Category Archives: videos

“Don’t know much about love”

Ah, this takes me back, to Mozambique, oddly enough (long story, another time).

Baby can you teach me – how to
Baby can you reach me, I’m calling out for you
Underneath your window tonight
I know I ain’t no romeo, so help me make it right

If I can get this message through to your heart
It would be more than I could understand
No beginner ever skipped the start
And I want to learn all than I possibly can

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

Baby when you kiss me will I see
That little wish list you’ve been keeping for me
I’m rushing like a fool, babe, ’cause I know
If they taught you this in school
You must have made the honour roll

If I can get this message through to your heart
It would be more than I can understand
No beginner ever skipped the start
And I want to learn more than I possibly can

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

I graduated, baby, I can read
But the pages of the heart come difficult for me
I speak my mind girl, everyday
But the language of love
Well, I don’t know how to say

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

Because I don’t know much
I don’t know much, much about love
Out of touch
I don’t know much, much about love

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Video: What is absorptive capacity?

And here is the script that I more or less stumbled through.

So, what is absorptive capacity?

According to the seminal 1990 article by Cohen and Levinthal it’s “a firm’s ability to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and apply it to commercial ends”

Extending this, Zahra and George (2002) say it is ‘‘is a set of organizational routines and strategic processes by which firms acquire, assimilate, transform, and exploit knowledge for the purpose of value creation.’’

They break that down into potential absorptive capacity – around acquiring and assimilating and realized absorptive capacity – around transforming and exploiting. Too much of the later – from routinising, can lead to a competence trap, but I’m digressing…

There’s also “relative absorptive capacity” – which firm has more, but I’m digressing…

It’s tied up with notions of innovation, organisational learning (natch), dynamic capabilities, competence traps, deliberative learning, knowledge management combinative capabilities and a bunch of other interesting terms.

Ways to think about it

Don’t think of a sponge though – that is too passive a metaphor. So is a bunch of keys that would “unlock” other knowledge.
It’s much messier, more fluid and iterative than that, and as Aribi, A. and Dupouet point out it is a non-linear process with feedback loops within and between the stages.

There are lots and lots of unanswered research questions for the capitalists, check out Volberda et al. 2010 for a nice listing. But

What are the barriers for social movement organisations?

  • They don’t want or “need” to learn (our old friend the smugosphere)
  • They have pitiful or absent knowledge management structures
  • They have a high turn-over of personnel
  • They are up to their neck in alligators, and have forgotten that they came to drain the swamp

Things you should read

Aribi, A. and Dupouet, O. 2016.Absorptive capacity: a non-linear process. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, Vol. 14, pp.15-26.

Gebauer, H. Worch, H and Truffer, B. 2012. Absorptive capacity, learning processes and combinative capabilities as determinants of strategic innovation. European Management Journal, Vol. 30, pp.57-73.

Jimenez-Barrionuevo, M, Garcia-Morales, V. and Molina, L. 2011. Validation of an instrument to measure absorptive capacity. Technovation. Vol. 31, pp.190-202.

Lichtenthaler, U., 2009. Absorptive capacity, environmental turbulence, and the complementarity of organizational learning processes. Academy of Management Journal 52 (4), 822–846.

Murovec, N., Prodan, I., 2009. Absorptive capacity, its determinants, and influence on innovation output: cross-cultural validation of the structural model. Technovation 29, 859–872.

Todorova, G., & Durisin, B. (2007). Absorptive capacity: Valuing a reconceptualization. Academy of Management Review, 32(3), 774–786.

Volberda, H., Foss N. and Lyles, M. 2010. Perspective – absorbing the concept of absorptive capacity: how to realize its potential in the organization field. Organization Science Vol. 21,(4), pp. 931–951.

Video: The Greening of Industry/Eco-innovation

More or less the script I burble. Stuff in square brackets didn’t get said or referenced, because the damn thing was already 5 and a half minutes…

The whole field of “green innovation” is a Rorschach test. We see in the blobs what we want and need to see. Capitalism mutating into something ecologically friendly, capitalism wrecking the planet. The system working, the system shirking… This video throws out questions raised by the idea of “eco-innovation.” It also gives a quick overview of the changing academic perspectives on “the greening of industry”. It is of course, a work in progress, and if you think I am wrong, lemme know marcmywords@gmail.com

So what is eco-innovation, anyhow?

Kemp and Pearson (2007) define it as

the production, assimilation or exploitation of a product, production process, service or management or business method that is novel to the organisation (developing or adopting it) and which results, throughout its life cycle, in a reduction of environmental risk, pollution and other negative impacts of resources use (including energy use) compared to relevant alternatives”.


