Saturday, December 27, 2008

Organizations and Markets

It is a sad truth that most academic writing about business is indecipherable, pointless, or openly hostile towards its subject. Business people wisely ignore it. Their time is better spent making money by serving the lives of their customers.

But there are exceptions. For that rare treasure, really useful academic musings about business and economics, I highly recommend spending some time at the blog Organizations and Markets. It's creators describe the blog as follows:

Organizations and Markets was created in April 2006 by Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, professors with research interests spanning organizational economics, strategic management, entrepreneurship, innovation, the economics of institutions, and the history, philosophy, and sociology of science. Foss teaches management at the Copenhagen Business School and Klein teaches economics at the University of Missouri, giving the blog an international and interdisciplinary orientation.

Don't be turned off by the PhD-speak. That's just the necessary academic code that identifies them as serious members of their profession. For business people, the primary attraction of the authors is their scholarly appreciation for market forces and the role of the entrepreneur in society.

Consider Peter Klein's comments on the popularity of business guru books like Jim Collins' Good to Great. I read Collins' book, and went away with a nagging doubt. Klein not only puts that doubt into words, he backs it up with research:

I’m not a fan of “guru” books like "In Search of Excellence," "Built to Last," and "Good to Great," for reasons well documented by Phil Rosenzweig in his excellent "Halo Effect." These books suffer from ad hoc generalization, sampling on the dependent variable, and a host of related methodological and expository flaws. If Rosenszweig’s critique is startling, then two articles from the November 2008 Academy of Management Perspectives on Jim Collins’s" Good to Great" — perhaps the leading guru book of our time — are devastating.

Organizations and Markets is a valuable stop for the time-starved but intellectually curious business person who would like to spend a little time in the company of important and perhaps even profitable ideas.

All those in search of excellence should start there.

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