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Graphic of staff superimposed on a background of skyscrapers

Creating a High Integrity Corporate Culture

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

At what point do employees realize, if at all, that they are making an inappropriate decision? And what interventions are available to help ensure they make the right ones? When employees fail to act with a strong sense of integrity, there are conscious and unconscious factors at play. Leaders should be aware of these in order to create and sustain a corporate culture where doing the right thing becomes second nature.

Idea #058
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 ENRON, 2010, Written by Lucy Prebble, Royal Court Theatre, London

Corporate Scandals: Causes and Cures

Idea posted: January 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

US corporate scandals plagued the early 2000s, with Enron, Tyco, and WorldCom becoming notorious. The 2008 financial crisis bred Libor rate-fixing and other cases of serious misconduct. Loss-hiding at Japan’s Olympus Corporation was exposed in 2011. In 2013 Shell, BP, Statoil and others came under investigation by the EU Commission for supposed oil price rigging. Fined, sued, disgraced and sometimes collapsed the consequences for organizations can be dire. What preventive measures should be put in place to ensure organizations do not fall prey to such outcomes? 

Idea #085
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Diagram of the Brain, 14th Century

Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Behaviour

Idea posted: February 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Emotional intelligence is our ability to control our emotions, understand the emotions of others and use this information to guide thinking and action – and it can have a huge impact on leadership effectiveness. In relation to the collaborative aspects of leadership in particular, emotional intelligence has been found to have a significant effect.

Idea #023
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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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Principles of Competitive Global Talent Management

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

Companies must use talent management to build and sustain a talented workforce. Recruit, develop, deploy and retain the right people; these are the core aims of a successful global talent management strategy. Rather than follow untailored ‘best practices’ to do that, a company can subscribe to six outline principles that are consistent with the organization’s overall strategy and culture.

Idea #018
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Think difference

How Social Intrapreneurs Get Heard

Idea posted: May 2013
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Institutions: INSEAD

Corporate social entrepreneurship initiatives, usually the work of intrapreneurs (entrepreneurial executives within the corporation) keen to solve social problems, have important macro- and micro-economic implications. They create value for people who are not current stakeholders - and they create opportunities to innovate and diversify. There are, however, barriers to their development. A model that counters the conventional logic of the organization and puts financial sustainability before growth could be the solution.

Idea #151
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Eihi Shiina in ‘Audition’, 1999, Japanese, Director: Takashi Miike, Distributor(s): American Cinematheque; Vitagraph Films

Psychopaths in the C-Suite: How to Avoid Them

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Not all psychopaths are destined for prison or secure psychiatric hospitals. There’s a subset of ‘psychopaths lite’ – and it includes the ‘seductive operational bully’ (SOB). Manipulative, unprincipled and devious, and often highly persuasive and articulate, SOBs are capable of rising to the top of organizations – and wreaking havoc while there. Stopping them depends on creating an ‘inhospitable’ environment – and taking a ‘clinical’ approach to organizational diagnosis and intervention.

Idea #156
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Nelson Mandela shakes hands with his predecessor Frederik de Klerk and at Davos, January 1992 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Learn to Forgive: Mandela’s Leadership Legacy

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

When we forgive we can change the future. This is one of the greatest lessons organizations can learn from transformational political leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Aung Suu Kyi. Resentment, bitterness and blame make us prisoners of the past and impede progress. In the workplace, we need to accept human fallibility — and encourage people to think of mistakes as learning opportunities. The wise leader — and the wise organization — forgives and learns

Idea #170
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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St. Augustine Departing for Milan, detail from a fresco in the apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano, by Benozzo Gozzoli, 1464-65

How to Keep Clients When a Linchpin Leaves

Idea posted: February 2014
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Marketing
Institutions: INSEAD

Losing clients can be a serious risk when a key member of staff leaves, particularly in the creative and professional-services industries. Including non-compete clauses in employee contracts has, so far at least, proved an ineffective mitigation strategy. Is ‘multiplexity’ — increasing the number of ‘human ties’ between client and company — the ‘optimal’ solution? Only, finds new research, in certain circumstances.

Idea #330
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The Voyage of St. Brendan the Navigator, according to legend this famed traveller reached North America between 512 and 530 AD

How Travelling Abroad Builds Trust and Tolerance

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

The idea that travel can be important for personal development and ‘growth’ is well established. Spending time overseas can ‘broaden the mind’ — not only by increasing knowledge but also by reducing xenophobia. The maximum benefits, however, might depend on breadth as well as depth of experience. Recent empirical research finds a causal link between the ability to trust and accept others and exposure to a diverse range of ‘out groups’.

Idea #335
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Multiculturalism by Monisha Pushparaj (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Multicultural Experience: Better Performance, Better Job Prospects

Idea posted: March 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

The ability to process complex information and synthesize opposing ideas is associated with creativity and, by extension, increased professional opportunities and better job prospects. A multicultural environment can help build it — but only if people engage psychologically with others. The capacity to ‘integrate’ differing perspectives comes from interaction not observation.

Idea #340
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Mortality: The Ultimate Motivator

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Existing management theories fail to provide the complete picture on employee motivation. To understand what drives us as human beings you have to understand a range of complex psychological factors — including fear of death and denial of our own mortality. Death is a powerful ‘stealth motivator’ that leads to defensive and avoidance strategies in the workplace. 

Idea #365
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Why books are always better than movies? An image made by Massimo Barbieri using the free software Gimp, 2009 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Understanding Dreams: A New Tool for the Executive Coach?

Idea posted: April 2014
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

Dreams can provide powerful clues to someone’s mental and emotional state. They can also be a ‘path’ to conflict resolution and problem-solving, helping people confront deep-seated fears and concerns. Dream recall can, therefore, be an important part of executive and leadership coaching.

Idea #371
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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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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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Millennials 3: Who and What Influences Career Choices?

Idea posted: June 2015
  • CSR & Governance
  • Learning & Behaviour
Institutions: INSEAD

According to the stereotype of Millennials, social media, friends, and family are the most important influences on career choices. A survey of 16,000 Millennials around the world discounts the stereotype. Millennials are finding opportunities and making choices on their own, without leaning on parents, friends or social media friends. (Editor’s note: This article is based on Part 3 of the survey.)

Idea #522
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Millennials 4: Value Work-Life Balance But Are Willing to Work Hard for Their Careers

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

Stereotypes about Millennials can oversimplify nuances, especially if preferences among different regions of the world are not taken into account. A new global survey of Millennials shows that work-life balance is important, but Millennials are still willing to work hard to advance their careers or achieve leadership roles. (Editor’s Note: This article is based on Part 4 of the survey.)

Idea #533
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Source: Pixabay

How to Create Shared Value for the Firm and Society

Idea posted: August 2017
  • CSR & Governance

The new Creating Shared Value (CSV) mandate that calls for business to focus on both making profits and helping society is criticized as naïve wishful thinking. The interface of business and society is not always win-win. An international team of academics answers the critics with a CSV+ framework that covers all situations — even the win-lose or lose-win ones.

Idea #663
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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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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Promotion-Focus CEOs and CFOs Drive Strategic Growth

Idea posted: October 2019
  • Strategy
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

CEOs and CFOs with a high promotion focus, who are afraid to miss opportunities and willing to experiment, are more likely to lead a company to growth than low promotion-focused CEOs and CFOs, who are more aware of potential risks. The best strategic decisions, however, seem to come when the two executives have clashing levels of promotion focus. 

Idea #753
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