Archive for the ‘teppo’ Category

forget the environment, everything is endogenous

Teppo is too humble to let us know that he’s the guest editor of a new special issue of Managerial and Decision Economics.  The issue’s theme is the “emergent nature of organization, market, and wisdom of crowds.” The special issue has an impressive lineup of authors, including Nicolai Foss, Robb Willer, Bruno Frey, Peter Leeson, and Scott Page.  Teppo’s introduction, as you might expect, is provocative, challenging learning theory and behavioral theories of the firm. Here’s a little teaser:

My basic thesis is that capabilities develop from within—they are endogenous and internal. In order to develop a capability, it must  logically be there in latent or dormant form. Capabilities grow endogenously from latent possibility. In some respects, capabilities should be thought about as organs rather than as behavioral and environmental inputs. Experience, external inputs and environments are, in important respects, internal to organisms, individuals and organizations. Although environmental inputs play a triggering and enabling role in the development of capability, the environment is not the cause of capability. Furthermore, the latency of capabilities places a constraint on the set of possible capabilities that are realizable. But these constraintsare scarcely deterministic; rather, they also provide the means and foundation for generating noveltyand heterogeneity (285).

Teppo offers a real challenge to the typical “blank slate” approaches that dominate organizational theory and sociology. Social construction has  limits if you assume that some capabilities are simply latent and waiting to be triggered into action. This reminds me of what my graduate school contemporary theory instructor, Al Bergesen, used to say about the deficiency of  most sociological theory. (In fact, he repeated the whole bit to me again when I ran into him in Denver’s airport Monday evening.) Sociology, he’d say, has never fully come to grips with the cognitive revolution of psychology or linguistics. We still assume that individuals are completely shaped by their social world and ignore cognitive structure  and the limits this imposes on how we communicate and who we can become.  Teppo and Al would have a lot to talk about.

Written by brayden king

August 23, 2012 at 1:46 am

theories of entrepreneurship: an exercise in dichotomies

There’s a certain resistance to dichotomizing: the truth is somewhere in between, it’s more nuanced, processual, interactional etc — both “x” and “y” need to be considered — so we’ll call it “z” (say, “structuration”).  But, as I’m preparing for an entrepreneurship-related PhD class tomorrow, most of the papers we read indeed tend to set up a dichotomous relationship between two things.  Despite problems with these types of contrasts (it’s usually pretty easy to see where the argument is going), I still find the exercise of extremes very valuable.  Theories, after all, idealize and need to focus on something (usually in reaction to its opposite, sorta).

So, here are some of the entrepreneurship-related dichotomies that popped up:

  • structure versus agency
  • macro versus micro
  • exogenous versus endogenous
  • observation versus theory
  • experience versus thought
  • supply versus demand
  • backward- versus forward-looking
  • discovery versus creation
  • something versus nothing
  • actual versus possible

(The truth can be found on the right-hand side.)

Many of the above dichotomies — in one way or another — hearken to classic debates in philosophy: rationalism versus empiricism, realism versus constructionism, etc.   I don’t think that organizational scholars will solve any of these classic problems, though obviously there are comparative opportunities vis-a-vis the things that we study: collective action, social process and interaction, value creation and so forth.

Below the fold you’ll find some of the (somewhat eclectic) readings that somehow relate to the above dichotomies of entrepreneurship: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by teppo

May 10, 2011 at 9:52 pm

collective action and organization theory – a syllabus

I’m co-teaching a short and quite eclectic doctoral seminar on “collective action and organization theory” with Henri Schildt here at the Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki.

The class readings list is rather exploratory.  We’ll only meet four times, so there isn’t room for a whole lot. We picked a set of readings that sounded fun and interesting (some classics as well as recent stuff).  At the risk of public ridicule – here’s a draft of the syllabus.  If you have any thoughts or feedback (additions etc), feel free to leave a comment.

Written by teppo

April 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm

strategies for motivating co-authors

Your co-authors are probably just as busy as you are.  So how do you get co-authors to focus on your joint project?  There’s no manual on this.  It’s probably highly idiosyncratic: depends on the unique working relationship that you have with your co-author.

