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Napoleon on his Imperial Throne, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1806, The Musee de l'Armee, Paris

The Speed of the Ascent: Which Leaders Get the Top Jobs?

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

Although there are many paths to senior roles, and many types of leader that take those paths, the route to the highest level of management, CEO level, appears to be the most clearly defined. And it tends to be established early on in a career. This research gives fresh insights into how people get to the top of the 21st century corporation.

Idea #333
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Investment Banking: Technology and the Decline of Trust

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

‘Up or out’ promotion policies and reward systems that encourage ‘star’ bankers to ‘shine’ by taking unacceptable risks were significant factors in the 2007-2009 financial crisis. But they need to be viewed in a broader context. The seeds of trouble were sown decades previously, when a trend towards ‘transactional’ models, powered by technology, began to transform investment banks.

Idea #325
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Women bus drivers campaign for equal pay, Twickenham 1947, (Source: TUC Collections, London Metropolitan University)

Retaining Women in the Workplace

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

A record number of women are leaving the workforce — a trend that is detrimental to both the women themselves and their organizations. How can organizations ensure that they not only retain high-potential women, but also develop them to be organizational leaders? This Idea explores some of the steps that can be taken.

Idea #326
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Changing Attitudes to Business Ethics: Insights from South Africa

Idea posted: February 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing
  • Operations

The past 20 years or so have seen a marked change in attitudes towards ethics among South African business-school students. Recent MBA graduates have stronger opinions on what is ‘wrong’ and what is ‘right’ business behaviour and are more likely to think in terms of moral absolutes. This has significant implications for business schools and educators — and for companies and employers.

Idea #319
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The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, detail from a commemorative mural by Ernest Fiene, 1938–40, at the High School of Fashion Industries, New York

Supply Chain Networks and CSR Sourcing

Idea posted: February 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Building long-term relationships with select suppliers is seen as the way to reduce the risks of socially irresponsible sourcing and, by extension, damage to a company’s brand or reputation. It is not, however, a ‘magic’ solution to the problem of ‘rogue’ elements in the supply chain. New research finds that the success of ‘relational sourcing’ is directly linked to the structure of the supplier network — and that the ‘optimal’ structure varies by company and product category.

Idea #316
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Oilholics Anonymous Club. Allegory of the oil corruption

Reflective Leadership to Counter Corruption in Emerging Markets

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

Corruption remains a major obstacle to doing business in rapidly developing countries such as China, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Russia. It destroys value, distorts markets and encourages executives to work in their own rather than shareholders’ and stakeholders’ interests. Solving the problem depends on a new approach from companies: ‘reflective leadership’.

Idea #307
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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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Women’s Attitudes to Affirmative Action Programs for Leadership

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

What effect do affirmative action programs have on women’s attitudes to leadership? According to this Idea, when female employees perceive that their organization practices gender-based affirmative action, they are less likely to desire to attain leadership positions, even though these actions are designed to increase their access to such positions.

Idea #302
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Panelists at the 2nd annual Arabian Business Women's Forum, November 2013, Dubai (Courtesy: www.ArabianBusiness.com) 

Promoting Women Leaders in Different Cultures

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

To successfully promote women to leadership positions around the globe, multinational corporation executives must adapt their strategies to each country’s cultural tightness — the degree to which a culture favors authority and rigidity, and has a low tolerance for deviance. 

Idea #304
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Self-Reflective Job Titles Reduce Emotional Exhaustion

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

Allowing employees to give themselves self-reflective job titles — the title of Berkshire Hathaway’s event organizer is Director of Chaos, for example — helps them affirm their identity and, even in the most stressful of jobs, reduce emotional exhaustion. The result is less staff turnover, better teamwork, and higher performance.

Idea #305
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Map of the World and Constellations, Petrus Plancius (1552 – 1622) Dutch astronomer, cartographer and clergyman

The Role of Cultural Self-awareness in Global Leadership

Idea posted: January 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations
Institutions: IE Business School

We are shaped by our backgrounds, by the values and beliefs that have been instilled in us since birth.  By understanding how one’s own cultural hinterland can affect behaviour in a global workplace, leaders can learn to adapt that behaviour and do better business with those around them, whatever their nationality or background.

