Penn Economic & Organizational Sociology

Working Paper Abstract Series

Vol. 1 No. 1

January 2001

 

Editorial Board:

Beth Bechky, Randall Collins, Paula England, Mauro Guillén, Douglas Massey, and Marshall Meyer.

 

Published by the Penn Economic Sociology & Organizational Studies Group (PESOS).

© 2000, 2001 Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania.

 

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CONTENTS

 

Biggart

Banking on Each Other: The Situational Logic of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations

 

Djelic

Exporting the American Model: Historical Roots of Globalization

 

Koku, Nazer & Wellman

Netting Scholars: Online and Offline

 

Mizruchi & Stearns

Getting Deals Done: The Use of Social Networks in Bank Decision Making

 

Rosenkopf, Metiu & George

Strategic Participation in Industry-Wide Communities? Voluntary Technical Associations as Context for Alliance Formation

 

Suárez

Political and Economic Motivations for Labor Control: A Comparison of Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Singapore

 

 

PAPER ABSTRACTS

 

Banking on Each Other: The Situational Logic of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations

 

Nicole Woolsey Biggart

Graduate School of Management & Department of Sociology

University of California, Davis

nwbiggart@ucdavis.edu

 

Paper downloadable from:

http://www2.gsm.ucdavis.edu/Faculty/Profiles/biggart/working_papers.htm

 

Abstract:

 

Poverty stems from many causes and has multiple expressions around the world.  Nonetheless, in recent years international development agencies and governments have focused above all on one strategy for poverty alleviation: microlending programs that provide credit to groups of poor people, usually women, for small business activities.  While microlending programs such as those developed by the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh are politically and morally attractive, in fact there is little understanding of the social conditions under which these programs are likely to succeed or fail.  Using an interpretive comparative case methodology, I analyze a globally widespread and naturally occurring type of group financing organization, the rotating savings and credit association, to identify those social structural characteristics associated with successful peer group lending arrangements.  I demonstrate the utility of an economic sociology approach – seeing economic organizations as rooted in social structure - to understanding an important credit institution.

 

 

 

Exporting the American Model: Historical Roots of Globalization

 

Marie-Laure Djelic

ESSEC, Paris, France

djelic@essec.fr

 

Paper available from:

djelic@essec.fr

 

Abstract:

 

The world, we are told, is getting smaller, increasingly seamless and it all has to do with ‘globalization’. The movement seems to lead inexorably to the worldwide convergence of economic, technological and institutional conditions, fostering in the process a homogenization of organizational recipes and national systems of economic organization. There is evidence, though, that the Panglossian discourse characteristic of much writing on economic globalization is often little more than that – unduly optimistic discourse. Whole regions or continents are still entirely excluded from the global world economy. In those countries that are part of it, the divide is in fact increasing between institutions, organizations and social groups that welcome and benefit from a global economy and those that dread, resent and resist it. There are clear signs that important differences persist to this day between national systems of economic organization, including within the small circle of countries that participate in the global economic game. After briefly reviewing the existing literature and its shortcomings, we define ‘national systems of economic organization’ and operationalize our dependent variable, documenting the coexistence, after 1945, of the double trend identified above. Building on detailed historical studies of three countries – France, Germany and Italy – and on their systematic comparison, we then put forward the following story. The current episode of globalization finds its historical roots in the attempted process of Americanization that marked the years following the end of the Second World War. Starting in those years, the American system of economic organization – which had itself emerged earlier in peculiar and unique conditions – was constructed as a universal model for the Western world. The large-scale and systematic attempt to transfer this one and single model accounts in the end for the increasing similarities that can be documented across national systems of economic organization in the second half of the twentieth century. A key driving force behind the attempt at cross-national transfer was, at least throughout the early period, a multinational network of ‘modernizers’ working with or around the Marshall Plan administration.

 

 

 

Netting Scholars: Online and Offline

 

Emmanuel Koku

University of Toronto

ekoku@chass.utoronto.ca

Nancy Nazer

University of Toronto

nnazer@chass.utoronto.ca

Barry Wellman

University of Toronto

wellman@chass.utoronto.ca

 

Paper downloadable from:

http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman/publications/index.html

 

Abstract:

 

Has the Internet affected the ways in which people communicate by minimizing the effects of distance? To examine this question, we study scholarly and interpersonal relationships - communicating in person and by email - in two scholarly networks, one in a large university and one dispersed across North America. Not only are these scholarly networks interesting in their own right, they are harbingers of the turn towards network and virtual organizations. Although the Internet helps scholars to maintain ties over great distances, physical proximity still matters. Those scholars who see each other often or work nearer to each other email each other more often. Frequent contact on the Internet is a compliment for frequent face-to-face contact, not a substitute for it. The more scholarly relations network members have, the more frequently they communicate and the more media they use to communicate. Although email helps scholars without strong ties to stay in contact, it is used most by scholars who are collaborators or friends.

