Duplication, aka self-plagiarism, meets management-speak

management learningWhat happens when people who study management have to write a retraction notice? This, from Management Learning, regarding a paper by Gordon Müller-Seitz of the Free University of Berlin, suggests one possibility:

RETRACTION Network Congregating: A Practice‐Based Perspective on Absorptive Capacity at the Organization-Network Nexus in a Semi‐Conductor Industry Consortium Abstract

At the request of the editors and authors the article Müller‐Seitz, G. (2012) Network Congregating: A Practice‐Based Perspective on Absorptive Capacity at the Organization‐Network Nexus in a Semi‐Conductor Industry Consortium Management Learning, DOI:1350507612450135, first published on June 26, 2012 has been retracted.

The authors recognize the need for a clear and distinctive conceptual framework to avoid overlapping arguments in their Management Learning and R&D Management papers (Müller‐Seitz, G. (2012), Absorptive and desorptive capacity‐related practices at the network level–the case of SEMATECH. R&D Management, 42: 90–99. DOI:10.1111/j.1467‐9310.2011.00668.x.).

The authors also recognize the need for clear cross‐citations to the R&D Management paper in the Management Learning paper, which are missing due to the parallel processing of both papers. The authors have accepted the editor’s offer to submit a re‐written version that adequately addresses the concerns set forth.

We’ll come back to the language in the notice in a second. First, here’s the abstract of the now-retracted paper:

We put forward a practice perspective on absorptive capacity. We illustrate this by network congregating, i.e. repeatedly exchanging face-to-face ideas at interorganizational venues such as conferences, which Intel Corporation attends as a leading member of the semiconductor industry network SEMATECH. Hereby, our findings contribute to the discourse by highlighting the role of practices, in particular against the organization-network nexus. Network congregating is carefully choreographed by Intel and helps the organization to acquire knowledge from network partners and utilize the information internally. Moreover, Intel disseminates information among the network partners by means of congregating in order to influence the knowledge evaluation processes of the network. We suggest tentatively that this reciprocal flow of information at the organization-network nexus is also worth considering, as not only Intel, but also other dominant network partners try to influence the value attribution of new knowledge (e.g. technological trends) among other network partners.

And here’s the one to which the retraction notice refers, published in December 2011:

Previous research has predominantly conceptualized absorptive capacity as an intraorganizational phenomenon, primarily by means of quantitative methods. In contrast, this research develops a practice-based understanding of how an interorganizational network can engage in network absorptive and desorptive capacity-related (NAC and NDC respectively) activities. SEMiconductor MAnufacturing TECHnologies(SEMATECH) is an interorganizational network to develop innovative semiconductor manufacturing solutions globally. Based upon an in-depth case study of SEMATECH we add to the literature as follows: first, we introduce NAC and NDC, venturing beyond the organization or dyad as the unit of analysis. Second, we adopt a practice perspective in order to illustrate how SEMATECH is able to engage in NAC- and NDC-related activities, primarily by means of three practices, that is, congregating, roadmapping and offering access. These practices re-inform each other, allowing SEMATECH, in effect, to coordinate the network’s knowledge-related activities with regard to knowledge outside of the network.

We haven’t heard of duplication referred to as “the need for a clear and distinctive conceptual framework to avoid overlapping arguments” before, but it’s certainly a lot of words where only a few are needed. And “parallel processing” — is that dual submission? — is a nice touch in a paper involving Intel, no?

7 thoughts on “Duplication, aka self-plagiarism, meets management-speak”

  1. Far be it for me to criticize the jargon of another discipline (nonetheless, here I go), but the language appears to either be a parody of management-speak, or they are deliberately trying to obscure their meaning.

  2. The paraphrasing isn’t that bad, though considering it is very difficult to figure out what either abstract is trying to summarise, maybe it isn’t that great a job.

  3. For anyone who cringes at this type of management-speak, I can recommend the site “Weaselwords”, maintained by Don Watson, speech-writer of former Australian prime minister Paul Keating: http://www.weaselwords.com.au

    Also worth having a look at is his book “Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language” (also mentioned on the site). Note, this management-speak phenomenon is increasing in Australia and is colloquially referred to as “wanking”.

  4. First – all social sciences must be removed from universities. And all connections of these aggregates with public money, especially in tax exemptions, must be severed. They must be left completely on their own. If, then, they manage to sell their product to somebody – it’s their business. Govt. must refuse to buy that stuff or give tax exemptions for that production, this is not a product that public needs.

    1. Then, what discipline would study social interactions? Everything in our society depends on social interactions. It is a critical domain of study. If anything, more resources should be devoted to social sciences, especially if it was conducted in a more interdisciplinary manner.

  5. Let’s see: “we studied companies that send people outside to schmooze, debrief them when they come back, and pass around what they learn.” What’d I miss?

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