Riding Off Into the Sunset. . . .

27 March 2008 at 5:20 pm 6 comments

| Steve Phelan |

Dear colleagues, this post represents my 22nd and final post as a guest blogger on O&M. Over the last four months I have learned a lot about blogs and successful blogging. For instance, the average post on O&M gets seen/read by about 70 people in the first 48 hours. Of these, perhaps only 5% will comment on a post. But blog posts have an incredibly “long tail”. The top posts on O&M average 3,000 or more views, with the top post over 7,000 views (see physics envy if you wish to add to the count). As a result of this long tail of posts, O&M receives about 1,000 hits per day!

While my 22 posts have been spread over four months they were much more concentrated at the beginning. Blog writing is the sort of thing that can start off well but then you quickly realize that it takes a lot of work to generate interesting content for the reader base. The process has greatly increased my respect for journalists (and my fellow bloggers) who must churn out novel content day after day in their chosen medium.

I have to admit I also started to generate some controversial content to generate discussion. However, it seems that most people who read this blog don’t have a lot of time to write comments – no matter how provocative or absurd the statement :-)

That being said, is there anything left unsaid about organizations and markets as I ride off into the sunset? I think the biggest issue in O&M scholarship is the tendency to play Monday morning quarterback and criticize (or explain) actions only in hindsight. I believe the field needs to move towards more prescriptive scholarship (with all of its attendant risks).

Hence, I have posted several times on the credit crisis to attempt to stimulate thinking about building institutions. The pushback has been that the economic system is so complex that it defies analysis — we should just let it evolve. I reject this line of argument. I am a believer in guided evolution — that some search strategies are more efficient than others. Moreover, if you refuse to make a decision, someone will make it for you. I would rather have a role influencing decisions than sit on the sideline.

This field used to be called business policy and strategy. There has been a lot of focus on strategy as future resource allocation. I believe there is also a lot of room in strategic management to discuss business policy (including the design of governance mechanisms). For me, business policies are the rules that guide resource allocation in the absence of a planned direction (and related to Eisenhardt’s notion of strategy as simple rules).

What does the future hold for me? Well, I have just been named the Director of the UNLV Center for Entrepreneurship and Coordinator of Non-Degree Programs (see Outreach Website). While I have been working in these roles since January 1st, the position was only officially approved by the Provost this week.

The new position represents an opportunity to practice what I preach. I truly believe that business schools need to move (back) closer to practice. I hold as an article of faith that business schools have something worthwhile to contribute to business productivity (beyond just quality signaling and teaching discipline as Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution contended recently). I am now competing in the marketplace to convince prospective students that we have value to add. This is both scary and exhilarating at the same time. Ask me how I’m doing next time you see me round these parts. . . . Adios!

Entry filed under: Former Guest Bloggers. Tags: .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kjh  |  27 March 2008 at 8:11 pm

    your underestimating the # if readers, doesn’t o$m have 200+ readers that read the google feed alone?

  • 2. stevphel  |  27 March 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I just eyeballed the data from the last few posts :-)

  • 3. Peter Klein  |  27 March 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Steve, thanks for joining us and raising the average intellectual content of our posts! We look forward to your continued participation in the comment threads. And congratulations on the new gig with the Entrepreneurship Center.

    As for hit counts, we stopped paying attention once we learned orgtheory.net was ahead of us on one metric or another. :-)

  • 4. Joseph Logan  |  28 March 2008 at 4:13 am

    Steve – congratulations on the official new roles. I enjoyed reading your stuff here.

    Hits and comments are deceptive… I almost always read O&M with a reader, which I think doesn’t generate a hit, and only open the page if I intend to comment. I read orgtheory.net the same way. You get a lot more hits out of me than you probably see.

    As for comments, a couple of things come into play for me. My background is in org behavior rather than econ or soc, so I’m often reading Peter, Nicolai, et al to learn from a different perspective. While “n=1″ for that observation, I notice that the posts here are longish and well considered, which I would think calls for commensurate commenting. Sometimes I just nod my head, and other times I think the number of questions I have about a post would themselves be sufficient to form a post. Not sure if there’s anything to that for others, but I have never suffered from a lack of mental stimulation or desire to engage with the points being made.

  • 5. stevphel  |  28 March 2008 at 10:19 am

    Peter (and Nicolai) – thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

    Joseph – I’d love to see those questions. My first degree was in psychology so we could have some fun :-)

  • 6. David Hoopes  |  28 March 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Nice job on your posts Steve. Congrats on the job at UNLV too.

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