Idea #306
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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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Chery A1 - service/repair shop in Ukraine (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Reasons for Product Recalls: Safety on the Line

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

Product recall is an increasingly common problem for manufacturing industries. But its causes are rarely researched. Most studies concentrate on its effects. The  financial impact of withdrawing a product from sale has been examined in detail; the PR ‘fall-out’ much discussed. This Idea shifts the emphasis to the ‘plant-level drivers’ of recalls — and reveals the ‘systematic’ and operational reasons for quality-control failure and serious product flaws.

Idea #285
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Traditional Marriages and Attitudes to Gender Diversity at Work

Idea posted: December 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Is there a link between the structure of a man’s marriage and his attitude to gender diversity in the workplace? According to this Idea, there certainly is; men in more traditional marriages are more likely to have more unfavourable attitudes towards women in the workplace than their counterparts in modern marriages. Read on to find out why this is important for organizations to acknowledge and understand.

Idea #288
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‘War Horse’, the stage adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s book, performed at the Lyric Theatre Sydney, Australia, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Indirect Control: The Future of Management?

Idea posted: December 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Management models are often seen as falling into one of two camps: command and control or the more laissez-faire, participative variety. But this is a false dichotomy. Successful managers and leaders today combine elements of both — in the ratio that’s right for them and their organizations. They offer autonomy and ‘self-actualisation’ but they do so in a clear and conscious ‘frame’ that reflects their sector and circumstances — and the preferences and skills of their employees. 

Idea #276
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The Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, Caspar David Friedrich, 1818, Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Body Language: Power Poses That Get Lost in Translation

Idea posted: December 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Expansive postures and gestures — leaning forward, standing tall with arms outstretched, etc — are considered part of the ‘body language’ of power. They make the ‘actor’ feel more positive and focused and they communicate confidence and authority to the observer. But not all of them ‘travel well’ or cross cultural boundaries. Recent research suggests leaders should stop and think before striking a ‘powerful pose’.

Idea #278
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Inequalities in the Competition for Global Talent

Idea posted: December 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Finding and hanging on to people with the right skills is a problem shared by most organizations today — in both the private and public sectors. The ‘talent war’, however, is not being fought on a ‘level field’. The new Global Competitiveness Talent Index, a tool that measures countries’ efforts to attract, develop and retain talent and their access to both vocational and higher-level skills reveals significant disparities.

Idea #280
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The Fall of Icarus, Carlo Saraceni (c.1580-1620), Museo e Gallerie Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy

CSR: Pride Comes Before a Fall

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

CEOs with a strong record in corporate social responsibility (CSR) are more likely to engage in less ethical behaviour further down the line, despite maintaining an appearance of morality. Leaders should, therefore, be aware of their propensity to fall from grace and boards should closely monitor their behaviour, especially if the CEO in question is currently ‘on a pedestal’, with recent CSR achievements to their name.

Idea #273
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Fair Trade logo

Premium Pricing Socially Responsible Products

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing

Are consumers willing to pay a premium for socially responsible products? According to two researchers from NYU’s Stern School of Business, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Specifically, consumers will pay a higher premium for socially responsible non-durable products, and a higher premium for products that reflect a social commitment to humans, such as fair labour practices, as opposed to products that benefit animals or the environment.

Idea #269
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The Pilot Faints, from Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, illustrated by Gustave Doré, published 1798

Choosing a CEO: Safe Pair of Hands Vs Too Much Experience

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A good track record of experience as a CEO does not necessarily lead to success in subsequent appointments. Evidence suggests that those appointed to the CEO role without a background in the role outperform their more seasoned counterparts. Why is this so, and what can prior CEOs do to avoid ‘the experience trap’? 

Idea #270
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National Youth Orchestra performing Beethoven’s ninth symphony at the Royal Albert Hall, London, during 2013 BBC Proms (Source: Royal Philharmonic Society)

Music in the Meeting Room: Beethoven's 9th?

