Disruptive Diversity and Recurring Cohesion: Assembling Creative Teams in the Video Game Industry, 1979-2009
Mathijs de Vaan, Balazs Vedre, and David Stark, October 2011► Abstract | Full Paper
To test the proposition that a high level of recurring cohesion and a high level of stylistic diversity can combine for successful team performance, this study constructs a dataset of the careers of 139,727 individuals who participated in project teams producing 16,507 video games between 1979 and 2009. Findings indicate that teams with more dissimilar stylistic experiences outperform teams with more homogenous backgrounds, but only for higher levels of recurring cohesion. Teams with high diversity and high social cohesion are better able to harmonize the noisy cacophony of an (otherwise) excessive plurality of voices, thereby exploiting the potential beneficial effects of cognitive diversity.
From Dissonance to Resonance: Cognitive Interdependence in Quantitative Finance
David Stark and Daniel Beunza, July 2011► Abstract | Full Paper
This study explores the elusive social dimension of quantitative finance. We conducted three years of observations in the derivatives trading room of a major investment bank. We found that traders use models to translate stock prices into estimates of what their rivals think. Traders use these estimates to look out for possible errors in their own models. We found that this practice, reflexive modeling, enhances returns by turning prices into a vehicle for distributed cognition. But it also induces a dangerous form of cognitive interdependence: when enough traders overlook a key issue, their positions give misplaced reassurance to those traders that think similarly, disrupting their reflexive processes. In cases lacking diversity, dissonance thus gives way to resonance. Our analysis demonstrates how practices born in caution can lead to overconfidence and collective failure. We contribute to economic sociology by developing a socio-technical account that grapples with the new forms of sociality introduced by financial models – dissembedded yet entangled; anonymous yet collective; impersonal yet, nevertheless, emphatically social.
Political Holes in the Economy: Business Camps and Partisanship
David Stark and Balazs Vedres, April 2011► Abstract | Full Paper
When firms reach out to allies in the political field, partisanship can constrain the choice of business partners in the economy. To study the evolution of politicized business camps, we conduct an historical network analysis of the relationship between firm-to-party ties and firm-to-firm ties in the Hungarian economy. We construct a dataset of all senior managers and boards of directors of the largest 1,696 corporations and the complete set of all political officeholders from 1987 to 2001. The findings of our field interviews and dyadic logistic regression models demonstrate that in Hungary director interlocks depend, to a significant extent, on political affiliations. Although the economic and political fields have been institutionally separated, firms and parties have become organizationally entangled. Firms of either left or right political affiliation exhibit a preference for partnerships with firms in the same political camp while avoiding ties with firms in the opposite camp. Subsequently, firms with politically balanced boards seize a brokerage opportunity to occupy the political holes in the economy opened up by the growing division between left and right. Our historical analysis demonstrates that political camps in the Hungarian economy occur not as a direct legacy of state socialism but as the product of electoral party competition.
Searching Questions: Inquiry, Uncertainty, Innovation
David Stark, December 2008► Abstract | Full Paper
Search is the watchword of the information age. Among the many new information technologies that are reshaping work and daily life, perhaps none are more empowering than the new technologies of search. With a few keywords at the toolbar, we can access enormous databases to find an obscure article by a long distant colleague, identify the supplier of a critical component, read about the benefits and side effects of new pharmaceutical products or medical procedures, or find the fact that immediately settles a dispute about the performance of an opera, an athlete, or a mutual fund. Whereas the steam engine, the electrical turbine, the internal combustion engine, and the jet engine propelled the industrial economy, search engines power the economy of information.
PowerPoint Demonstrations: Digital Technologies of Persuasion
David Stark and Verena Paravel, February 2007► Abstract | Full Paper
When policy issues involve complex technical questions, demonstrations are more likely to marshal charts, graphs, models, and simulations than to mobilize popular movements in the streets. In this paper we analyze PowerPoint demonstrations, the most ubiquitous form of digital demonstrations. Our first set of demonstrations are the PowerPoint presentations made in December 2002 by the seven finalist architectural teams in the Innovative Design competition for rebuilding the World Trade Center. Our second case occurred some blocks away, several months later: Colin Powell's PowerPoint demonstration at the United Nations. We argue that Edward Tufte's denunciation of PowerPoint does not capture the cognitive style made possible by the affordances of this pervasive new technology. On the basis of our case materials, we identify several features of the elementary grammar of a rhetoric that exploits the medium's potential to manipulate text, sound, and image. Our analysis further demonstrates the distinctive morphology of PowerPoint. Its digital character provides affordances 1) that allow heterogeneous materials to be seamlessly re-presented in a single format that 2) can morph easily from live demonstration to circulating digital documents that 3) can be utilized in counter-demonstrations. A careful examination of this widely used technology is critical for understanding public discourse in a democratic society.
Power-Law and "Elite Club" in a Complex Supplier-Buyer Network: Flexible Specialization or Dual Economy?
Tsutomu Nakano and Douglas R. White, May 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
After the 1990s, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) as multinational conglomerates have become more powerful than ever, exerting control over their suppliers, owing in part to the advanced machining and information technologies. Is this a revival of the traditional Marxian framework, or a "dual economy"? Conducting network analysis of supplier-prime buyer relations among over 8,300 firms in an industrial district, we found not only structural properties of "flexible specialization" as a division of labor among dedicated small- and medium-sized suppliers but also an invisible "elite club" or cohesive core composed of extremely powerful OEMs plus their elite suppliers, employing analyses of cohesion and assortative correlation in the structural embedding. An overwhelming majority of the suppliers were not free from dependency upon the core in order to gain access to and social endorsement from the consumers, as substantiated by the overall power-law node links, against the claims of "flexible specialization." The present study suggests a "dual economy" not on the basis of firm size as traditionally claimed, but of competition to be suppliers of prominent OEMs in the acyclically hierarchical network, from the relational approach of network integration mechanisms, as a latent but decisive explanatory variable.
