Welcome to My Blogs

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.

Herb Simon on Numbers in Social Sciences

In Herb Simon’s obituary, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

He had hoped to use mathematics to give the social sciences the same rigor as such hard sciences as physics and chemistry, but found that a frustrating experience; even with the new machine called a computer that was available at Carnegie Tech, it seemed that something was always missing when human factors were translated into numbers.

Maria Konnikova rearticulates this point in Scientific American.

A Gravity Defying Idea

Reflections on the 30th Anniversary of Nelson & Winter (1982)

The 9th Atlanta Competitive Advantage Conference had a panel to celebrate the publication of Nelson and Winter’s 1982 landmark book. The panel included Sid Winter, Connie Helfat, L.G.Thomas III, and myself. As part of my reflections, I offered a citation analysis to demonstrate the influence of the book with data. I went on to explain that there is a tension between the goals of IO economics and strategic management and argued that Nelson & Winter’s focus on firms doing innovations is a way to resolve this tension. Finally, I called for more research that examines the the relative role of population level selection versus firm-level adaptations in industrial change.

Download: Slides from Presentation

After crashing on a demonstration flight, will the new Russian jet ever find sufficient customers

Getting 85% percent right in strategy implementation is not sufficient when it comes to airplane product. The previous example of the A320 which crashed on early test flights shows that it is crucial that plane crash is due to human error. NY Times reports:

Until a crash inquiry is done, analysts said, Sukhoi will have difficulty marketing the Superjet. “It would be entirely understandable for any potential customer to hold off until it’s determined whether the cause was human error or mechanical failure,” said Sash Tusa of Echelon Research and Advisory in London.
While it is rare for such a young aircraft to crash, it is not unprecedented — an Airbus 320 crashed during a demonstration flight in 1988, killing three people and injuring 50. Investigators determined that the cause had been pilot error and found no evidence of a malfunction. The A320 went on to be one of the world’s best-selling aircraft models.
If analysts identify human error as the cause of the plane’s crash, most of the existing 240 Superjet orders will stay on the books, Mr. Tusa said, but “if it turns out there is some kind of major design flaw with the aircraft, those orders aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”

  Full Story on NY.Times

Daniel Pink: What really motivates us

Honeywell’s spectacular turnaround

The Economist reports an amazing on an amazing turnaround of Honeywell. It appears to be a great example of strategy implementation.

Honeywell likes its meetings short but plentiful. Every production cell, as the smallest shop-floor unit is called, starts the day with one. The aim is to try to identify problems and ideas for improvements, which are then pushed up to senior managers. Even the lowliest worker is expected each month to come up with two implementable ideas for doing things better. As an illustration of the firm’s devotion to “continuous improvement”, this is one of the pillars of what has become known as the “Honeywell operating system” (HOS).

This new production system, introduced over the past eight years, has helped transform Honeywell from a troubled giant to one of America’s most successful companies. Honeywell’s sales in 2011 were 72% higher than in 2002, and its profits doubled to $4 billion. A new emphasis on generating cash also means the firm has more money in the bank for every dollar declared in profit.

Full Story at Economist.com

Department of Justice Files Suit Against Apple and Major Publishers of ebooks

Apple did not join the settlement of the lawsuit. This is a major win for Amazon. It will be fascinating to watch how the suit will unfold.

Details:
Apple should settle suit
Associated Press on Suit April 11

 

For Profit Colleges under Fire

Reversal of Fortunes: In smartphones Microsoft is in the position that Apple was in the PC era

The New York Times reports on this amazing reversal of fortunes.

Microsoft’s weak position in mobile apps is in stark contrast to the clout it had with developers in the heyday of the PC era. Its success with Windows was partly built on an all-out effort it made in the 1980s and ’90s to get independent software companies to make Windows the primary operating system for which they wrote applications.That influence began to weaken somewhat when the Web era took off and more companies began to design services and products that ran through browsers. But it has accelerated further as much of the creative talent in the developer world has shifted toward smartphone and iPad applications. Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research, said Microsoft’s relative weakness was a function of not having a big enough audience of users. “Developers go where the money is, and the money is where people are,” she said.

