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The Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563 (Courtesy: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)

The Language Challenge for Social Media in Multinationals

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The growth of social media in business enables and enhances a company’s communication among employees and with outside stakeholders, including customers and partners. The diversity of languages within a multinational, however, can hamper communication and collaboration both externally and internally. 

Idea #500
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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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Promotion Vs Compensation: Managing Employee Careers to Benefit the Organization

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

The best companies recognize that personnel policies are interdependent. The decision to promote worthy individuals, for example, cannot be made in a vacuum. Is there room for more managers at the next level? A new mathematical model reveals how decisions on hiring, demoting, promoting, retaining and compensating employees must take into account factors such as the organizational chart and firm size.

Idea #501
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'Remnants of an Army' by Elizabeth Butler, 1877. Portraying William Brydon, the only survivor the evacuation from Kabul in January 1842. Ferens Art Gallery, Hull

Learning from Expatriate Experience After the Return Home

Idea posted: March 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations
Institutions: IESE Business School

Expatriates who return home bring with them the knowledge benefits of the relationships that they made during their international assignments. New research shows that these knowledge benefits continue even after the assignment because the expatriate still has the connections with his or her former colleagues in the international host office. 

Idea #493
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Cyber-Attack Catastrophe: Lessons from a Plausible Risk Scenario

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The Centre for Risk Studies at Cambridge University has developed a detailed risk scenario describing a slow-burning cyber attack on a fictional software developer that has global consequences. The improbable but plausible scenario, based on a variety of real (but smaller) cases, is intended as a ‘stress test’ for organizations and public policy bodies and offers lessons in how to mitigate the impact of such attacks.

Idea #491
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Harness Big Data Using Visualisation Software Tools

Idea posted: January 2015
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
Institutions: NUS Business School

The phrase “big data” puts the emphasis on quantity — and it’s true that the data available in the world continues to grow exponentially every year. But for businesses wanting to make the most of big data, it’s not quantity that counts, but what you do with the data. Companies are losing millions of dollars because they are not fully exploiting the data they are already gathering. Given the complexity of big data, visualisation software tools are required to help companies avoid this mistake.

Idea #474
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CAVE installation, Internet and Virtual Reality, Maurice Benayoun (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How Leaders Emerge in Online Communities

Idea posted: January 2015
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Without a formal hierarchy, members of online communities are often able to work together effectively and efficiently collaborating to create vast founts of knowledge such as Wikipedia. This research looks at how leaders emerge in online communities, and what companies can learn from this. 

Idea #470
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National Data Centre Capacity Building training course, 2012 at the CTBTO, Vienna, Austria (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Training Knowledge Workers Pays Off for SMEs

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

While previous studies have researched the return of investment in training for corporations, much of this research focused on manufacturing employees. New research based in India focuses specifically on knowledge companies in the SME sector, and shows that the return on training is not only significant, but also increases with the size of the firm.

Idea #464
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Dante Shows an Artist Some Unusual Clouds, by Ivan Aivazovsky, 1883

Six Imperatives for Companies to Embrace Cloud Computing

Idea posted: December 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Operations

Cloud computing can offer companies more cost-effective and agile IT capabilities than many traditional in-house IT services and functions. Based on an extensive study of a company successfully expanding its cloud computing capabilities, as well as on interviews with 45 other companies, a research team from the MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research lays out the imperatives that help companies prepare for and manage the shift to cloud computing.

Idea #465
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Two Big Black Hearts, Jim Dine, 1985, Bronze, courtesy deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln MA

Negotiate a Career with a Heart for You and Your Employees

Idea posted: November 2014
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

A career with a heart goes beyond job satisfaction. It means being delighted with every job in your career. It’s waking up every morning excited to get to work. A career with a heart is a career that is self-directed, generates positive emotions and is integrated with overall life of the individual. Developing such a career takes hard work — and is built on a series of mindful negotiations. 

Idea #460
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Five Things a New CIO Must Do to Operate as a Business Leader

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

In the age of ‘big data’ and all pervasive social media the role of the CIO is increasingly important. However, traditionally seen as a ‘techie’, the CIO needs to shift perspective to operate as a business leader; and the newly appointed CIO must position her or himself to take on this leadership role.

Idea #454
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Shanghai Xin Tian Di, photo by Motohiko Tokuriki, 2010 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Increasing Demand Is Not Always the Answer to New Competition

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

Faced with a new competitor in the market, an incumbent company is usually expected to respond by investing more into its products to offer products that will please more customers. However, new research shows that a higher product investment in response to competition is not necessarily the best answer. The reason: new entrants may change the incumbent’s return on investment trade-off.

Idea #450
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Organizational Structure  of the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg Chronicles, by Hartmann Schedel, 1493

How to Design Organizational Structures by Understanding Organizational Routines

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

The characteristics of an organization’s routines — specifically their purpose (operational or dynamic) and whether or not they are specific to individual business units — help define the most effective structure for that organization. 

Idea #451
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Markdown Vs Everyday-Low-Prices: The Impact of Regret and Availability Misperceptions

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

The behavioural motives of consumers — such as regret over buying too soon or too late and misperceptions about the product’s future availability — should be considered as companies develop their optimal pricing and inventory strategies.

Idea #453
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Marion A. Trozzolo (1925 –1992) was an innovator, inventor, entrepreneur and  the first manufacturer of teflon coated cookware (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Should Technology Innovators Participate in the Commercialization Process?

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Conventional wisdom has it that technology based entrepreneurs are better off commercializing their product by contracting with an incumbent (i.e. licensing). But this trade-off may not always be optimal, because if the innovator can learn from its own commercialization experience, albeit losing some profit initially, it could avoid making the same trade-off with future innovations, thus securing long-term profitability. Alternatively, joint commercialization may be the best approach.