Social Sequence Analysis: Ownership Networks, Political Ties, and Foreign Investment in Hungary
David Stark and Balázs Vedres, December 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
To model, from its inception, inter-enterprise network formation and its interaction with foreign investment across an entire epoch of rapid and profound economic transformation, we gathered data on the complete ownership histories of 1,696 of the largest Hungarian enterprises from 1987 to 2001. We develop a social sequence analysis to identify distinctive pathways whereby firms use network resources to buffer uncertainty, hide or restructure assets, or gain knowledge and legitimacy. During this period, networked property grew, stabilized, and involved a growing proportion of foreign capital. Cohesive networks of recombinant property were robust, and in fact integrated foreign investment. Although multinationals, through their subsidiaries, dissolved ties in joint venture arrangements, we find evidence that they also built durable networks. We then augment the ownership data with personnel data on the managers and directors of these firms in 2001. By merging that dataset with the list of all political officeholders in Hungary, we identify a company as having a political tie when one of its economic officeholders is a current or former political officeholder. Social sequence analysis of network topographies provides analytic leverage not only in in understanding how foreign direct investment is related to the temporal structuring of business networks but as to the ties of firms to political parties. Not as a general rule but through specific histories, firms can be cohesively tied to other firms, closely tied to political parties, and strongly linked to foreign capital. Our findings suggest that developing economies do not necessarily face a forced choice between networks of global reach and those of local embeddedness.
Rooted transnational publics: Integrating foreign ties and civic activism
David Stark, Balázs Vedres, and László Bruszt, October 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
Can civic organizations be both locally rooted and globally connected? Based on a survey of 1,002 of the largest civic organizations in Hungary, we conclude that there is not a forced choice between foreign ties and domestic integration. By studying variation in types of foreign interactions and variation in types of domestic integration, our analysis goes beyond notions of footloose experts versus rooted cosmopolitans. Organizations differ in their rootedness according to whether they have ties to their members and constituents, whether they have ties to other organizations in the civic sector, and whether they associate with actors from outside the civic sector. Similarly, we specify different types of foreign ties. In both domains our emphasis is on the type of action involved in the tie - especially relations of accountability and partnership. By demonstrating a systematic relationship between the patterns of foreign ties and the patterns of domestic integration, we chart three emerging forms of transnational publics.
Rethinking Occupational Structure: The Case of Web Site Production Work
Amanda Kidd Damarin, September 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
This article addresses the structure of occupations in flexible work settings by examining the case of Web site production. Web work does not exhibit traditional occupations: Rather than falling within bounded task jurisdictions, Web jobs and careers involve fluid combinations of multiple task sets. Furthermore, workers identify less with particular specialties than with Web production as a whole. Fluid jobs allow workers some autonomy in production, but little control over the wider organization of work. This suggests that flexibility may generate new occupational structures and new contradictions for workers, but comparison with prior research suggests that occupations have never been entirely uniform.
Trading Room Telephones and the Identification of Counterparts
Fabian Muniesa, July 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
Although computers and electronic networks have become pervasive in contemporary financial markets, the telephone keeps playing a crucial role as a communication device in the trading rooms of investment banks and brokerage houses. The author examines this technology, its uses and the way in which it frames trade interactions in a number of empirical situations, with particular attention to the combinations of this tool with trading screens and other electronic media. Compared to other market technologies, the telephone emphasizes the identification of bilateral counterparts. The use of the telephone can thus help characterizing an important sociological feature of particular market configurations: namely, the extent to which trading practices are based on the recognition of individual counterparts.
Social Times of Network Spaces: Network Sequences and Foreign Investment in Hungary
David Stark and Balázs Vedres, June 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
To model, from its inception, interenterprise network formation and its interaction with foreign investment across an entire epoch of rapid and profound economic transformation, the authors gathered data on the complete ownership histories of 1,696 of the largest Hungarian enterprises from 1987 to 2001. They develop a social sequence analysis to identify distinctive pathways whereby firms use network resources to buffer uncertainty, hide or restructure assets, or gain knowledge and legitimacy. During this period, networked property grew, stabilized, and involved a growing proportion of foreign capital. Cohesive networks of recombinant property were robust, and in fact integrated foreign investment. Although multinationals, through their subsidiaries, dissolved ties in joint venture arrangements, the authors find evidence that they also built durable networks. These findings suggest that developing economies do not necessarily face a forced choice between networks of global reach and those of local embeddedness.
The Large-Scale Network of a Tokyo Industrial District: Small-World, Scale-Free, or Depth Hierarchy?
Tsutomu Nakano and Douglas R. White, June 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
The large-scale networks of suppliers and buyers in industrial districts have rarely if ever been studied as social networks due to analytical complexity and rarity of datasets. We quantitatively analyzed such a complex system to identify its mechanisms of integration. Tests of the small-world model failed because of a power-law degree distribution, shorter-than-random average distances, and lack of local clustering. The scale-free network model was also rejected because primarily hubs organized the network not preferences of suppliers. A directed acyclic graph (DAG) model explained the structural properties. Finally, in lieu of small-world or scale-free models, we offer statistical evidence that the DAG should be a general property for the complex production networks, as modeled by Harrison White.