 

Paper to appear in:

American Behavioral Scientist, February 2001.

 

 

 

Getting Deals Done: The Use of Social Networks in Bank Decision Making

 

Mark S. Mizruchi

Department of Sociology

University of Michigan

mizruchi@umich.edu

 

Linda Brewster Stearns

Department of Sociology

University of California, Riverside

stearns@ucrac1.ucr.edu

 

Paper downloadable from:

http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mizruchi/

 

Abstract:

 

Economic actors confront various forms of uncertainty in their decision making, and the ways in which they deal with these obstacles may affect their success in accomplishing their goals.  In this paper, we examine the means by which relationship managers in a major commercial bank attempt to close transactions with their corporate customers.  We hypothesize that under conditions of high uncertainty, bankers will rely on colleagues with whom they are strongly tied for advice on and support of their deals.  Drawing on recent network theory, we also hypothesize that transactions in which bankers use relatively sparse approval networks are more likely to successfully close than are transactions involving dense approval networks. We find support for both hypotheses.  We conclude that bankers are faced with a strategic paradox:  their tendency to rely on those they trust in dealing with uncertainty creates conditions that render deals less likely to be successful.  This represents an example of the unanticipated consequences of purposive social action.

 

 

 

Strategic Participation in Industry-Wide Communities? Voluntary Technical Associations as Context for Alliance Formation

 

Lori Rosenkopf

Anca Metiu

Varghese George

The Wharton School

University of Pennsylvania

rosenkopf@wharton.upenn.edu

turcanu@management.wharton.upenn.edu

vgeorge@andromeda.rutgers.edu

 

Paper downloadable from:

http://www-management.wharton.upenn.edu/rosenkopf

 

Abstract:

 

We examine how technical committee participation, leadership and interaction generate context in which technical managers identify suitable alliance partners and particular opportunities for technical collaboration.  Technical committee activity enables access to explicit technical information through participation, exchange of tacit knowledge through interaction, and control of technological outcomes through leadership.  Our longitudinal study of 87 cellular service providers and equipment manufacturers demonstrates that all three mechanisms increase subsequent alliance formation.  Furthermore, we find that the technical committee interaction effect is stronger for horizontal alliances (among similar firms) than for vertical alliances (among dissimilar firms), suggesting that substantive interaction is facilitated among firms that share more common knowledge bases.

 

 

 

Political and Economic Motivations for Labor Control: A Comparison of Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Singapore

 

Sandra L. Suárez

Department of Political Science

Temple University

ssuarez@nimbus.temple.edu

 

Paper available from:

ssuarez@nimbus.temple.edu

 

Abstract:

 

The global economy poses many constraints on small economies, especially those pursuing export oriented industrialization (EOI) through the attraction of foreign direct investment.  It has been argued that the success of EOI depends on the government’s ability to meet the labor requirements of this economic model—labor peace and low wages—through labor control policies and even repression.  This paper compares the histories of labor control of Ireland, Puerto Rico, and Singapore, three island-nations of similarly small size and high degree of integration with the global economy.  While the pressures for labor control during EOI are evident in each case, there is a great deal of variation in the strategies governments adopted to rein in organized labor.  I argue that the difference in the labor control methods employed to meet the requirements of EOI are not explained by an economic logic but by a political logic inherited from an earlier period when labor control was motivated by the efforts of a dominant party to consolidate its power.

 

 


 

 

EDITORIAL POLICY

 

A. Titles & Abstracts of working papers by social scientists actively engaged in research will be considered for inclusion in the Newsletter, provided they meet these criteria:

 

  1. Papers must be scientific in nature.
  2. Papers must not use inappropriate or discriminatory language.
  3. Papers must address a topic related to economic sociology, work, occupations, professions, or organizations.
  4. Papers must be at least 15 double-spaced pages long.
  5. Papers must not have been yet published, although they may have been accepted for publication at a future date.

 

B. The editors reserve the right not to include papers that fail to meet any of the above criteria.

 

C. The papers accepted for inclusion in the Working Paper Series are not refereed. Rather, the role of the editors is to make sure that the criteria under point A above are met.

 

D. Full-length papers should be submitted in Windows Microsoft Word format to: guillen@wharton.upenn.edu. Abstract submissions without the full-length paper will be returned to authors. Submissions in formats other than Windows Microsoft Word will be returned to authors.

 

E. Authors of papers accepted for inclusion in the Newsletter are requested to provide:

 

  1. Their institutional affiliation (if any), and an email contact address.
  2. An abstract of the paper not exceeding 250 words, in Windows Microsoft Word format.
  3. A means for people to obtain the full-length paper. These may include: a website or an email address. Non-electronic media of paper distribution will not be accepted.

 

F. Authors must respond to all requests for papers promptly. Failure to make the full-length paper available will result in exclusion of the paper from the Working Paper Series.