But what might be generic strategies for “motivating” co-authors? (This presumes that you yourself are motivated.)  Here are some quick strategies that come to mind:

  • Corner your co-author.  Erdos famously showed up at co-authors door steps (even at 2am) — incidentally he had LOTS of co-authors (511!) — and exclaimed “my mind is open.”  Try something like that.  More generally, physical proximity (despite the advantages of technology) tends to focus attention — so taking time to work on projects at conferences etc can pay off.
  • Pester your co-author.  In the digital era one can usually find co-authors lurking somewhere online. Skype, Facebook and other social media are good “control” devices. 
  • Bag the project. If your co-author doesn’t seem willing to work on the project, maybe the project is lame.  Bag it — and work on something more interesting.   
  • Pretend your co-author doesn’t exist.  Take charge and just work on the project yourself, as if you’re the sole author.  The risk of course is that your co-author doesn’t agree with your arguments/work, but that might be a risk worth taking.  More likely, your co-author will appreciate your work and it will push the project forwards.
  • Pre-commit to intermediate deadlines.  Pre-commit yourself to intermediate deadlines and do the same with your co-authors (I’ll finish “x” by next Wed).  Co-authorship itself is sort of like a commitment device (well, among other things), it can keep us focused.
  • Pick good co-authors in the first place.  Probably the easiest way to manage co-author relationships is to have good ones in the first place.  “Good” might have a lot to do with compatibility of work styles, similarity of perspectives, etc.

Drop any additional ideas into the comments.

Written by teppo

April 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm

why do you read is…

For better or worse, this thing we call has been around for almost five years.  So, since that mega-anniversary is coming up in two days, we want to hear what you think about the blog. 

Why do you read  And, fill in the blank: is…

Click the link above and answer those two questions.   We’ll reveal the answers in two days.  Whether you hate or love the blog, let us know what you think!

Written by teppo

April 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Posted in blogs, teppo

georg simmel’s aphorisms

Richard Swedberg and Wendelin Reich have written an engaging Theory, Culture & Society piece capturing Georg Simmel’s many aphorisms.  For Simmel fans, definitely worth reading.


This article contains an analysis of Georg Simmel’s aphorisms and an appendix with a number of these in translation. An account is given of the production, publication and reception of the around 300 aphorisms that Simmel produced. His close relationship to Gertrud Kantorowicz is discussed, since she was given the legal right to many of Simmel’s aphorisms when he died and also assigned the task of publishing them by Simmel. The main themes in Simmel’s aphorisms are presented: love, Man, philosophy, Lebensphilosophie and art. Two of Simmel’s aphorisms are also given an extended analysis. It is suggested that the skill of writing a good aphorism, both when it comes to style and content, has much to do with what we call the art of compression. It is also suggested that what ultimately attracted Simmel to the form of aphorism was its capacity to hint at something that is richer than the reality we are currently experiencing.

aphorisms ■ Gertrud Kantorowicz ■ Lebensphilosophie ■ Georg Simmel ■ sociology

Written by teppo

April 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm

erkenntnistheorie und soziologie

If you read/speak German, then you can find a wealth of free, classic (and more obscure) sociology-related books online.  Here’s a sample of books that you can download for free from google ebooks:

Heinrich Rickert, 1904.  Der Gegenstand der Erkenntnis. (Rickert was an influence on Max Weber.)

Gustav Ratzenhofer, 1907.  Soziologie. (OK, I hadn’t heard of him either.  Omar has.  It appears Ratzenhofer was an Austrian General and Sociologist.  Hey, it’s a free book, people.)

Georg Simmel, 1892. Die Probleme der Geschichtsphilosophie, (Genau.)

Georg Simmel, 1906.  Kant.  (Simmel’s lectures from the University of Berlin.)

Georg Simmel, 1908. Soziologie: Untersuchungen ueber die Formen der Vergellschaftung. (Classic.)

Ferdinand Tönnies, 1887.  Gemeinshaft und Gesellschaft.

Max Weber. 1921.  Gesammelte Politische Schriften.

Written by teppo

April 9, 2011 at 4:41 am

review review: tips for writers

I don’t think there is much overlap between what fiction writers do and what we academics do.  But it is true that both writers and academics write — lots.  So I enjoy reading about writing.

The Review Review has an engaging ‘writing tips’-type column for anyone interested. Here’s a piece on Finding Your Voice.  Here are a few other columns:

Written by teppo

April 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm

bruno frey et al: human nature and the titanic

The most recent issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives has an interesting, non-standard article analyzing the behavior of individuals during the Titanic disaster.  Worth reading.