Recombinant Technology and New Geographies of Association
Jonathan Bach and David Stark, October 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
In Robert Latham and Saskia Sassen, eds., Digital Formations: IT and New Architectures in the Global Realm. Princeton University Press, 2005, pp. 37-53.
Learning in personal networks: Collaborative knowledge production in virtual forums
Gernot Grabher and Julia Maintz, February 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
The more recent debates on innovation and learning have indicated a remarkable shift in the locus of knowledge production. Up until the early 1990s, innovation research focused mainly on knowl-edge production and learning in formal organizational arrangements. The prime focus, in other words, was on firms, their ties with clients, suppliers, and research institutions. During the 1990s, however, this focus was extended and interest increasingly shifted to informal and personal net-works as effective vehicles for producing, storing, and disseminating knowledge. The debate on "communities of practice" epitomizes this shift towards informal and personal networks as means for interactive learning most prominently.
Surviving the Fall of a King: The Regional Institutional Implications of Crisis at Fiat Auto
Josh Whitford and Aldo Enrietti, February 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
This paper discusses developments in the famously automotive-centered productive system in Turin and the surrounding Piedmont region in the wake of major crisis at Fiat Auto. This large, articulated and internationally competitive productive system emerged from interactions between Fiat, its suppliers, and other regional actors, but has always had Fiat at its center in a directive role, as the sole actor with both the interest and the ability to provide key collective goods. The automaker is today dramatically weakened, leaving the Piedmont region with an essential and unanswered question: what will happen to the networks of relationships and diversity of productive services if Fiat Auto does - as seems likely - cease to play its historic "monarchical" role? To answer this question, we draw on literatures in comparative political economy, economic sociology and institutionalist economic geography concerned with path dependency and the decentralized coordination of production to trace the territorially embedded development of the Piedmontese automotive components industry as it has been constructed through Fiat's contradictory interaction with the productive hinterland. In so doing, we identify possible futures and discuss the feasibility of constructing new associational coordinating institutions in the Piedmontese regional political economy.
The New Old Economy: Networks, Institutions, and the Organizational Transformation of American Manufacturing
Josh Whitford, January 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
American manufacturing is in obvious crisis: the sector lost three million jobs between 2000 and 2003 as the American trade deficit shot to record highs. Manufacturers have increasingly decentralized productive responsibilities to armies of supplier firms, both domestic and abroad. Many have speculated as to whether or not manufacturing is even feasible in the United States, given the difficulties. The New Old Economy, published in December 2005 by Oxford University Press, shows that discussion of this shift, in the media and in the academic literature, hits on the right issues - globalization, de-industrialization, and the outsourcing of production in marketized and in network relationships - but in an overly polarized way that obscures as much as it enlightens. Drawing on the results of extensive interviews conducted with manufacturers in the American Upper Midwest, it shows that the range of possibilities is more complex and contingent than is usually recognized. Highlighting heretofore unexamined elements of constraint, contradiction and innovation that characterize contemporary network production models, the book shakes received understanding in economic and organizational sociology, comparative political economy, and economic geography to reveal ways in which the American economic development apparatus can be adjusted to better meet the challenges of a highly decentralized production regime.
Politicized Business Ties: Network Dynamics of a Democratizing Polity and a Globalizing Economy, Hungary 1987-2006
David Stark and Balazs Vedres, January 2006► Abstract | Full Paper
This project analyzes the interactions of firms and parties across an entire epoch of economic and political transformation from 1987 to 2006 in a case where market-oriented enterprises and competitive political parties emerged in tandem. Our case involves the simultaneous transformation of political and economic fields, the separation of state from economy and a possible re-politicization of the economic field. In examining newly market-oriented firms and newly competitive political parties, a key question arises: What is the relationship between business networks and political ties? By collecting data on political business groups from the first moment of network formation we can test rival hypotheses from political sociology and political science about the causal relations and timing of business ties and political affiliations. Our case provides an opportunity to study how the dynamics of network evolution at the national level are shaped additionally by transnational processes, both economic and political. From a relatively autarchic, closed economy, Hungary is now integrated into the EU and has one of the most open economies in the world, with unprecedented levels of foreign direct investment. To study the formation and dynamics of political business groups, we will construct an unprecedented dataset consisting of all economic officeholders and all political officeholders in Hungary over the twenty year period. To identify processes of the co-evolution of business networks and political affiliations, we develop innovative methods of social sequence analysis and dynamic cohesion analysis.
The Politics of Civic Combinations
Laszlo Bruszt and Balazs Vedres, December 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
Participation of civic organizations in diverse social and developmental partnership projects is one of the fastest growing and, at the same time, one of the most contested forms of institutional experimentation. Described by some as a source of democratic innovation, it is characterized by others as a new form of depoliticization and domination.
Trading routes, bypasses, and risky intersections: Mapping the travels of 'networks' between economic sociology and economic geography
Gernot Grabher, November 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
In economic geography the notion of the network has come to play a critical role in a range of debates. Yet, networks hardly are construed in an explicit fashion but rather are assumed as some sort of more enduring social relations. This paper seeks to foreground these implicit assumptions - and their limitations - by tracing the selective engagement of economic geography with network approaches in economic sociology. The perception of networks in economic geography is mainly informed by the network governance approach that is founded on Mark Granovetter's notion of embeddedness. By embracing the network governance approach, economic geography passed by the in fact older tradition of the social network approach. Economic geography thus discarded not only the concerns for network position and structure but also more calculative and strategic perceptions of networks prevailing in Ron Burt's work. Beyond these two dominant traditions economic geography, more recently, has started to tinker with the post-structuralist metaphor of the rhizome of actor-network theory while it took no notice of Harrison White's notions of the publics and polymorphous network domains.
Searching the Net for Differences of Opinion
Warren Sack, John Kelly, and Michael Dale, October 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
Contrary to Negroponte (1995), we posit the development of a software technology to facilitate the construction of a "Daily Not Me," i.e., a semi-automated clipping service that, when given a topic (e.g., abortion), will return a range of diverse opinions about the topic (e.g., pro-choice and pro-life) that contradict one's personal views. In this paper we present some preliminary results towards this long-term goal. Our work bootstraps recent, prior work in which one of the co-authors (Kelly, 2004) used qualitative content analysis to characterize the political leanings of one hundred and twenty, prolific, Usenet newsgroup authors. Software was developed to automatically download, from a Usenet newsgroup archive, tens of thousands of discussion threads containing over one million individual messages. Within these threads of discussion we were able to find several thousand message exchanges in which known discussants (i.e., two or more discussants identified by Kelly) of differing political opinion exchanged messages. We have performed an empirical analysis of the structural characteristics (e.g., size, branching factor) of the threads surrounding these message exchanges of conflicting viewpoints. Our goal is to identify a set of computable, search heuristics that might be employed in a "Daily Not Me" technology for finding opposing, political viewpoints as expressed in the archives of online discussion groups.
Entrepreneurial Labor among Cultural Producers: "Cool" Jobs in "Hot" Industries
Gina Neff, Elizabeth Wissinger and Sharon Zukin, September 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
This article compares the work of fashion models and "new media workers" (those who work in the relatively new medium of the Internet as dot-com workers) in order to highlight the processes of entrepreneurial labor in culture industries. Based on interviews and participant-observation in New York City, we trace how entrepreneurial labor becomes intertwined with work identities in cultural industries both on and off the job. While workers are drawn to the autonomy, creativity and excitement that jobs in these media industries can provide, they have also come to accept as normal the high risks associated with this work. Diffused through media images, this normalization of risk serves as a model for how workers in other industries should behave under flexible employment conditions. Using interview data from within the fashion media and the dotcom world, we discuss eight forces that give rise to the phenomenon of entrepreneurial labor: the cultural quality of cool, creativity, autonomy, self-investment, compulsory networking, portfolio evaluations, international competition, and foreshortened careers. We also provide a model of what constitutes the hierarchy of "good work" in cultural industries, and we conclude with implications of what entrepreneurial labor means for theories of work.
For a Sociology of Worth
David Stark, September 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
Forthcoming in Vando Borghi and Tommaso Vitale, editors, Le convenzioni del lavoro, il lavoro delle convenzioni, numero monografico di Sociologia del Lavoro, n. 102, Milano: Franco Angeli.
Public Space, Public Discussion and Social Computing
Warren Sack, August 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
Computers and networks - the foundations of new media -- are now an important infrastructural element of public space and a substrate of public discussion. But, because these foundations were originally designed as tools and engines of calculation, and not as places of exchange and discussion, there is a mismatch between the needs of public discourse and the available computational means. This is a conceptual or theoretical mismatch as much as it is a concern of software design. For instance, conventionally, in computer science, we might say that a piece of code is better if it is faster or more efficient, but, inefficiency is often a virtue when "codes" are designed for democratic systems (cf., the "checks and balances" of government). Consequently, the old criteria of computer science no longer suffice for the evaluation of social software of this sort. This is an instance where new media theory must critically differentiate itself from older disciplines and, yet, simultaneously engage them deeply enough to question their foundational criteria of evaluation and critique; their presuppositions of aesthetics, ethics and functionality. This talk is a critique of older criteria of evaluation and newer proposals of the same for designing and judging new, social software for the facilitation of public discussion and exchange. An alternative set of critical criteria is advanced and illustrated with two arts research prototypes of social software: "Translation Map" (2003) and "Agonistics: A Language Game" (2005).
Socio-technologies of Assembly: Sense-Making and Demonstration in Rebuilding Lower Manhattan
Monique Girard and David Stark, July 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
This paper examines how New Yorkers reshaped the public sphere as they engaged in a series of self-organized, loosely coordinated efforts to collectively make sense of the challenges they faced in responding and recovering from the attack of 9/11. We explore how technologies of deliberation, representation, and demonstration were mobilized to widen the scope and diversify the organizational strategies enabling public participation. Drawing on Dewey's philosophy of pragmatism and the social studies of science, we focus on how disparate socio-technologies of assembly offered different affordances that both enabled and inhibited particular discursive practices and forms of collective inquiry. Forthcoming in Governance and Information: The Rewiring of Governing and Deliberation in the 21st Century. Edited by David Lazer and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Debate, Division, and Diversity: Political Discourse Networks in USENET Newsgroups
John Kelly, Danyel Fisher, and Marc Smith, June 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
Do online political discussions tend to aggregate diverse voices in cross-cutting debate and deliberation? Or do "audiences" for online discussion tend to fragment into ideological echo chambers? In the wilds of threaded discussion on the internet (as opposed to deliberative polls, moderated discussions, and other designed venues of deliberation), networks of political discourse emerge from billions of individual choices by millions of individual citizens about what to discuss online, where to discuss it, and with whom. Do these choices lead individuals to interact across ideological divides, or to cluster within them? How we understand the value of internet-based forms of political discourse is in part dependent on this question.
Negotiating the End of Transition: A Network Approach to Political Discourse Dynamics, Hungary 1997
Balázs Vedres and Péter Csigó, April 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
The initial question of this paper is how the large scale social process of postsocialist transition ends. We argue that transition is closed by discursive innovations in the political field, rather than just spontaneous crystallization. The political field is depicted as a dynamic symbolic structure that is an arena of local action. First the possible discourse positions are extracted from the two mode network of speech acts and statements. Then using these typical positions the dynamics of responses and responses to responses is explored. We give an account of an emergent univocal government position that represents a successful role claim (an exit from the loops of local action) on the government's side to coherently frame the end of transition.
Global Links, Local Roots? Varieties of Transnationalization and Forms of Civic Integration
David Stark, Balázs Vedres, and László Bruszt, April 2005► Abstract | Full Paper
In a rapidly changing society such as postsocialist Hungary, are civic organizations that are connected to transnational flows of information, resources, and partnership more likely to be disconnected from their membership base, from other civic organizations, and from other organizations outside the civic sector? Do transnational interactions come at the expense of domestic integration? To answer these questions we conducted a survey of 1,002 civic associations in Hungary in 2002. We identify seven varieties of transnationalization and we distinguish three forms of domestic integration – participation, embededdness, and associativeness. Our findings indicate that civic actors do not face a necessarily forced choice between networks of global reach and those of domestic integration. Many Hungarian civic organizations, in significant numbers, do engage in transnational interactions while simultaneously integrated with their membership base, other civic organizations, and/or other non-civic organizations. In fact, the richest and most encompassing patterns of integration go hand in hand with the deepest and most encompassing patterns of transnationalization. These and related findings indicate that it would be mistaken to assume that transnationalization is necessarily accompanied by the domestic uprooting of civic organizations, whether as cause or as consequence.
How to Recognize Opportunities: Heterarchical Search in a Trading Room
Daniel Beunza and David Stark, November 2004► Abstract | Full Paper
In The Sociology of Financial Markets, edited by Karin Knorr Cetina and Alexa Preda. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp.84-101
Resolving Identities: Successive Crises in a Trading Room after 9/11
Daniel Beunza and David Stark, October 2004► Abstract | Full Paper
The terrorist attack of September 11th posed an unprecedented challenge to the survival of organizations in Lower Manhattan. In this paper we consider the key mechanisms of resilience exhibited by one surviving company. We examine the case of an investment bank located next to the World Trade Center whose trading room, data and technology were destroyed in the attack. Its traders survived, but were forced to relocate to New Jersey and restore their trading technology. We find that the crisis unfolded in a complex, unpredictable manner: whereas the technical difficulties were overcome, differences in identity among the traders placed the company at the brink of disintegration. The trading room did not face one crisis - the immediate aftermath of September 11th - but many. A given crisis was resolved by restoring identities; but identities, once restored, redefined the situation and lead to new crises. That is, the successive waves of crisis were produced by each success in managing crisis. The organization held together through a leadership style that managed ambiguities, rebuilt identities, assuaged fears, and restored the initiative of organizational actors, creating the conditions for new solutions to emerge.
Economic Markets as Calculative Collective Devices
Michel Callon and Fabian Muniesa, September 2004► Abstract | Full Paper
How to address empirically the calculative character of markets without dissolving it? In our paper, we propose a theoretical framework that helps to deal with markets without debunking their calculative properties. In a first section, we construct a broad definition of calculation, grounded on the field of STS (science and technology studies). In the next sections, we confront this definition to three constitutive elements of markets: economic goods, economic agents and economic exchanges. First we examine the question of the calculability of goods: in order to be calculated, goods must be calculable. In the following section we introduce the notion of calculative distributed agencies to understand how these calculable goods are actually calculated. Thirdly we consider the rules and material devices that organize the encounter between (and aggregation of) individual supplies and demands, i.e. the specific organizations that allow for a calculated exchange and a market output. Those three elements define concrete markets as collective organized devices that calculate compromises on the values of goods. In each, we encounter different versions of our broad definition of calculation that we illustrate with some examples, mainly taken from the fields of financial markets and mass retail.
The Changing Place of Cultural Production: The Location of Social Networks in a Digital Media Industry
Gina Neff, June 2004► Abstract | Full Paper
This article examines the role of place and place-making within cultural industries in the digital era. The data for this article are drawn from a data set of attendance at more than nine hundred social networking events over a six-year period in New York City's Internet, or "new media," industry. These data confirm that place became more, not less, important to cultural production over this period. Networking, or the processes of the formation of social network ties, is concentrated in activities within narrow geographic clusters. This study suggests that the networking events within the industry-cocktail parties, seminars, ceremonies, and the like-mediate access to crucial resources within the industry.
