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Jackson Street Bridge, Atlanta. Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash

What If Amazon Had Chosen Atlanta? Implications on Community and Corporate Identity

Idea posted: May 2019
  • CSR & Governance

In considering Atlanta for its second headquarters, Amazon raised an issue that could impact other companies considering new locations: would socially liberal Amazon influence its community, or would the company itself be changed by its new conservative surroundings?

Idea #738
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Wrong Incentives Push CEO to Focus on the Short-term

Idea posted: July 2018
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Researchers use unimpressed market reaction to new product and new client announcements to highlight the insidious damage of CEO incentives to focus on the short-term.

Idea #713
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In the Classroom, Jean-Paul Louis Martin des Amoignes, 1886 (Courtesy: Bonhams)

CEOs’ Gender-biased Formative Years Has a Negative Economic Impact

Idea posted: June 2018
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

New research using extensive hand-collected data confirms a gender gap in resource allocation (female division leaders receive less resources from their CEOs). This research also reveals the familial origins of gender bias in CEOs, and the negative economic impact of such bias.

Idea #711
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Source: Pixabay

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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A Political Meeting, Johann Velten, 1849 (Courtesy: The City Museum, Tier, Germany)

Why Boards of Directors Fail at Monitoring Their Companies

Idea posted: September 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

New research reveals the 10 structural barriers, from board size to the complexity of a firm, that explains why boards of directors can fail to effectively monitor their companies.

Idea #667
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Cincinnati, USA. Photo by Jordan Andrews on Unsplash

In Uncertain Times It's Best to Have Fewer Industry Experts on a Board

Idea posted: September 2017
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance

Having domain experts on boards is often touted as an advantage. New research shows, however, that too many experts from a company’s industry can actually hinder a board’s efforts in times of strategic uncertainty.

Idea #672
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Corporate Culture: A Key Drivers of a Firm’s Value

Idea posted: January 2017
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

A survey of more than 1300 executives confirms that for most leaders, corporate culture is one of the top five contributors to a firm’s value — and that current CEOs are most responsible for establishing an effective culture.

Idea #641
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Quotas to Gender-Balance the Board: Norway’s Drastic Action Worked

Idea posted: April 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Although perhaps a drastic move from the perspective of many businesspeople, the Norwegian government’s bold adoption of a 40% quota for women on boards, and its short 2-year implementation phase, had no significant impact — either negative or positive — on short- or long-term corporate performance. 

Idea #602
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An Indian Maharaja in a religious procession, about 1825-1830, (Courtesy: V&A Museum, London)

How Corporate Governance Impacts Human Resources

Idea posted: April 2016
  • CSR & Governance

Through the use of four archetypes, a team of researchers describes the impact of different corporate governance systems on company decisions involving human resources. The team also argues that a corporate sustainability mental frame can overcome the inherent contradictions and challenges in each archetype.

Idea #595
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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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Pepin being crowned King of the Franks by St. Boniface in 751, engraving by Robert Gaguin, Paris, 1514

Why Previous Experience of New CEOs Makes Matters Worse!

Idea posted: November 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Newly hired CEOs who have held previous CEOs positions are more likely to fail than new CEOs who have never held the top position in a company, according to new research. The reason: they did what they did in the past, without paying attention to the new context.

Idea #570
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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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Stoughton Wisconsin Tornado of 18 August 2005 (Source: NWS/NOAA, Wikimedia Commons)

The Connection Between Disasters and Less Risk-Averse CEOs

Idea posted: October 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

CEOs who have lived through disasters resulting in significant loss of life are likely to be risk-averse executives. Those, on the contrary, who live through disaster that did not result in significant loss of life tend to be less sensitive to the consequences of risk — and thus more risk-tolerant than the norm.

Idea #561
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A Meeting of the School Trustees, Robert Harris, 1885 (Courtesy: National Gallery of Canada) 

Corporate Governance: The Power of Outside Directors on CEO-Only Boards

Idea posted: April 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Once packed with company insiders, corporate boards are filling up with outside directors, theoretically resulting in greater independent oversight. New research shows, however, that paradoxically having the CEO as the only insider on the board actually enhances the CEO’s power and undermines outside oversight.

Idea #506
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High CEO Pay Leads to Overconfidence and Poor Results

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change

A new study shows a negative correlation between high executive incentive pay and company performance: the higher the pay, the worse the future results. This study also pinpoints the culprit behind the negative correlation: CEO overconfidence. The overconfidence of higher-paid CEOs leads to poor investment decisions and unsuccessful M&A initiatives. 

Idea #469
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The Syndics of the Amsterdam Drapers' Guild, Rembrandt van Rijn, 1662, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Board Diversity Improves Corporate Results: Lessons from Singapore

Idea posted: December 2014
  • CSR & Governance
Institutions: NUS Business School

Singapore lags behind other nations in diversity on its corporate boards — while evidence mounts that diversity leads to better results, according to a 2014 National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School report on diversity. 

Idea #467
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Wrestler Frank Leavitt, Chicago, 1924 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How CEOs Strong-Arm Their Compensation Consultants to Get What They Want

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

While previous research has never shown a direct link between the hiring of compensation consultants and increased CEO pay, a new SEC requirement allows academics to test more rigorously for a link: and they find it. According to the research, compensation consultants are used by CEOs as the means to justify higher pay.