So why do companies “go green”?

  • Is it simply to greenwash, to get the eco-nuts off their backs, and onto softer targets?
  • Is it a bargaining chip against the risk of proposed regulations that would be more stringent?
  • Is it an opportunity to attract and retain staff who Care About These Things?
  • Is it for competitive advantage (the Porter hypothesis). Especially a first mover advantage [The timing of incorporation of regulatory signals in the corporate structure and strategy is important for determining the relationship between regulation and innovation. Early compliance has been linked to competitive advantage (Porter and Van der Linde, 1995; Rothwell, 1992) as companies develop compliance capabilities, which, in turn result into early mover advantages. (Paraskevopoulou, 2012: 1064)  [I should also have said something about simply saving production costs here, but didn’t]

  • Is it to have a planet left to sell stuff on?

Of course, “it depends” – It might be any of those, any combination of those. It depends on the particular industry, the market, the governments and states, the times.

There’s no one simple answer. There are lots of complicated questions though!

Who engages in eco-innovation – is it the “little guy” – the niche actor trying to save the world or patent some cool stuff and then get bought out? Do the little guys have the cash and the organizational capacities – smart enough staff, good enough absorptive capacity? [“most literature on eco-innovation is focused on large mature firms, practically neglecting SMEs (Schiederig et al., 2012).” (Diaz-Garcia et al. 2015:16)]

Is it the big beasts, the elephants trying to tap dance in search of new customers, or just to keep the ones they’ve got? Are they too drunk on past successes? Under what circumstances will pressure groups scare them into acting?

It depends.

How does this “eco-innovation” play out?

Is it incremental, constant small refinements of a dominant design, or is it radical and potentially competence-destroying?

It depends.

Where does it come from?

Does it come from a “laboratory” or is it user-lead (insert guff about prosumers here).

It depends

Does it come from “transition regions” or “industrial districts”?

It depends.

What kind of innovation are we talking about?

  • The same product used differently?
  • A different product used in the “same” way?
  • A new product used in a different way?

What of the “rebound effect”, can we escape Jevons’ Paradox?

There’s a bunch of other questions too.

What happens at the level of an industry (over and above individual firms jostling for advantage. Are there industries that can’t plausibly re-orientate? (How) will they fight to the death?

Which regulations in a “policy mix” might drive faster innovation in the “right” direction?

What are the trade-offs between “green” and “responsible” and so on?

What about innovations that help sustain an ultimately unsustainable system (man)? Are they ‘green’? Says who?

All good questions – what does the academic literature have to say? How long have you got? For now, this –

according to Penna, 2014 the literatures can be broken down into three periods, with an expansion from a largely firm-based economics/costs model between the 60s and 80s,

As Hoffman’s work shows, corporate environmentalism emerged in the late 1960s and 1970s in direct response to the increasing government regulation following various environmental disasters.

By the 1990s things had evolved into “environmental innovation can create win-wins” – having your cake and eating it too – (ecological modernisation etc)

A third wave takes a more sophisticated approach that brings in organisation theory, innovation studies, evolutionary economics, neo-institutional theory, and looks at an entire field (including governmental and non-governmental players).

In their excellent “Climate Change, Capitalism, and Corporations Processes of Creative Self-DestructionChris Wright and Daniel Nyberg argue that corporate environmentalism provides a way for corporations to incorporate critique and respond by justifying their actions (‘we can be trusted to be good corporate citizens and environmental managers through self-regulation, market logics and tech innovation’)

So, it’s complicated and “it depends”.

What would actual greening look like? There’s a whole bunch of terms – circular economy, closed loop, steady state, degrowth etc. All of them anxiety management devices, bargaining in the face of a remorseless Green Reaper.

Oh well.

Those images

The battery powered car

stephaniemcmillan.org

Painting chimneys

https://oneplanet-sustainability.org/2013/11/21/corporate-sustainability-profit-motive-and-intention-in-greenwash/

Porter hypothesis slide from
Rennings, K. Symposium on The Porter Hypothesis at 20

http://www.slideshare.net/SustainableProsperity/klaus-rennings-presentation-the-porter-hypothesis-at-20-can-environmental-regulation-enhance-innovation-and-competitiveness-june-2010

Prosumer

https://curiositykilledtheconsumer.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/do-you-prosume-how-the-do-it-yourself-trend-changes-the-relation-between-producer-and-consumer/

Jevons Paradox

http://www.slideshare.net/rakutentech/rakuten-techconf2014-f6-changing-the-behavior-of-it

Video: Issue lifecycles, a not-even-beginner’s guide

First, a public health warning. I am not yet clear enough on the distinction(s) between issue attention cycles and issue lifecycles to make this video. I’m doing it, therefore, to get Shot. Down. In. Flames. Then, if I survive the crash, I will make a – better- sequel. How’s that for dialectic and iterative?

