Monday, April 1, 2019

Francisco Ramirez, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

The Socially Embedded American University: Intensification and Globalization

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

(Introduction) The preeminence of American universities in multiple international rankings has led to their deployment as benchmarks in global educational discourse. An idealized model of the socially embedded American university is dramatized by “world class” metaphors and disseminated by consultants without borders.  The latter identify “best practices” in the pursuit of excellence and portray these practices as portable.  The message is that universities can learn to be excellent by adhering to these best practices, and further, that the boundaries between university and society should be more permeable, leading to greater flexibility with respect to funding, curriculum, governance, and other organizational dimensions.  

Monday, April 8, 2019

Melissa Valentine, Stanford University School of Engineering

Algorithms and the Org Chart

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

Prior research explains how algorithms reshape different jobs, but limited research has explored how increasing use of algorithms changes organizational structures.  To examine this question, I conducted a 9-month field study in the algorithms and merchandising departments of a high-tech retail company, as they developed algorithms that profoundly reconfigured their organizational structure. I found that their organizational structure symbolically communicated and defined specific categories for understanding and making decisions about customers, products, or services -- it was these categorical structures that were called into question and seen as irrelevant and constraining as new and more algorithms were developed.  This automation process was not simple work displacement, however. Instead, the merchandising department developed the new work of curating algorithmically-identified categories and recommendations, and explored new organizational structures for this emerging work.  My findings contrast with prior studies that theorize and focus on the division of labor encoded and communicated in organizational structure.  In this presentation, I integrate categorization and organizational design theories to explain this process and its implications for organizations.   

Monday, April 15, 2019

Jerry Jacobs, University of Pennsylvania and Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford (CASBS)

Will the Robots Take Care of Grandma?

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

This lecture will use elder care as an entry point into a broader discussion of technology and the future of work. Robots currently do not provide physical care for the elderly, not even in Japan.  So the short answer is “no,” robots per se will not replace scarce home-health aides or visiting nurses anytime soon. 

Instead, technolog(ies) are likely to facilitate aging in place. This is going to shift where work is located rather than decrease the amount of work. The home care devices will include: 

  1. smart phones
  2. smart homes (internet of things)
  3. voice activated systems
  4. transportation technologies (driver assist as well as self-driving cars)
  5. personal mobility technologies (personal airbags, exoskeletons)
  6. wearables
  7. in-home monitors and sensors
  8. medical communication systems
  9. medical advances

While many of these technologies are being adopted by institutional care providers, the effect of these is likely to increase aging in place because most elders prefer living independently as long as possible. Ironically, new technologies may increase work, as home-based care is arguably more labor intensive than is institutional care. 

Another key trend is that increases in frail or dependent life expectancy is increasing along with increases in HEALTH life expectancy. So the demand for care work for the elderly is almost certainly going to increase for the foreseeable future as both healthy and disabled life expectancy increase.   

Efforts to increase the supply of home-health aides and professionals are likely to involve gig—economy strategies and paying family members to be caregivers.  Stark inequalities by income, gender, race and ethnicity – for both caregivers and recipients – are likely to persist.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Dan Schwartz, Dean, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

Paths to Expertise

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

A major goal of instruction is to put students on a trajectory towards expertise.  There are two major types of expertise:  Routine and Adaptive.  The science of learning provides direct guidance for the forms of instruction that put people on one path or another.  This tutorial will explain the nature of expertise and how to get people there.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Angèle Christin, Stanford University, Department of Communication

Data at Work: Web Journalists and Algorithmic Publics in the United States and France

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

Over the past decades, many skilled occupations that were formerly protected from quantitative evaluation have been confronted with the multiplication of algorithms and analytics drawing on ‘Big Data.’ These technologies are usually designed to rationalize expert judgment and make professionals more accountable. Yet the actual ways in which data is used often diverge from their optimistic designs. In this project, I focus on the case of journalism, a field transformed by quantification in the form of traffic numbers, or ‘clicks.’ Drawing on ethnographic methods, I examine the reception of audience analytics in U.S. and French web newsrooms. I find that metrics like clicks take on distinct meanings and are mobilized in different ways depending on their institutional context, with significant consequences for the kind of news being produced. I argue that these differences were shaped by the respective histories of the journalistic field in the two countries, which influenced how journalists made sense of their algorithmic publics through traffic numbers. This study of data at work is part of a broader research program that critically examines how technologies of quantification reconfigure social practices in the digital age.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Julia Kirch Kirkegaard, SCANCOR Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University

