Gathering String – Academic Conferences and Serendipity

By Keshav Krishnamurty.

Conferences are funny things. I was at the Eastern Sociological Society conference at the Boston Park Plaza this year, which proved to be fairly informal, friendly, and with a substantial number of undergrads presenting interesting new work. I have been to multiple management conferences before and although I am not quite a “conference junkie”, I can already see how each conference has its own “flavor”. Even relatively boring conferences sometimes tend to have rather interesting people turn up, and getting to meet them is an experience worth remembering.

Being the organizations nerd that I am, I’m also familiar with what the literature says about the benefits of conferences. More papers and articles than I can possibly list talk about how the networking opportunities provided by a conference help students – as the answers to this question at ResearchGate demonstrate – whether it’s in terms of finding future job opportunities, in terms of knowing future colleagues and superiors to recommend you and your work, or how meeting colleagues from different universities and therefore being exposed to new knowledge, new perspectives and new collaborations, leads to greater creativity. There is advice on how to network more easily at conferences, tips on conference productivity and for those who don’t like conferences much, there is even advice on how to make conference networking feel less ‘icky’. Overall, I do know, more or less, what to expect from a conference when I go into one. However, the Eastern Sociological Society conference resulted in something that I had not expected….  Continue reading

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Science vs. Business?

By David Levy, UMass Boston.* 

The fossil fuel industry’s campoil refineryaign to deny climate change and oppose the regulation of greenhouse gases is a well-researched and publicized story. Much less is known, however, about the role of corporate scientists in shaping the internal perspectives on climate change in these companies, and the impact on corporate response strategies. Recent revelations by InsideClimate News show that from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, Exxon funded its own scientists to engage in a serious research program, which pointed to conclusions that broadly matched those of the broader climate science community. Indeed, during the 1980s, Exxon put plans on hold to develop the massive Natuna gas field off the coast of Indonesia, because of concerns that nearly two-thirds of the gas was carbon dioxide, and there was no economically viable way to capture and dispose of it.

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HBS’s apology misses the mark

or why 250 female-headed cases won’t change the world

By Michelle Kweder, a UMass Boston student on the Organizations and Social Change track of the PhD in Business Administration.  This is reposted from her blog Bricolage. Twitter: @MichelleKweder

Harvard Business School (HBS) Dean Nitin Nohria apparently made an “extraordinary public apology” at a glitzy ballroom in San Francisco for HBS’s bad behavior towards women as outlined September 2013 New York Times article “Harvard Business School Case Study:  Gender Equity.”  Nohria’s goal of doubling the percentage of women who appear as protagonists in Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) cases in the next five years is lackluster if not meaningless.

Apparently HBP cases account for 80% of cases studied in business schools globally. The last time I checked the online case database included 10,148 (December 2013) HBS/HBP cases.  (Note: HBP also disseminates cases from similar collections such as Darden and Ivey.)  Without a doubt, HBP/HBS is the thought leader and standard bearer in what I call mainstream graduate management education (MGME).

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Blogging Highlights: Occupy and Boost Revolution

This week, we recommend articles that touch upon organizational miscues and what they can learn from each other and a ‘Boost’ to business models.

The Occupy movement could have learned a thing or two from the Civil Rights Movement (CRM):  The Occupy movement, with all its zeal and popularity, allegedly had vague goals, little political buy in and an undefined end game strategy.   The CRM, in contrast, did have defined goals including equality in education, with strong political support to achieve racial equality.  Essentially the CRM, according to orgtheory.net ‘s article did the occupy movement reject the civil rights movement? “was… highly bureaucratic in that they set a vast apparatus (the SCLC) to collect funds, conduct litigation, and distribute resources.”  The CRM adopted a structured organizational model that served them well, whereas the Occupy movement deliberately chose to be fragmented and decentralized; perhaps to their detriment.

The Boost Revolution: What would happen if a company shared ideas with its competitors, explained its strategic thought processes on social media and gave away certain services and products?  According to C.V. Harquail, this is a recipe for success.  In her TED talk and on her blog , she explains the profitable virtues of becoming a Boost company, which are based on three principles: 1. Boost relationships by turning competitors into partners through a shared community of commerce. 2.  Boost skills by ‘working through problems out load’ on social media to share problems and solutions.  3. Boost products through ‘compound gifting’ by giving away certain products and features.  Sounds strange?  Maybe, but as she points out it has worked for many companies including Etsy, Dropbox, and AirBnB.

UMB OSC group at conference on Inequality, Institutions and Organizations in Vancouver

By Ed Carberry, David Levy, Banu Ozkazanc-Pan, Suhaib Riaz, Mary Still.

The Organizations and Social Change (OSC) research group at UMass-Boston had a strong presence at a recently held conference on “Inequality, Institutions and Organizations” at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver. The conference was organized by John Amis (Memphis), Tom Lawrence (Simon Fraser) and Kamal Munir (Cambridge) and featured guest discussants such as Jerry Davis (Michigan), Steve Barley (Stanford) and Pam Tolbert (Cornell) among others.

Research related to inequality comprises a key area of interest for several scholars in the OSC group at UMass-Boston and their strong presence at Vancouver highlighted their various ongoing projects. The UMB OSC group had the highest number of participants from any one institution and they were also amongst those called upon to summarize the work in their respective streams. Continue reading