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“are you the last person in line?” – learning local norms

One of the somewhat terrifying or, for some of us, invigorating aspects of being an academic is learning and practicing cross-cultural and local norms, especially for research or travel. Typically, these lessons involve careful observation of what seems unthinkable (cutting in line?!? OR waiting one’s turn in line?!?), inadvertently breaking norms in front of aghast or amused locals, and the thrill of mastering a new skill.

In a few weeks, those of you who are relocating or returning to Britain might find the following links handy for immersion in the local milieu:

– “Feeling your life lacks excitement, so dunking your biscuit for an irresponsibly long time
– “The anxious bewilderment when clocking the stranger deciding to join the queue at your side rather than behind you
– “The unwelcome surprise of someone telling you how they are after you’ve asked them how they are”
– “Secretly hoping it stays cold so there’s always something to talk about”
– “Feeling guilty taking your M&S Bag For Life into Tesco

Coming to NYC for ASAs? Try season 8 of Curb Your Enthusiasm and brush up your “waiting on line” etiquette. Tip: don’t assume you’re at the back of the right line.

Written by katherinechen

August 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm

Posted in books, culture, fun

who’s still using a textbook?


Though I have dozens of organizations-related textbooks on my bookshelves – for the past several years I have not used one for the classes I have taught (e.g., organization theory, organizational behavior, international management).  It seems that for the topics I teach there is plenty of accessible first-hand, academic (or somewhat distilled) material that one can put together in electronic format (and its free), and thus I really don’t see the need for textbooks.  Yes, textbooks do give you testbanks, many now come with all kinds of nifty clips, exercises, ppt slides and various gimmicks, but, I feel like a tailored readings list (along with some associated cases) works infinitely better.  I can focus on the matters that I think are essential, prepare my own notes, and, I believe the end result is a much better learning experience. 

In business schools, however, I don’t dare quite go the route that Brayden does in his sociology classes – he for example assigned Ferraro, Pfeffer, and Sutton’s recent AMR piece (see his post here, which also highlights his students positive reactions) for his undergraduate sociology students to read, while my students perhaps get a somewhat more practically-oriented angle on various organizational matters (the readings tend to come from academic books chapters, AME, HBR, SMR, Organizational Dynamics-type journals etc). Frankly, I think however that there is much to be said for moving a bit more toward a core disciplines-type model even in business schools, as some of our previous posts have suggested. 

I did actually slip in an org theory classic into my org behavior class this semester – Meyer and Rowan’s Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony.  Our discussion ended up being excellent (well, it was also enhanced with a clip that I found from Curb Your Enthusiasm that brilliantly illustrates the article’s thesis, and, I prefaced the reading with plenty of heads-up warning about the academic jargon that they were about to encounter).  After clearing up some confusion around language – we nicely covered important issues related to organizational environment, the origins of structure, rationality, legitimacy etc. 

I am not going to go on the record suggesting the demise of the college textbook, though, as I have talked to colleagues in b-schools and sociology about their teaching, my sense is that 80% plus go sans textbook.

Written by teppo

December 1, 2006 at 6:19 am

Posted in academia, books, education, teppo