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Summer 2015
Volume 56, Issue # 4

Access the full Table of Contents below.
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Special Report: Digital Business

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How Twitter Users Can Generate Better Ideas

There's a link between the amount of diversity in employees’ Twitter networks and the quality of their ideas.

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Thriving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem

To prepare for digital disruption, companies need to consider which of four business models to adapt.

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Is Your Business Ready for a Digital Future?

Research by MIT SMR shows that effective digital strategy is strongly associated with a company's overall digital maturity.

From the Editor: Reflections on Change and Continuity

The Summer 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review highlights digital business and the technology-driven changes it brings. “Thriving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem” and “Is Your Business Ready for a Digital Future?” directly address the topic of business changes driven by digital technologies. “How Twitter Users Can Generate Better Ideas” reports on fascinating research about how a digital platform — in this case, the social media network Twitter — is changing the way some businesspeople develop new ideas.

Features

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The New Mission for Multinationals

Across a broad swath of industries, multinationals are losing ground in emerging markets to local players.

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Staying in the Know

How can executives best distinguish usable information from distracting noise?

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How Global Is Your C-Suite?

National diversity of top management should be a topic of conversation for boards of directors.

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©iStock.com/ruvanboshoff

Rethinking Leadership

Businesses need a new approach to the practice of leadership — and to leadership development.

Intelligence

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Image courtesy of Mediatek
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Integrating Supply and Demand

Joining the supply and demand sides of an enterprise presents an opportunity for efficiency and value creation.

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Is Your Business Ready for a Digital Future?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 22 min 

Successfully incorporating today’s digital technologies requires companies to operate in new ways. However, research by MIT SMR shows that being able to effectively incorporate digital strategy is strongly associated with a company’s overall digital maturity. There’s also an important HR component to digital strategy: Respondents expressed a strong preference for working for a digitally mature company, but many were dissatisfied with how their own companies were reacting to digital trends overall.

Image courtesy of Mediatek

Developing Effective Intellectual Property Partnerships

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 11 min 

All too often, companies from emerging and established economies talk past each other when discussing intellectual property. The result is that often fail to consider all their options for a productive collaboration. The authors detail five ways that companies can structure such IP partnerships, and say that it’s important for a company to choose the one that’s the best fit for the project: “The choice of IP business models is a strategic decision, not merely a legal matter.”

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Measuring the Benefits of Employee Engagement

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

It’s well known that employees’ attitudes toward the organization have a significant effect on how they approach their jobs and how they treat customers. But recent research suggests that high levels of employee engagement are also associated with higher rates of profitability growth. While the products and services many companies offer can appear quite similar on the surface, exceptional service can be a competitive advantage. “Although we recognize that the ultimate focus of most organizations is on customers,” write the authors, “companies can benefit from adding employee engagement to their list of priorities.”

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How Global Is Your C-Suite?

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 26 min 

New research shows that the vast majority of the world’s largest corporations are run by CEOs native to the country in which the company is headquartered. Does that matter? Some studies indicate that national diversity in the top management team can be associated with better performance. What’s more, the presence — or absence — of nonnative executives in a company’s top management team can send a signal to employees outside the home country: It indicates the long-term career prospects for foreign middle managers already in the company as well as for potential hires.

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Creating Online Videos That Engage Viewers

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

The Holy Grail of modern online marketing is video content that “goes viral.” So how does it happen? New research shows that engagement with online video content depends less on what the video shows than how the video shows it. A study of viewer reactions to online videos suggests that the key is to juxtapose content elements in incongruous combinations or to create original or exaggerated content that makes an emotional connection with the viewer — to create emotionally surprising videos.

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Why Corporate Social Responsibility Isn’t a Piece of Cake

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 11 min 

Corporate Social Responsibility “is fraught with contradictions, subject to political challenges and demands deep commitment,” argue José Carlos Marques and Henry Mintzberg. Responsible corporate behavior, they write, isn’t simply “doing well by doing good.” Instead, six changes need to be considered, within and beyond our private institutions. These changes include fostering ethical judgment within the enterprise, rethinking compensation and acknowledging the benefits of regulation.

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From the Editor: Reflections on Change and Continuity

  • Read Time: 2 min 

The Summer 2015 issue of MIT Sloan Management Review highlights digital business and the technology-driven changes it brings. “Thriving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem” and “Is Your Business Ready for a Digital Future?” directly address the topic of business changes driven by digital technologies. “How Twitter Users Can Generate Better Ideas” reports on fascinating research about how a digital platform — in this case, the social media network Twitter — is changing the way some businesspeople develop new ideas.

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Thriving in an Increasingly Digital Ecosystem

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 23 min 

Research from MIT Sloan School of Management’s Center for Information Systems Research says that to prepare for a future of digital disruption, companies need to consider which of four business models to adapt. “Given the amount of turmoil digital disruption is causing, it’s time for companies to evaluate these threats and opportunities and start creating new business options for the future — the more connected future of digital ecosystems,” write Peter Weill and Stephanie L. Woerner, both of CISR. Companies also need to develop new capabilities in two areas: learning more about their customers and becoming “more of an ecosystem.”

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Integrating Supply and Demand

  • Research Highlight
  • Read Time: 10 min 

To compete in different strategic segments at the same time, companies need close coordination between the sales side of the company and supply chain operations. Just as importantly, joining the supply and demand sides of an enterprise presents an opportunity for efficiency and value creation. “A company may have an excellent sales and marketing team and a top-flight operations team and still deliver the wrong benefits to a customer,” the authors note. This article includes an online questionnaire for assessing the current stage of your company’s demand and supply integration, with suggestions for how to improve.

©iStock.com/ruvanboshoff

Rethinking Leadership

  • Opinion & Analysis
  • Read Time: 5 min 

Businesses need a new approach to the practice of leadership — and to leadership development. “Leadership is really not about leaders themselves,” argues Joseph A. Raelin. “It’s about a collective practice among people who work together — accomplishing the choices we make together in our mutual work.” Nelson Mandela was particularly adept at this new model of leadership, Raelin says. “One of the most important leadership lessons we might distill from Mandela was not his acquisition of leadership but the way he shared it.”

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Staying in the Know

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 24 min 

In an era of information overload, getting the right information is a challenge for time-pressed executives. How can they best distinguish usable information from distracting noise? New research argues that to remain appropriately and effectively knowledgeable, executives need a personal and organizational capability to continually “stay in the know.” And that means assembling and maintaining a “personal knowledge infrastructure” built on both technologies and conversation.

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How Twitter Users Can Generate Better Ideas

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 14 min 

New research shows a link between the amount of diversity in employees’ Twitter networks and the quality of their ideas. “A diverse network provides exposure to people from different fields who behave and think differently,” write Salvatore Parise (Babson College), Eoin Whelan (National University of Ireland) and Steve Todd (EMC Corporation). They found that the more diverse a person’s social network, the more likely that person is to be innovative. They also found that Twitter users who are both idea scouts and idea connectors are especially valuable in the workplace.

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The New Mission for Multinationals

  • Research Feature
  • Read Time: 25 min 

Something strange is happening as globalization marches forward: Increasingly, powerful local companies are winning out against multinational competitors. Some 73% of executives at large multinational companies say that “local companies are more effective competitors than other multinationals” in emerging markets. To compete effectively, multinationals need to let go of their global strategies and embrace a new mission: Integrate locally and adapt globally. That means becoming embedded in local distribution, supply, talent and regulatory networks as well as in the broader society.