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Staying Competitive Today While Preparing Full-On for Future Success

Idea posted: July 2019
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Companies must be ambidextrous: they must focus on winning the present while at the same time laying the foundation to win the future. The challenge is that emphasizing one priority can undermine the second. A recent study offers some guidelines for overcoming the challenge of ambidexterity by examining key factors – sometimes complementary, sometime conflicting – that enable companies to focus on the present and the future.

Idea #748
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Mixture' by Jenguin, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Why Tight and Loose Cultures Don’t Mix

Idea posted: June 2019
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Companies typically have either generally tight or generally loose cultures. Mergers in which a mix of these two types of cultures must come together may fail if they don’t negotiate their cultures.

Idea #742
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Illustration from the 1855 edition of La Fontaine's Fables

Fast-Slow Strategy-Making in Adaptive Organizations

Idea posted: February 2019
  • Strategy

An adaptive company uses a dynamic collaborative learning system to merge the ‘fast’ experience and insights from front-line operational managers with the ‘slow’ analytical reasoning of corporate strategists to chart the company’s best path to future success.

Idea #731
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Photo by David Hurley on Unsplash

Gender Bias Against Women Leaders Is Higher Than We Think

Idea posted: January 2019
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

While men are more prejudiced than women against women leaders, a new study demonstrates that when surveyed, women are less likely than men to admit their prejudice.

Idea #727
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David and Goliath, Guillaume Courtois, c.1650 (Courtesy: Capitoline Museums, Rome)

Why Goliaths and Davids Are Poor Network Partners

Idea posted: December 2018
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Can a Goliath company or business entity collaborate on equal terms with a network of Davids? A new case study shows that enforcing network rules might make such a collaboration an insurmountable management challenge. 

Idea #721
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Less Competitive Pressure Leads to Less Innovation

Idea posted: December 2018
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Taking advantage of the suddenly reduced threat of hostile takeovers of Delaware-incorporated companies, two researchers demonstrate the significant reduction of innovation efforts when competitive pressure is eased. In short, less competition leads to less innovation.

Idea #723
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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (detail), Francisco Goya (Courtesy: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri)

How to Fight Off an Upstart with a New Business Model

Idea posted: October 2018
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship


Faced with a new competitor with a new business model, incumbents can respond with different strategies based on sharing (co-deployment) or moving (re-deployment) their resources.

Idea #716
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The Reception of the Ambassador at the Court of Pekin, James Gilray, 1792 (Courtesy: National Portrait Gallery, London)

Investing Abroad? Use Your Country’s Diplomats

Idea posted: July 2018
  • Strategy
  • Operations

When looking to invest abroad, companies can leverage the diplomatic relationships between their country’s government and governments of potential host countries to connect with potential foreign partners. An international study based on foreign investment decisions by more than 500 Chinese companies examines the factors involved in leveraging such relationships.

Idea #714
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Source: Pexels

Re-Entering a Foreign Market: Part 2 - Speed

Idea posted: May 2018
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Prior experience impacts the speed with which multi-national enterprises re-enter foreign markets they previously exited — although as time passes, the environmental context of the market becomes more important.

Idea #707
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Source: Pexels

Re-Entering a Foreign Market: Part 1 - Operation Mode

Idea posted: May 2018
  • Strategy
  • Operations

When multinational companies re-enter a foreign market, the key strategic decision is choosing whether to change the operation mode (e.g. distribution partnership, joint ventures, fully owned operations) from their previous experience in the market. A new study finds that the motives of their original decision to exit the market has a great impact on whether they choose the same operation mode or escalate (e.g. from distribution to manufacturing) or de-escalate (e.g. from fully owned operations to joint ventures) their commitment.

Idea #706
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Photo by Erik Eastman on Unsplash

Industry Disruption: Sequence and Timing of Responses Are the Key to Survival

Idea posted: March 2018
  • Strategy

In the case of major industry disruption, successful companies survive through a well-orchestrated series of strategic moves. New research shows that the sequence and timing of those moves can make the difference between failure and success. 

