Time, Chance, and Organizations: Natural Selection in a Perilous Environment

Time, Chance, and Organizations: Natural Selection in a Perilous Environment

Time, Chance, and Organizations: Natural Selection in a Perilous Environment

Time, Chance, and Organizations: Natural Selection in a Perilous Environment

Excerpt

I tend to skip over the introductory material in many books, so it is with humility that I ask you to take the time to go through this one. I think it will make a difference to you.

I share your feeling that the authors of books ought to be able to put everything they want to say in the body of their volumes, obviating the need for prefaces and forewords and separate introductions, but many of us are overcome by the need to say something to our readers before the readers get to the substantive discussion. The reasons are not always convincing. Sometimes we yield to the temptation to explain how we came to write the book, though why anyone who has not yet read it should care is something of a mystery; if such history belongs anywhere, it ought to come at the end of the book rather than as front matter. Sometimes we feel obliged to explain the plan of the book, which suggests that the logic of the presentation would otherwise be indiscernible -- a confession that ought to drive off a wary reader. Occasionally we use the opportunity to apologize for what the reader is about to read, pointing out what we would do differently if we were starting over; this practice must make many people wonder why the time and energy that went into the apology weren't devoted instead to remedying the deficiencies. Now and then we review all the other ways in which the book might have been organized, presumably to assure prospective readers that they are about to get the best of the lot. Much of the time, I suspect we are simply abiding by the well-known principle of debate, preaching, and exposition: Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell 'em, tell 'em what you told 'em; the author of this precept . . .

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