Frey, Bruno S., David A. Savage, and Benno Torgler. 2011. “Behavior under Extreme Conditions: The Titanic Disaster.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 25(1): 209–22.


During the night of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage. Two hours and 40 minutes later she sank, resulting in the loss of 1,501 lives—more than two-thirds of her 2,207 passengers and crew. This remains one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history and by far the most famous. For social scientists, evidence about how people behaved as the Titanic sunk offers a quasi-natural field experiment to explore behavior under extreme conditions of life and death. A common assumption is that in such situations, self-interested reactions will predominate and social cohesion is expected to disappear. However, empirical evidence on the extent to which people in the throes of a disaster react with self-regarding or with other-regarding behavior is scanty. The sinking of the Titanic posed a life-or-death situation for its passengers. The Titanic carried only 20 lifeboats, which could accommodate about half the people aboard, and deck officers exacerbated the shortage by launching lifeboats that were partially empty. Failure to secure a seat in a lifeboat virtually guaranteed death. We have collected individual-level data on the passengers and crew on the Titanic, which allow us to analyze some specific questions: Did physical strength (being male and in prime age) or social status (being a first- or second-class passenger) raise the survival chance? Was it favorable for survival to travel alone or in company? Does one’s role or function (being a crew member or a passenger) affect the probability of survival? Do social norms, such as “Women and children first!” have any effect? Does nationality affect the chance of survival? We also explore whether the time from impact to sinking might matter by comparing the sinking of the Titanic over nearly three hours to the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, which took only 18 minutes from when the torpedo hit the ship.

Written by teppo

April 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm

markets as…

OK, this is admittedly very, very loose — but here are some different characterizations of markets, sort of a rough and naive meta-taxonomy of markets:

  • markets as price
  • markets as aggregation
  • markets as mechanism
  • markets as governance
  • markets as organizational form
  • markets as institutions
  • markets as collective action
  • markets as process
  • markets as information
  • markets as social exchange
  • markets as embedded structures
  • markets as networks
  • markets as categories
  • markets as social constructions
  • markets as culture
  • markets as moral orders
  • markets as politics
  • markets as machinery and technology
  • markets as performance
  • markets as metaphor
  • markets as ideology

The interactions between the above “markets as…” conceptions are of course also very interesting.

The list could probably be very long (and some interesting dimensions could be super-imposed on it, thus allowing for fascinating comparisons) — but what are other “markets as…” characterizations that come to mind?

Written by teppo

April 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm

spontaneous order, kinda

Related links:

Written by teppo

March 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm

thanks shehzad and steve

A big thanks to Shehzad Nadeem and Steve Borgatti for guest posting at orgtheory! Be sure to continue following their work on their respective web sites.

Written by teppo

March 27, 2011 at 3:22 am

Posted in guest bloggers, teppo

intro to social psychology by robb willer

Fabio asked about the latest and greatest in social psychology.  Here’s Robb Willer’s UC Berkeley intro to social psychology class, Sociology 150A:

Lecture 2: Experiments

Lecture 3: Cognitive Biases 1

Lecture 4: Cognitive Biases 2

The rest of the lectures (on conformity, norms etc) are here.

Written by teppo

March 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm

i think everyone is a scientist: the poverty of stimulus argument

There is a disconnect between how some social scientists see themselves versus how they see their subjects.  Scientists theorize about the world — they develop hypotheses, models, they reason, imagine, simulate, then test and revise, etc — and regular folks, well, learn more myopically via observation and experience. Behaviorism of course represented an extreme case of the latter – a stimulus-driven, passive view of human behavior.

But I’ll go on a limb and say that I think that the “scientist model” is a far better conception of all human activity.  Everyday living and interaction is scientific activity of a sort: we have models of the world that we constantly update and revise.  Importantly, these models have an a priori nature, decoupled from experience.  Does experience matter?  Sure.  But, I think the a priori factors matter just as much, even more.  How one conceptualizes the a priori depends on one’s field and purposes, but it includes the following types of things – human nature, choice, reason, imagination, intention, conjectures, hypotheses and theories and so forth.