Idea #457
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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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Hedge Fund Activism Can Help, Not Hurt, in the Long Run

Idea posted: August 2014
  • CSR & Governance

New evidence disputes the general consensus that institutional shareholder activism has a long-term negative impact on the results of a corporation. A team of researchers from Harvard, Duke and Columbia argue, based on their empirical research, that on the contrary shareholder activism leads to improvement in both short-term and long-term results.

Idea #428
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Robert Maxwell, media tycoon and owner of Mirror Group Newspapers, 1991 in London. Maxwell died in November 1991 (Copyright: Shutterstock)

The Curse of the Narcissistic CEO

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

In theory, strategic decision-making is a democratic process in which the knowledge and previous experience of all executives is brought to bear. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. A recent study finds that more narcissistic CEOs fail to pool knowledge effectively, putting themselves and their own experiences first. This underlines the importance of checks and balances on CEO power.

Idea #404
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Columbia Man. A 1902 poster for Columbia University, by John E. Sheridan (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Do Ivy League or Elite Educated CEOs Outperform Others?

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

When selecting a potential CEO for your organization, will having studied at an Ivy League school make a difference to the performance they bring? According to this Idea, yes but only under certain conditions. Read on to find out more about whether it is worth the effort to specifically seek out elite or Ivy League-educated individuals for CEO positions.

Idea #370
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The Arctic Expedition - the Crow’s Nest. Cover illustration (detail) for The Graphic, May 1875, by Samuel Edmund Waller

Does Your Organization Need a Chief External Officer?

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Many large organizations face challenges in managing the demands of external non-market environments — political and social aspects of their working environment. This Idea suggests the creation of a chief external officer and gives some guidance on how to ensure their success.

Idea #362
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Rear Adm. Daniel Holloway talks with sailors during his weekly Admiral's ‘brown bag lunch’ aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

How Seeing Things Employees’ Way Builds Performance

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: London Business School

By adopting an employee-centred attitude to the way you lead, your staff will not only achieve the best for themselves and their own goals, but they will also deliver the best for your business. It requires a move away from the controlling orientation of traditional leadership and towards a more communicative process, in which you try to understand the strengths, fears, and aspirations of employees, and manage them accordingly.

Idea #353
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Generalist CEOs Not Specialists Spur Innovation

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change

Generalist CEOs — CEOs who have built their careers in different industries or for different firms — are more likely to spur innovation in their companies than specialist CEOs with technical knowledge who have never left their industries. The major reason is that generalists are not afraid: if they lose their jobs after an ambitious transformative innovation effort fails, their skills and knowledge will easily transfer to another job in another firm or industry. Specialist CEOs must tread more carefully.

Idea #349
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King John signs the Magna Carta, engraving by James William Edmund Doyle, 1864 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Corporate Governance from the Bottom Up

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Non-executive directors are often seen as a way to avoid corporate ‘buccaneering’ and tame reckless CEOs. Their exact contribution to companies, however, remains unclear. Independent executives, on the other hand, have been shown to be accurate ‘predictors’ of profitability, performance and value creation.

Internal monitoring by the CEO's immediate subordinates should be the new area of focus in the corporate governance debate.

Idea #299
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ENRON - Arthur Andersen witnesses testify at the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce House of Representatives (107th Congress) hearing on January 24, 2002 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How to Recognize Managements With Something to Hide

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Operations

Is there a pattern to be found in the actions of managers trying to cover up their firm’s wrongdoings? According to this Idea, yes there is: they all tend to engage in the same sort of behaviours, such as exercising stock options more frequently, rarely changing the firm’s auditors, and more. An understanding and awareness of these behaviours can assist shareholders, regulators and other stakeholders notice failures and wrongdoings early and help address problems before disaster hits.

Idea #178
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Covver Illustration from Developing Leaders 8, Julian Burton, www.delta7.com

Bridging Organizational Governance Gaps

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

What the Board spells out as good practice, and what motivates managerial behaviour is not necessarily the same thing. The gap between both can lead to serious consequences, not unlike the scandals that took place at Enron, WorldCom and more recently, the BBC. How can your organization create a sense of moral responsibility from ‘the bottom up?’

Idea #179
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Hulls Mills, Eric Ravillious c.1936, Source: Merivale Editions, www.merivaleeditions.com

Green Light for Governance

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
Institutions: IE Business School

We live in a society that scrutinizes the environmental activities of the corporate world. How can companies address society’s concerns and improve levels of environmental performance, while maintaining market share and financial returns? The answer could lie in their corporate governance structure.

Idea #138
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Some Have Entertained Angels Unawares, Edward Clifford (1844-1907) (Source: Wikimedia)

Creating Harmony: Harnessing Stakeholders to Boost Innovation

Idea posted: April 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: Henley Business School

Collaborative innovation and co-creation between stakeholders can deliver value for businesses.

Collaborative innovation can be defined as: “Working with others, sharing knowledge and learning, and building consensus to invent something new or create a new way of doing something, with a view to realizing shared goals.”

Benefits include more – and better – ideas, reduced risk, increased quality and speed to market, reduced costs, new skills and resources, an enhanced brand, and the ability to create value for the common good.

Idea #122
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King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (anon. medieval)

How Evolving C-Suite Structures Affect Performance

Idea posted: February 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The size and structure of C-Suites has changed significantly over the past few decades. An examination of these changes reveals a number of shifts, including one towards more product-focused (or front-end) functional managers in organizations with closely-related business units, and an increase in administrative positions where organizations invest more in IT. These findings also have an impact on general managers’ salaries. Here’s why executives should pay attention to these shifts when structuring their top teams.

Idea #082
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