This new series will list some of the classics (management, organizations, institutionalism, sociology, economic sociology) and useful books that might be included in a phd course or should be read by students to get a good foundation!
Fligstein’s The Architecture of Markets is a must read to understand how markets are built up on sociological foundations. Kathleen Thelen’s book, How Institutions Evolve, is a very interesting piece on institutional evolution, chapters are taken up and discussed in many PhD courses I know of (for example at Stanford).
Below are two books on organization theory with different approaches: Stinchcombe’s Information and Organizations and Hannan & Freeman’s Organizational Ecology.
The next too are dealing with categories and their implications(Bowker & Star’s Sorting Things Out), and the social construction of reality (Berger & Luckmann).
Not a classic yet, but this book features a good collection of papers on how clusters form and evolve, with examples from hollywood to biotech in Europe, US and China. It also contain papers that analyze how policies influence cluster development.
(To be continued)
I often attend lectures by Howard Aldrich, one of the core researchers on entrepreneurship. He points out in this short video that first phase is not just about getting money and access to capital, but also about how to get organized, and that is the difficult part of it.
The debate about the future of the university has traditionally been formulated as a dichotomous battle between “idealists”, or self-protecting groups of “research freedom”-loving academics, who fight under the flag of Humboldtian values, and the “market”-oriented policy makers and reform minded people, who fight with entrepreneurial spirit and Schumpeterian wit. And of course there are the disruptive innovators, say a Khan Academy, or MOOCs, who provide new ideas, new prospects, but also raise the overall entropy of the already chaotic educational system. In all, never has been the educational scene more turbulent and more diverse. It is both an exciting and a daunting time for those who are at the helm of universities.
I have always loved the middle ground though. I am an ally of innovation and market-oriented participation, yet I think it worth some time to slow down from time to time and explore some of the underlying values and cultural underpinnings.
I have been reading this interesting book on the concept of self-cultivation or ‘bildung’ which can be said to be one of the foundational concepts of the German University, and thus the modern research university (though there are some contending voices whether the ‘role model’ assumption holds).
A little while back I came across an interesting paper with an huge set of data from Maathijs de Vaan, Balazs Vedres, and David Stark.
I have read several papers from Vedres & Stark (one of their papers is also included in the Padgett & Powell book I introduced in one of the early posts). These papers utilize very creative ways to analyze networks and also introduce the concept of ‘inter-cohesion’.
This one, however, deals with the video game industry, and provides an interesting look at networks in creative industries.
Abstract: To test the proposition that a high level of recurring cohesion and a high level of stylistic diversity can combine for successful team performance, this study constructs a dataset of the careers of 139,727 individuals who participated in project teams producing 16,507 video games between 1979 and 2009. Findings indicate that teams with more dissimilar stylistic experiences outperform teams with more homogenous backgrounds, but only for higher levels of recurring cohesion. Teams with high diversity and high social cohesion are better able to harmonize the noisy cacophony of an (otherwise) excessive plurality of voices, thereby exploiting the potential beneficial effects of cognitive diversity.
Karl Ulrich talks about the myth of long-term investments in innovation.
He offers two possible strategies: a follower strategy (being second after a dominant design is decided and technological trajectories are set) or an acquisition strategy (acquiring small entrepreneurial firms that has achieved some success with the field).
Karl Ulrich is the author of the landmark paper, “The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm”, which has also influenced Japanese management greatly.
(Mack Center Video)
The simple story outlined by Jim Collins in the previous post is just the very first step in understanding why good companies fail.
The very old and well-known idea from Christensen & Bower (1996) and the Innovator’s Dilemma suggests that the very strategies that helped firms to reach success cause them to fail as the environment change and new entrants succeed in introducing and developing disruptive innovations. His examples of the hard disk industry and the steel mills are also very well known.
Now, here is another speech centered on this idea by Don Sull from the London Business School. He explains that there are 5 types of commitments that can bind companies:
1. Frames (assessments)
2. Processes (formal, informal)
3. Resources (tangible and intangible)
5. Set of Values (identities)
Jim Collins explains in five stages how top performing firms fall. This is a well known and quite obvious process, almost an archetype from Greek epics, but it is very easy to forget this process on the field. I think it is a good framework to serve as a guidepost when considering whether to act on signs of problems with a business or keep ignoring them.
1. hubris of success
2. undisciplined pursuit for more
3. denial of risk and peril: gathering wind, coming storm
4. grasping for salvation: a process of denial takes hold and the fall happens
5. capitulation: most fall but not all, and you might even be able to come back
In this short interview, Morten Hansen talks about his 2011 book co-authored with Jim Collins, Great by Choice.
The book is an account of their research that attempts to explain how companies that outperform their industry peers achieved this superior level (companies such as Amgen, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Biomet, Intel, etc.)
Their findings suggest that these companies are not necessarily more innovative, but they navigate uncertain environments with persistence and great ability to prepare for utilizing luck when it comes along. Hence, the key is “serendipity”.
Michael Tushman another Harvard faculty and part of the MIT innovation discourse talks to MBAs about the motives of the Swiss watch industry at the time of disruptive innovation. I thought it just ties in well with the last post. He gives a short explanation of why the swiss watchmaker industry resisted change when new disruptive technology arrived with lower prices and better performance.
I came across a book by Pierre-Yves Donzé and Richard Watkins that gives a very throughout and detailed history of the swiss watchmaking industry. I have always been interested in the industry, but so far I have not read much about it. A good book review can be read here.
Watch this to evoke the magic of swiss watches: