Image courtesy of Progressive.

Fall 2013
Volume 55, Issue # 1

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Free Article

From the Editor: Beyond the Organization

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 2 min 

Business executives today are figuring out how to harness the energy not just of the talented people within an organization, but of those outside of it as well. The fall 2013 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review features a special report on leveraging external innovation, from the phenomenon of corporations using innovation contests to an investigation of what motivates volunteers to take part in innovation projects.

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Does Your Company Seem Socially Irresponsible?

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 6 min 

Public perceptions of corporate irresponsibility are shaped in subjective, yet predictable, ways. “People like tidy stories with a clear villain,” write Nathan T. Washburn of Thunderbird School of Global Management and Donald Lange of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “We lose interest when there are too many factors, extra complexity or too much ambiguity.” That means that powerful negative images can be hard to respond to.

Typhoon Saomai swirls in the Pacific Ocean east of Taiwan and the Philippines.

How Serious Is Climate Change to Business?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 2 min 

The fifth annual global executive survey about sustainability and innovation conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group suggests that climate change has yet to become a very urgent issue for most companies — and that only a minority of companies are preparing for its effects. In a preview of our upcoming report (due out in the fourth quarter of 2013) we present six charts that provide a snapshot of report statistics.

Image courtesy of Astrobotic Technology.

Spurring Innovation Through Competitions

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 24 min 

Alan MacCormack, Fiona Murray and Erika Wagner examine the phenomenon of corporations using innovation contests to attract ideas from beyond their organizations. They write that companies increasingly “are discovering that many of the very best ideas lie outside their organizations, in an ecosystem of potential innovators who possess wide-ranging skills and knowledge.”

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Innovation Process Benefits: The Journey as Reward

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 17 min 

What motivates volunteers to take part in innovation projects? And how can companies that sponsor such projects better attract individuals from outside the organization to participate? Christina Raasch and Eric von Hippel investigate the ways that individuals can gain significant benefits from participating in an innovation process — and the implications of that for organizations.

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Designing Effective Knowledge Networks

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 24 min 

In today’s interconnected world, networks for sharing knowledge are important. Authors Katrina Pugh of Columbia University, and Laurence Prusak, coauthor of the book Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, write that by paying careful attention to eight dimensions of network design, leaders of knowledge networks can facilitate desired behaviors and outcomes.

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Free Article

The 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 2 min 

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review announce the winners of the 2013 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded to the authors of the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development published from fall 2011 to summer 2012. The Winners: Eoin Whelan, Salvatore Parise, Jasper de Valk and Rick Aalbers, authors of “Creating Employee Networks That Deliver Open Innovation.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user lowjumpingfrog

The Sweet Spot of Sustainability Strategy

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 9 min 

Today’s fringe issues in the sustainability world often become tomorrow’s mainstream and generic market expectations, writes Gregory Unruh of George Mason University. Between these two extremes lies a third territory, which Unruh calls “strategic.” “It is in this strategic territory that proactive companies have the best opportunity to influence the sustainability standards for their industry,” he writes.

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Driving Change Through Corporate Programs

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 

CEOs of large companies introduce corporate programs as a way to foster strategic renewal. But whether the goal is boosting profitability, improving business models or establishing new directions for growth, it’s important to match the design of the program with the desired outcomes.

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Developing Tomorrow’s Global Leaders

  • Research Highlight

Human resources executives say that the next generation of global executives will be more diverse. But by diverse, they don’t just mean having variations in age, nationality and gender. They believe that top leadership groups in the future will be characterized by people with greater diversity of experience and “thought styles.” HR executives also believe that next-generation leaders will be working more collectively.

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The CEO Experience Trap

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 7 min 
New research suggests that hiring a CEO with previous experience in the role is not always a wise choice. Authors Monika Hamori of IE Business School in Madrid and Burak Koyuncu of Rouen Business School in France, collected data on 501 CEOs of S&P 500 corporations. About 20% had at least one prior CEO job. Their findings? “Our research found that these prior CEOs performed worse than their peers without such experience.”
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Using Open Innovation to Identify the Best Ideas

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 22 min 

Which parts of your innovation processes should you open up to the wider world? To reap the benefits of open innovation, executives must understand what to open, how to open it and how to manage the resulting problems. According to authors Andrew King, of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, and Karim R. Lakhani of the Harvard Business School and the NASA Tournament Lab, many organizations “are finding that making open innovation work can be more complicated than it looks.”

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The Question Every Project Team Should Answer

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

Many projects fail because they are launched without a clearly articulated reason why they’re being pursued. Without a clear vision, a project team can become overwhelmed by conflict and confusion. Exploring the four dimensions of a compelling “why statement” can improve a project’s chances of success. Karen A. Brown, Nancy Lea Hyer and Richard Ettenson explain those four dimensions.

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Strategic Choices in Converging Industries

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 22 min 

As industries converge and seemingly unrelated businesses suddenly become rivals, managers must understand the new challenges and the long-term implications. A six-year study of convergence in the telecommunications, information technology, media and entertainment sectors by the authors shows that savvy companies choose one of four strategic paths: they become a technology pioneer, a market attacker, an ecosystem aggregator or a business remodeler.

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Would Your Employees Recommend You?

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 5 min 

No matter how good a workplace a company provides, it may come not matter if employees dislike their immediate line managers. Most of us have at had direct experience with egocentric or micromanaging bosses, and we have seen how much damage they can cause.

So why is there so much bad management? “Most managers have a remarkably narrow or ill-thought-out understanding of how their employees actually look at the world,” writes Julian Birkinshaw of the London Business School.

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Should You Punish or Reward Current Customers?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 16 min 

Should you offer your best prices to new customers or existing ones? Recent research suggests that the answer depends on customers’ shopping flexibility and the degree to which customers’ value varies. When consumer preferences are highly fluid and the highest-value customers are much more valuable than others, then companies should reward their best existing customers. But if either of those characteristics is not in place, companies should offer their best prices to new customers.