Paradigm shift in Danish wind power – the (un)sustainable transformation of a sector

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

Based on a socio-material lens of socio-technical assemblages (STA), the paper builds on ethnographic fieldwork and historical data concerning wind power development in Denmark. The Danish wind power-STA grew out of a combination of small- and medium-sized entrepreneurial firms, and on a social movement driving both policy regulation and market demand by organising users/buyers into local wind farm cooperatives established on Danish principles of ‘folksy’ (‘folk high school’) democracy. This paper studies the initial organisation and subsequent incremental but radical transformation of the STA, with a focus on the changed role and agency of electricity buyers. This is done by tracing changes in five inter-related socio-material dimensions: 1) capitalisation instruments, 2) technology, 3) financing, 4) ownership structures, resulting in 5) public matters of concern (controversy). Changes along these dimensions have produced a ‘paradigm shift’, which has reconfigured wind power from constituting a relatively insignificant distributed power source in Danish energy supply to become critical infrastructure. This transformation of the STA has resulted in a marginalisation of local community players, such as the ideologically motivated (and risk-taking) cooperatives that required only a modest return on their investments – the very actors who started the STA. At the same time, the paradigm shift has mobilised new types of buyers and ownership forms, as reflected in the rise of large (often utility-scale) profit-motivated corporate wind farm developers. Mapping the resulting controversy from the paradigm shift over a) colliding modes of valuation, b) contested fairness behind the privatisation of critical power sources/infrastructure, and c) contested monopolisation of the marketised transition to renewable energy, the paper illustrates the negotiated (‘social’) ‘sustainability’ of wind power, particularly in light of lacking public negotiation of the paradigm shift. The paper contributes to new STS-studies focused on energy transitions and the role of markets in them, as well as to the Multi-Level Perspective and literature on social acceptance of renewable energy.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Kari Jalonen, SCANCOR Postdoctoral Scholar, Stanford University

Making Use of Complexity: Crafting a City Strategy in Institutional Dialogue

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

This paper contributes to our understanding of the use of societal institutions in interaction, as they are adapted to an evolving cultural, social, and economic context. It does so by taking a practice perspective to institutions, studying the ways in which continuously adapted to organisational and situational contexts. Drawing on a longitudinal case study of strategy work in a Finnish city, it shows the discursive practices through which participants enacted four central institutions in a polyphonic dialogue which enabled coordinated organizational action despite persistent institutional complexity. This paper elucidates how speakers continuously adapted their institutional arguments to the contexts of interaction. Additionally, I clarify the constructive side of institutional complexity, and suggests the analysis of ideational dialogue as a method of linking broader institutional meanings with interactions.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Johanna Mair, Hertie School of Governance and Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS)

The Emergence of a Field Ideology: Pathways to Domination and Systemic Power in the Field of Impact Investing

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

Co-authors: Lisa Hehenberger, ESADE and Ashley Metz, Tilburg University*

Ideas and beliefs that define legitimate action in organizational fields are of central concern to organizational scholars, yet we often ignore how ideas become taken-for-granted and valued.  In this study, we use a new way of seeing to uncover power-laden processes at the level of ideas in the European field of impact investing. Our study sheds light on how some ideas are suppressed while others become dominant, shaping field trajectories. We introduce the construct of field ideology - a context-specific set of ideas and beliefs that are linked in non-random ways, pattern work and behavior, and become principles that guide action in fields. To make ideas and ideological building blocks visible and to specify covert processes that explain how a dominant field ideology takes shape, we use an insider/outsider research approach that couples long-term field exposure with unbiased and generalizable analysis. Our study offers analytical and theoretical advances on more dynamic perspectives of institutional life in fields.

* The manuscript is the result of a truly collaborative effort among the three authors. All authors contributed equally and names are listed in alphabetical order.