Archive for August, 2010

Korean Institutional Economics Conference

| Dick Langlois |

I’m in Seoul (a quick trip) to present at the second annual conference on “Institutions and National Competiveness” organized by the Korea Institution and Economics Association. The conference is being held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Korean Economics Association. Notable presenters include Young Back Choi, Randy Holcombe, Elias Khalil, Stefan Voigt, and Yong J. Yoon.

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9 August 2010 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Does Knowledge Management Improve Performance?

| Peter Klein |

Yes, says Peter Cappelli:

The extensive literature on knowledge management spans several fields, but there are remarkably few studies that address the basic question as to whether knowledge management practices improve organizational performance. I examine that question using a national probability sample of establishments, clear measures of IT-driven knowledge management practices, and an experimental design that offers a unique approach for addressing concerns about endogeneity and omitted variables. The results indicate that the use of company intranets, data warehousing practices, performance support systems, and employee competency databases have significant and meaningful effects on a range of relevant business outcomes.

Cappelli relies on a national (US), establishment-level survey of knowledge-management practices to construct a panel in which (according to the practioner literature) none of the knowledge-management practices under consideration existed at the start of the sample period. Check it out.

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9 August 2010 at 8:13 am 1 comment

WikiLeaks and Napster

| Peter Klein |

Apropos my WikiLeaks post, comparing the recent data dump to the data-sharing and data-mining practices increasingly common in academia, a Thursday New Yorker post by Raffi Khatchadourian takes the New Economy framing even further, comparing Wikileaks to Napster. “Shutting WikiLeaks down — assuming that this is even possible — would only lead to copycat sites devised by innovators who would make their services even more difficult to curtail.” The recording industry shut down Napster, spawning Bittorrent — a far more dangerous competitor. Khatchadourian says the Defense Department should “consider WikiLeaks a competitor rather than a threat, and to recognize that the spirit of transparency that motivates [Wikileaks founder Julian] Assange and his volunteers is shared by a far wider community of people who use the Internet.” Had the DoD had released the footage of the 2007 Apache helicopter attack itself, rather than waiting for WikiLeaks to publish it on YouTube, it could probably have contained the damage much more effectively. Naturally, I wouldn’t expect the DoD — or  the RIAA — to be that smart. (HT to TechDirt via David Veksler.)

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7 August 2010 at 6:53 am 2 comments

Before They Were Famous

| Peter Klein |

Joe Morgenstern’s recent rant about the horrible year in movies included a sidebar (scroll down) about cinema classics that appeared ordinary when they came out. Casablanca, for example, was considered just another patriotic war movie, which the studios were putting out by the dozen, and a syrupy one at that.

The sidebar reminded me of Josh Gans and George Shepherd’s essay on classic social-science papers that struggled to find a publisher. Akerlof’s “Market for Lemons” was rejected by the AER, JPE, and REStat before QJE finally picked it up in 1970. Williamson’s manuscript for Markets and Hierarchies was rejected by Brookings. Robert Lucas’s 1972 paper, “Expectations and the Neutrality of Money” was rejected by the AER on the grounds that it was too mathematical. William Sharpe’s 1964 paper that introduced the capital asset pricing model was initially rejected by the Journal of Finance because, wrote the editor, the assumption that all investors make the same predictions was “preposterous.”

Jim March, as often, gets the best line: “I recall on one occasion a referee filing a two paragraph commentary on a paper I co-authored suggesting (in the first paragraph) that the key theorem involved was trivially obvious and (in the second) that it was wrong. I thought on the whole that he ought to

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6 August 2010 at 7:50 am 3 comments

Uncertainty and Human Action in Fiction

| Peter Klein |

From Ursula Le Guin’s 1969 novel The Left Hand of Darkness:

“The unknown,” said Faxe’s soft voice in the forest, “the unforetold, the unproven, that is what life is based on. Ignorance is the ground of thought. Unproof is the ground of action. If it were proven that there is no God there would be no religion. No Handdara, no Yomesh, no hearthgods, nothing. But also if it were proven that there is a God, there would be no religion. . . . Tell me, Genry, what is known? What is sure, predictable, inevitable — the one certain thing you know concerning your future, and mine?”

“That we shall die.”

“Yes. There’s really only one question that can be answered, Genry, and we already know the answer. . . . The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

The phrase “permanent, intolerable uncertainty” brings to mind Knight’s famous remark in Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit about the “the sheer brute fact that the results of human activity cannot be anticipated.”

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4 August 2010 at 8:31 am 6 comments

The Noir Institutional Economics

| Dick Langlois |

The Visible Hand

By Raymond Chandler

It was eight o’clock in the morning, sharp, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain on the Manhattan pavement. I was wearing my heavy gray flannel suit, with rounded collar, display handkerchief, and gold tie with streamlined mechanical shapes on it. As always, I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed professional manager ought to be. I was calling on the head of General Motors.

From two blocks away I stared at the GM building at 57th and Broadway, its terra cotta façade now etched gray as the pavement, as it wrapped itself around the gothic fantasy of the Broadway Tabernacle at 56th Street. I knew which one was really the cathedral. I didn’t get to inspect the building’s interior for as long as I had the outside. The minute I walked through the front door I was met by a tall, striking female, platinum blonde in finger waves. She wore a cardigan jacket over a skirt and sweater. Her eyes were slate-gray, and had almost no expression when they looked at me.

“Mr. Sloan?”

I admitted as much.

“Follow me, please.”

Following her was easy. She led me into a black-and-gilt elevator. Like all New York elevator men, the operator was small and pinched but looked as though he knew something we didn’t. He brought us up to the top floor, where the cast iron grille of the elevator opened onto an anteroom of the inner-sanctum. When I glanced back, the blonde had already disappeared. I walked in. (more…)

2 August 2010 at 2:49 pm 4 comments

Historical Foundations of Entrepreneurship Research

| Peter Klein |

Look for this new collection later this Fall.  Hans Landström and Franz Lohrke have put together an excellent set of essays on the intellectual origins and historical development of entrepreneurship research. Nicolai and I have a chapter on “Entrepreneurial Alertness.” Other topics include entrepreneurial orientation, the liability of newness, entrepreneurial groups, governance, social networks, social enterprise, culture, and psychology. Check it out!

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1 August 2010 at 11:54 pm Leave a 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).
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).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
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