Author Archive

Estimating the Value of Creative Invention

| Chihmao Hsieh |

One final bit of shameless self-promotion, as I soon head off into the figurative sunset from all this blogging: an empirically-oriented working paper of mine entitled “The Identification of Opportunities and the Value of Invention” can now be found here at SSRN. Any comments or suggestions are absolutely welcomed! Description of the research lies below. (more…)

29 June 2007 at 3:43 am Leave a comment

“Made in China”: The Name of a Creative Firm

| Chihmao Hsieh |

Today I received in the mail a sample issue of Fast Company. The cover story — full-text version found here — describes a China that is dramatically shifting from a country of copycat and imitation to a country of creativity and inventiveness. While its education system “does little to inspire,” and both government censorship and a very weak IPR policy do little to help support creativity, China’s younger citizens (e.g., aged 15-35) are finding and institutionalizing platforms to make themselves heard. And yes, the article mentions a London-based creative agency named “Made In China.”

29 June 2007 at 2:31 am Leave a comment

No, Innovation is Not Overrated

| Chihmao Hsieh |

This is posted in response to the book commentary within Peter’s post. If the indented synopsis indeed captures the book’s main thesis, it might be “concise and elegant,” and “provocative” to a person crawling out from underneath prehistoric rock, but suffice it to say it’s about as far from innovative (hmm, how ironic) as it gets. Some might call it the result of being direly underinformed.

What’s technological innovation for? Aside from a few exceptions, and aside from nuances introduced by incentives, technological innovation serves to support and appeal to our physical well-being,* emotional well-being, and psychological well-being in the context of a (limited) 70-100+ yr life span. Full stop. (So O&M founder Nicolai Foss has been passing around a thought-provoking working paper addressing the nature of opportunities, one example cited therein describing the technology of the barbed wire fence. Is the barbed wire fence an invention that appeals to those three sources of well-being? Not directly, it seems. But it is elementary to conclude that its absence would reduce our capability to feed ourselves, which does support physical well-being.) (more…)

25 June 2007 at 9:45 am 3 comments

Group-based Anti-Feng Shui?

| Chihmao Hsieh |

I’ve got a dream of building a house sometime in the next several years. Not for the matter of pride, but because around my 40’s I’d like a bona fide party house. I thought one key would be to have a loft-like open-air layout.

Then I read this post on Dr. Keith Sawyer’s blog about The Building that ‘Threw Up on Itself.’ (more…)

23 June 2007 at 3:32 pm 1 comment

How to Get 19380+ People to Read Your Academic Work? The “F-Bomb” Constitutes Your Entire Title

| Chihmao Hsieh |

I got an auto-generated email early this morning telling me that some research I co-authored with Todd Zenger and Jackson Nickerson made one of the SSRN Top 10 downloaded lists (presumably Top 10 over the last 30 days?), apparently from the Entrepreneurship section of the website. So I’m searching around SSRN trying to find out where in the Top 10 this research landed, and that’s when I inadvertently found a very different, very unfamiliar research paper at the end of this “Top 10 All-Time Downloaded” list.

I hit the “Refresh” button and rubbed my eyes to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. I don’t anticipate reading the manuscript, but I could see from the abstract that it is likely provocative. (more…)

22 June 2007 at 5:19 am 5 comments

Entrepreneurs are Both Born and Made, in the Interactional Sense

| Chihmao Hsieh |

Well, I’ve coddled this paper long enough, perhaps I should begin to set it free amidst that bit of shameless self-promotion. In a manuscript entitled “Cognition and the interaction between traits and training: the entrepreneur is both born and made,” I argue and provide evidence that an individual’s intelligence and the mode by which they train in multiple domains interact to determine the probability of self-employment. Not yet inclined to throw this up on SSRN just yet, but certainly happy to forward along a copy to interested parties (in hopes of receiving comments!). Just email me at hsiehc at umr dot edu… Below is the long abstract. (more…)

17 June 2007 at 5:22 pm 2 comments

Naming a Nation: Will the Real Wu-Tang Clan Please Stand Up?

| Chihmao Hsieh |

In the USA, the “Wu-Tang clan” refers to a family of Grammy-award-winning rappers formed in the 1990’s. In China, it’s about to refer to, well, just a normal family.

As described in this news report released yesterday by the AFP, today China has roughly 1.3 billion people, and 85% of them are covered by a mere 100 surnames. Ninety-three million people share the surname Wang, while 92 million are called Li and 88 million call themselves Zhang. For comparison, the 2007 estimated population in the United States totals 301 million. (You do the math!) And, as might be expected, the lack of variety in surnames is causing undue confusion in China (kind of like this?).

Thus, according to a recent report by the China Daily as mentioned in that news report, “under a new draft regulation released by the ministry of public security, parents will be able to combine their surnames for their children, a move that could open up 1.28 million new possibilities. (more…)

13 June 2007 at 2:01 am 1 comment

War, American Idol, the New “Kidney” Reality Show, and Markets for Attention

| Chihmao Hsieh |

I read two news articles today. One of them describes Cindy Sheehan’s decision to give up her anti-war protest, where she exclaims that Americans live in “a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months.” (For those of you who don’t watch any TV, American Idol is the American version of that popular season-long show where 15-20 contestants sing and compete for a record contract, voted upon via SMS text messaging by TV viewers like you and me.) The other news article describes the newest reality TV program in the Netherlands, where a patient with an inoperable brain tumor is donating her kidney and choosing the beneficiary based on televised interviews of three contestants, in a manner apparently reminiscent of a game show format.

How I described the latter article may not make you furl your eyebrows, but listen to this: TV viewers will vote via SMS text messaging who gets to receive the kidney.

