Our Guide to the Spring 2024 Issue

These summaries will help you navigate our spring 2024 lineup.

Reading Time: 6 min 


Who Profits the Most From Generative AI?

Kartik Hosanagar and Ramayya Krishnan

Key Insight: A breakdown of what it takes to build and deploy a large language model shows where incumbents have the best prospects for success and where newer companies have an edge.

Top Takeaways: Since the launch of ChatGPT, interest and investments in generative AI models have surged. Which players stand to gain the most from the growth and adoption of this technology? Given that it is resource- and data-intensive and benefits from network effects, incumbents have the greatest advantage. However, there are some areas where new entrants can create and capture value. Leveraging proprietary, first-party data will be critical to delivering value and building differentiation.

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Steer Clear of Corporate Venture Capital Pitfalls

Ilya A. Strebulaev and Amanda Wang

Key Insight: Modern business leaders need a venture mindset to successfully launch corporate venture capital (CVC) units that innovate, survive, and succeed.

Top Takeaways: Big companies and risk capital can be awkward partners, and many CVC initiatives don’t deliver on their potential to bolster innovation. Research finds that these units often fit awkwardly within their parent companies, fail to meet their goals, or lack clear objectives. To improve their odds of success, business leaders who are overseeing CVC efforts need to clarify a number of salient issues, including their time horizon and the full scope of the internal investment approval process.

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Health Care Platforms Need a Strategy Overhaul

Marcus Holgersson, Joakim Björkdahl, Anna Essén, and Johan Frishammar

Key Insight: Digital health platforms can build trust and legitimacy among consumers, regulators, and insurers by freely sharing data and evidence on their services’ efficacy and safety.

Top Takeaways: Researchers in Sweden examined the unique challenges faced by emerging digital health platforms, including integrating with existing solutions in a largely physical health care system and exerting influence in a tightly regulated industry. They found that to be successful, digital health platforms must shift their approach in three key areas: how they enter the market, how they think about scaling the business, and how the ecosystem is governed. When managed correctly, these platforms can help lower the costs of health care while increasing its accessibility.

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How to Make Better Friends at Work

Gianpiero Petriglieri

Key Insight: Friendships in the workplace can enrich our lives and make us better leaders and workers.

Top Takeaways: The workplace can be fertile ground for cultivating friendships, and research has shown the positive effects of strong work friendships on personal well-being, productivity, and engagement. While growing friendships at work can also be problematic, careful attention to managing positive and negative dynamics can result in relationships that help people bring their best selves to work and even strengthen teams.

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Will Large Language Models Really Change How Work Is Done?

Peter Cappelli, Prasanna (Sonny) Tambe, and Valery Yakubovich

Key Insight: Large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT can take on some tasks normally done by humans, but ensuring data and output quality still requires the expertise of knowledge workers.

Top Takeaways: While LLMs can quickly and cheaply generate text based on prompts, the time and cost savings they afford might be outweighed by costs of ensuring that content is accurate, reliable, and of high quality. Humans with domain knowledge will need to remain in the loop to determine whether the LLM outputs are accurate and useful. This suggests that while AI tools might be equipped to handle some tasks, they are unlikely to reshape organizations’ reliance on humans.

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Why Manufacturers Need a Phased Approach to Digital Transformation

Nitin Joglekar, Geoffrey Parker, and Jagjit Singh Srai

Key Insight: Manufacturers that successfully roll out digital innovation and transformation initiatives take a phased approach with different objectives at each stage.

Top Takeaways: ROI should not be the only metric manufacturers use to gauge the success of their digital transformation. The authors’ research finds that transformation journeys involve three distinct stages — gaining efficiency, building new digital capabilities, and growing via digital innovation — and that each stage has its own set of appropriate metrics. Companies that correctly identify where they are in this work and then apply the right system of measurement are more likely to achieve the innovation they’re hoping for.

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Building Culture From the Middle Out

Spencer Harrison and Kristie Rogers

Key Insight: Although culture is typically defined by top executives, it becomes more relevant and potent when middle managers help employees feel connected to it.

Top Takeaways: Leaders at any level can be culture builders for their organization. They can do it by finding ways to link their company’s “big-C” culture — its official set of values — with the “small-c” culture that plays out in daily patterns of interaction. In a study of one Fortune 100 company, managers who were attentive to both the big-C culture and the more narrow culture within their spans of influence had better retention numbers and team performance. Curating aspects of the big-C culture that will resonate most with employees can help maintain organizational cohesion, especially during periods of change.

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Scaling Automation: Two Proven Paths to Success

Ben Armstrong and Benjamin Berkowitz

Key Insight: A close look at how two hospital systems adopted automation in different ways provides insights into what models might work for other organizations.

Top Takeaways: The Mount Sinai and Mass General Brigham hospital systems took different approaches to automating routine administrative processes, but both found success. The reason: They both combined technical and process knowledge, scored and prioritized individual processes on their automation potential, and involved front-line workers in the implementation. Scorecards, for instance, provided workers with a channel to turn their ideas into action.

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How Tech Fails Late-Career Workers

Stefan Tams

Key Insight: Managers can implement strategies to help older workers learn to use applications more effectively as the labor force ages and office technologies continually evolve.

Top Takeaways: As workforce demographics skew older, managers must attend to the well-being and job performance of workers age 60 and over. Age-related cognitive changes and complex technology, in particular, can hinder older workers’ job performance, but managers can take a number of actions to better support a multigenerational workforce. The author has found that hybrid variable-priority training is the most effective strategy for training older workers. This combination of teaching applications in manageable chunks and letting users explore different aspects of them enables users to gain familiarity and proficiency with new tools.

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The Trouble With Your Innovation Contests

Jasmijn Bol, Lisa LaViers, and Jason Sandvik

Key Insight: Companies that run innovation contests should structure them to match their organizational goals.

Top Takeaways: New research shows that the way organizations conduct innovation contests can be designed to match their hoped-for outcomes. For instance, when the judges are people’s peers, participants tend to submit more novel ideas — and the overall creativity is higher. When the judges are managers, on the other hand, participants submit more useful ideas. Choices about the identity of the judges and even the number of prizes will affect the number and diversity of participants, the time they invest, and the quality of their ideas.

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