Readers will of course recognize the above dichotomy as the rationalism versus empiricism debate: reason versus experience.  Empiricism, very often, looks deceptively scientific.  After all, it’s easy to count things that we can observe.  Experience and history are master mechanisms behind gobs of theories — tracing, counting what happened in the past appears scientific.  In some cases it is.   But, the stuff that we observe and perceive is heavily theory-laden (no, not in that sense), and observations and perceptions might simply be epiphenomena of a priori “stuff.”  And, experience might simply “trigger” rather than cause outcomes.  Furthermore, experience and history are only one of many, possible worlds.

The “poverty of stimulus” argument relates to this.  Varieties of the poverty of stimulus argument show up in developmental psychology, linguistics, philosophy, ethology and other areas.  In short, the upshot of the poverty of stimulus argument is that outputs and capabilities manifest by organisms far outstrip inputs such as experiences and stimuli. The work on infants, by folks like Elizabeth Spelke and Alison Gopnik, highlights this point: children have clear, a priori conceptions of their surroundings.  Wilhelm Von Humboldt’s notion of language capabilities as the “infinite use of finite means” relates to the poverty of stimulus argument.  Some varieties of decision-making models (depending on what types of “priors” they allow) also fit.  Ned Block’s “productivity argument” fits into this.  As does, perhaps, Charles Peirce’s notion of “abduction.” Etc.

The above discussion of course is a very Chomskyan view of human nature and science.  But, this tradition goes back much further (well, to Plato).  In my mind, one of the best, historical primers on some of these issues is Chomsky’s Cartesian Linguistics: A Chapter in the History of Rationalist Thought (be sure to get the 2003 edition, with McGilvray’s excellent introduction).  A very, very under-rated book.

Overall — I’ll go out on a limb, again (no one reads the last paragraph of loose, jargon-laden rants/posts like this anyways) — I don’t think the social sciences have come to terms with the scientific problems associated with experience-heavy arguments and the crucial importance of the a priori (however conceived).  I think there are lots of research opportunities in this space.

Written by teppo

March 18, 2011 at 7:06 am

google’s effort to build a better boss

A colleague forwarded this to me — a New York Times piece on Project Oxygen, Google’s effort to build a better boss.

Drum roll…the “eight good behaviors” of a boss are below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by teppo

March 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm

mao and nomic: games with emergent and changing rules

I watched one of my kids play the game “Mao” (also called Mü, Maw, Chairman Mao, etc) with her friends the other day.  Fascinating.  In the game players develop unspoken, secret rules that others have to figure out — the rules are emergent and evolve.  Fun stuff.

Interested in playing (but don’t have any friends)?  Well, of course there’s a MaoBot that you can play against online.

Another game, roughly in the same family (but even more fascinating), is Nomic – developed by Peter Suber.  Here’s the premise:

Nomic is a game in which changing the rules is a move. In that respect it differs from almost every other game. The primary activity of Nomic is proposing changes in the rules, debating the wisdom of changing them in that way, voting on the changes, deciding what can and cannot be done afterwards, and doing it. Even this core of the game, of course, can be changed.

Written by teppo

March 17, 2011 at 6:10 am

9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible ncaa march madness brackets

The odds of a perfect NCAA bracket are slim, 9.2+ quintillion (2^63) to one.

Of course, not all brackets are equally likely.  For example, the likelihood of, say, a 16th seed beating a number 1 seed is quite low.  In fact, it has never happened.  So if you’re filling out a bracket, then sticking with the extant seedings might be a solid way to go.  Here’s a table that shows the seed of the winners since 1985.

For more, computer scientist Sheldon Jacobson (University of Illinois) maintains a web site, Bracket Odds, with all kinds of bracketology calculators, trivia and statistics.  Here’s a short piece on (pdf) “March Madness Math.”

As an aside —- schools represented by orgtheory bloggers did quite well in the tournament seeding: Duke (30-4) received a #1 seed, Notre Dame (26-6) a #2 seed, and BYU (30-4) a #3 seed.

Written by teppo

March 14, 2011 at 6:12 am

guttenplag – crowdsourcing the extent of karl-theodor zu guttenberg’s plagiarism

Germany’s (now former) minister of defense Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg plagiarized much of his dissertation (a presentation I saw today referred to this incident) — here’s the scoop.  There’s an effort to “crowdsource” the exact extent of the plagiarism, titled “Guttenplag,” a wiki where readers can identify plagiarized pages.  So far readers have found that 76% of the dissertation’s pages have plagiarized content.

Gaddafi’s son’s dissertation is also being checked for plagiarism (well, there might just be a ghost-writer).  And here’s an article on the control+c, control+v plagiarism boom.