Idea #698
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Rupert Murdoch at the World Economic Forum, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Extravert CEOs and Strategic M&A Decisions

Idea posted: January 2018
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

New research based on 2800 corporate CEOs shows that extraverted CEOs are more likely to engage their firms in the uncertainty of M&A activities, proving that CEO personality can drive firm behaviour. However, under certain conditions, the situation dictates the options available to CEOs, regardless of their personalities. Thus, for example, even less extraverted CEOs make more acquisitions in highly competitive industries.

Idea #686
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FAEF conference room, Fairport, NY (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Supervising Projects Despite Limited Time and Expertise

Idea posted: June 2017
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

Time and expertise limitations can cause steering committees (SCs) in charge of major and complex strategic projects to make errors in judgement and decision-making. The result: such common but serious problems as being late and over-budget. Proactive steps and awareness can help SCs avoid the traps.

Idea #661
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Aligning Your Organization for the Digital Future

Idea posted: October 2016
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

A global survey of executive and managers reveals that many companies are ill prepared for the disruption that digital trends will bring to their organizations and industries. A minority of ‘digitally matured’ companies, however, are making the required cultural, talent management and strategic changes.

Idea #633
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Tada' the Chinese poles, 2004 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Build Ambidextrous Teams to Combine Present and Future Objectives

Idea posted: July 2016
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Many companies separate short-term activities focused on the present (e.g. customer service, marketing) from long-term activities focused on the future (e.g. new product development). A new study, however, reveals the power of ‘ambidextrous’ teams, where cohesion overcomes the challenge of pursuing both present and future objectives.

Idea #613
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How a Marketing Doctrine Overcomes the Flexibility Vs Consistency Conundrum

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Diversified or decentralized firm face a conundrum: How do you ensure that marketing decisions are consistent across the entire company without undermining the flexibility required to tailor marketing decisions to local circumstances? The answer: A marketing doctrine based on unique principles that guide without dictating. 

Idea #584
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Why the Chief Marketing Officer Matters

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

The position of Chief Marketing Officer has come under fire recently, with some arguing that a CMO does not really add value to a company. A new research study counters this view; showing that companies with CMOs perform up to 15% better than companies who leave the CMO seat empty. 

Idea #581
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British generals, during the Battle of Gazala, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Power of Scenarios to Open New Perspectives

Idea posted: February 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

Well-known as a strategic planning tool, the scenarios methodology can drive potent academic research that shatters assumptions and reveal radical new perspectives on major issues and problems.

Idea #582
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Organizational Resilience Is Reinforced by These Two Variables

Idea posted: January 2016
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance

Demonstrating the role of governance in resilience, a new study shows that employee-owned businesses (EOBs) are more likely to resist the damage from an economic downturn than non-EOBs — however, only if ownership is accompanied by a strong employee voice in company decisions at all levels. 

Idea #577
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Stakeholder-Focused Accounting: Value Creation and Risks

Idea posted: December 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance

Current accounting methods inadequately represent and reward stakeholder value creation. Value-creation stakeholder accounting (VCSA) — which combines the disciplines of accounting, value creation and stakeholder theory — is the theoretical foundation for new stakeholding-focused accounting. The best mechanism for implementing the theory is through value-creation stakeholder partnerships (VCSPs), derived from partnership accounting (as opposed to traditional entity convention accounting). 

Idea #571
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fMRI brain scan, 2010 (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Why the Best Strategic Thinkers Are Both Rational and Emotional

Idea posted: December 2015
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour

The brain, through the magic of fMRIs (neuroimaging procedures), tells the true story of how the best strategic thinkers think: they deactivate their rational, linear prefrontal cortex, and activate the older, intuitive-sensing parts of the brain that triggers emotions and social awareness — the same parts of the brain on which creative artists draw their inspiration. Move over, Porter. Make room for Picasso. 