Issue attention cycles follow attention – which fluctuates because critical events/focussing events/triggering events are usually infrequent and unpredictable, cannot be easily exploited and after a time lose their impact (dog bites man is not a news story). And journalists get tired of writing the same stories, readers of reading them. So when a new shiny issue comes along…

But the issue is now on the agendas of three key groups

a) civil society – social movement organisations and scientists, and maybe some hacks

b) corporations, an industry and their allies, who keep a watching brief

c) the state – the bureaucracy and the politicians. The latter need to be seen to be responsive, and the latter will want an ongoing policy process as a fig-leaf in case the issue blows up in their face again. They can’t afford to have been seen to be doing nothing…

So the issue has its own, slower, dynamic. As Flanagan and Uyarra, (2016: 182) point out – “Policy dynamics will interact with other relevant dynamics – electoral, budget and planning cycles, economic cycles, organisational life cycles – each with their own logic and imperatives”

It will bimble along, as advocacy coalitions slowly form, policy-subsystems get owned, problem, politics and policy streams trickle each on their merry way.

There will be flare-ups – issue entrepreneurs get lucky, smart or both. New disasters happen, followed by marches or petitions. Reports that were commissioned do indeed get written, and not ALL of them can be released at 5pm on a Friday afternoon just before Christmas….

Politicians are sometimes forced by coalition partners in knife-edge minority governments to NOT keep punting an issue into the long grass.

Meanwhile, corporations are thinking about which stakeholders to use as human shields, and perhaps even cleaning up their act, if that is the smarter and cheaper thing to do. And don’t be forgetting – corporations and industries always have a LOT on their plates – As Clark et al (2015: 5) put it. “Issue life cycle literature addresses two important aspects of how issues are managed : the cumulative effects of a single issue over time and the cumulative effect of multiple issues affecting the same firm over time.”

In all this, remember, the existence of a policy process enables politicians etc to say that matters are indeed ‘in hand’ and that there’s “nothing to see here”.

Some issues just fade away – “solved” unintentionally by technological, demographic or social changes. Others flare up occasionally a bit like herpes. Others become chronic, and slowly fatal. Like drug-resistant tuberculosis; Well, HELLO climate change.

comments? Please email me at marcmywords at gmail.com

Those references

Clark, C. Bryant, A. and Griffin, J. 2015. Firm Engagement and Social Issue Salience, Consensus and Contestation. Business & Society, doi:10.1177/0007650315613966

Flanagan, K., & Uyarra, E. 2016. Four dangers in innovation policy studies – and how to avoid them. Industry and Innovation. DOI:10.1080/13662716.2016.1146126. Publication link: 31cea8d3-1f0b-4027-ac0a-bec6587267ab

Proposed script for video on Issue Lifecycles Literature

Comments please on this draft script for a video on Issue Lifecycles Literature (see here for the Issue Attention Cycles one)  You can also email me at marcmywords@gmail.com

 

First, a public health warning.  I am not yet clear enough on the distinction(s) between issue attention cycles and issue lifecycles to make this video.  I’m doing it, therefore, to get Shot. Down. In. Flames.    Then, if I survive the crash, I will make a – better- sequel.  How’s that for dialectic and iterative?

Issue attention cycles follow attention – which fluctuates because critical events/focussing events/triggering events are usually infrequent and unpredictable, cannot be easily exploited and after a time lose their impact  (dog bites man is not a news story).  And journalists get tired of writing the same stories, readers of reading them.  So when a new shiny issue comes along…

But the issue is now on the agendas of three key groups

a) civil society – social movement organisations and scientists, and maybe some hacks

b) corporations, an industry and their allies, who keep a watching brief

c) the state – the bureaucracy and the politicians.  The latter need to be seen to be responsive, and the latter will want an ongoing policy process as a fig-leaf in case the issue blows up in their face again.  They can’t afford to have been seen to be doing nothing…

So the issue has its own, slower, dynamic. As Flanagan and Uyarra, (2016: 182) point out – “Policy dynamics will interact with other relevant dynamics – electoral, budget and planning cycles, economic cycles, organisational life cycles – each with their own logic and imperatives

It will bimble along, as advocacy coalitions slowly form, policy-subsystems get owned, problem, politics and policy streams trickle each on their merry way.

