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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 orgtheory.net? orgtheory.net is…

For better or worse, this thing we call orgtheory.net 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 orgtheory.net?  And, fill in the blank: orgtheory.net 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.

Abstract

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