Friday, May 08, 2009

In Search of Chester Barnard

I originally wrote this entry on September 29, 2004, and published it on

As Google's stocks surge in price, the WSJ reports:

Indeed, Google shares now are at heady prices, trading at a whopping 55 times next year's expected earnings of $2.29 per share, compared with a price-to-earnings multiple of 15 for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. And part of the reason the shares are rallying is that Google has fewer shares that are freely available to trade, compared with comparable companies, so buying interest goes a lot further in pushing the stock higher. Google has a "float" of almost 30 million shares, compared with more than one billion shares of Yahoo that trade freely.

But how good or useful is Internet search?

I certainly use it all the time but I also end up having to filter a great deal of nonsense. There are also cases that produce some amazement. As of last week, Google has been ranking this Sun weblog third among 110,000 finds on Chester Barnard. Another search site (A9, which I believe must be using the same Google technology for search) gives this weblog the same ranking on Chester Barnard.

How good of an expert am I on Chester Barnard? Do my very casual writings on his work really deserve to be of such high ranking in search results? I doubt it very much. I'm just a novice and an amateur reader of Barnard's essential writings on organizational theory. I guess the only thing I've brought into the fold is to connect Barnard's work with others' and to give a few useful URLs to follow, but reading what I've written about his work will not make any one an expert either. For that, a different kind of practice and training would be required. To begin with, one should probably start reading Oliver Williamson's "Chester Barnard and the Incipient Science Of Organization" published in his The Mechanisms of Governance and also in his Organization Theory: From Chester Barnard to the Present and Beyond.

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