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.

The F.A.Q.?s of Lehman and A.I.G.

Doug Diamond and Anil Kashyap of the University of Chicago explain the recent financial crisis.

For most of the last 20 years we have been studying banks, monetary policy, and financial crises. So for us the events of the last year have been especially fascinating.The last 10 days have been the most remarkable period of government intervention into the financial system since the Great Depression. In talking with reporters and our noneconomist friends, we have been besieged with questions about several aspects of these events. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions with our best answers.
Read more on NYTimes.com

Scorecard: Wesfarmers after Coles Acquisition

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Wesfarmers showed how a corporation could be successful with a similar strategy as GE in America: buying and selling unrelated businesses. But then private capital entered the acquisition market,  bidding up the price for Australian corporations that were up for sales. Wesfarmers found it more difficult to pursue it disciplined strategy of finding acquisitions that you be managed more effectively and unlock shareholder value. Almost two years ago Wesfarmers but the underperforming Coles supermarket chain. Plenty of commentators were worried that Wefarmers, breaking its traditions, overpaid for Coles and would never be able to improve the performance of Coles as the Perth-based conglomerate had done with earlier acquisitions such as Bunnings.

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Management Wisdom Courtesy of Jeff Pfefer

Jeff Pfeffer has spent the past twenty years figuring out what management ideas have some systematic data behind them and what ideas are make for a good story but are simply wrong. Guy Kawasaki (who wrote a fantastic little book on entreprepreurship, The Art of the Start, which I am using in one of my classes) has sat down with Pfeffer and asked him questions on his book What were they thinking?. Read the interview.

Charles Tilly 1929- 2008

I don’t know anyone who has come in contact with Charles Tilly and who was not inspired by him. For those who have never met him, here are wonderful tributes to this exemplary scholar.
Social Science Research Council Tribute Website
Tributes by Scholars
NY Times Obituary

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Alcaltel & Lucent: The French American Merger does not realize the promised benefits

WHEN Alcatel, a French maker of telecoms equipment, announced its plan in 2006 to merge with Lucent, an American rival, reactions were mixed. There was general agreement that bigger was better and that the combined firm would benefit from greater geographical reach. But there was also scepticism that its French and American managers would be able to get along. With good reason, it seems: on July 29th Alcatel-Lucent announced its sixth consecutive quarterly loss and the resignations of Serge Tchuruk, its French chairman, and Patricia Russo, its American chief executive. Their firm’s troubles stem in large part from its internal clash of cultures. Read more on Economist.com

What Don Quixote Can Teach Managers and Entrepreneurs

Miguel de Cervantes. 2003. Don Quixote. HarperCollins Publishers, New York. Translated by Edith Grossman.

When I first encountered Don Quixote, I thought that a manager or entrepreneur could not possibly learn anything from this lunatic Spaniard. But on reflection I realized that Don Quixote provides some valuable insights into leadership and the challenge of dealing emotionally with the uncertainties inherent in any new venture. Let me briefly summarize the book:

 

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Automatic Coding of Printed Materials

Traditionally most researchers working with printed data sources have entered data by hand to convert it into electronic format. If a research project involves large amounts of data from similarly formatted sources – for example, when one tries to create a longitudinal database of directory information spanning many years – entering this data by hand is a very labour intensive and tedious task. We wanted to automate the coding of printed directory information in order to cut down the time it takes to transfer this information into electronic data. Once the data is in electronic format, it can be further analysed with a plethora of software packages ranging from Microsoft Excel, FileMaker, SAS and SPSS, depending on the needs of the particular researcher. The purpose of this technical paper is to share with other scholars in a clear and practical way the methods we developed for automating the coding of printed information. Download article.

Taming Your Inner Homer Simpson

My Kellogg students will remember that I asked them to rate their intelligence vis-a-vis the average member of the class. I routinely had 75 percent of all student who rate themselves above average. That is 25% too many. A colleague of mine warned me that 90% academics feel undervalued by their institution. But until now I read Dahlia Lithwick review of Richard Thaler’s and new book Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness I did not know that 94 percent of professors at large universities to believe themselves better than the “average professor.” Read Lithwick excellent review of the book.

Adrian Finlayson on the Difference of Being a Consultant and Being a CEO

“It’s much harder doing than telling. Things take a lot longer than you initially think, and along the way you have to manage a broad stakeholder base, including your team, investors and the board. A chief executive is a management consultant who has to implement his own recommendations.”

