I have created a number blogs to publish useful information. One is a Teaching Blog dedicated to providing past, present and future students useful information. I have also created a blog for the Courses I am teaching.
My Research Blog is dedicated to disseminating useful information to other researchers and scholars.
There is also a blog that has collected all of Charles Tilly’s Writings on Methodology.
Below you find every entry across all my Blogs.
This chapter reviews the ideas that have been developed to describe the emergence and change of structures in three fields: Economics, Management, and Design of Technologies. The chapter focuses on one empirical setting, the economy, and more specifically how firms, industries, and technologies change over time. Today’s industrialized economies are very different from the economies before the industrial revolution. The chapter presents key theoretical ideas from evolutionary economics, management, and technology that try to explain why and how economy has been so dramatically transformed over the past 400 years. You can download a draft of chapter here or find the book in your library or buy it at Amazon.com or MIT Press.
Ten years ago I read Stinchcombe’s “Theoretical Methods in Social History”. I recently reread the parts that I had highlighted and I thought it useful to share some key passages.
One does not apply theory to history; rather ones uses history to develop theory. 
It is rather that the fashion in quantitative history has come to be that one must agree to be voluntarily ignorant of the any evidence other than numbers. 
As the argument develops, it will become clear why I am unenthusiastic about most quantitative history. Let me state the argument in capsule form.
For a number, say a count, to be theoretically interesting, it has to be a count of a comparable instance. What instances comparable for a scientist is that those instances have identical causal impact. Thus a count is more illuminating, the more theory and the more detailed examination of the facts went into making the instances counted comparable. But this ordinarily means that making a count should be the last stage of a scientific enterprise, a stage reached only after an extensive development of theory on what makes instances comparable. Is the proletarian in the Vyborg district of Petersburg or in the Baltic Sea Fleet equivalent in impact on the Russian Revolution to a proletarian in Moscow? Trotsky convinces me he was not (and if the proletarian was a she, in either place, she was not equivalent to a male proletarian either). Consequently, a count of proletarians in Russia in 1917 is fact of relatively little interest. 
In early June, I visited Beijing for the first time. The Chinese capital is breathtaking in every sense of the word. The city has gone through an amazing development and is more glitzy than many American and European large cities. It definitely feels more modern and dynamic than Philadelphia, whose neighborhoods I explored while living there for most of 2012.
As a teenager in the early 1980s, I visited a number of communist countries: East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia. So I find it easy to imagine what Beijing would have looked like before 1978. In mere 30 years, a run-down and crumbling place was transformed into a modern city, which is far better developed than any city I have seen during my visits to formerly communist Ukraine in 2004 and 2009. Also in relation to Rio De Janeiro, Beijing seems newer, and lot cleaner especially compared to the outskirts of Rio.
PM: Guy also shows how to put together a great simple slide presentation.
MOR is the official journal of International Association for Chinese Management Research. While the journal is focused on China, comparative studies of China and other countries are highly appropriate for the journal.
I am interested in detailed studies of how technologies, organizations, industries and supporting institutions evolve over time. Methodologically, I hope to attract comparative case studies that are rich in descriptive data that is both quantitative and qualitative. I also hope to attract historical case studies. Papers that feature particularly innovative companies or organizational and institutional structures are of particular interest.
SO! has pulled together the collection of articles on research methods that the journal published over the years. I for one will come back to these articles. I suspect many doctoral students will find them useful.
Ann Langley: Over the years, Strategic Organization has published a number of very useful and insightful articles on research methods for studying strategy and organization. This section of the website groups together a collection of the most interesting articles of this type. Both quantitative and qualitative researchers will find ideas for novel approaches and pointers for enhancing the quality of their research among these contributions.
History and Strategy: Toward an Integration of Theory and Method History and Strategy
New Presentation Slides for Download. Click here.
Program Session #: 80 | Submission: 14401 | Sponsor(s): (BPS, MH, TIM)
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 9 2013 11:45AM - 1:45PM at WDW Swan Resort in Swan 10
Organizer: Steven Kahl; Dartmouth College (TUCK);
Organizer: Brian S. Silverman; U. of Toronto;
Participant: David A. Kirsch; U. of Maryland;
Participant: Huseyin Leblebici; U. of Illinois;
Participant: J Peter Murmann; Australian School of Business, UNSW;
While historical research has played a central role in the development of the strategy literature, it remains underrepresented in strategy journals. This PDW explores how historical analysis can inform strategy research. As the strategy field continues to develop dynamic models of strategy, the historical perspective can provide unique perspective, and could potentially even develop a history-based theory of strategy. Yet, doing historical research in strategy faces methodological challenges given its different approach to the development of theory and use of evidence. Consequently, this PDW addresses the different opportunities available to strategy scholars to engage in the historical method. The format of the PDW is a combination of 1) presentations in which scholars experienced in conducting historical analysis within the strategy and organizational fields discuss the challenges of doing this work and 2) interactive breakout sessions in which participants break into smaller groups to discuss design of a historical study in topical strategy research areas, such as dynamic capabilities and industry evolution. These breakout sessions will help identify how the historical approach can make novel theoretical contributions and reveal roadmaps for pushing this work further.