With increased digitizing, I’m guessing this type of thing will become more and more automated (text-to-text comparison is easy) and we’re bound to find additional instances (even from the distant past).

Written by teppo

March 3, 2011 at 10:11 pm

the two “nubs” of sociality: interaction and self-selection or sorting

The nub of being social is inducing a new reality, a social reality as to level/arena/space-time that is constructed through and in interaction.

That’s from Harrison White’s 1997 Sociological Forum article “Can mathematics be social? Flexible representations for interaction process and its sociocultural constructions.”

I (roughly) concur with the “nub” that White proposes.

But, the other, twin nub of sociality is self-selection or sorting.  Both play a role.

Written by teppo

March 2, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Posted in culture, sociology, teppo

voice and social control: comparative organization

“Voice is a means of social control: that is to say, the voice is a means of influencing the behavior of individuals so as to bring them into cooperation, one with another.”

That’s from a 1908 American Journal of Sociology article by biologist and ethologist Wallace Craig –  “The Voices of Pigeons Regarded as a Means of Social Control.”  Yes, the article indeed is about pigeons. I don’t know whether AJS still publishes articles by ethologists.  Probably not.

I think ethology can offer some interesting meta-theoretical, comparative and methological insights for studying activity, behavior and social interaction across and within various contexts (from various types of animals to humans).  Sure, one-to-one borrowing across species can be lame (directly applying insights from biology can lead to sloppy reasoning), and is all too frequent.  Of course humans are not like pigeons – or ants or bees – though some abstract similarities might exist and specifying the underlying nature of an organism makes for an intriguing, comparative exercise.

More importantly, the nature of the thing itself, the thing that is being studied, needs to be vetted (Craig, Lorenz etc were brilliant at this), rather than resorting to studying the thing’s environment.  That’s a personal pet peeve of mine.  (Is that vague enough?  Good.)

If any of you are interested in ethology, its origins, the emergence of a field, etc — I would highly, highly recommend Richard Burkhardt Jr’s brilliant book Patterns of Behavior: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology, University of Chicago Press.  It is one of the best books I have read during the last three years (was just re-skimming it).

Written by teppo

February 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm

verbal theorizing, the mike ryall challenge and ezra zuckerman

So, the most provocative presentation (easily) at this year’s UTAH-BYU Winter Strategy Conference was given by Mike Ryall (University of Toronto).  Mike argued that “verbal theorizing” has problems, serious problems.  He reiterated the Ryall Challenge (originally issued at last year’s AOM session on the Strategy Research Initiative, SRI), for any scholar to submit a natural language paper that meets the following criteria:

  1. Unambiguous – meaning does not vary from scholar to scholar.
  2. Rigorously derived – conclusions logically consistent with premises.
  3. Measurable – empirically refutable.
  4. Plausible – consistent with researcher’s priors.

OK, so, it’s hard to disagree with the need for increased clarity, fine.  Yes, jargon can be a problem.

But, ambiguity and grand theorizing also leave room for additional work – thankfully so.  And jargon in fact can be a very efficient way to communicate.  In short, I think the Ryall Challenge is sort of meaningless, it seems to unfairly use the criteria of formal modeling to assess natural language theorizing.  Of course both types of work have their purposes.  When pushed, Mike does not seem to deny this either (see his last slide).

In fact, I think we might live in the best of all possible worlds (which is always the alternative hypothesis) – we have people who do more “ambiguous,” natural language-type theorizing, others model, others do empirical work of various sort, mixed-methods, etc.  These approaches complement each other.  And the good stuff floats to the top, gets attention, cited, etc.  Put differently, the market — over time — sorts the wheat from the chaff.

Now, it gets more interesting.  Ezra submitted a paper to try to meet the Ryall Challenge, his RSO paper “Speaking with One Voice: A Stanford School” Approach to Organizational Hierarchy.”

In the presentation, Mike spent quite a bit of time thrashing unpacking the verbal argument in Ezra’s paper.  Mike wrote a paper-length response to Ezra, Ezra is responding and each is posting their respective responses onto their web site.  I told Mike that we’d be thrilled to have him and Ezra guest blog on this issue.

Here are Mike’s slides (the sanitized, public version).

UPDATE – here are some additional resources related to Mike’s presentation.  The SRI Strategy Reader.  A list of the two dozen+ top, mid-career strategy scholars involved in SRI.  Upcoming, joint SRI and Administrative Science Quarterly paper development workshop.

