Archive for November, 2010

Teaching Analytical Writing

| Peter Klein |

More on academic writing: This paper by Wayne Schiess, “Legal Writing Is Not What It  Should Be,” deals specifically with law students, but applies in many ways to academic writing more generally. Quoting from the introduction:

The writing required of students in high school and college is often what I call “self-expression writing” rather than expository writing. Self-expression writing tends to be writer-focused, not reader-focused.That is, self-expression writers focus primarily on expressing their own ideas. This is surely a necessary developmental step for improving writing skill, but it is two steps removed from the skill of analytical legal writing. Once high school and college writers move beyond self-expression, they usually produce writing that can be called “knowledge-telling” or conveying information.

But legal writing is not self-expression, and it is another step beyond knowledge telling. One author has referred to the skill of analytical legal writing as “knowledge transforming.” Thus, legal writing is a form of expository writing in which the focus should be on the reader‟s ability to understand. This is in contrast to self-expression writing, where clearly and effectively conveying information to the reader is secondary to expressing one’s self the way one desires. And it is in contrast to knowledge-telling, in which the primary purpose is conveying information, not analyzing a problem.

Of course, self-expression and knowledge-telling are necessary steps, as I’ve acknowledged. But I can report, based on anecdotal evidence, that some students get little training even in these two developmental steps. Some college curricula do not require much writing at all. For example, in my teaching of the required, first-year legal writing course, I often have students who studied science or engineering in college. Many of these students arrive at law school and tell me they have never written a paper in college.

The kind of writing required for good social science is also what Schiess calls “analytical writing,” and my sense is that few graduate students have any experience with or training in this kind of writing. How to teach it is another question. Schiess has several suggestions that are specific to law schools; how can they be applied to economics or sociology or business administration?

6 November 2010 at 2:58 am 12 comments

Man Bites Dog …

| Scott Masten |

. . . and government swears it acts politically and is incompetent.

This might just be worth the cost to the U.S. taxpayer of bailing out GM. From GM’s prospectus for its upcoming IPO (via NPR):

…to the extent the UST [United States Treasury] elects to exert such control in the future, its interests (as a government entity) may differ from those of our other stockholders. In particular, the UST may have a greater interest in promoting U.S. economic growth and jobs than our other stockholders. For example, while we have repaid in full our indebtedness under our credit agreement with the UST that we entered into on the closing of the 363 Sale, a continuing covenant requires that we use our commercially reasonable best efforts to ensure, subject to exceptions, that our manufacturing volume in the United States is consistent with specified benchmarks.  (p. 6)

We have determined that our disclosure controls and procedures and our internal control over financial reporting are currently not effective. The lack of effective internal controls could materially adversely affect our financial condition and ability to carry out our business plan.  (p.29)

Now, the next time anyone says otherwise, you have can point to this.

5 November 2010 at 6:55 am Leave a comment

CRSP 50th Anniversary

| Peter Klein |

Maybe you knew this already, but the Center for Research on Security Prices (CRSP) — the provider of most of the stock-price data used in academic and practitioner research on financial markets — is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The center has put up a fancy website, full of interesting factoids, to commemorate the occasion. Did you know, for example, that the first CRSP computer was a UNIVAC, donated by Sperry-Rand though the intervention of Leslie Groves? That the initial data collection effort came in three years late and 200% over budget? (Makes me feel better about some of my own projects.) That CRSP hasn’t used tapes for years, though people still refer to the master file as the “CRSP tapes”? (HT: Gregg Gordon.)

4 November 2010 at 5:09 am Leave a comment

CFP: Searle Center Conference on Entrepreneurship and Innovation

| Peter Klein |

I’m a big fan of the Searle Center conferences on entrepreneurship and innovation, organized by Dan Spulber. The Call for Papers for the fourth annual conference, 16-17 June 2011, has just been distributed. “The goal of this conference is to provide a forum where economists and legal scholars can gather together with Northwestern’s own distinguished faculty to present and discuss high quality research relevant to entrepreneurship and innovation.” Details below the fold. (more…)

2 November 2010 at 4:16 pm 1 comment

Entrepreneurial Paradoxes

| Peter Klein |

A new working paper from the always-interesting Peter Lewin: “Entrepreneurial Paradoxes: Implications of Radical Subjectivism.” Sample paradoxes:

  • Entrepreneurial opportunities are complicated by uncertainty but would not exist without uncertainty.
  • An entrepreneurial opportunity for everyone is an opportunity for no one in particular.
  • Entrepreneurial opportunities are subjective and objective; discovered and created.

See the paper for the full set of paradoxes and some informative and challenging discussion.

2 November 2010 at 6:36 am 12 comments

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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).
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