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Dell Needs to Change its Business Model

In SMI we are doing a case study of how Dell developed a market positioning and orgnanizational strategy that allowed it to outcompete all other firms in the PC industry. Dell seemed unstoppable and.  The Economist reports on the current troubles of Dell and how the returned founder of the firm tries to turn the firm around and restore it to glory, i.e. growth and profitability.  Read Story
September 5, 2008 update: Dell plans to sell all its factories

The Latest Reasoning about our Irrational Ways

Elizabeth Kolbert reviews in the New Yorker the latest on findings on how people behave in irrational ways when making economic decisions.  Read her Reviews of two new books.
“Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions” (Harper; $25.95); by Ariely, Dan;
“Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” (Yale; $25); by Thaler, Richard H.

LaudaMotion’s New Business Model for Car Rentals: 1 Euro a day if drive at least 30 kilometers

Laudamotion is gambling that it can charge advertisers rather than rental customers for the cost of renting out small car in a city. If you drive more than 30 kilometers a day in a metropolitan area, you only pay 1 euro. The service is presently available in some major German and Austrian cities. Will LaudaMotion’s novel rental car business model work?

Danger Looming in Different Market Segment: The iPhone Challenge for Blackberry

Blackberry’s dominate the business PDA email market. But Apple’s iPhone initially designed for consumers may invade the business market as well.

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Henry Kravis On Creating Value

Henry Kravis: The thing that is really important as you think about the private equity industry is that it has changed dramatically. In the late nineties we made a lot of mistakes at KKR. I’m not saying it’s good that we made the mistakes, but we did learn from our mistakes, because we changed the way we do business. The first thing we did was to make sure we acted and thought like industrialists. The days of just financial engineering are over. You have to really operate the business. Our whole approach at KKR since 1999 is that our job begins the day we buy a company. I like to say any fool can buy a company. There’s plenty of financing around. But what do you do with a business to create value? We’ve had an in-house consulting firm since the early eighties, but today we have a very large one. These operating consultants put metrics into every business that we’re involved with, they improve productivity, they shorten the supply chain, they improve sales. We expect everyone at KKR to understand their industry from the bottom up, and talk to purchasing managers, marketing people, salespeople, customers, suppliers, and understand the metrics, understand the best practices, the economic drivers, what drives an industry.

Read Full Interview at Columbia Business School .

Ford Turnaround

Ford has tried to regain a competitive position a number of times without success. Will the company succeed this time as its struggles for survial. Read article on WSJ.com.

April 24, 2008: In Surprise, Ford Swings to Profit in First Quarter

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Falling margins in Flat Panel TVs force Philips out of North American Producer Market

As prices decline, profits have been increasingly difficult to achieve. According to iSuppli, the average selling price for a 42-inch L.C.D. television has fallen from $2,082 one year ago to $1,544 today, a 26 percent drop. Depending on the manufacturer, the profit margin for that size set is between 9 and 16 percent.

Full Story at NY Times

Coming Soon Superfast Internet

by Jonathan Leake, Science Editor, Times of London
THE internet could soon be made obsolete. The scientists who pioneered it have now built a lightning-fast replacement capable of downloading entire feature films within seconds. At speeds about 10,000 times faster than a typical broadband connection, “the grid” will be able to send the entire Rolling Stones back catalogue from Britain to Japan in less than two seconds. The latest spin-off from Cern, the particle physics centre that created the web, the grid could also provide the kind of power needed to transmit holographic images; allow instant online gaming with hundreds of thousands of players; and offer high-definition video telephony for the price of a local call. David Britton, professor of physics at Glasgow University and a leading figure in the grid project, believes grid technologies could “revolutionise” society. “With this kind of computing power, future generations will have the ability to collaborate and communicate in ways older people like me cannot even imagine,” he said.

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Irrational fear: No good at risk

The Economists reviews of “Risk: The Science and Politics of Fear” by Dan Gardner
THE official death toll from the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001 was 2,974. But in 2002 America’s death toll on the roads grew by more than 1,500—casualties of the terrorism-inspired exodus from safe aeroplanes to dangerous motor cars. A swan washes up on a British shore, dead from bird flu, and the press panics, while the 3,000 people who die every year on the country’s roads (13 times the number of people who have ever died from bird flu) go largely unremarked. Human beings are notoriously bad at dealing with risk. Two new books explore why, and investigate the effects that misunderstanding risks can have on public policy. The first, an excellent work by a Canadian writer, Dan Gardner, is a broad meditation on the nature of risk, beginning with a psychological explanation for why people find it so difficult to cope. Mr Gardner analyses everything from the media’s predilection for irrational scare stories to the cynical use of fear by politicians pushing a particular agenda.

