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How the Quadrant lost its Magic: Artefacts and the social learning of industry analysts


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Presentation at the joint 2016 4S/EASST conference, held in Barcelona August 31-September 3

Published in: Economy & Finance
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How the Quadrant lost its Magic: Artefacts and the social learning of industry analysts

  1. 1. Artefacts and the social learning of industry analysts How the Quadrant lost its Magic @DuncanChapple 1 10:52 AM
  2. 2. 1. Literature 210:52 AM
  3. 3. Strands of literature in science studies and in accounting 1/2 Local knowledge • Long history of the stance that knowledge is not universal but is attached locally to places • - "economic laws and the forms of calculation through which they are realised are not universal but specific" - Power (1996 p19 ) The inscription device • - Latour & Woolgar (1979, 2013): any device that turns a material substance, that it has a direction relationship with, into a usable diagram on the basis of which articles are written (pp 51-52). • It provides inscriptions which transform arguments into apparatus (p 66) 310:52 AM
  4. 4. Strands of literature in science studies and in accounting 2/2 The power of valuation The growth of valuation tools reflects the growth of the audit society. •A wide range of organisations are being remodelled by the rapid spread of quantified, or ostensibly quantified, benchmarking and evaluation tools (Espeland & Stevens 2008, Lascoumes & Le Galès 2005, Power 1997) The sociology of reviews Blank (2007) finds that reviews come in two forms: •Connoisseurial reviews turn the qualitative sense of an expert reviewer into an objective reality (p35) •Procedural reviews transform a comparative testing process into 'facts' 410:52 AM
  5. 5. How does something which started as an afterthought become the most influential business research? • The MQ has its origins in Gartner's early commitment to visualisations as a way of social learning – Friday morning research meetings: thrown up some imprecise, pictorial way to show market trends – 'Stalking horses' - Like the faked animals use to draw out hunting prey 510:52 AM
  6. 6. 2. Problem 610:52 AM
  7. 7. HOW DID GARTNER’S SOCIAL LEARNING SHIFT FROM 1987 My question 1/2 710:52 AM
  8. 8. • To: Research Staff From: Gideon l. Gartner Subject: Stalking Horses Since Stalking Horses (or Straw Men) are (or should be) part of our research culture, the attached note by Bruce is very apt. When a concept or issue is elusive (as virtually all information technology issues are), we sneak up with a Stalking Horse to help get closer to the problem. Specifically, we "throw" a table or diagram or graph onto a piece of paper, and initiate a colloquy with our peers. We iterate about with data or labels or values, until we have a reasonable consensus. Our data bank is then enriched with the newfound Gartner position. In prior documentation, I defined Stalking Horse as "a graphic or tabular quantification of some idea or concept which then serves as a basis for further study, inquiry, discussion, and hopefully eventually results in a consensus view". But Bruce's description is more colorful. PLEASE MAXIMIZE YOUR USE OF STALKING HORSES. 810:52 AM
  9. 9. … TO 1993? My question 2/2 910:52 AM
  10. 10. 1010:52 AM
  11. 11. Putting the literature to work • How has the MQ has become mobile and free of its place? • While the MQ doesn't transform physical substances has it become something like an inscription device? • What path does a tool take to take this place in a market? • Can review tools evolve qualitatively, not just in a division of labour but a shift from Connoisseurial to Procedural ? 1110:52 AM
  12. 12. 3. Findings 1210:52 AM
  13. 13. Codification and commodification At first, these diagrams were produced painstakingly and manually, for internal use only •As presentation to client conference grew in importance, they started to be shared occasionally •In the 1980s, that required extensive craft work both by analysts and then by typesetters and designers manually gluing each element of the chart •In the 1990s, desktop publishing produced methods in which producing one particular format, later known as the Magic Quadrant, no long required such high levels of expertise. • In the 2000s, the methodologies of the different MQs was harmonised, placing more of the burden of data gathering on the vendors ranked in the MQs, and making the MQs more like products and thus able to rapidly multiply in number • Currently, a new service from Gartner call Peer Insights is expected to be integrated into the MQs, involving Gartner's clients in producing the data used in MQs they consume 1310:52 AM
  14. 14. No-one talks about genesis • No-one told the story of how some modest diagram takes over the world. • What is the genealogy of how something becomes a decisively- influential business knowledge? In the case the MQs we are able to •See the impact of technological advancements •Stress the mobility of expertise beyond the setting in which it originates •Show the changing nature of expertise as artefacts evolve, shifting from the centrality of expert analysts as creators, to that of junior analysts using codified knowledge, then of the vendors as contributors of insight, to that of customers as data providers. 1410:52 AM
  15. 15. Mobility of expertise, producing a new form of knowledge • Not only tied to the setting • Not just in the research meeting - anyone can add things up • Not a light-hearted teasing, but a scientific resource • An idea of the way in which they started to produce something which can be added up 1510:52 AM
  16. 16. A potent thing: but is it trivial or a scientific resource? • Frivolous and risky. And quite internal. • The "Magic" Quadrant - not scientific but trivial amusements to provoke discussions in which analysts in other areas could push and pull ideas in the market into a visual form. • Part of mechanising and codifying to improve productivity under the pressure of new owners after the failure of Gartner's initial sale. A continually expanding research guide of hundreds of pages was built up. • Now a new form of business knowledge: one that is more compelling and threatening, and thus valuable, than tabular data itself 1610:52 AM
  17. 17. Bibilography • Blank, G. (2006). Critics, ratings, and society: The sociology of reviews. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. • Espeland WN, Stevens M. (2008). A sociology of quantification. Eur. J. Sociol. 49: 401–36 • Lascoumes P, Le Galès P. (2005). Gouverner par les Instruments. Paris: Sciences Po. • Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (2013). Laboratory life: The construction of scientific facts. Princeton University Press. • Power, M. (1996) Accounting and science: natural inquiry and commercial reason (Vol . 26). Cambridge University Press. • Power M. (1997). The Audit Society: Rituals of Verification. London: Oxford Univ. Press. 10:52 AM 17
  18. 18. Artefacts and the social learning of industry analysts How the Quadrant lost its Magic @DuncanChapple 18 10:52 AM