Likely many types of societal issues are raised by the juxtaposition of these two news articles. One of the likely-provocative questions I have for the readership: Would you prefer to associate with a world that promotes “American Idol” or a world that promotes this new kidney donation game show?

UPDATE: The kidney reality show was all apparently an elaborate hoax.

29 May 2007 at 10:11 am 5 comments

TV Dinners . . . and Non-TV Dinners

| Chihmao Hsieh |

Remember the times when families would get together at the dinner table for a meal and little Johnny would yell out, “Can we turn on the TV during dinner?” Ah yes, those were the good ol’ days.

How 1990s.

Nowadays, as highlighted in this AP article released today, television is not only losing its grip on families but also on individuals. (more…)

9 May 2007 at 12:52 pm 6 comments

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 Market for Organization Equals USD 7.6B

| Chihmao Hsieh |

Home organization (in 2009), that is.

A CNN article posted online last month has re-appeared in the headlines today, probably in response to the woman who is virtually selling virtually (sic) all her belongings in one single auction on EBay (see the actual listing here). To spare you the reading, the article essentially describes our “hyper-consumptive society deluged by its own belongings,” mentions the TV shows and firms that create products and promote services to help us organize our belongings, and highlights associations like the new-but-fast-growing National Association of Professional Organizers.

Personally, in the last few years I’ve become much more mindful of the number of discrete items I keep at home, that mindfulness mainly a side effect of thinking in terms of this kind of complexity theory and this subfield of cognitive science.

26 April 2007 at 5:00 pm 3 comments

How is What is an Opportunity a Valuable Research Question?

| Chihmao Hsieh |

In introducing the April 2007 Special Issue of Small Business Economics, guest editors Jeffery McMullen and Lawrence Plummer, and Zoltan Acs ask “What is an Entrepreneurial Opportunity?” First, the abstract:

The nature and source of entrepreneurial opportunity are important issues for understanding how markets function and come into being. In addition to describing the forum held on the topic and summarizing the contributions of the articles that appear in the special issue, this article shares a number of lessons learned during the workshop and the editorial process. We explore three of the most important reasons for confusion about the opportunity construct: (1) the “objectivity” of opportunity, (2) the perceived importance of one particular individual in determining the direction of the social world and (3) what distinguishes the sub-class of “entrepreneurial” opportunity from the broader category of opportunity in general. Finally, we offer some directions for future research by illuminating important issues that emerged from the workshop but that remain largely unanswered by the papers of this special issue.

Needless to say, the authors courageously untangle some fundamental concepts (i.e. different types of ‘objectivity’ as it might relate to the notion of opportunity). Yet a sentence in the article’s second paragraph gave me pause: “…without a clear understanding of the nature of opportunity, formulating logically consistent prescriptions for both policy and practice is problematic because any theoretical basis of empirical results would be incomplete” (p. 273). (more…)

24 April 2007 at 2:06 pm 2 comments

Theoretical vs. Teórico vs. 理论: How the Precision of Foreign Language Relates to the Cost of Innovation

| Chihmao Hsieh |

Recently, bloggers Nicolai and Peter have highlighted the unfortunate confusions corresponding to the usage of the terms conceptual vs. theoretical, as well as usage of “method” vs. “methodology.”

A few inquiries could deserve some attention. First, is this confusion specific to those terms as they appear in the English language? For instance, perhaps other languages have their own labels indicating the concepts of “conceptual” and “theoretical” but the root words (e.g. concept, theory) involved are less substitutable. I’m also guessing that other languages have distinct labels for “method” and “methodology,” whereby less confusion emerges. (more…)

22 April 2007 at 6:14 pm 1 comment

Media, Dummy Variables, Fame, Fathers of Sociology, and School Shootings

| Chihmao Hsieh |

By now, all readers of this blog are probably well-aware of the massacre at Virginia Tech that took 33 lives. (My own prayers go out to all those affected by the tragedy.)

Some controversies are bound to be re-visited during and after the investigation (e.g. gun control) but others are starting to reveal themselves as mainstream for the first time. Namely, the media itself may be promoting these types of shootings. (more…)

21 April 2007 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

Does Your Neighborhood Really Need Traffic Signs?

| Chihmao Hsieh |

A month ago, I was traveling and spotted on a newsstand the then-current issue of US News & World Report, the one where the cover story addresses what societal lessons the USA could learn from the rest of the world. Being born and raised in the USA for 30 years, I found this to be one of the unusually humble headlines by a US publication, and picked a copy up.

The news article reports on 30 short accounts of societal behaviors or conditions elsewhere, which the US should envy. Major differences in sociocultural norms and regulatory policies are evidenced.

The first such account profiles recent policymaking in Ipswich, England, where that city’s traffic planner has removed all traffic signs (including traffic lights and even curbs!) in an effort to reduce traffic accidents. (more…)

21 April 2007 at 3:22 pm 9 comments

Communication Channels, Asset Specificity, and Some Humor

| Chihmao Hsieh |

First off, I’d like to thank Nicolai and Peter for adding me on as a guest blogger at O&M. I have admired it from afar. Hopefully I can introduce other provocative topics universal to the esteemed readership, but also practice my more text-oriented sense of humor. Ergo, this opening post…

Last week I gave a lecture to my undergrad class that included remarks about the differential ability of communication channels in handling messages of varied complexity or “equivocality.”

The research cited (Lengel and Daft, 1988) during the lecture categorizes communication channels into 3 groups: email, fax, voice mail; telephone and video conferencing; and face-to-face interaction. I independently argued that these 3 categories distinctly varied in terms of their relation to asset specificity: excepting underdeveloped countries, email, fax, and voice mail each involve investments low in asset specificity (no need for shared location, no need for shared timing); (more…)

20 April 2007 at 6:26 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).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).