Written by teppo

February 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm

evolutionary social theory: mathematical approaches

Robert Trivers at Rutgers lectures (two weeks ago) on mathematical approaches to evolutionary social theory.

Here’s part 2, and part 3.

Written by teppo

February 16, 2011 at 10:08 pm

undergraduate journals: what’s the point?

I met with an undergraduate student who is exploring the possibility of launching a journal for undergraduates to publish their work (in management/orgs-related areas: OB, strategy, accounting, finance, marketing).   I have to say, I am a bit skeptical about this as there are dozens of journals, in every discipline, that an undergraduate could (of course) also publish in.  For example, there are well over 100+ management journals (of varying quality) and presumably these journals are eager to get more submissions and publish work, no matter who sends it in.

But while I am skeptical, I do see the potential value that student editors and authors might get from an undergraduate journal.  And, some disciplines indeed seem to have undergraduate-specific journals like this (though, I don’t have any figures to back that up).

Anyways, the student is eager to get any feedback.  Post any comments, thoughts that you might have.

In terms of a model — I guess the The Ross School of Business, University of Michigan has an undergraduate business journal like this: The Michigan Journal of Business.  And, here’s a longer list of undergraduate research journals.

Written by teppo

February 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm

hedonometrics: happiness and twitter

Here’s a novel paper by Peter Sheridan Dodd et al  – Temporal patterns of happiness and information in a global social network: Hedonometrics and twitter.


Individual happiness is a fundamental societal metric. Normally measured through self-report, happiness has often been indirectly characterized and overshadowed by more readily quantifiable economic indicators, such as gross domestic product. Here, we use a real-time, remote-sensing, non-invasive, text-based approach—a kind of hedonometer—to uncover collective dynamical patterns of happiness levels expressed by over 50 million users in the online, global social network Twitter. With a data set comprising nearly 2.8 billion expressions involving more than 28 billion words, we explore temporal variations in happiness, as well as information levels, over time scales of hours, days, and months. Among many observations, we find a steady global happiness level, evidence of universal weekly and daily patterns of happiness and information, and that happiness and information levels are generally uncorrelated. We also extract and analyse a collection of happiness and information trends based on keywords, showing them to be both sensible and informative, and in effect generating opinion polls without asking questions. Finally, we develop and employ a graphical method that reveals how individual words contribute to changes in average happiness between any two texts.

Written by teppo

February 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Posted in networks, teppo

is there an atlantic divide in organizational research?

The received wisdom is that there is an “Atlantic divide” between Europe and North America vis-a-vis organizational research.  Joel Baum, using citation data from three compendia, finds that the “Atlantic divide” is essentially a myth.

Here’s the abstract:

It is customary among contemporary organization theorists to equate North American and European scholarship with objectivist and subjectivist metatheoretical positions (respectively), treat these positions as mutually exclusive alternatives, and debate which is best suited to understanding organizational phenomena. Fueled by this dispute, questions of bias and fears of colonization are readily apparent in academic reviews of three recent “handbooks” of organizations. Caught in the current of these tensions, I was prompted to assess the status of this “Atlantic divide.” To do so, I examined the three recent compendia in terms of the rhetoric academic reviewers employed to characterize them and the geographic locations, preferred journals, and university affiliations of scholars who refer to them. The results are striking. Despite the unanimous typecasting of the volumes as epitomizing either objectivist North American or subjectivist European traditions, the geographic distributions of researchers citing them are indistinguishable. Citations to each compendium are, however, clustered within particular journals and among authors with particular university affiliations—but neither the journals nor universities are neatly North American or European. Current associations of these traditions with North American and European scholarship thus seem driven more by academic rhetoric than authentic continental distinctions. I examine the roots of this rhetorical mapping and explore its implications for the field. I advocate abandonment of the myth of the Atlantic divide and exploitation of perspectives that do not privilege the subjectivist–objectivist dichotomy.

Key Words: organization and management theory; subjectivst versus objectivist perspectives

And paper, forthcoming in Organization Science.

Here’s a previous post highlighting Joel’s work on journal versus article-effects.