Link, Search, Interact: The Co-Evolution of NGOs and Interactive Technology
Jonathan Bach and David Stark, April 2004► Abstract | Full Paper
Interactive technology is a key factor used to explain the recent growth and prominence of NGOs, who today are engaged in the transformation of national, international and transnational political space. Yet technology cannot explain NGOs¹ rise, for technology is but a context which afford opportunities. We ask what it is that allows NGOs to take advantage of new circumstances, and focus our discussion on the co-evolution of NGOs with interactive technology. Our approach is part of a growing body of social science research that seeks to overcome the artificial divide between "society" and "technology" by viewing the social as consisting of humans and non-humans (objects, things, artifacts). Viewing technology not as a tool but as part of a co-evolutionary process that shapes organizational forms and practices will help us understand why NGOs have, given the opportunities provided by the retrenchment of the welfare state and the end of the cold war, been able to assume a more powerful and controversial role as co-constituents of global transformation.
Permanently Beta: Responsive Organization in the Internet Era
Gina Neff and David Stark, May 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
How has the process of technological change in the Internet era influenced the way we organize economic activities? In this chapter we discuss how information technologies foster the emergent design and user-driven design of websites and other online media, as well as products and organizations offline. A cycle of testing, feedback, and innovation facilitates ongoing negotiations around making products and around organizing that production. We call the organizational state of flux that emerges from these negotiations Permanently Beta. Beta testing, open source software, and interactive communities manifest aspects of permanently beta organization. The instability associated with being permanently beta is not without social costs, but it may present opportunities for organizing broader participation in the design of products and organizations.
Organizing Technologies: Genre Forms of Online Civic Association in Eastern Europe
Balázs Vedres, Laszlo Bruszt and David Stark, February 2004► Abstract | Full Paper
To study technologies of politics in a new field of representation we examine how civic associations in Eastern Europe create online organization. Organizing technology is about combining specific technological features with actors and types of acts. Based on data we collected on 1,585 East European civil society websites we identify five emergent genres of organizing technologies: newsletters, interactive platforms, multilingual solicitations, directories, and brochures. Genre structures organization. These clusters do not correspond to stages of development; and, moreover, newer website are more likely to be typical of their genre suggesting that these forms are becoming more rather than less distinctive. In contrast to the utopistic image of a de-territorialized, participatory global civil society, our examination of the structure of hyperlinks finds that the transnational are not inclined to be participatory and the participatory are not transnational. Whereas the Internet and Society paradigm focused on inequality of users' access to various aspects of the web, we probe inequality in the accessibility of websites to potential users. Search engine technology is search engine politics.
A Desk on the 20th Floor: Survival and Sense-Making in a Trading Room
Daniel Beunza and David Stark, June 2003► Abstract | Full Paper
How does an organization cope with extreme uncertainty? In this paper we study the case of a Wall Street investment bank that lost its entire office and trading technology in the terrorist attack of September 11th. The traders survived, but were forced into a mandatory exile to a makeshift trading room in the suburbs. In the six months the traders spent there, they had to navigate successive waves of uncertainty, including existential anxiety (will I die in the next attack?), questions of professional identity (what does it mean to be a Wall Street trader outside Wall Street?), uncertainty about the future of the firm (will it fold?), and ambiguities about the future re-location of the firm. In contrast with the well-studied strategic challenge of dealing with uncertainty in the environment, the company had to deal with fears and insecurities inside as well as outside it. To overcome then, it took care to help traders maintain their identities and ability to engage in sense-making by restoring the network of people, tools, and places that constituted them.
Public Deliberation After 9/11
Francesca Polletta and Lesley Wood, December 2003► Abstract | Full Paper
In the wake of the physical devastation wrought by the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, politicians and planners seemed agreed that rebuilding the site would have to be a participatory process. There was talk of "inclusive" planning and "diverse voices" being heard. What was attacked was American democracy, those charged with the key decisions in the rebuilding process argued, and the response could only be more democracy. "Common ground," indeed, "consensus" about the most important issues could be achieved. One might be forgiven for some skepticism about what such commitments would mean in practice. After all, New York City urban development has long been criticized for being driven by real estate interests (Pedersen 2002) and at the same time paralyzed by battles between community groups and developers (Sanders 2002). In that context, it seemed surprising that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), an agency led by developers, financiers, and officials for economic development, should talk so enthusiastically about giving power to the people. Yet the rhetoric was matched by action. In the months after the terrorist attack, public forums proliferated. In January, 1,200 people attended a meeting with local officials in Stuyvesant High School organized by the community board that represents Lower Manhattan. In February, 600 people talked about their visions for Lower Manhattan in a forum sponsored by the Civic Alliance, a coalition of environmental and planning groups. In April, the Municipal Arts Society spearheaded a series of 230 "visioning workshops" around the tri-state area, with 3,500 participants generating ideas for memorials, job-creation programs, and livable neighborhoods. The LMDC held a public hearing in Manhattan in May and then a series of hearings in each of the boroughs in September. And in July, the LMDC collaborated with the Port Authority and the Civic Alliance to convene possibly the largest "town meeting" ever held in this country. Some 4,500 people met in a midtown convention center to jointly review the preliminary plans for the World Trade Center site as well as to deliberate more broadly about the future of Lower Manhattan. That event, which attracted international coverage and was credited with sending decisionmakers back to the design drawing board, was followed by an online dialogue, more public hearings, an exhibition of new architectural design plans, and numerous public workshops.
