Rick Perry Episodes

10 November 2011 at 12:50 pm 4 comments

| Nicolai Foss |

Watching Rick Perry commit political harakiri made me wonder whether academia can report similar incidents (and with similar career-destroying results?). To be sure, many of us academics have engaged in Rick Perry-like behaviors — as is only to be expected when, as many of us do, we regularly talk to (student, executive, colleague) audiences of varying sizes, often several times a week.

I have certainly had my share of situations similar to the Perry episode. Thus, about a decade ago I was supposed to talk about the challenges of managing “knowledge workers” to a bunch of middle-aged (and beyond) medical professors, all with management responsibilities, very impressive scientific records, and all supremely arrogant and self-confident. I got 5 mins into my talk, before I was cut down. Totally. Decisively. Left dumbfounded. Another example, more research-oriented, derives one from one of the BYU-UUtah winter conferences on strategy. I gave a talk on transaction costs economics and competitive strategy. It was rather abstract. After the talk a very (in fact, extremely) prominent strategy scholar asked me in a very pointed and inquisitive manner: “What is in this that I can teach my MBA students?” Again, I was left dumbfounded, probably in awe of this person (and didn’t come up with the obvious answer: “So, do you think that is a good criterion for scientific progress?”).

Of course, there are other Rick Perry episodes from my career, but these two must suffice. Of course, these gaffes just emphasize my humanity. And your Rick Perry episodes?

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Andrew Boysen (@boysenandrew)  |  10 November 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I was talking to somebody once (in a small group). It was somebody I had known for a long time. I completely blanked on his name – it wouldn’t come to me.

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  10 November 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Not sure if this counts, but several years ago Nicolai arranged for me to give a seminar on Hayek at CBS’s Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy. The entire audience consisted of one graduate student. So we just went out for beers instead.

  • 3. Randy  |  11 November 2011 at 12:40 pm

    It gets worse, Nicolai. When you get to my age, you won’t even remember where you parked (lots of data points here). Failing to maintain momentum in professional discourse will be second nature. I took a corporate finance course in my MBA from a prof who once showed up with a coat and tie on over his undershirt. Brilliant economist he was (U of Chicago, as I remember), but often took the wrong bus home.

    My worst moment was a presentation of how a firm-level analysis of advertising expenditures in an oligopolistic industry led to different implications from the traditional IO analysis. I was in my second month of my appointment as an assistant professor. The most senior scholar in the room stood and pronounced, “That is just the old Business School cop-out”. Everyone laughed. Except me. It took a long time for my psyche to heal.

  • 4. Cliff Grammich  |  13 November 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Peter, I’ve been to APSA sessions in which I was the only one in the audience–and, knowing at least one presenter, was unable to leave. They didn’t buy me a beer, but probably should have.

    Randy, I once gave a U of Chi prof a ride from his office to his home about a mile and a half away. He told me that rainy day he had forgotten his umbrella–which he pulled from his briefcase without comment as soon as I got to his door. (I don’t think he said he forgot it to cadge a ride from me. I just think he was an airhead. Very nice and helpful guy, but an airhead.)

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Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
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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