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The Unintended Consequences of Risk Averse Managers

Idea posted: October 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

Risk aversion and career concerns are pushing managers to play it safe, reducing the shareholder value of their companies — and the incentive compensation structures meant to motivate managers often have the opposite effect. 

Idea #676
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The Cheats, Valentin de Boulogne, c.1619 (Courtesy: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

Last Chance Cheating: A Gig Economy Challenge

Idea posted: May 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Because short-term or contract employees are hired for a specific period of time, they know when the end of their time with the employer is near. A new study shows that as they approach this final period, departing short-termers will often cheat the employer in some way. The reason: it’s their last chance to make a little gain at the employer’s expense. 

Idea #605
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Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich: the Sister, by Edward Ardizzone,1941 (Courtesy: The Imperial War Museum, London)

The Overlooked Productivity Costs of Collaboration

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

While management theorists and business leaders trumpet knowledge sharing and other advantages of collaboration, new research shows that workforce collaboration also comes with ‘spillover’ time-related costs that hurt productivity. These costs, however, can be managed.  

Idea #552
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Why Leaders Sabotage Their Own Teams

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Some leaders, afraid of losing their grip on power, will use whatever means they have to stay in their position. Their favourite strategy is to divide and conquer: they systematically prevent skilled subordinates — the greatest threats to their power — from forming alliances with other subordinates that would help push them to the top. Divide-and-conquer strategies undermine the positive, collaborative relationships that are key success factors for effective groups…but these leaders couldn't care less. 

Idea #482
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Detail from a poster by Eric Frazer, for the Post Office Savings Bank, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How a Culture of Integrity Boosts the Bottom Line

Idea posted: May 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

A culture of integrity adds value to the firm. Research shows that the more employees perceive top managers as trustworthy and ethical, the better the financial performance of the firm and the more attractive the firm to potential employees. 

Idea #379
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Jimmy Edwards as the Headmaster in Whack-O!, BBC TV comedy sit-com which was originally broadcast from 1956 to 1960  (©BBC)

The Positive Effect of Negative Incentives

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

New research shows that negative incentives — incentives that require individuals to perform in order to avoid a loss — are more motivating than positive incentives, which motivate individuals through a gain (for example, a bonus).

Idea #308
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Andy Murray, 2012 Olympics Gold Medalist (Source: Wikimedia)

Understanding High-Stakes High-Performers

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

How leaders perform when the stakes are very high or when they confront unusually high pressure depends on similar ‘critical abilities’ to the tennis players. Using data from the US Open professional tennis tournament, ‘critical abilities under pressure’ are examined to demonstrate that - what we might also refer to as ‘courage under fire’ - has a major impact on a player’s career success. Applied to the world of business this research helps us understand how leaders are likely to perform when the stakes are very high.

Idea #033
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