09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

The release of this number caused havoc.

Readers can click on a “Digg” icon on news stories, blog posts, and websites all over the internet and the stories clicked the most are featured on Digg.com.

On May 1st, 2007 Digg.com, as a result of reader votes, featured a story with the above number at the top of its homepage.  Within hours, Digg had received a cease-and-desist e-mail from lawyers.  The link to the page containing this number was consequently removed.

Yet, internet users around the world ensured that the spread of this number occurred.

“You can’t take something off the Internet.  That’s like trying to take pee out of a swimming pool.” (NewsRadio, 1990s television show)

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Will the law of limited variety stand the test of time and changing environments?

Organizations are reflective of the external environments that they exist in as they are greatly influenced by these settings.  In particular, they “reflect the complexity of their environments.  So, for example, organizations in more complex environments map the complexity of the environment into their own structures” (Scott and Davis, 370).  The more numerous the sources of complexity, the more complex an organization will be in general.  This argument is brought up in Organizations and Organizing and commonly contested by open system theorists.

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Taller = Shorter

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I grew up playing youth soccer.  Every weekend the local fields were filled will hundreds of little kids running around in big, clunky shinguards.  Parents outfitted their children with shinguards that ran the lengths of their shins, complete with ankle guards.

Fast-forward to today.  I play for Bucknell’s varsity soccer team.  Probably less than half of my teammates practice in shinguards.  They are required for games, but the norm is to have tiny shinguards, generally no longer than five or six inches.  The shinguards are small and light, barely providing protection.

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A Theory Disproven. A Few Billion Dollars Misspent. A Country in a Crisis.

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Social ills are rampant in parts of America.  As seen in The Wire, our country has high rates of crime.  Noticing this, spending to combat this problem increased dramatically.  From 1987 to 2007, the year of the advent of the current recession, federal spending on corrections rose an inflation-adjusted 127%.  Furthermore, total state general fund expenditures on corrections rose 315%.  In trying to rid our country of one problem, we contributed to the creation of a massive other one – a deep financial recession.

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From Fraud to Freedom

Rebecca Mark seems to have traded in her business suits and stilettos.  Today, a more apt picture of her would be lounging on one of her huge ranches, basking in the glory of have exited Enron at precisely the right time.

My blog topic from last week centered on Mark and I have spent the past week writing an essay about her, so I figure I would check out what she is up to these days.  Never one known for resting on her laurels while at Enron, her post-Enron life has been pretty relaxed. Continue reading

The Smartest People in the Room: Is using sex appeal smart or unfair?

“Mark unapologetically viewed being a woman – a smart, charismatic woman – as a way to ‘get privileges that other people don’t get, and…audiences that others could never hope to achieve’…Her gender was not an obstacle to be overcome but an advantage” (The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron, 72).

Rebecca Mark’s admittance of her willingness to flaunt her femininity intrigued me.  There are many factors that can give an individual power.  Most of these – money, knowledge, skills – are accepted and understood, but one – sex appeal – is more controversial.  Should individuals use their looks to gain influence and control?

What makes using your sex appeal to control others any different from using your money?  Would you feel comfortable gaining power as a result of your appearance?  After all, why do career centers offer seminars on how to dress for interviews?  Yes, respect and professionalism are important, but I contend that it goes beyond that.  The seminars teach individuals to conform to the looks desired of organizations in a particular industry

It seems to me that Rebecca Mark was able to use her gender to her advantage to the large extent that she did because she worked in a male-dominated business.  She unabashedly took advantage of this, working her way up the ranks by “play[ing] up her physical attributes,” wearing “high heels and short skirts,” and sleeping with her boss.  My initial thought was that she didn’t deserve what she got and was unfairly rewarded.  However, further thought made me recognize that perhaps she was just smart.  Maybe the book title should be The Smartest People in the Room.  Why leave Rebecca Mark out?  She understood just as well as the guys how to play the system and take advantage of what she had.

Like Skilling, Lay, and many others, Mark was certainly smart.  The men were unethical, however, and their actions are generally looked down upon.  By gaining power through her femininity, did Rebecca Mark put herself in this category?  I think so…but I don’t blame her.  Society has created a world in which such things are rewarded.  Mark had the intelligence and the charisma, but unfortunately they may not have gotten her anywhere.  Those are the characteristics that should have propelled Mark to the top, but in reality it was only her sex appeal that could do so.

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But Seriously, Dot Thompson Loves Org Theory!

My research strategy was to conduct research myself initially and then make use of the Bucknell librarians to help me out where my own researching efforts failed.  My attempt at researching resulted in a multitude of great sources.  However, I was unable to locate a scholarly journal article that specifically analyzed Rebecca Mark, something which I figured was bound to exist and would be very helpful for my essay.

So, Molly and I went to Dot Thompson prepared with specific research questions.  By giving her exactly what I was searching for, she showed me how to best utilize Bucknell’s databases to find what I was looking for.  I was familiar with the databases that she used, but was unaware of the extent of their features and search capabilities.  For example, Dot pointed out how search keywords differ by discipline.  Using a Management database to find an article related to the topic that I was looking for and then examining the tags was a useful way of learning how certain things are described in Management databases (as opposed to, for example, in a Psychology database).  Who knew that ‘women’ is more common terminology in Management and ‘female’ is more common terminology in Psychology?!

With Dot’s helpful advice and extensive research database expertise, I was able to locate a great article on Rebecca Mark.  If only she could write my paper for me too!