Policy Made Public: Technologies of Deliberation and Representation in Rebuilding Lower Manhattan
Monique Girard, Francesca Polletta, and David Stark, May 2003► Abstract | Full Paper
New digital technologies have figured critically in the process of deciding the future of Lower Manhattan after September 11th, not only supplying the infrastructure for soliciting public input but also opening new channels of communication between citizens, designers, advocacy groups, and decision-makers. The research builds on our previous ethnographic work on organizational responses to September 11 and on the early stages of public dialogue about the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. One component of the current research is a comparative longitudinal study of participation in three public forums held to discuss the future of Lower Manhattan, forums that relied on face-to-face, exclusively online, and mixed technologies of deliberation. Interviews conducted shortly after each forum generated data on the modal users of online deliberative forums relative to those who participated in face-to-face deliberative forums. Another round of interviews, conducted twelve months after the initial ones, will yield insights into the impacts of online deliberative forums by comparing participants' attention to, engagement in, and expectations of the development process over time. The project's second component focuses on the online dialogues themselves. A discursive analysis of a sample of the twenty-six online discussion groups that accompanied the face-to-face forum will identify the conditions that facilitate or obstruct group discussions to approximate the equality, reflexivity, reciprocity, and openness that scholars have seen as hallmarks of authentically democratic deliberation. The third and fourth components of the research turn to the process by which multivocal public dialogues are translated into "public concerns" and then into design plans. By compiling an archive of all the websites devoted to Lower Manhattan redevelopment issues and tracking changes in the form and structure of the websites over time, the project will examine how old and new advocacy groups are adapting to a political landscape in which new deliberative technologies may be challenging traditional mechanisms of citizen participation. In the fourth component of the research, the focus is on communication between citizens, on one hand, and architects and public officials on the other. Analysis of the website database will chart whether and how architects and urban planners are capitalizing on new digital technologies to involve residents more directly in design. Interviews with representatives of the agencies charged with overseeing the development process will examine whether and how they are relying on internet-mediated representations of the public in their decisionmaking-and with what effect.
Information exchange and robustness of organizational networks
Peter Sheridan Dodds, Duncan J. Watts, and Charles F. Sabel, April 2003► Abstract | Full Paper
The dynamics of information exchange is an important but understudied aspect of collective communication, coordination, and problem solving in a wide range of distributed systems, both physical (e.g., the Internet) and social (e.g., business .rms). In this paper, we introduce a model of organizational networks according to which links are added incrementally to a hierarchical back-bone and we test the resulting networks under variable conditions of information exchange. Our main result is the identi.cation of a class of multiscale networks that reduce, over a wide range of environments, the likelihood both that individual nodes will su.er congestion related failure and also that the network as a whole will disintegrate when failures do occur. We call this dual robustness property of multiscale networks ultrarobustness. Furthermore, we .nd that multiscale networks attain most of their robustness with surprisingly few link additions, suggesting that ultra-robust organizational networks can be generated in an e.cient and scalable manner. Our results are directly relevant to the relief of congestion in communication networks and also more broadly to activities, like distributed problem solving, that require individuals to exchange information in an unpredictable manner.
The Psychotherapy of Trauma and the Trauma of Psychotherapy: Talking to Therapists About 9-11
Karen Seeley, March 2003► Abstract | Full Paper
In the hours following the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, New York City hospitals prepared to receive the wounded. At St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village, gurneys dressed in clean white linens were neatly arrayed along Seventh Avenue, awaiting a deluge of injured survivors. But the hospital beds remained empty; the physically wounded did not materialize. In lieu of bodily injuries, many of those who survived the attacks suffered wounds that were psychological. As the loss of life, the property damage, and the terrorist threat were measured, and as the shock and fear set in, attention turned to psychological injuries, and to public mental health. This paper examines the ways in which New York City mental health professionals, who treated the psychologically injured in the days, weeks and months after the attack on the twin towers, have been personally and professionally affected by their work. Treating the wounded has required psychotherapists to help individuals suffering from a particular traumatic event that they too, simultaneously, experienced. It has required them to confront the collective wounds sustained by a densely populated urban community numbering in the millions. Further, it has required them to reevaluate their relationship to public mental health.
Unpacking the "Organizational Imprinting Hypothesis": Cultural Entrepreneurialism in the Founding of the Paris Opera
Victoria Johnson, February 2003► Abstract | Full Paper
Arthur Stinchcombe's organizational imprinting hypothesis is frequently cited by organization theorists, yet the process by which imprinting takes place has remained black-boxed. This paper focuses on the first phase of the imprinting process, in which founders draw on elements from their political, cultural, and economic contexts to construct new organizations. These elements are of interest because they may come to influence an organization's structure and behavior long after the founding phase. I propose that this founding process be understood as one of cultural entrepreneurship, in which founders draw (with varying degrees of success) on available organizational repertoires and genres as they attempt to build their new organizations. Illustrating this process on the case of the Paris Opera, I aim in this paper to contribute to our understanding of how the highly consequential organizational imprinting phenomenon operates at the level of individual organizations.
The Organization of Responsiveness: Innovation and Recovery in the Trading Rooms of Lower Manhattan
Daniel Beunza and David Stark, December 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
What is the organizational basis of responsiveness under conditions of crisis? In this essay we examine a trading room that was damaged in the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center (WTC). What did the crisis reveal about the social practices and the technological tools of trading? Drawing on ethnographic field research prior to September 11th , we show how the heterarchical (as opposed to hierarchical) organization of the trading room contributed to innovation on an ongoing basis. Drawing on our subsequent observations in the relocated trading room and focus group discussions with executives in other WTC financial firms, we show that similarly heterarchical features contributed to innovation in response to crisis. Under conditions of radical uncertainty, one cannot know in advance what resources one will need, or even know in advance what might be a resource. Laterally distributed intelligence and a tolerance of multiple registers of valuation and interaction provide generative structures of resourcefulness where the replicative redundancy of contingency planning confronts its limits. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications of our findings on innovation, location, and responsiveness for the changing urban geography of fianance and the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.
