Archive for April, 2007

What’s In a (University) Name?

| Peter Klein |

An organization’s name is an important part of its identity. Names can also be valuable signals to market participants about mission, values, and strategy. Certainly, names seem to matter: a 2001 paper by Michael J. Cooper, Orlin Dimitrov, and Raghavendra Rau, “A by Any Other Name,” documented a positive and significant stock-price reaction to announcements of adding “dot-com” to company names. (No word on the reaction to the reverse, as when changed its name to Monster in 2003.)

Two universities in my state have gotten into the act. In 2005 Southwest Missouri State University changed its name to Missouri State University to reflect a more national orientation. (In most US states the “University of XYZ” is the original state university and “XYZ State University” is the newer, land-grant institution; in Missouri, however, the land-grant designation was given in 1870 to the already-existing University of Missouri, officials of which strongly opposed giving the name Missouri State to a rival institution.) Now the University of Missouri system has announced that the University of Missouri-Rolla, one of four campuses in the state system (and home of guest blogger Chihmao Hsieh), will change its name to Missouri University of Science and Technology. The name change is “is part of chancellor John S. Carney III’s goal of making UMR one of the nations top 5 technological research universities by 2010,” according to a news release. But will it smell as sweet?

Update: My old college classmate Jim  Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds, wrote about corporate name changes for Slate back in 1997.

30 April 2007 at 10:35 pm 10 comments

Tips for Academic Presentations

| Peter Klein |

Good tips from Jonathan Shewchuk (via Craig Newmark). Written for computer scientists but mostly applies across the board. Highlights:

A talk of 30 minutes or less should be an advertisement for the paper, not a replacement.

It is disturbing that so many presentations have large wasted bands of space on the border of every slide, as if to taunt the audience — “I could have used a readable font, but it’s just you.”

You communicate most powerfully when your every movement, facial expression, and utterance is in the service of the words you are saying right now, and no unproductive movement takes place.

Good speaking is about rhythm. The most common type of bad speaker delivers one talk-length paragraph at a uniform speed, never slowing for emphasis.

Most everything else, especially aesthetics, is learned through practice and feedback.

Includes great cartoons, like the one above.

See also this and this on PowerPoint.

30 April 2007 at 12:00 am Leave a comment

The Dark Side of Capital Pooling

| Peter Klein |

The great advantage of joint-stock companies, whether public or private, is the ability to create value by pooling capital. Unfortunately, capital pools can also be channeled to activities that destroy value. (HT: Against Monopoly.)

28 April 2007 at 10:51 am 1 comment

Teaching Management through Demotivators

| Peter Klein |

Like many of you, I’ve considered using teaching my managerial economics course using a Dilbert collection as a secondary, or even primary, text. There are so many good ones! One could also use the wickedly funny Demotivators to illustrate key managerial and organizational theories and concepts. For example:

28 April 2007 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

How Well Do You Know Your Advisor?

| Chihmao Hsieh |

Unless you’ve already seen it, here’s a quite popular comic strip glorifying and lampooning school, and particularly graduate studies. Below was the comic for 04/23 (infinitely clearer version here). Another recent good one is the sheet used for Seminar Bingo. (Caution: The comic’s archive is a happily illuminating time sink.)

27 April 2007 at 2:53 pm 1 comment

The Language of Economists (and Sociologists)

| Peter Klein |

From the “news that will shock no one” department come the results of this linguistic analysis of four economics journals, the American Economic Review, Economic Journal, Journal of Economic Perspectives, and American Journal of Economics and Sociology, along with a control group containing the American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Microscopy, and Journal of the American Mathematical Society:

The present study aims to add to our knowledge about economic rhetoric by conducting a data-driven analysis of economic academic discourse, both synchronically in its contemporary form, and diachronically over the past four decades. We find (1) that linguistically, economics is clearly an academic genre of its own, (2) that there are at the same time clear differences in vocabulary and style usage across economic journals, and (3) that there have been major developments in economic prose during the past four decades. We argue that there is some, albeit tentative, evidence that the discipline may face an increasing methodological gap.

Here is the paper, “What Do Economists Talk About? A Linguistic Analysis of Published Writing in Economic Journals” by Nils Goldschmidt and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi (American Journal of Economics and Sociology 66, no. 2, April 2007). The “gap” is between journals like the AER and EJ that use increasingly formal, empirical (scientistic?) terminology and journals like JEP and AJES that favor broader, social-science terms and concepts (“justice,” “society,” “culture,” “institutions”). Interestingly, use of social-science terminology in the AER, relative to the other journals, dropped between 1965 and 1980 but rose again between 1980 and 1990. Too early to reflect the Freakonomics phenomenon, to be sure, but perhaps a marker for economic imperialism more generally?

27 April 2007 at 2:10 pm 1 comment

Political Instability and Financial Development

| Peter Klein |

The latest salvo in the debate over the role of legal origin in financial-market performance comes from Mark Roe. In “Political Instability and Financial Development” (with Jordan Siegel) he argues that political instability is a more important determinant of financial development than trade openness, latitude, and, particularly, legal origin as modeled by LLSV. “Surprisingly, despite the widespread view in the law and finance literature of legal origin’s importance, not only is political stability highly robust to legal origin, but, for many years, our results for key indicators and specifications neither show Common Law to be consistently superior nor French Civil Law to be consistently inferior to other legal families in generating strong financial development outcomes.”

See also my “Politics and Productivity” on the interaction between political institutions, economic freedom, and national economic performance.

27 April 2007 at 10:07 am 1 comment

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Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
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Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
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Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
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