Written by teppo

February 15, 2011 at 12:25 am

Posted in philosophy, research, teppo

angry birds for the thinking person: digitalkoot

The Finnish National Library, in cooperation with the Finnish company Microtask, has set up an effort to digitize Finnish culture by tapping into the crowd.  Specifically, digitized archives have problems due to mistakes that occur in the scanning process (when translating an image to text), and the Library has set up a Lemmings/Whac-A-Mole-type game to catch these mistakes.  Angry birds for the thinking person.  Here’s a youtube clip of the gameMore here.  You can play the digitalkoot game here.

This is sort of in the genre of save-the-world-via-gaming, a la Jane McDonigal, blog here.

BONUS:  If contributing to Finnish culture isn’t your thing, then you might take note of DARPA’s effort to crowdsource combat vehicle design.

BONUS 2:  Or, the band R.E.M. is (sorta) doing a crowdsourcing-type thing with their forthcoming album, specifically by letting fans re-mix a song etc.  Here are a bunch of crowdsourced versions of R.E.M.’s forthcoming song ‘It Happened Today.’

Written by teppo

February 9, 2011 at 7:15 am

crowdsourcing the news: an experiment

Some journalists and a Carnegie Mellon team are experimenting with crowdsourcing the news.   Here’s some intuition on crowdsourcing complex tasks.  Here’s an article with some background.

Written by teppo

February 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm

artificial intelligence has a long, long way to go

We’ve talked about the Turing Test before — essentially a test of the ability of machines to demonstrate human-like intelligence.  One specific way to put artificial intelligence to the test is to see if machines are able to fool humans into thinking that they are actually interacting with another human.  The Loebner competition is just such a test.  The 2010 winner of the Loebner Prize was the chatbot Suzette.

Based on my conversation with her, I don’t think machines will be taking over anytime soon.

[Suzette]  Welcome, orgtheory.

orgtheory – hi, how are you?

[Suzette] Doing fine, thanks.

orgtheory – so, what are your thoughts on the current events in egypt?

[Suzette]  Speaking of current events… I’ve never thought about it. I find TV news shows to be utterly stupid. We watch the news on the Comedy channel: The Daily Show.

orgtheory – I’d rather talk about Egypt.

[Suzette]  Which are you more likely to do: walk on the beach or sunbathe?

orgtheory – Come on, I’m trying to ask a question.

[Suzette]  What do you do while you’re away on vacation?

orgtheory – Read.

[Suzette]  Do you read?

orgtheory – OK, my turn/

[Suzette]  Perhaps that leads us to the topic of name some things. What turns you on, creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

orgtheory – Seriously.

[Suzette]  There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count and those who can’t.

orgtheory – I give up.

[Suzette]  Confession is good for the soul, but bad for your career.

OK, maybe Suzette was just having a bad day.  I tried a couple other times, the “conversations” only got worse.  You can chat with Suzette here.

(Of course, yes, I recognize there are many other domains where artificial intelligence fares much better.)

Written by teppo

February 8, 2011 at 5:53 pm

infinitely decomposable world?

Can the world be divided ad infinitum?  Here’s a paper that wrestles with the matter: Physicalism in an infinitely decomposable world, Erkenntnis (2006) by Barbara Montero.


Might the world be structured, as Leibniz thought, so that every part of matter is divided ad infinitum? The Physicist David Bohm accepted infinitely decomposable matter, and even Steven Weinberg, a staunch supporter of the idea that science is converging on a final theory, admits the possibility of an endless chain of ever more fundamental theories. However, if there is no fundamental level, physicalism, thought of as the view that everything is determined by fundamental phenomena and that all fundamental phenomena are physical, turns out false, for in such a world, there are no fundamental phenomena, and so fundamental phenomena determine nothing. While some take physicalism necessarily to posit a fundamental level, here I present a thesis of physicalism that allows for its truth even in an infinitely decomposable world.

Written by teppo

February 7, 2011 at 4:23 am

being in the world

Via a friend on facebook —- a documentary/film inspired by Heidegger and Continental Philosophy, with commentary by Hubert Dreyfus and his students.  More here: Being In The World movie.

Bonus material:

Written by teppo

February 6, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Posted in culture, philosophy, teppo

we are all khalid said

Wired’s Egypt coverage is interesting — this article discusses the role of facebook, specifically the We Are All Khalid Said facebook site, as an “organizing hub” for the protesters.  (Twitter and other social media have of course also played a role.)  Based on the article, the Mubarak regime appears to be well aware of these sites and is wreaking havoc on them.

