Friday, 5 December 2014

Now we are two

As I noted last year, this blog going live more or less coincides with my birthday, which is today. I am 50, the blog a more modest 2 years old (but, just as a dog year equals seven human years, perhaps a blog year is also similarly elongated). Anyway, last year I posted some blog stats and I thought it might be interesting to update these. Last year, all time page views were 3,367 with 390 in the month prior to the anniversary. Now, all time views are 7,055 with 364 in the last month. What that means in terms of how many different people read the blog I don’t know. The most read post is the one entitled The New Barons, posted in June 2013. I’m pleased about that, as I think it is one of the best posts I’ve done.
The breakdown of where people view from is also interesting (or should that be 'reasonably interesting'?). This is the current top ten list, with last year’s position and views in brackets:

United Kingdom (1)
2206 (1219)
United States (2)
1761 (647)
Ukraine (7)
350 (68)
Norway (9)
243 (65)
Germany (3)
216 (148)
France (6)
209 (73)
Russia (4)
198 (133)
Ireland (5)
147 (82)
China (8)
128 (67)
Netherlands (-)
98 (-)

So Ukraine and Norway storm up the charts, whilst the US records an impressive percentage increase without changing its position. Netherlands makes a first appearance, but Australia, 10th in last year’s list, drops out. What it all means, goodness knows. But it is in some indefinable way fascinating (to me).

Meanwhile, I am also fascinated by the online reviews of the book (indulge me, it’s my birthday) on Amazon, GoodReads and Google Books. They are scattered around and split between different editions and, as one might expect, vary wildly in their judgements. Thus, on one Google Books page:

“This is the least interesting book I have ever read, and I wouldn't be upset about it if Chris Grey did not try to pass it off as interesting. I do not recommend Chris Grey.”


“bleeeech! Way to preach about how you hate boring management books and then turn out to be one.”

I love both these reviews for their conflation of book and person, and the first in particular for giving me what is at least an accolade: it’s quite an achievement to be the least interesting book ever (and we can surely assume that the reviewer is widely read).

The reviews on GoodReads are mainly much kinder (four reviews, two 5*, one 4* and one 1*) including this gem from ‘Eryc’:

“This book blew my little mind. In the way that going to grad school for education caused me to see the deep and complex inadequacies of the public school system, this book has caused me to question much of my received knowledge and beliefs about organizations and, more to the point, corporations. Chris Grey's insightful analysis has unmoored me a bit and made me deeply worried about things that previously ‘seemed to me to be true’.”

Still, we also hear again from ‘Audrey’, yes:

“bleeeech! Way to preach about how you hate boring management books and then turn out to be one.”

Over on Amazon, things are mainly positive, too, with the reviews tagged to the 2nd edition split as follows:

3 star:





So according to ‘JS’:
“Fantastic read. It has certainly cast a new perspective on how I view Organisations and Organisational theory.”
‘Gavin Stokes’ “found this a very enjoyable read, not from the viewpoint of a course book, but simply as a well written book”, whilst for ‘Ronald G. Young’ it’s “the best critique of modern society I’ve read”. But, alas, ‘diel3n4’ pronounced it “boring” and ‘JAdams’ thought it was a difficult read and a waste of money.
It would be silly to pretend that I don’t prefer the positive reviews to the negative ones but ultimately I think that any reaction is better than none, and it’s just an unavoidable fact of the internet age that there are going to be a whole range of reactions. I do actually quite appreciate the way that the reviews on all the forums seem to suggest quite extreme reactions – people either love it or hate it (and, so far, there’s more love than hate). For a book that was, after all, written to be provocative perhaps the worst reaction would be the 3-star ‘it’s ok’ review which seems to be the one reaction I haven’t had so far.
Apart from these site reviews, I also continue to receive feedback in other forms, such as direct emails and many other ways. Two I have recently come across particularly pleased me. One was a long, thoughtful review by Martin Vogel on the blog of ‘counter-consultancy’ VogelWakefield, from which I will just quote the final sentence:
“Chris Grey challenges fashionable nonsense of both managerialist and oppositional varieties”
The other is a very brief mention in a UK Government Report evaluating public sector governance, citing the book in relation to the failures of change management (p.47, first paragraph of recommendations, if you care to follow the link).
What to make of these various reactions I don’t know, except that they confirm my view that this subject, organization studies, of which few have heard and fewer, probably, think of great interest is, indeed, capable of being both interesting and provocative (in good and bad ways) to many audiences. The book, and maybe this blog, taps into some of that but there is still a huge space available for accessible discussions and applications of organization studies if it could escape the horrible straitjacket of the ‘top journals’ it mainly inhabits.
Which brings me back to the blog and reflections on its anniversary. When I started it, I really had no idea what shape it would take but looking back on the posts I’m struck by the fact that they are in some respects far more varied than I would have expected. I thought that I’d probably spend a lot of time pointing out the latest case of unintended consequences of business decisions, or the inanities of organizational culture management. In fact, I mostly seem to post about politics, economics and history. Perhaps that isn’t so surprising. If the book has a message at all, it is that to study organizations is to study everything.

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