Idea #574
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‘Circle reflect wikipedia 2’ by Dachris, 2006 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Rise of Integrated Corporate Reporting

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Creating an integrated report enables companies to communicate an holistic picture of their prospects, one that is broader than offered by traditional financial reports. Integrated reports cover strategy, governance, performance and forecasts. A new framework for ‘Integrated Reporting’ (IR) has been created to help organizations bring these elements together. Integrated reports benefit both external stakeholders and leaders within the organization.

Idea #555
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Jean Charles de Menezes, memorial plaque at Stockwell Station, London (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Bad Framing Leads to Bad Decisions and Bad (Even Fatal) Actions

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision makers must frame or ‘make sense’ of events and situations, and then make their decisions accordingly. A groundbreaking analysis of an innocent civilian’s tragic shooting by anti-terrorist police reveals how groups of individuals commit, through the interaction of communication, emotions and material cues, to a single, common frame — in this case an erroneous frame. It is a cautionary tale for leaders and other decision makers, exposing how errors or assumptions can cascade into a complete misunderstanding of situations.

Idea #563
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Beware of Over-Optimistic Investors Skewing High-Risk Stock Prices

Idea posted: September 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance

Investor sentiment has a, sometimes erroneous, effect on stock market valuations. There is evidence that higher risk stocks become overpriced in periods of optimistic sentiment and undervalued when sentiment is pessimistic. Optimism attracts equity investment by unsophisticated, overconfident, retail investors in risky opportunities while such traders are less active in pessimistic periods. Thus sentiment can wrongly influence company share prices, and both investors and CFOs planning financial strategy should be wary.  

Idea #549
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The McDonalds sign in Times Square (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Mapping Brand Strategy: Balancing Centrality Vs Distinctiveness

Idea posted: August 2015
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

A new tool, based on scoring brands on their centrality (i.e. the brand of record) and distinctiveness (i.e. the brand that stands out from the crowd) can help marketers and strategists determine the best paths for growth and profitability. 

Idea #540
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Playing cards from the French Republic (1793-94), revolutionary images replace Kings and Queens

The Role of Identity When an Organization's Purpose Changes

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

How do organizations respond to multiple business logics with conflicting sets of rules and norms? New research based on a study of four French business schools reveals that institutional and organizational identities will guide an organization’s response.

Idea #514
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When Does Downsizing Hurt Customer Satisfaction?

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Past research based on B2B industries show an intuitive link between downsizing the workforce and lower customer satisfaction. A new study focused on B2C industries reveals that the link is more complex, depending on factors such as organizational slack, labour productivity, and the emphasis on innovation. The study does confirm that downsizing reduces customer satisfaction, which then reduces financial results.

Idea #507
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Five gantry cranes, built at ZPMC, destined for Hamburg, on the vessel Zhen Hua 20, 2007 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

A Lesson from China: Growth Is Not Eternal So Be Prepared

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing

Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC) was a high-flying builder of large-scale container cranes whose decisions — such as lifetime guarantees on all parts and ambitious diversification — reflected a belief that growth would last forever. It didn’t.

Idea #495
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Stock trading on the New York Curb Association market, with brokers and clients signaling from street to offices, 1916 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Impact of Ideal Vs Problematic Shareholders

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

In an ideal world, companies would spend significant time managing their shareholder base, striving to attract the ideal shareholder: a shareholder with a long-term investment horizon who will allow the company to make long-term investments and not push for short-term results. Shareholders with short-term investment horizons drag down share prices or increase their volatility by focusing on short-term results.

Idea #447
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A Philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrery, Joseph Wright of Derby, 1766, Courtesy: Derby Museum and Art Gallery

How to Motivate Subsidiaries to Share Useful Know-How with Others in the Group

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Building competence takes time and money. Subsidiaries of multinational corporations are therefore going to focus more on building competence that helps them, and not worry about other subsidiaries. However, parent companies can motivate subsidiaries to develop internationally useful competence by: making the creation of such competence part of a subsidiary’s mission, increasing the interface among subsidiaries, and granting them operational (but not strategic) autonomy.

Idea #444
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