Idea #448
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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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What Your Company Can Learn from Supercompetitors

Idea posted: October 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

Competitive strategy is no longer about assets, positions and economies of scale. Supercompetitors such as IKEA or Amazon build on distinctive capabilities that are scalable and relevant to offer one single powerful value proposition that transforms their industries.

Idea #445
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Launch Intentional Communities of Practice in Global Companies

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

As professionals in an organization acquire knowledge and experience, they share this knowledge among themselves in informal communities of practice (CoPs). In large international organizations with geographically dispersed professionals, such organic, informal CoPs aren’t possible; however, research shows top management-initiated, deliberately structured intentional communities of practice (ICoP) can fulfil the same function of distributing knowledge throughout the organization.

Idea #441
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Ways to Encourage Employees to Help Each Other

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

A cooperative culture featuring generous employees helping each other is a key success factor for innovative and effective organizations. The two mechanisms for such generosity is the pay-it-forward approach, where someone who has been helped helps another person, and reputation rewarding, in which employees with a reputation for helping others are rewarded with help when they need it. New research from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business shows that both mechanisms are effective, but paying it forward will have a longer lasting impact on the organization

Idea #435
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Hierarchical or Egalitarian Organizations? The Advantages of Hierarchy

Idea posted: September 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change

While hierarchies can be used by people in power to control others, new research indicates hierarchies also help people in lower positions to feel a sense of control and order in their lives. Change agents who are flattening hierarchies to create leaner, more effective organizations must make sure that they don’t unintentionally undermine this sense of order.

Idea #436
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Yellow-Red-Blue, Wassily Kandinsky, 1925, Musee National Art Moderne, Paris

Is There an Open Business Model Right for Your Company?

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

As open business models, in which knowledge, competencies and resources from external firms are integrated into the business model of a company, become more widespread, companies with traditional closed business models are striving to determine if they should follow suit, and when. By understanding the antecedents of open business models — the internal and external factors that encourage or require the move to openness — companies can make a more informed decision on whether (and when) to change and adapt their business models.

Idea #432
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Bring Your Own Device to Work: The Pros and Cons for a Multinational

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Rapid advances in communications technology available to consumers has meant that employees often have far greater private access to sophisticated technology than they do in the workplace. Is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) - permitting employees to bring personal laptops, tablets, and smart phones to work, and to use their devices to access company information a sensible policy? In theory organizations benefit, in practice this presents many problems. This Idea uses a case study of a particular multi-national organization to see its response to this question. 

Idea #433
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The Mexican Stock Exchange (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Why Companies from Emerging Markets Are Putting the Heat on Multinationals

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing

While multinational corporations typically establish their dominant competitive advantage thanks to their position in the industry and/or access to strategic resources, somehow firms from emerging markets who have neither of these advantages are beginning to dominate globally — or at least compete for domination — in their industries. The reason: while MNCs compete on position or possession, the emerging MNCs are competing on action. They have developed innovative business models, often as a direct result of conditions in their home markets, that give them the edge. 

Idea #427
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Electronics factory in Shenzhen, China, 2005 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Outsourcing Vs Reshoring: The Case for Local Manufacture

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Operations

Companies offshore their manufacturing to take advantage of lower wages and other cost savings in overseas countries. However, costs incurred from having an extended supply chain may in fact be wiping out the savings from offshoring advantages. MIT Sloan visiting professor Suzanne de Treville believes that one can make a financial case for reshoring manufacturing.

Idea #429
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How to Turn a Product-Focused Company into a Platform Business

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance

The transition from a product-based company to a platform-based company will have a major impact on your organizational identity: how organizational members conceive of who you are. Understand the fundamental shift and broaden that identity while staying true to your values.

Idea #422
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Naremon Thepchai Theatre production of Arthur Miller's 'Death of a Salesman', 1971(Source: Wikimedia Commons)|

Do Your Managers’ Responses to Market Results Damage Profits?

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Self-serving biases can lead managers to make less than optimal decisions when faced with poor results. This can hurt profits as their biases lead to the wrong quality and price responses to market results. However, forward looking executives can take steps to pre-emptively counter those biases when they make their initial price and quality improvement decisions.

Idea #423
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Balancing Incentives, Risk and Tolerance of Failure for Collaborative Innovation

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Financial incentives for managers of innovative projects, a firm’s tolerance for failure, and the number of managers involved in the projects all influence resource allocation (and chances for success) for those projects. 

Idea #418
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“They spake not a word. But, like dumb statues, or breathless stones, star'd on each other, and look'd deadly pale.” Shakespeare’s Richard III. Image:  15th Century tapestry showing Richard III, Coventry Guildhall

Why Employees Hide Their Knowledge and How to Encourage Sharing

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employees who refuse to share knowledge, either by playing dumb, being evasive, or saying that other factors are to blame, undermines the cooperation, efficiency and effectiveness of organizations. Understanding how perpetrators and targets view the damage from knowledge hiding is an important step in preventing this behaviour.

Idea #420
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Inclusive Leadership: Aligning the Different

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: Mercer LLC

Globalization, advances in technology, and the impact of emerging markets have made the leadership of organizations increasingly complex. To address this complexity leaders need to embrace the ‘different’ and to become ‘inclusive’.  Inclusive leaders have the skill to engage with people with different backgrounds and outlooks, are willing to adapt personally, and are able to create a shared vision which brings diverse individuals to a collective focus on a coherent end-goal. Organizations should follow the advice from Apple and their strapline “Think Different.”

Idea #415
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