JVWR Special Issue 2nd Update

Part 2 of a special ‘Lantern’ issue on 3D3C Virtual Worlds of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, which I have co-edited, is now available. Part 1 was published in Q1 / 2014 and is available here. Part 2 was published in Q3 / 2014 and is available here.


JVWR Issue 2


Best Paper Award at Academy of Management Conference

One of my research papers, co-authored with Mariana G. Andrade Rojas, a Ph.D. candidate at The University of Hong Kong, was recognized at the recent Academy of Management Annual Meeting held in Philadelphia, USA. The Academy of Management is the preeminent professional association of management and organizational scholars and its annual meeting draws more than 10,000 students, academics, scholars, and professionals. The paper, titled “Competitive Brokerage: External Resource Endowment and Information Technology as Antecedents” was conferred the Best Student Paper 1st Runner Up Award by the Organizational Communication & Information Systems Division.

AwardHaving a prominent position in a firm’s competition network is a prerequisite for success in the global and embedded environment of the 21st century. In our study, we assert that IT-enabled information management capability, M&A, and strategic centrality act in differing ways to individually and jointly enable firms to obtain such a position. Specifically, we propose the “competitive brokerage” construct to assess firms’ multi-industry competitive positioning and posit that information management capability acts as a substitute for M&A and strategic centrality to attain competitive brokerage. In other words, we posit that an organization’s information technology, acquisitions of other firms and strategic alliances with other organizations endow it with the ability to bridge multiple markets and successfully compete across them with multiple brands.

Analysis of a longitudinal multi-industry competition network supports our assertions. This work offers a novel set of insights to the evolutionary dynamics of network structures literature and the IT business value literature by arguing and empirically demonstrating that in addition to structural elements, firms’ external resource endowment and IT-enabled capabilities influence network positioning.

An abridged version of this paper was accepted for inclusion in the Best Paper Proceedings of the conference (approximately ten percent of all papers are selected as “Best Papers” and accepted for inclusion).

Computational Agent-based Models and the Future of Organizational Design

This piece in The Journal of Organizational Design states that in the future, the field of organizational design would have three characteristics: consilience, a revolution in empirical methods, and prototyping of new organizational designs. Computational agent-based models will play a key role in this future by their ability to support two of these characteristics – the ability to think in levels (or consilience) and prototyping under controlled conditions.


PURANAM, P.. A Future for the Science of Organization Design.Journal of Organization Design, 1, may. 2012. Available at: <http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/jod/article/view/6337/5540>. Date accessed: 10 Aug. 2012

The New World Order: China, US, India

The Financial Times is reporting that China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy in 2014. India, is now the world’s third largest economy.

These numbers are based on Purchasing Power Parity calculations done by the International Comparison Program of the World Bank. Considered to be the authoritative source for global GDP figures, the first round was conducted in 2005. Results of the second round, in which country GDPs were calculated for 2011, were released today.

The International Comparison Program (ICP) is a worldwide statistical partnership to collect comparative price data and compile detailed expenditure values of countries’ gross domestic products (GDP), and to estimate purchasing power parities (PPPs) of the world’s economies. Using PPPs instead of market exchange rates to convert currencies makes it possible to compare the output of economies and the welfare of their inhabitants in real terms (that is, controlling for differences in price levels).

via ICP 2011: International Comparison Program.


The summary report, available here, states that India’s GDP in 2011 was $5.75 trillion, China’s was $13.5 trillion and the US was $15.52 trillion.  In the period 2005-2011, China and India’s economies doubled in size as a percentage of US GDP. China’s GDP grew from 43% to 87% of the size of the US economy, while India went from 19% to 37%.  Based on economic growth estimates for the period 2011-2014, it is expected that the China will overtake the US this year.


World's Largest Economies

A surprising finding of the ICP is that India has one of the lowest price level indexes in the world. Or in other words, India has some of the lowest priced goods & services in the world. [This is something the average Indian will find hard to digest due to the double digit inflation witnessed over the past decade!]. Unsurprisingly, India ranks 127 in per capita GDP.


World Economies as a percentage of US Economy

Reading Boosts Brain Function

Reading a good novel can boost brain function. A recent research study from Emory University, co-authored by my dissertation co-adviser, Michael Prietula, has found “changes in resting-state connectivity of the brain that persist“. The study used a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify brain networks associated with reading stories.


The results showed heightened connectivity in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, on the mornings following the reading assignments.

Heightened connectivity was also seen in the central sulcus of the brain, the primary sensory motor region of the brain. Neurons of this region have been associated with making representations of sensation for the body, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition. Just thinking about running, for instance, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.

From Emory University

or in other words, the study shows that reading makes you smarter, reading stories makes you even more smarter. This explains why some of us (me included) have to read a story or a research study to ‘kick start’ our brain into ‘writing mode’.

The original study can be accessed here. This news was also covered at Futurity.org and The Independent.

JVWR Special Issue Update

A special ‘Lantern’ issue on 3D3C Virtual Worlds of the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, which I have co-edited, is now available. The special issue is being published in two parts – Part 1 has been published in Q1 / 2014 and is available here. Part 2 will be published in Q2 / 2014.

JVWR Special Issue

Part 1 of JVWR Special Issue

The Dunbar Number Explained

The advent of Facebook and other online social networks has made the Dunbar Number a well known concept. This article provides a nice layman’s explanation of the Dunbar number, in the words of Robin Dunbar himself. The article also points out that recent research shows that while people can have several thousand Facebook or Twitter friends, the number of people with whom they have meaningful interactions remains at around 150.

Dunbar's Number in Twitter Conversations

Dunbar’s Number in Twitter Conversations (Photo credit: Cea.)

It seems as though the concept of a ‘Technology Assisted Dunbar Number’, which I had attempted to conceptualize 5 years ago has not found empirical support – as of yet. Hope remains that technology will one day enhance the limits of human cognition and thus enable us to evolve beyond this natural barrier.


Key passages from the article are highlighted below:




Over the past two decades, he and other like-minded researchers have discovered groupings of 150 nearly everywhere they looked. Anthropologists studying the world’s remaining hunter-gatherer societies have found that clans tend to have 150 members. Throughout Western military history, the size of the company—the smallest autonomous military unit—has hovered around 150. The self-governing communes of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist sect similar to the Amish and the Mennonites, always split when they grow larger than 150. So do the offices of W.L. Gore & Associates, the materials firm famous for innovative products such as Gore-Tex and for its radically nonhierarchical management structure. When a branch exceeds 150 employees, the company breaks it in two and builds a new office.

For Dunbar, there’s a simple explanation for this: In the same way that human beings can’t breathe underwater or run the 100-meter dash in 2.5 seconds or see microwaves with the naked eye, most cannot maintain many more than 150 meaningful relationships. Cognitively, we’re just not built for it.


Dunbar actually describes a scale of numbers, delimiting ever-widening circles of connection. The innermost is a group of three to five, our very closest friends. Then there is a circle of 12 to 15, those whose death would be devastating to us. (This is also, Dunbar points out, the size of a jury.) Then comes 50, “the typical overnight camp size among traditional hunter-gatherers like the Australian Aboriginals or the San Bushmen of southern Africa,” Dunbar writes in his book How Many Friends Does One Person Need? Beyond 150 there are further rings: Fifteen hundred, for example, is the average tribe size in hunter-gatherer societies, the number of people who speak the same language or dialect. These numbers, which Dunbar has teased out of surveys and ethnographies, grow by a factor of roughly three. Why, he isn’t sure.


Another link to the article is here.