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  The Roman Forum, the commercial, cultural, and political centre of the Republic (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

Centralized or Decentralized Decision Rights in Multinationals

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Certain company and country factors determine whether decisions should be centralized at parent company headquarters or decentralized to the foreign subsidiary. Ignoring those factors will hurt parent and subsidiary financial performance. And fixing the inappropriate decision-making structure could prove costly.

Idea #237
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The Press Gang, George Goodwin Kilburne, 1839-1924 (Source: Burlington Paintings, London)

Should I stay or should I go? The Power of Headhunters

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

We can learn much from recent research about the behavioural aspects of top executives when approached by search firms. It suggests that the decline in corporate loyalty – prevalent among lower level employees since the downsizing era of the 1980s – has spread to the upper echelons as well.

Idea #233
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Money for Nothing: The Truth About Investment Consultants

Idea posted: October 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Widely used by retirement plan sponsors and pension fund trustees, investment consultants advise on institutional assets worth trillions of dollars. But their influence is not matched by their performance. New research finds no evidence that they add value to plan sponsors — or provide higher returns for pension scheme investors.

Idea #230
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The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs, Georges De La Tour, c. late 1620s, Louvre, Paris (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

When Financially Deprived Employees May Shift Moral Standards

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

Although moral standards are valued unequivocally, moral behaviour is another story. Under certain conditions, people will let their moral standards shift. New research shows that financial deprivation is one of those conditions and this can have an impact in the workplace.

Idea #227
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Paid-for Online Product Reviews: The True Price

Idea posted: September 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing

Increased awareness of the power of online word of mouth (WOM) in marketing means many companies now offer people financial incentives to write reviews of their products and services. But this could be a short-sighted strategy. Recent research suggests that knowing a review has been ‘solicited’ leads to negative pre-conceptions about products among potential consumers – and that these could prove quite hard to reverse.

Idea #222
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Children Acting the Play Scene in 'Hamlet', by Charles Hunt, 1863, (Source: The Yale Center for British Art. Wikimedia Commons)

Calling in the Consultants: Risks and Rewards

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

The use of management consultants by businesses and other organizations is controversial — and its benefits hard to quantify. (The ‘consultancy effect’ is impossible to isolate from other factors affecting the organization.)

Anecdotal evidence and experience, however, suggest that the leaders who derive most value from consultants are those who see them not as ‘fixers’ but ‘facilitators’ come to ‘counter-observe’ the organization and help create or measure its aptitude for change.

Idea #214
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The ultimate generalist? Swiss army knife, Wenger (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Generalist Bias: Why Specialists Are Undervalued

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

In just about every domain — from sports to business — there is a widespread bias to hire generalists over specialists, even when specialist skills are needed to fill the gap. This generalist bias is reinforced by joint evaluations (comparing specialists and generalists side-by-side) that undervalue the importance of complementarity: a group of narrowly focused experts with complementary specialties can be more effective than a group of generalists with overlapping skills.

Idea #221
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Hamlet's Vision, by Pedro Américo, 1893,The Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Surprising Reality of the Leadership of Change

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

Linear ‘step-by-step’ guides and standardised solutions are of limited use in the management of change. Organizations, by their very nature, defy prescription. Leaders who want to turn companies round are often better off observing things for themselves and encouraging employees to improvise solutions than trying to follow a generalised model. There are, to paraphrase Hamlet, more things in organizational life than are ‘dreamt of’ in the ‘philosophies’ of academics, business writers and management consultants.

Idea #213
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How to Communicate CSR Online to Stakeholders

Idea posted: September 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing

The online communication models used by organizations to inform on their CSR activity can impact negatively on the way they are perceived by stakeholders. How can they try to overcome such obstacles and create a format for the future that engages successfully with their audience?

Idea #207
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1940's advert for Mum antiperspirant (Source: The Smithsonian.com)

Ethical Lapses in Negotiations – A Male Tendency

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

Do women act more ethically than men? According to this Idea, yes they do, particularly during negotiations; men tend to be more pragmatic in their ethical reasoning at the bargaining table than women, especially when they feel like their masculinity is being threatened. 

Idea #210
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Klaus Kinski in Fitzcarraldo,1982, written and directed by Werner Herzog, winner or the Best Director award at the 1982 Cannes film festival

Working Abroad: The Value of Experience

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Intuitively, experience reduces the chance of failure. An experienced manager will make fewer mistakes than the inexperienced manager. The same logic can be applied to international business activity: companies experienced in foreign markets are going to fail less frequently than companies without foreign experience.