Full Article at NY Times

Vertical Integration Works for Apple—But It Won?t for Everyone

Wharton professors explain why Apple integrated model of designing both hardware and software may not work for other companies. Knowledge@Wharton reports:

Google recently acquired mobile device maker Motorola Mobility and will soon manufacture smartphones and television set-top boxes. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet represents its bridge between hardware and e-commerce. Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and now champions engineered systems (integrated hardware and software devices). And even long-standing software giant Microsoft now makes hardware for its Xbox gaming system. Technology titans are increasingly looking like vertically integrated conglomerates largely in an attempt to emulate the success of Apple.Vertical integration dictates that one company controls the end product as well as its component parts. In technology, Apple for 35 years has championed a vertical model, which features an integrated hardware and software approach. For instance, the iPhone and iPad have hardware and software designed by Apple, which also designed its own processors for the devices. This integration has allowed Apple to set the pace for mobile computing. “Despite the benefits of specialization, it can make sense to have everything under one roof,” says Wharton management professor David Hsu.

Read full story.

JetBlue to Review Procedures After Pilot Meltdown: CEO

A pilot on a JetBlue flight had a complete mental meltdown. The co-pilot had to lock him out the cockpit and passengers had wrestle him down and constraint him with their belts. If you are the CEO, what you want to know know is whether this was an isolated incident (which can always happen) or whether your HR systems are not properly design. For this reason it makes sense that the CEO ordered a review.  Read full story here.

List of firms how superior performance cannot be explained by randomness

Andy Henderson and his coauthors have done us a great service. They are analyzed last decades to find a list of firms whose superior performance cannot be explained by randomness.

Although sustained superior firm performance may arise from skillful management or other valuable, rare, and inimitable resources, it can also result from randomness. Studying U.S. companies from 1965–2008, we benchmark how long a firm must perform at a high level to be confident that it is something other than the outcome of a time-homogeneous stationary Markov chain defined on the state space of percentiles. We find (a) the number of sustained superior performers in Compustat, measured by ROA and Tobin’s q, exceeds the number of false positives we would expect to be generated by such a process; yet (b) the occurrence of false positives is often enough to fool many observers, so (c) the identification of sustained superior performers requires particularly stringent benchmarks to enable valid study.

Read Full Article
Click on More to see the list of firms.

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1985 Steve Jobs is fired, Bill Gates sends letter to John Sculley urging him to license Mac OS

Neal Pancholi drew my attention to this interesting letter by Bill Gates. It shows that Gates in 1985 was sill open to making his fortune my selling Mac software rather than dominating the next generation OS.

To: John Sculley, Jean Louis Gassée
From: Bill Gates, Jeff Raikes
Date: June 25, 1985
Re: Apple Licensing of Mac Technology

cc: Jon Shirley

Background

Apple’s stated position in personal computers is innovative technology leader. This position implies that Apple must create a standard on new, advanced technology. They must establish a “revolutionary” architecture, which necessarily implies new development incompatible with existing architectures.

Apple must make Macintosh a standard. But no personal computer company, not even IBM, can create a standard without independent support. Even though Apple realized this, they have not been able to gain the independent support required to be perceived as a standard.

 

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The Coevolution of Industries and Important Features of Their Environments

As the rate of innovation increases, organizational environments are becoming faster and more complex, posing greater challenges for organizations to adapt. This study argues that the concept of coevolution offers a bridge between the prescient adaptationist and ex post selectionist perspectives of organizational change to account for the increasing rates of change. The mutual causal influences in a coevolutionary relationship help explain why competing sets of firms or individual firms can capture dominant shares in product markets. Using a comparative historical method and drawing on evidence from five countries over a 60-year period, this paper inquires how precisely coevolutionary processes work in shaping the evolution of industries and important features of their environments. It identifies—in the context of the synthetic dye industry—three causal mechanisms (exchange of personnel, commercial ties, and lobbying) and suggests how they acted as levers on the fundamental mechanisms of evolution. Understanding the levers is important for managing change in a world that is increasingly becoming coevolutionary, requiring managers to focus more on the emergent, system-level properties of their environments. Download Article.

Tim Cook in a wide-ranging interview talks Apple today (Feb 2011)  and future directions

On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, where he was interviewed on stage by Bill Shope, Goldman Sachs’s IT hardware analyst. Here’s an edited transcript of what Cook had to say on a variety of topics, ranging from working conditions at Apple’s Chinese suppliers to Apple’s culture and ethos. Transcript

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