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The Power of Richness IV: How Can Qualitative Methods Help us Ask Better Questions

Over 150 people came to the Power of Richness PDWs at each of the last three Academy meetings, drawing from many different divisions and interest groups.  With the demand for the workshop running so strong, Diana Day and I will try to organize an All-Academy PDW for the next meeting Annaheim. The format this past year proved very successful for learning how to do qualitative research well. The first part of the 2008 PDW will feature again a panel of leading qualitative scholars (Jane Dutton,  Royston Hinnings,  Martha Feldman and Ann Langley ), who will offer their insights qualitative research can help us ask the right questions. The second part of the workshop will have parallel sessions designed for people beginning or developing qualitative research and those trying to publish qualitative research.  Participants in the second part can have small group discussion with panelists, attend at least two of several tutorials, or sign up for a paper feedback session with experience scholars. For more up-to-date information on this Qualitative Research PDW, interested parties should go to our website PDW 2008 where we will post new information as the specifics of the PDW (tutorials subjects and leaders chosen), working paper discussion leaders, etc.


When and Where: Friday, August 8, from 1:00 to 5:00 pm, Anaheim, California

Presentation slides from the event are now posted. Please click on this link.

The Power of a Good Meta-Analysis

Chinese scientists have carried out a powerful meta-analysis and created new knowledge about the chemical pathways that lead to addiction. Can social scientist imitate this model? I am not sure. But certainly we should strive to do so.

Dr Wei therefore ran her 396 genes through a database of all known pathways to see which involved several enzymes encoded by those genes. She found 18 that were involved in addiction to at least one type of drug. Five, however, were common to all four types, and these five pathways therefore look as though they are at the core of the process of addiction. Three of the five were already under suspicion. Dr Wei’s result provided strong statistical evidence to back up what had just been hunches. Two other pathways, however, had not previously been considered as being involved in addiction. The existence of these five central pathways helps explain a lot about addiction. First, it gives weight to the belief that some people are more susceptible to all sorts of addiction than others are. That contrasts with the thought that addictions are substance-by-substance phenomena, though the two ideas are not mutually exclusive since changes in the 13 substance-specific pathways clearly also result in addiction.

Full story is available at Economist.com.

Malcom Gladwell Reviews the Problems with IQ Measurements

This is an excellent piece that shows how important it is to actually understand how IQ measures are constructed. Any empirical researcher can learn from the New Zealander who showed how much the alleged genetic intelligence is socially constructed. Read NONE OF THE ABOVE: What I.Q. doesn’t tell you about race.

Introducing the Meeting Meter?

Are you participating in too many meetings? Are these meetings too long? Time is money and group time costs much more money than the time of a single person. With the Meeting Meter™ you can develop an agenda and calculate the true cost of meetings while they take place. The Meeting Meter™ is a simple tool for creating more effective meetings.

More Information

You can download the Meeting Meter™ for free.

What CEOs are Reading

The common perception is that CEOs are reading the latest popular management books to help them with their difficult job. An article in the New York Times suggests otherwise. I am not sure if the CEOs that Harriet Rubin portrays in here article are representative of all CEOs and I think the title of the article “C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success” is an overstatement, but any manager should read what she has to say. 

Harriet Rubin: Michael Moritz, the venture capitalist who built a personal $1.5 billion fortune discovering the likes of Google, YouTube, Yahoo and PayPal, and taking them public, may seem preternaturally in tune with new media. But it is the imprint of old media — books by the thousands sprawling through his Bay Area house — that occupies his mind. “My wife calls me the Imelda Marcos of books,” Mr. Moritz said in an interview. “As soon as a book enters our home it is guaranteed a permanent place in our lives. Because I have never been able to part with even one, they have gradually accumulated like sediment.” Serious leaders who are serious readers build personal libraries dedicated to how to think, not how to compete. Ken Lopez, a bookseller in Hadley, Mass., says it is impossible to put together a serious library on almost any subject for less than several hundred thousand dollars. Perhaps that is why — more than their sex lives or bank accounts — chief executives keep their libraries private.

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