New research shows, however, that this assumption is too simple. Previous experience in a foreign market helps if the company returns to that market. It also helps if the company ventures into a different foreign market, but only, the research shows, as long as the

Idea #205
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Cinderella and her sisters, Aubrey Beardsley illustration of the classic story, from The Yellow Book, 1894

Stopping Women Bullying Women in the Workplace

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

Women bullying women in the workplace is a worryingly common phenomenon and one that is important for leaders to understand and deal with; because, according to this Idea, its negative effects can ripple throughout an organization. Here, a metaphor involving priming, painting, peeling, and polishing is used to explain how such bullying occurs, and how it can be overcome.

Idea #200
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The Education of Alexander the Great by Aristotle, Charles Laplante, 1866 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Aristotle, Ethics and the ‘Art’ of Leadership

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Aristotle’s ‘master virtue’ of phronesis, which combines ethics and action so that people can ‘live well’ and be happy, is often seen as the key to effective leadership. But it tends to be too narrowly defined. A re-reading of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics reveals that phronesis is linked not only to knowledge, skill, wisdom and intelligence but also to sensory perception, intuition and aesthetics. For Aristotle, doing the right thing partly depended on seeing and appreciating the fine thing. This raises important questions about how leaders reach their

Idea #202
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Bathing beach parade, 1919, Bathing Beach Washington D.C. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Identifying High-Potential Talent

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

Organizations are struggling with how to effectively identify, attract and retain high-potential talent. This Idea — based on a Leadership Survey carried out by UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School — proposes employing a formal and systematic approach, and outlines four steps to putting such an approach into practice. 

Idea #203
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Weightlifter figure on the Royal Caribbean International, Mariner of the Seas cruise ship (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Three Ways to Overcome Your Power Deficit

Idea posted: August 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: IMD

'Power shortage’ is not just a term for the energy industry; executives frequently experience deficits in their power to influence as well. According to this Idea, there are three power sources that need to be maintained in order to avoid, or recover from, a power deficit. 

Idea #192
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William Mark Felt, Sr. (1913-2008), A.K.A. ‘Deep Throat’. Felt, a former associated director of the FBI supplied Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein with enough insider information to take down President Nixon after the Watergate scandal. (Source: CBS News)

Blowing the Whistle on Unethical Conduct: It Takes a Village

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

Employees who want to report wrongdoing must overcome two fears: the fear of retaliation and the fear of futility (the fear of risking the enmity of boss and co-workers for nothing, because nothing is done). New research on whistleblowers confirms that the boss sets the initial ethical tone for the organization or unit, but also demonstrates that co-workers play an important role in either supporting or discouraging whistleblowing. The research shows that the interaction of the two factors — boss attitude and co-workers attitude — impacts an employee’s fear of retaliation. If either the

Idea #193
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Anti-fracking activists, Balcombe, West Sussex, where Cuadrilla was drilling an exploratory well, August 2013 (Source: Greenpeace. Photo by Jiri Rezac)

CSR - Why Companies Need Activists

Idea posted: August 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Operations

A company’s positive or negative impact on society can enhance or harm its reputation. New research from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management shows that passionate activists play a key role in ensuring that companies remain socially responsible.  If they push too hard, however, the efforts of these same activists become counterproductive. On the corporate side, the research explains why corporations must never let up their socially responsible activities.

Idea #194
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Trust, Fraud and the Financial Markets

Idea posted: August 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Markets cannot function without relationships, and relationships cannot function without trust. But the mechanisms for building trust can be ‘faulty’. Bernard Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme, which ruined thousands of investors, depended on a series of ‘trust-producing’ factors that combined to conceal it from victims and the authorities. Understanding these mechanisms can help prevent similar frauds and abuses of trust.

Idea #195
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How Formal Mentoring Affects Workplace Networks

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

How do widespread organizational practices like formal mentoring affect employee networking? According to this Idea, formal mentoring programs could provide boosts in visibility, increasing participants’ attractiveness as network partners. However, these benefits seem to arise more for women than men. 

