in popularizing.)
There are separate worlds for scholarly theorizing versus popularizing, though some folks bridge the divide and live in both worlds. And, to perhaps make the worlds more fine-grained – we might find separate worlds between core disciplines, applied disciplines, and practice. The origins, diffusion and evolution of various concepts could perhaps be traced this way – with the creation of the same concept potentially imputed to a different person in each world – take, for example, a concept like “attention.”
Concepts of course may morph as they move from one world to the other (probably from core to applied to practice, though other configurations naturally exist), and, there are pesky problems related to aggregation etc that need to be considered in the new world (for example, take individual ‘identity’ and move it to the org level); and, with additional theorizing and contextual consideration the original concept may morph into something completely different. Does that difference then influence the world from which the concept was borrowed? Probably not, the concept may be something new now, imputed to and owned by someone else.
Well, I don’t believe all that, just thinking out loud.