Search Terms: History/Historical Analysis , Strategy , Theory and Methods
Architectural Strategy and Design Evolution in Business Ecosystems: Opportunities and Challenges
Ecosystem Design and Strategy
Program Session #: 279 | Submission: 10331 | Sponsor(s): (TIM, BPS, ENT, OMT)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 10 2013 10:15AM - 12:45PM at WDW Swan Resort in Swan 3
Steve Klepper, who has been an inspiration to so many of us, recently passed away. At the 20th anniversary of the CCC colloquium, we honored Steve Klepper. The video captures very nicely how much Steve touched an entire generation of doctoral students working on the intersection of industry evolution and technological innovation.
This short article is the draft of the entry on Richard R. Nelson in the forthcoming Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management
Richard R. Nelson (b. 1930) is an American economist who has had a significant influence on the field of strategic management. The fundamental question driving his work is how societies can be organized to improve their material well-being. In answering this question, Nelson identifies sustained technological innovation and a diverse range of often industry-specific institutional structures as the key engines of economic growth. He sees business firms as playing a key role in the growth process because firms are the carriers of the knowledge and abilities required to produce the complex product and services that characterize modern economies.
Keywords: evolutionary theory, firms, innovation, organizational capabilities, patents, Carnegie School, RAND Corporation; science policy, tacit knowledg
Here are examples of excellent papers that I encourage people to use as touchstones and imitate when written small-n or case study papers.
Danneels, E. (2011). “Trying to become a different type of company: dynamic capability at Smith Corona.” Strategic Management Journal 32(1): 1-31.
Miller, R., M. Hobday, T. Leroux-Demers and X. Olleros (1995). “Innovation in Complex System Industries: the Case of Flight Simulation.” Industrial and Corporate Change 4(2): 363-400.
Murmann, J. P. (2013). “The Coevolution of Industries and Important Features of their Environments.” Organization Science 24(1): 58-78.
Siggelkow, N. (2002). “Evolution toward Fit.” Administrative Science Quarterly 47(1): 125-159.
Here are some methodological texts that I found particularly useful in helping me refine my case study design skills.
During the first two weeks of June, I will visit China for the first time. To share my impressions, I plan to write a few Letters from China. Today I want to give you a bit background on the trip. For a long time, I wanted get out behind my desk and see China with my own eyes. This visit is long overdue given that I started to research the development of the Chinese synthetic dye industry five years ago.
The goal of my visit is to get a deeper understanding of what the future of China will likely look like. More specifically, I want to become more knowledgeable about whether China will become the world leader in high-tech industries and if so how. For this reason, I want to build connections with people in China who are participating in or following these developments. Until now I have been relying on Hong Jiang to be my eyes in China. I recruited her from China to write her doctoral thesis under my supervision. Together we published an article entitled Regional institutions, ownership transformation, and migration of industrial leadership in China, showing how the leading centers of synthetic dye production industry shifted twice in the period from 1978 to 2008 because of differences in the institutional composition of regions within China. Hong is currently back in the field trying to find more evidence on how personal networks allowed entrepreneurs to access crucial knowledge from established firms. Our particular challenge is to find knowledgeable people from companies that went out of business so we can establish with more certainty that they lacked the personal contacts that allowed their rivals to be more successful.
It is important to realize that synthetic dye technology was developed in the West decades ago and has become stagnant. This is why Chinese firms could become the largest producers in the world by simply imitating product innovations made abroad. Now, I am looking for one or more industries where Chinese firms are not simply copying innovations made abroad but where they are at the frontier of global knowledge. If you think you know such an industry, please contact me. After my trip to China, I hope to have a better sense of the kind of high-tech industries in which China may be pushing the global knowledge frontier.
To avoid false expectations, let me emphasize that I am not writing my Letters from China as a “China expert.” I am very well versed in Western social theory and, more specifically, evolutionary theory in the social sciences: As an evolutionist, I have strong theoretical commitment that success is built on a mountain of failures. Or, to put it more simply: China cannot become the leader in a sector without trying out many things and figuring out what works through experience. (I lay out this perspective in non-technical terms in Scaffolding in Economics, Management, and the Design of Technologies). But I have modest credentials regarding the “facts on ground” in China. Aside from what Hong Jiang taught me, I can trace most of my knowledge about China to three books that I found particularly useful.
