Spring Quarter 2014

Monday, 7 Apr 2014

Neil Kay - Edinburgh Business School, Heriot-Watt University

When QWERTY travelled to Europe: path dependence versus path creation in the evolution of a standard

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

The “QWERTY problem” is often used to describe an allegedly inferior industry standard that has emerged possibly because of historical accident and chance events.  The article looks at the internationalization of the QWERTY keyboard standard and finds that its main national variants in fact represented highly efficient adaptations to their specific environments.   It adds further weight to earlier research that found QWERTY was designed using efficient design principles.  The analysis here suggests the need for a reconsideration of QWERTY’s role as a paradigm case in the literature on path dependence as well as policy prescriptions contingent on that role

Wednesday, 9 Apr 2014

Karl Wennberg - Stockholm School of Economics

Deregulation, Contestation and Competition in the Swedish Voucher School Sector

Time and Location: 12:00 - 1:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

We investigate the effects of deregulation and institutional drift for the entry and growth of  organizations in the Swedish voucher school system. Our paper seeks to explain the interplay between public legitimacy and strategic resource positioning to develop knowledge on the role of public sector deregulation on organizational outcomes.

The Swedish educational system was reformed in early 1990’s with the introduction of a national voucher system. The dual purposes were to increase parental choice and to increase efficiency through competition. As such, the system is a ‘semi-regulated market’, defined as competition without pricing and a mix of private and public ownership rights. While opportunity to make profits is an important element for new entrants, profits also have legitimacy aspects which makes the market for education a contested one. 

Our paper is based on a broad set of data  collected through interviews, observations, surveys by the National Agency for Education, the Swedish School Inspectorate, the Institute for Opinion Surveys, and online business directories. Panel  data on all public and private (voucher) schools for the period  1992-2012 are used to investigate (i)  entry of voucher schools with various organizational forms, and (ii) the interplay between entrants’ organizational form and resource positioning in the local school market for growth in market share. 

Monday, 14 Apr 2014

Mitchell Stevens - Stanford University

Education without States

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Virtually all of what social scientists know about education is built on the presumption that education is a right guaranteed, if not necessarily provided, by governments.  Throughout the twentieth century most educational data were produced and analyzed with government patronage, with the resulting knowledge deployed to nurture modern citizens and build modern states.  Very recently, proprietary firms are producing huge new stores of education data through digitally mediated instruction.  They also are underwriting scientific inquiry with these data in the interest of improving privately owned educational products and services. This represents a major change in the ecology of educational knowledge production that has been largely overlooked by observers of the digital revolution in education.  I provide a synthetic description of this change and specify its implications for education science, governments, education businesses, and citizenship in the twenty-first century.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Johan Christensen - SCANCOR Postdoctoral Fellow

Economists and Public Administration

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

A growing sociological literature argues that economists have had a outsize influence on public policies in recent decades, successfully pushing a neoliberal agenda from positions inside public bureaucracies. But for all its emphasis on the power of economist-bureaucrats, this literature pays little attention to questions regarding bureaucratic policy-making: Why have economic experts come to dominate some bureaucracies and not others? And how have economists influenced politicians once inside bureaucracies? Public administration scholars, though well placed to address these issues, have so far failed to theorize the growing influence of the economics profession. This paper attempts to do exactly that. It offers an organizational argument for how economists rise and rule in public bureaucracies, and illustrates the argument with comparative evidence from New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and Denmark.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Wolfgang Mayrhofer - WU Wien

Social Chronology Framework - towards helping career research make better use of organization studies

Co-author is Hugh Gunz - University of Toronto

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

The promise of careers as a focal point for better understanding the relationship between individuals, institutions and society has not yet been fulfilled. A major reason for this is the lack of a joint framework and language that facilitate a mutual exchange of ideas between career studies and the broader field of social research, in particular organization studies. We describe a new approach, the Social Chronology Framework (SCF), which helps to overcome this divide. It builds on three perspectives inherent in career studies: spatial, ontic, and temporal. Their respective distinctions, core operations, and constructs lead to a multiperiod, multilevel and coevolutionary heuristic model for structuring career scholarship. As a result, the SCF provides a blueprint for how career studies can benefit from insights available in organization studies. We give examples from studies of mentorship to show how the SCF can be applied to substantive areas of career scholarship. This leads career researchers to established theoretical discourses outside the field which, when imported into career scholarship, suggest original approaches and new insight for career research. In turn, this broadens the scope and impact of organization studies.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Laerke Christiansen - SCANCOR Postdoctoral Fellow

Brewing an Assortment of Responses to Institutional Logics

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Organizations are often confronted with multiple demands imposed by their environment. While the organization, as a whole, may face the same pressures, responses may differ within and across the organization. This case study uncovers how organizational actors within five units of a global brewery experience and respond to the same institutional complexity presented by the issue of alcohol-related harm. Inherent in the issue of alcohol-related harm are multiple logics – both commercial and social. The study shows that the organization, as a whole, pursued four different models of response simultaneously: separation, co-existence, industry bricolage, and organizational bricolage, while the individual units enacted different combinations of these four. This paper contributes to the literature on institutional logics by moving deeper inside the organization and studying the underlying meaning systems guiding these different responses. In addition, the study offers a more dynamic approach to organizational response(s) that encompass the reality that often organizations do not have one unitary response to institutional complexity, but several that are made by the individual organization and/or the industry collective of which the organization is a part.