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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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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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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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Using Values-Based Leadership to Drive Performance

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Values-based leadership can drive the performance of organizations, and managing those values is the key to unlocking increased performance. Richard Barrett’s model maps values for individuals, groups, organizations and nations. It can identify the gaps between observed and desired values and the negative values that create dysfunction, and can be used to show where change needs to occur to create higher performance.

Idea #472
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The Harvesters, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1565. Courtesy the Metrolopitan Museum, New York

Does Work/Life Balance Help or Hurt Productivity?

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

Does paying attention to the work-life balance issues of employees increase productivity and the competitiveness of a business? Or, as pessimists might argue, is productivity and work-life balance (WLB) in direct conflict? New research shows that in fact WLB is more neutral than either proponents or pessimists believe — neither hurting nor particularly helping productivity. The decision on whether to implement WLB practices may rest on a completely different factor: the social norms of the countries in which the business activity takes place.

Idea #475
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Bucket wheel excavator at the Tagebau Garzweiler mine, Germany (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The World Needs Mining, but Mining Must Change

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

Demand is increasing for the mining industry, but so are costs and challenges — including increasing intolerance for the negative impact of mining activities on the environment and on local communities and indigenous people. The result: currently $24 billion in industry losses due to delays and resistance. A new initiative, involving all stakeholders impacted by mining operations and led by one of the giants of the industry, offers a roadmap for a collaborative, long-term sustainable approach to mining.

Idea #476
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Thumbs Up Ballet in a field choreography of Stars in my Eyes, Quebec, 1944 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Employee Satisfaction Improve Company Value? It Depends...

Idea posted: January 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Recent studies of U.S. companies have shown that increased employee satisfaction is linked to higher value for the firm. But what about companies in other countries? A new study shows that the U.S. results are replicated only in countries that have levels of labour flexibility (ease of hiring and firing) similar to the U.S. Companies in countries with low labour flexibility show a more limited benefit from employee satisfaction.

Idea #478
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Firms Are Not Adapting to the Millennial Workforce

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

Millennials bring technological savvy to the workplace, but also require focused managerial attention. According to the latest CFO Survey from Duke Fuqua and CFO Magazine, many companies — especially American companies — are not adapting to attract or retain millennials.

Idea #481
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Margaret Thatcher, 1925-2013 (Courtesy: Associated Press)

A Lower Voice Can Take You Higher Up the Leadership Ladder

Idea posted: February 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

When it comes to success in business, a man’s voice can make a difference — especially if he hopes to become CEO. New research reveals that men with deeper voices manage larger companies, make more money and stay in their positions longer. (Women were not included in this research though Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power was supposedly helped by coaching that lowered the pitch of her voice.)

Idea #483
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Two short but sharp leaders: Bernie Ecclestone (1.59m) and Vladimir Putin (1.70m) (Courtesy: www.premier.gov.ru, Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Potential Leaders: Height Helps But So Does Being Smart

Idea posted: February 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change

Studies show that leaders are more likely to be taller than average. Previous research revealed the perceptions of leadership qualities, such as persuasiveness, that are more easily assigned to taller men, which may explain their success. New research from the Stockholm School of Economics points to new reasons for the correlation. One revealing result: half of the tall leaders owe their managerial positions to their cognitive (intelligence) and non-cognitive (e.g. motivation or persistence) ability, indicating that a correlation between height and ability may explain the preponderance of

Idea #484
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Henri Matisse, working from his sick bed, 1952 (Courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The Hidden Costs of Working While Sick

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

How does working while sick or in pain affect work performance? Through two studies, one focused on employees with chronic pain and another focused on those with momentary pain, a research team demonstrated that fluctuations in pain impacted employee allocations of energy toward their work. Specifically, when in pain, employees are more likely to withdraw from their work, while without pain, they are more likely to engage in ‘extra-role’ behaviours, going above and beyond their responsibilities. 

Idea #492
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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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Daniel's Answer to the King, Briton Rivière, Mezotint, 1892 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Overcoming Our Evolutionary Fears to Speak Up to Authority

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

Employees are often afraid to speak up even though they may have something to say. New research points to the evolutionary origins of fear-based silence and highlights the productive steps (e.g. developing emotional intelligence and better communication skills) employees can take to overcome these fears.

Idea #498
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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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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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The Money Changers, Marinus van Reymerswaele, 1548 (Courtesy: Bilbao Fine Arts Museum)

How a Numbers-Crunching Culture Can Increase Unethical Behaviour

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

Adopting a calculative mindset to every problem — approaching every issue, either qualitative or quantitative, in a numerical frame of mind — can lead to dishonest or immoral decisions, according to new research. 

Idea #504
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How Political Correctness Increases Creativity in Mixed-Sex Teams

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

Creativity can suffer in mixed-sex teams. Men and women both experience uncertainty when asked to generate ideas as members of a mixed-sex work group: men because they may fear offending the women and women because they fear having their ideas devalued or rejected. Being PC helps men and women become more creative. 

Idea #505
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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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Amsterdam Gay Pride 2013 Vodafone boat (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Corporate Political Advocacy: Support Non-business-related Causes

Idea posted: April 2015
  • CSR & Governance

Some companies are unequivocally supportive of controversial political causes that are not even related to their industries — gay marriage, for example. Is corporate political advocacy, which goes beyond the responsible practices and community involvement of corporate social responsibility (CSR), appropriate in a business setting?  

Idea #508
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Millennials 1: A Diverse Generation Often Misunderstood

Idea posted: May 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A new study of Millennials across the globe confirms some common assumptions about this generation while proving other stereotypes wrong. The most important lesson, however, is the heterogeneity of this generation, which is overlooked by employers. (Editor's Note: this article is based on Part 2 of the survey.)

Idea #515
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Millennials 2: Concerned about Opportunities for Growth and Quality of Life

Idea posted: May 2015
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

A new global survey shows Millennials from different regions of the world have different fears about their work lives. On average, the number one fear was getting stuck in a job with no development opportunities. In Latin America, however, the fear of not realizing their career goals dominated, while North Americans feared working too much most of all. (Editor's Note: This article is based on Part 2 of the survey)  

Idea #516
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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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Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

Why Self-Confident Women Have Less Influence than Self-Confident Men

Idea posted: October 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

A new study shows that the appearance of self-confidence resulting from high performance gives men greater influence in their organizations. The same is not true for women, who in addition to appearing self-confident must also demonstrate active concern and support for others. 

Idea #675
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Source: Pixabay

Typical Air Quality in Offices Hurts Cognitive Function

Idea posted: September 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Controlled laboratory experiments yield evidence that air quality in conventional offices will impact our cognitive abilities, compared to the quality in ‘green’ offices and buildings.

Idea #669
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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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Impression III, Wassily Kandinsky, 1911 (Courtesy: The Lenbachhaus, Munich)

Behavioural Economics: A Power that Goes Beyond Nudges

Idea posted: October 2017
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Behavioural economics solutions to societal problems mostly take the form of economic ‘nudges’ — such as defaults to increase retirement plan enrolments. However, the potential for behavioural economics to help resolve societal problems is far greater than the common nudges. A new paper explains how policy makers have failed to take full advantage of behavioural economics solutions.

Idea #677
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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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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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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 Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (detail), Francisco Goya (Courtesy: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri)

Why Managers Forgive Ethical Lapses of Tired Employees

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

Managers tend to excuse and forgive ethical lapses by employees who are fatigued or depleted, a new study shows — although if the employees brought the fatigue on themselves (such as from watching a late night sporting event rather than working late), managers are less forgiving.

Idea #715
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