With his books on how to present data in a graphical way, Edward Tufte has taught many of us to be more creative in how we try to communicate a story based on quantitative data. Here is a short video that explains the power of communicating complex data in a graphical way. Tufte appears in the video.
This is a very thought-provoking Ted talk on happiness and how we construct our judgement of happiness. TED summarizes: Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently.
One of the interesting facts that he reports based on a Gallup survey of Americans is this: People who make more than $60,000 do not experience more happiness as they make more money. Above this threshold, money does not make you happy. Below this threshold ever dollar less will make decrease your experience of happiness. This leads Kahneman to remark: “Money does not buy happiness. But lack of money causes misery.”
AOL, whose dial-up internet business was destroyed by fast cable, DSL and not mobile phone internet connections connections (see graph) is trying to reinvent itself as a content company. It was to write local news and take the Huffington Post global. Read details on Economist.com: AOL’s second life.
Many scholars see entrepreneurs as action-oriented individuals who use rules of thumb and other mental heuristics to make decisions, but who do little systematic planning and analysis. In this new article, Deepak Sardana and I argue that what distinguishes successful from unsuccessful entrepreneurs is precisely that the former vary their decision-making styles, sometimes relying on heuristics and sometimes relying on systematic analysis. In our proposed framework, successful entrepreneurs assess their level of expertise and the level of ambiguity in a particular decision context and then tailor their decision-making process to reduce risk. Download the article here.
Michael Dell believes that the stock market will be able to stomach further profit declines that are required to make investments for the turnaround.
Mr. Dell told the board that the only way out involved changes in the company’s business model and expensive investment in new products and services. “Implementing such initiatives would require additional investments that could weaken earnings and cause greater volatility in the performance of the common stock,” the filing said Mr. Dell argued in a Dec. 6 meeting.
“Mr. Dell stated his belief that such initiatives, if undertaken as a public company, would be poorly received by the stock market because they would reduce near-term profitability, raise operating expenses and capital expenditures, and involve significant risk.”
To win more time to turn around Dell, Michael Dell with the help of a private equity partners is taking Dell Computer private again. One of the reason the turnaround since 2007 has not been sufficient is that tablets have eaten into the market for PC in a way that Dell did not expect. The WSJ reports: “When asked in a 2011 interview with The Wall Street Journal what surprised him most since he returned as Dell CEO in 2007, Mr. Dell said the rise of tablets had been unexpected for him.
“I didn’t completely see that coming,” he said, before adding that he didn’t anticipate business users would give up PCs soon.”
The WSJ reports: “Microsoft’s newest version of Office, available starting Tuesday, is a radical change from the past. For starters, Office 365 has a surprising new price model: It is available as a subscription that can automatically renew each year, if you choose. This new system constantly updates program features year round. Every time you open a program in Office, you will be running the latest version.”
Time had nominated Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO as a candidate for the Person of the Year. Will Cook be able to make Apple come out with another revolutionary product, revealing to us what Steve Jobs saw in Cook. In any case, here is how Cook was recruited by Jobs to Apple.
Almost immediately after he arrived at Compaq, Cook began to get calls from Apple’s headhunters. Jobs was back from exile — he was pushed out from Apple in 1985, then rehired 12 years later — and he wanted to bring in somebody new to run operations. At that point Apple was generally considered to be in a death spiral — that year alone, it lost a billion dollars — and Cook had no interest whatsoever in moving. But Jobs was a legend in the industry, so Cook sat down with him one Saturday morning in Palo Alto. “I was curious to meet him,” Cook says. “We started to talk, and, I swear, five minutes into the conversation I’m thinking, I want to do this. And it was a very bizarre thing, because I literally would have placed the odds on that near zero, probably at zero.”
Cook was interested in Jobs’ strategy, which he describes using a favorite Cook expression, doubling down: “It was the polar opposite of everyone else’s. He was doubling down on consumer when everybody else was going into enterprise. And I thought it was genius. Compaq was doing so poorly in consumer, didn’t have a clue how to do consumer. IBM had left. Everybody was kind of concluding that consumer business is a loser, and here Steve is betting the company on it.”
Here are Bezos thoughts on n how to build organizations for innovation:
A willingness to fail and to be misunderstood “then what you can do is you can ramp up your rate of experimentation”. “So successful inventions [are] inventions that customers care about. It’s actually relatively easy to invent things that customers don’t care about, but successful invention, if you want to do a lot of that, you basically have to increase your rate of experimentation.
“And that you can think of as a process: how do you go about organising your systems, your people, all of your assets, your own daily life and how you spend time, how do you organise those things to increase your rate of experimentation because not all of your experiments are going to work.”
Bezos advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is “never chase the hot thing”. “That’s like trying to catch the wave, and you’ll never catch it. You need to position yourself and wait for the wave.”
From CIO Magazine