Idea #199
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Children showing a Koh-Kae can (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Healthy Bottom Lines – Food Marketing and Obesity Prevention

Idea posted: August 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
Institutions: Cornell University, INSEAD

Food marketing has a profound — and complex — influence on consumers and is often blamed for the (increasingly global) obesity epidemic. Food companies are not in business to make people fat, however. They’re in business to make money. Research into the effects of the ‘4 Ps’ of marketing — ‘price’, ‘promotion’, ‘product’ and ‘place’ — on food consumption suggests there are profitable changes they could make to help people eat more healthily.

Idea #188
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An Offshore Original? Pirate Radio Caroline North broadcast off the coast of the Isle of Man, July 1964 to March 1968 (Source: BBC News)

Reducing the Risks of ‘Offshore’ IT

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

The digital revolution and the rapid economic development of countries in Asia and elsewhere have encouraged companies in the west to outsource IT services overseas. But large numbers of offshore projects for information systems fail. A study focusing on contract specification and different modes of contract implementation has highlighted ways companies can better control the quality and costs of long-distance outsourcing.

Idea #186
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The Wizard of Oz – a publicity still of Jack Haley, Ray Bolger, Judy Garland and Bert Lahr promoting the 1966 CBS broadcast of the 1939 MGM feature film (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Leveraging Diversity through Integrative Thinking

Idea posted: August 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Increasingly, companies are embracing diversity. It is right on moral grounds alone, but also they feel it can contribute directly to competitive advantage. Many corporate websites echo the thought that the real power of diversity comes in the form of happier customers and increased profit. Many companies routinely create diverse work teams seeking to capture the financial value of leveraging diverse and opposing views. If only it were so easy. The teams need supporting structures, organizational norms and real tools to achieve their goals.

Idea #187
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The Money Lender and his Wife, Quentin Metsys, founder of the Antwerp school, 1514, The Louvre, Paris

When Financial Incentives Backfire

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: HEC Paris

Companies often rely on performance-based systems to reward their ‘smartest’ or most productive employees. But financial incentives can have unintended consequences. New research suggests that the smartest workers also tend to be the most skilled at playing performance-based systems for personal gain. Leaders need to look closely at the way they structure and design incentives — and reduce the risks of employees concentrating their efforts on activities that trigger rewards.

Idea #180
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How Best Behaviour Boosts the Bottom Line

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
Institutions: Henley Business School

Businesses can see beneficial financial effects if they implement policies based on corporate social responsibility. These effects are evident in both the equity and corporate bond markets where they lead to reduced market risk and default risk, lower cost of equity and debt and increased credit quality.

Idea #181
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Officer cadets from Serbia's Military Academy, Belgrade, Serbia, 2010 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Social Influences on Decision-Making: Neuroscience Insights

Idea posted: July 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour

Decision-making is often strongly influenced by social factors, and research in the nascent field of neuroeconomics (which crosses the disciplines of psychology, marketing, economics and neuroscience) is helping to explain why. ‘In-group conformity’ is mediated by signals in the brain associated with emotion and reward and can be stimulated by the so-called ‘love hormone’, oxytocin. Neurobiological insights like these raise important questions for strategy design — in both the private and public sectors. 

Idea #184
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Exercises in Tábor, 1924, photographed by Šechtl and Voseček (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Co-operative Behaviour: Neuroscience Insights

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

Co-operation is essential for the functioning of human societies — and several current public policy initiatives, including health and lifestyle and environmental campaigns, depend upon it. Many attempts to persuade people to co-operate and collaborate, however, fail — or succeed for only a limited time. Understanding the neural mechanisms for co-operation can help in developing more effective ways of promoting collective behaviour and in designing policies to achieve societal aims.

Idea #185
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Image from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Developing Talent to Manage Big Data

Idea posted: July 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
  • Learning & Behaviour

The sudden and prominent appearance of big data in the business world means many organizations need to start thinking about investing in new staff specifically trained in big data analysis. How can HR executives stay ahead and ensure they find and retain the right people for this important role? 

Idea #176
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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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Smoke But No Fire: How Employees View CEO Pay

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

In recent years, calls to address CEO compensation packages have been rife. The press has ‘named and shamed’ many organizations for their excessive pay schemes, but despite all the noise, there has been little worker revolt. So what exactly is the effect of CEO pay, if any, on employee attitudes? This Idea examines the relationship between the two, and offers guidance for individuals involved in setting CEO compensation.

Idea #173
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