There will be flare-ups – issue entrepreneurs get lucky, smart or both.  New disasters happen, followed by marches or petitions.    Reports that were commissioned do indeed get written, and not ALL of them can be released at 5pm on a Friday afternoon just before Christmas….

Politicians are sometimes forced by coalition partners in knife-edge minority governments to NOT keep punting an issue into the long grass.

Meanwhile, corporations are thinking about which stakeholders to use as human shields, and perhaps even cleaning up their act, if that is the smarter and cheaper thing to do. And don’t be forgetting – corporations and industries always have a LOT on their plates – As Clark et al (2015: 5) put it. “Issue life cycle literature addresses two important aspects of how issues are managed : the cumulative effects of a single issue over time and the cumulative effect of multiple issues affecting the same firm over time.

In all this, remember, the existence of a policy process enables politicians etc to say that matters are indeed ‘in hand’ and that there’s “nothing to see here”.

Some issues just fade away – “solved” unintentionally by technological, demographic or social changes.  Others flare up occasionally a bit like herpes.  Others become chronic, and slowly fatal.  Like drug-resistant tuberculosis;  Well, HELLO climate change.

Video: Issue Attention Cycle beginner’s guide

So, a very crude (but not rude) video about the Issue Attention Cycle.  Done more for my own benefit – to nail a couple of things and get back into the video-making habit.  I’ve gotten rusty…  Comments welcome, of course…

Script:

This guy is Ibn Khaldun. He was an historian in the 14th century. He suggested that one generation of nomadic warriors might conquer a complacent city, their children might be able to defend it, but their grandchildren, soft from luxury, would be unable to defend it from a generation of nomadic warriors, whose children… you get the idea. The big wheel keeps on turning. Fast forward to 1972…

And American political scientist Anthony Downs puns on his name to produce Up and Down with Ecology: The issue attention cycle

He suggested a five stage model for, well, attention to an issue.

Stage one – he labelled the “pre-problem phase” – nobody but a few scientists or activists are much bothered

In stage two “alarmed discovery and euphoric enthusiasm” something happens – a scandal, disaster, a book gets published – some kind of what is now called “focusing event”. And the issue does get into the newspaper, or onto the TV news,

Stage three is called “realizing the cost of significant progress” – there’s a gradual grokking of the cost of “solving” the problem

Stage four sees a “gradual decline of intense public interest” as people realise the actual costs, others get discouraged, others still feel threatened, others still bored. And anyway, other issues are newer, shinier

The final “post-problem” stage sees the issue in limbo, with occasional “spasmodic recurrences” of interest. But the level is higher than it was at the pre-problem stage, because not everyone has

It’s a beautiful, simple, intuitive heuristic. And of course, therefore, quite problematic.

Why do some issues take off and others don’t? Do issues get stuck at a particular stage, or reverse? Why? How? Are there other possible outcomes?

Mahon and Waddock (1992) produced a graph that offered different possible (non)-resolutions of an issue, with a return to apathy (the solution has ‘worked’, at least in the view of those who want it off the policy agenda), ‘confidence in solution’ and ‘failure- intensified concern).>

Bigelow et al (1993:24 ) note that “ issues may progress recursively, cycling back and forth through the stages” and warn that such issues may in fact not be resolved.

Combining issue attention cycle literature with the “greening of industry” literature, Frank Geels and Caetano Penna developed the Dialectic Issue LifeCycle Model, the DILC

It delves into what different actors – those trying to push the issue up the political agenda and those trying to push it down – do within the five phases. Also – and this is crucial – what sorts of research and development might a company – or an industry – take to try to come up with a neat and de-politicising ‘techno-fix’?

So, issues – in the sense of a socially constructed worry – can come and go – while the underlying problem just builds and builds…

Does the rise of social media and Web2.0 actually change the issue attention cycle? If so, how, when, why? All good questions. Watch this space, perhaps…

Advocacy Coalitions Framework – a video

The “Advocacy Coalition Framework” is a very useful tool for researching and thinking about how public policy does – or doesn’t – change, especially on really contentious issues.  It looks at how groups of actors that have enough in common bond together to try to get all/most of what they want.  I’d heartily recommend you read more on it, if politics is ‘your thing’;  Paul Cairney’s 1000 word essay is a very good place to start. 

Here’s a rough video I made about it.  It’s been too long since I was making politics/sociology concept videos, and I plan to do more, starting with “punctuated equilibrium” theory and “policy streams”.

Other further viewing

Another video on the topic.

Other reading:
Advocacy Coalition Framework Overview

Policy Studies Journal Vol 39, no 3 (2011) is a special issue. The introduction is dead handy.

See also A Guide to the Advocacy Coalition Framework by Christopher Weible and Paul Sabatier.