New ranking, book chapter and “crazy” papers

At this moment, exactly 2 years ago, I was finishing my PhD and heading to some great vacations in Iran with my wife. I gave myself these last 2 years of “peace” to think about new intellectual endeavors, after almost 5 years of struggle to keep up with that endless program.

I keep thinking about what to research, despite of not having time to do so. I love reading, thinking and debating about many things but mainly about education, entrepreneurship and emerging economies.

What annoys me most at this moment is that something keeps telling me that I should avoid spending time on traditional social science research. Traditional scientific process leads you to spend years to prove something very close to common sense and unfortunately I don’t have patience for that.

In my opinion, in social sciences, the consequences of this established modus operandi for research are perverse, with millions of dollars and thousands of people researching things that are useless and will probably never be applied at any group of people worldwide.

During the PhD, colleagues and professors kept telling me that I should just “follow the crowd” and try not inventing crazy research topics, methodologies or theories that would invariably lead me to fail in the program.

In summary, I had to learn how to do comprehensible and (mainly) publishable research, not setting myself too much apart from prevailing theories and methodologies. You just have to protect yourself with a “great” respectable theoretical framework and lot of stupid standardized SPSS statistics and everybody will be happy with your research. In my humble opinion, this is just the perfect way to screw with science.

Findings in social sciences are too much limited in time and place to justify the effort of spending years in something not much different from what has been said. In other sciences, when you are able to prove that cell Alfa produces protein Beta if exposed to Gamma rays, you’re clearly advancing in a field. But when you discover that certain human actions have some impact on specific organizations, this finding is very limited to a certain social group in a specific period of time. If it was not, economists, psychologists and sociologists would be able to predict economic downturns, human behavior or wars, for example.

Managing education and technology became a profession to me. Studying entrepreneurship – and its father capitalism – became a kind of a hobby: understanding this period of our history. Emerging economies won’t always be there to be researched. At the end, most of the economies of the world will be very similar by 2050. I don’t want to spend 5 years trying to prove that the obstacle X is responsible for the outcome Y in country Z, when this knowledge will certainly become useless in few decades.


We have to produce fast and useful debatable knowledge about this. What’s the downside? That there are not right answers for our questions, I’m sorry. We will have to accept that the right answer doesn’t exist and all we can do is to get the closest we can from the answer, with multiple approaches.

So, for the next 10 months, if I’m lucky to keep healthy, I plan to give these three tiny steps to share with people interest in the subject: create a practical ranking for MBA students interested in investing their resources and careers in emerging economies, collaborate with a book about the Brazilian economy – hopefully with a nice chapter about “Entrepreneurship in Brazil”, and producing a couple of “crazy” papers discussing about two things I’m interested in the field:

–          The positive impact of obstacles to entrepreneurs normally perceived as negative.

–          The death of the idea as the key starting point of an innovative business.

I won’t submit these texts to antiquate 20th century journals; I will simply share them with people interested in the subject – academics and practitioners – and then publish here for critics and consultation. I’m tired of bureaucracy.

ps: I took the picture from:

4 thoughts on “New ranking, book chapter and “crazy” papers

  1. Prezado Newton,

    meu trabalho é ajudar empreendedores, empresários, executivos e profissionais liberais a tomar decisões conscientes de suas implicações éticas, organizacionais e mercadológicas e a articular relacionamentos estratégicos para seus negócios. Ou seja, meu trabalho é traduzir em futuro as decisões presentes, para torná-las consequentes.

    Meu habitat é Florianópolis, SC, uma cidade em busca de seu caminho (mais tateando que planejando), com um impulso empreendedor significativo, mas carente de conhecimento em questões básicas – é uma cidade que passou do extrativismo (pesca e turismo baseado em recursos naturais) para uma economia de serviços, sem passar por um ciclo industrial – ou seja, seu capitalismo é mambembe, prejudicado ainda pelas ideologias grassantes no ambiente acadêmico e no funcionalismo públicos, sendo a única capital de Estado cujo PIB não é o primeiro de seu Estado (de fato, é o terceiro).

    Mas circulo bem em São Paulo, onde residi por muitos anos e onde me nasceram os filhos, e por Curitiba, cidades onde tenho um network razoável e clientes.

    Escrevo-lhe porque você escreveu assim: “I will simply share them with people interested in the subject – academics and practitioners – and then publish here for critics and consultation. I’m tired of bureaucracy”. Ok, incluo-me entre as pessoas interessadas em seu trabalho – um “practitioner” que valoriza muito o conhecimento que se produz tendo em vista um futuro deliberado, ainda que incerto.

    Por favor, mantenha-me atualizado sobre sua produção no próximo ano. Será um prazer acompanhá-la.

    Grande abraço.

    Alberto Costa


    • Olá Alberto,

      Será um prazer compartilhar com você coisas que tenho feito. A vida tem sido muito corrida e não tenho conseguido “produzir” o tanto que gostaria (em termos de material clássico escrito). Ainda assim, com certeza posso dividir com você o que tenho feito nas áreas de empreendedorismo e educação. Te deixo o link para uma destas atividades:




      • Muito obrigado, Newton.

        Dei uma rápida olhada no link e vou reservar tempo para explorar melhor aquelas ideias e cotejá-las com outros insights.

        Vamos mantendo contato aqui e ali. Grande abraço.

        Alberto Costa


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