Strategies and Identities by Mobilization Context
Harrison C. White, September 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
Identities come from turbulence. Identities are triggered by disjunctions in interactions, social and environmental. For example, awakening each morning is a disjunction from sleep which re-triggers an identity into action. On a larger scale, disjunctions associated with a sudden University budget deficit are material from which some new corporate Faculty identity may be triggered. Every identity, of whatever scope, reflects tensions between fresh action and routinized agency. Strategic actions by some identities make use of these tensions, and so deal in disjunctions. Strategic action implies that identities and their connections are being reshaped during the course of mobilization. Proposition: Cumulative impacts of strategic action reflect as well as yield larger contexts which themselves build from control struggles across local structures where strategies are sited. This essay explores the apparent contradiction between agentive strategy and determinate structure.
Who Counts?: Supranational Norms and Societal Needs
Laszlo Bruszt and David Stark, June 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
The essay discusses processes and practices of 'European normalization' in the ECE countries in several topic areas focusing on the potential effects of the successful adoption of supranational norms. Domestic political elites in these countries are to a growing extent accountable, by new accounting rules, to supranational bodies. How does this shape the forms and mechanisms by which they are accountable to their citizens? Who counts? That is, when supranational bodies and transnational actors are involved in the accounting, whose interests are taken into account and how? The dilemma of the ECE countries is that the more they succeed in meeting the standards of "Europeanization", the more limited might become their room for maneuver to take the diversity of local interests and considerations into account.
Tools of the Trade: The Socio-Technology of Arbitrage in a Wall Street Trading Room
Daniel Beunza and David Stark, May 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
Our task in this paper is to analyze the organization of trading in the era of quantitative finance. To do so, we conduct an ethnography of arbitrage, the trading strategy that best exemplifies finance in the wake of the quantitative revolution. In contrast to value and momentum investing, we argue, arbitrage involves an art of association - the construction of equivalence (comparability) of properties across different assets. In place of essential or relational characteristics, the peculiar valuation that takes place in arbitrage is based on an operation that makes something the measure of something else - associating securities to each other. The process of recognizing opportunities and the practices of making novel associations are shaped by the specific socio-spatial and socio-technical configurations of the trading room. Calculation is distributed across persons and instruments as the trading room organizes interaction among diverse principles of valuation.
Crisis, Recovery, Innovation: Responsive Organization after September 11th
John Kelly and David Stark, March 2002► Abstract | Full Paper
After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th, many firms, directly effected by the attack, resumed trading when markets re-opened less than a week later. How were these companies able to respond, working under conditions of fear and grief, so quickly and effectively? Drawing on conversations with executives and employees in financial service firms with offices in the World Trade Center and adjacent buildings, this report documents the importance of strong personal ties, lateral self-organization, and non-hierarchical relations in the recovery process. As a response to uncertainty, organizational factors that explain recovery are similar to those that generate innovation.
Pathways of Property Transformation: Enterprise Network Careers in Hungary, 1988-2000
David Stark and Balázs Vedres, August 2001► Abstract | Full Paper
This study analyzes the restructuring of a national economy by identifying the career pathways of its enterprises. This analysis is conducted in a setting strategically chosen as a case of rapid and profound economic transformation: the postsocialist Hungarian economy between 1988-2000. The goal of this study is to chart the multiple pathways of property transformation. Property pathways are conceptualized as the patterned sequences of change that firms undergo 1) in the composition of their ownership structure and 2) in their position within network structures of ties to other enterprises. To identify patterns of change, the study draws on sequence analysis, a research tool that makes possible the study of historical processes in an eventful way similar to historiography while retaining social scientific abstraction. Whereas sequence analysis has given us a perspective on careers as historical processes but has not been applied to business organizations, network analysis has been applied to business organizations but has not been done historically. The methodological innovation at the heart of this study is to combine the tools of sequence analysis and network analysis to yield a sequence analysis of changing network positions.
Innovative Ambiguities: NGOs use of Interactive Technology in Eastern Europe
Jonathan Bach and David Stark, June 2001► Abstract | Full Paper
This article examines the co-evolution of interactive technology and non-governmental organizations in Eastern Europe. It addresses, on the one side, the emergence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as actors who exhibit new organizational topographies and, on the other side, the emergence of the Internet and related interactive technologies that not only provide a new medium of representation in a virtual public sphere but whose adoption makes possible fundamental changes in the character of organization. We explore how organizations of civil society can be a source of organizational and technological innovation necessary for their societies' ongoing adaptability in a rapidly changing global economy. As such, NGOs can move beyond using new technologies for their existing roles as safety nets (to mitigate the new social problems of emerging market economies) and as safety valves (to give voice to social groups underrepresented in the newly competitive polities) to function as social entrepreneurs exploring new organizational forms as ongoing sources of innovation.
Distributing Intelligence and Organizing Diversity in New Media Projects
Monique Girard and David Stark, April 2001► Abstract | Full Paper
This paper examines how web design firms in the emergent new media industry probe and experiment with possible forms and sources of value giving shape to the new economy. Focussing on the collaborative engineering of cross-disciplinary web-design project teams, we examine how websites emerge as provisional settlements among the hetergeneous disciplines as they negotiate working compromises across competing performance criteria.