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

The power of music in leadership and the development of trust is widely recognised. So, too, is the value of face-to-face meetings, which, despite a battery of technological alternatives, are still commonplace in organizations. The possible synergies between music and meetings, however, have been overlooked. Managers are missing an opportunity to improve productivity, efficiency and teamwork. Is it time for music, long a feature of corporate events, to make it to the company meeting room?

Idea #264
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St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, Giotto, 1299, San Francesco Upper Church, Assisi, Italy (Source: Wikipaintings)

Building Trust: The Role of Stakeholders' Personal Values

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

For stakeholders, such as employees and customers, the trustworthiness of a company is based on competence and character attributes. New research shows that whether competence or character is more important to establishing trust depends on the personal conservative or liberal values of the stakeholders. This research helps companies develop targeted trust-building strategies.

Idea #262
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Blue Ballet, by South African artist Glen Josselsohn, 2011 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Innovation and External ‘Clusters’ in Emerging Markets

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Regional clusters, combining companies and research institutes and government agencies, have long been considered important for the development of new businesses and new ideas, particularly in highly competitive and turbulent environments such as emerging economies. But they need to be complemented by external networks. A recent study underlines the link between successful innovation and partnerships outside ‘home territories’.

Idea #263
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Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah, purported to be the oldest person to ever live, stained glass window Canterbury Cathederal (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Age Diversity and Performance: Negative Stereotypes and HR Policies

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

Diversity in the workplace is now strongly encouraged in progressive organizations, and an increasing number of companies are enacting diversity-related policies. But this Idea suggests certain policies, such as those related to age diversity, may in fact hamper a firm’s performance if managers appear to hold negative age stereotypes.

Idea #256
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Outsider CEOs and Strategic Change

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

While companies in crisis bring in outsider CEOs to effect change, many of them fail. New research shows why: Outsider CEOs need corporate stability to successfully bring change to an organization.

Idea #260
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Tobacco Warning (Source: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Health Warnings Can Boost Sales: Regulators Beware

Idea posted: November 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Marketing

Warnings of the health risks and possible side-effects of products are commonly considered an important part of consumer protection and responsible marketing. But they can be counter-productive. Recent research suggests they not only fade over time but also lead to perverse increases in consumer confidence and product sales.

Idea #253
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Elizabeth I of England, the Armada Portrait, George Gower, 1588 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Identity Crises: Occupational Hazards for Female Leaders?

Idea posted: October 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Life is notoriously tough and demanding for female leaders. The difficulties, however, are not confined to balancing the commitments of home and working life. Female leaders often find it hard to reconcile their professional roles with their identities as women and feel prevented from being their ‘authentic selves’ at work. Solving the problem may depend on a fundamental shift in organizational values — and reversing ‘gendered definitions’ of leadership.

Idea #239
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The Green Investment Gap — And How to Close It

Idea posted: October 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Private investment in renewable energy technologies is increasing but remains below the level required to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. Solving the problem could depend on a new approach from policy makers. Recently published research on the European market sheds new light on the ‘drivers’ of investment decisions — and suggests that financial factors and government subsidies are not the only drivers.

Idea #243
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BOAC advertisement (detail), 1946. BOAC was a British airline, which merged with BEA in 1974 to form British Airways.

Top flight talent? The Value of International Assignments

Idea posted: October 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

What are the factors – at both an individual level and a corporate level – that affect the relationship between international assignment experience and career advancement? Research suggests it is not as easy for leaders to rise to the top if they have been away from head office for too long.

Idea #244
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Madhubani, or Mithila, painting from Northern India (Source: mithilapaintingtraining.blogspot.co.uk)

Family Business in India: Meeting 21st Century Challenges

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing

With 75% of the Indian workforce employed by a family-owned business, how they are run and what challenges they face will be of interest both to organizations in the country and to those interested in doing business there. In this Idea, some of the key features of India’s family-owned businesses are looked into, and some advice is offered to such firms for their long-term success.

Idea #235
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