Monday, June 21, 2010

Theoretical assumptions.
The relation of corporate to academic life over time.

“Jeremy, theory doesn’t change the way data is gathered, it guides what data is do be gathered [sic] and how it is to be interpreted, what tests are run; that sort of thing.”

I’m would disagree with that. Look at Karen Ho’s Liquidated and Karin Knorr Cetina’s work on finance. The fact that they come from two different theoretical perspectives shapes the sites that they do their research on and their research methodologies. KHo looks at the habitus of investment bankers, and carried out ethnography and interviews. KKC looks at financial markets in terms of information flow across global networks – she did interviews and not participant observation.
In 1952, Gillen took the problem to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a trustee. Together with representatives of the university, Bell set up a program called the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives. More than simply training its young executives to do a particular job, the institute would give them, in a 10-month immersion program on the Penn campus, what amounted to a complete liberal arts education. There were lectures and seminars led by scholars from Penn and other colleges in the area — 550 hours of course work in total, and more reading, Baltzell reported, than the average graduate student was asked to do in a similar time frame.

...Perhaps the most exciting component of the curriculum was the series of guest lecturers the institute brought to campus. “One hundred and sixty of America’s leading intellectuals,” according to Baltzell, spoke to the Bell students that year. They included the poets W. H. Auden and Delmore Schwartz, the Princeton literary critic R. P. Blackmur, the architectural historian Lewis Mumford, the composer Virgil Thomson. It was a thrilling intellectual carnival.

...What’s more, the graduates were no longer content to let the machinery of business determine the course of their lives. One man told Baltzell that before the program he had been “like a straw floating with the current down the stream” and added: “The stream was the Bell Telephone Company. I don’t think I will ever be that straw again.”

...But Bell gradually withdrew its support after yet another positive assessment found that while executives came out of the program more confident and more intellectually engaged, they were also less interested in putting the company’s bottom line ahead of their commitments to their families and communities. By 1960, the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives was finished.

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