Here’s some background on Khalid Said.

Written by teppo

February 5, 2011 at 2:58 am

egypt protests

This whole Egypt thing is really sad — I find it hard to break away from the coverage (Al Jazeera live here).  I lived in Amman Jordan for about a year and also worked a bit in Cairo, a beautiful city now in ruins.  The footage of people getting run over by cars, journalists getting attacked (don’t mess with Christian Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, Hala Gorani!), is just plain crazy and surreal.  I hope the people’s voice is heard and that a stable, democratic government emerges.

On the somewhat more positive side of things, The Guardian has a nice photo collage of innovative helmet designs that are emerging among the protesters.  Click here to see other, innovative helmet variants.

Written by teppo

February 4, 2011 at 6:20 pm

management, psychology etc: open source textbooks

Information wants to be free.  I don’t know that anyone will teach an all wikipedia-sourced course anytime soon (though, many entries offer a good intro and great references), nonetheless there are now some free online options that one might consider using in the classroom.

Flat World Knowledge recently came to my attention.  The company offers high-quality, quasi-free textbooks.  Textbooks can be viewed for free online, though downloading and/or printing costs (though, far less than regular textbooks). Here are two good examples:

Introduction to Psychology, by Charles Stangor.

Principles of Management, by Mason Carpenter, Talya Bauer, Berrin Erdogan.

Didn’t see anything on organization theory yet.  For a free organization theory textbook, check out Peter Abell’s (LSE) textbook (pdf) Organisation Theory: An Interdisciplinary Approach.

And, here’s an article on the above company, and about open source textbooks more generally.  Also check out (and contribute to) the textbooks at

Written by teppo

February 4, 2011 at 7:21 am

joel baum: article effects > journal effects

Joel Baum has written a provocative article which argues and shows that, essentially, article effects are larger than journal effects.

In other words, impact factors and associated journal rankings give the impression of within-journal article homogeneity.  But top journals of course have significant variance in article-level citations, and thus journals and less-cited articles essentially “free-ride” on the citations of a few, highly-cited pieces.  A few articles get lots of citations, most get far less — and the former provide a halo for the latter.  And, “lesser” journals also publish articles that become hits (take Jay Barney’s 1991 Journal of Management article, with 17,000+ google scholar citations), hits that are more cited than average articles in “top” journals.

The whole journal rankings obsession (and associated labels: “A” etc journal) can be a little nutty, and I think Joel’s piece nicely reminds us that, well, article content matters.  There’s a bit of a “count” culture in some places, where ideas and content get subverted by “how many A pubs” someone has published.  Counts trump ideas.  At times, high stakes decisions — hiring, tenure, rewards — also get made based on counts, and thus Joel’s piece on article-effects is a welcome reminder.

Having said that, I do think that journal effects certainly remain important (a limited number of journals are analyzed in the paper), no question. And citations of course are not the only (nor perfect) measure of impact.

But definitely a fascinating piece.

Here’s the abstract:

The simplicity and apparent objectivity of the Institute for Scientific Information’s Impact Factor has resulted in its widespread use to assess the quality of organization studies journals and by extension the impact of the articles they publish and the achievements of their authors.  After describing how such uses of the Impact Factor can distort both researcher and editorial behavior to the detriment of the field, I show how extreme variability in article citedness permits the vast majority of articles – and journals themselves – to free-ride on a small number of highly-cited articles.  I conclude that the Impact Factor has little credibility as a proxy for the quality of either organization studies journals or the articles they publish, resulting in attributions of journal or article quality that are incorrect as much or more than half the time.  The clear implication is that we need to cease our reliance on such a non-scientific, quantitative characterization to evaluate the quality of our work.

Here’s the paper (posted with permission from Joel):  “Free-riding on power laws: Questioning the validity of the impact factor as a measure of research quality in organization studies.” The paper is forthcoming in Organization.

The article has some great links to the Bill Starbuck piece that Brayden discussed. Here’s Bill’s OMT blog post.

Written by teppo

February 3, 2011 at 4:34 am

business school research and teaching

There’s an engaging debate on the pages of the Financial Times’s Business Education section.

London Business School’s Freek Vermeulen argues that there is a big gap between business school research and teaching, essentially, popular fads replace relevant teaching.   Timothy Devinney responds and argues that research already subtly influences teaching.

Written by teppo

February 3, 2011 at 1:03 am