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E.T. The Extra-Terrestial, 1982, co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Drew Barrymore, Universal Pictures

Make Your Enemies Your Allies

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour
  • Operations

Has an antagonistic relationship at work ever cast a cloud over you and your team? It happens to us all. Rivalries at work are natural. But they can be so destructive for the organization as a whole; sapping energy and blocking progress. Here’s a three-step method to help turn your rivalries into productive relationships, and turn your enemies into allies.

Idea #056
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Andy Murray, 2012 Olympics Gold Medalist (Source: Wikimedia)

Understanding High-Stakes High-Performers

Idea posted: January 2013
  • Strategy
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

How leaders perform when the stakes are very high or when they confront unusually high pressure depends on similar ‘critical abilities’ to the tennis players. Using data from the US Open professional tennis tournament, ‘critical abilities under pressure’ are examined to demonstrate that - what we might also refer to as ‘courage under fire’ - has a major impact on a player’s career success. Applied to the world of business this research helps us understand how leaders are likely to perform when the stakes are very high.

Idea #033
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Samurai at a Waterfall, 19th Century Japanese Woodblock Print, Fuji Arts

Grapes of Wrath: How Self Control Leads to Anger

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

Does making a healthy food choice make us angry? In an important piece of consumer research, a relationship is found to exist between exerting self-control, and a preference toward ‘themes of anger’ in e.g. entertainment. This mismatch - getting irritated by our own self-control - has far-reaching implications for marketers and policy-makers as we try to further understand consumer behaviour.

Idea #034
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CSR Tree

What Is the Real Value in CSR?

Idea posted: June 2013
  • CSR & Governance
  • Finance

Proponents of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) insist that companies will “do well by doing good.” Researchers from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, however, argue that the truth is more complicated. Their research confirms a positive association between current CSR expenditures and the future financial performance of the company. However, it is the signal that CSR spending sends to the market that explains this positive correlation — not the return on investment in CSR.

Idea #158
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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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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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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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1957 Oldsmobile Starfire 98 Coupe, detail from advert in Life Magazine April 1957

How Customers Watch What Others Buy

Idea posted: September 2013
  • Marketing

While consumers (and the marketers who market to them) believe that purchasing decisions are based on a combination of emotional and rational factors, a research team from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania identify a more basic motivation that pushes people to buy: they look at what others around them are buying. 

Idea #223
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A McDonalds Happy Meal (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Does Bundling Hurt Sales?

Idea posted: October 2013
  • Marketing

While retailers and manufacturers may believe that bundling two products makes the package more attractive, research shows that bundling an expensive product with an inexpensive product actually diminishes the value of the expensive item. 

Idea #238
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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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Mary Marvel, the world's mightiest girl, Marvel Comics, illustrator Jack Binder, 1941 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Priming Power to Influence and Persuade

Idea posted: December 2013
  • Learning & Behaviour

New research confirms that simply remembering a personal experience with power can increase a person’s appearance of confidence, command and persuasiveness in either the written form or a face-to-face meeting. The researchers focused on job application and interview settings, but the findings can easily apply to a variety of situations.

Idea #289
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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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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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President Eisenhower signing of HR7786, June 1, 1954, this ceremony changed Armistice Day to Veterans Day (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Do Soldiers Make Good CEOs?

Idea posted: March 2014
  • Leadership & Change

CEOs with past military experience are more likely to pursue more conservative corporate policies (particularly those related to finance and investment), are less likely to be involved in fraud, and are in a better position to guide a company during crises or industry downturns, according to new research based on 25 years of corporate data.

Idea #337
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Online Customers Reviews: Loyalty and Deception

Idea posted: April 2014
  • Marketing

While it might seem easy for competitors to hurt a rival’s sales by posting negative reviews, research reveals that many of the most negative product reviews are written by loyal customers trying to influence company strategy. 

Idea #356
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Detail from a poster by Eric Frazer, for the Post Office Savings Bank, 1942 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

How a Culture of Integrity Boosts the Bottom Line

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

A culture of integrity adds value to the firm. Research shows that the more employees perceive top managers as trustworthy and ethical, the better the financial performance of the firm and the more attractive the firm to potential employees. 

Idea #379
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U.S. Army enlisted promotion - CONTIC Intelligence Center, Ft. Bragg, N.C. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Can Employees Be Motivated by More than Money and Benefits?

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

Managers mistakenly believe that, although they have to provide both intrinsic (e.g. the love of a challenge) and extrinsic (compensation) motivations, employees are only extrinsically motivated. To best motivate their employees, managers need to look beyond the traditional external motivations such as bonuses and find ways to make the work challenging and interesting.

Idea #401
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1950s office workers, in cats eye glasses (Source: Wikifashion.com)

Happiness at Work: How Daily Reminders Improve Employee Morale

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Learning & Behaviour

Employee happiness improves when employees focus on maximizing their happiness. Deliberately taking steps to maximize happiness at work can lead to positive behavioural changes. Companies can help employees through daily technology-driven individual interventions that are more effective than the occasional company picnic or visit to the stadium.

Idea #410
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The Unexpected Impact of Click and Collect Retail Programs

Idea posted: June 2014
  • Strategy
  • Marketing
  • Operations

When retailers started offering the ‘buy-online, pickup-in-store’ option, also known as BOPS, the assumption would be that online sales would increase. New research shows, however, that BOPS actually reduces online sales while increasing offline sales — a surprising but positive result.

Idea #527
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St Nicholas saves a storm-tossed ship, Gentile da Fabriano (c. 1425)

Is Your Supply Chain Prepared for the Unexpected?

Idea posted: July 2014
  • Strategy
  • Operations

Supply chain management is a delicate balancing act in these unpredictable times – on the one hand, there is pressure to keep the supply chain as cost efficient as possible, while on the other, it needs to be flexible and resilient in the face of unforeseen events. How do leaders proactively manage the risk of disruption?

Idea #414
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Replica of Rushworh's music store in Liverpool, where the Beatles bought their first Gibson guitars (Source: Wikipedia Commons)

When Showrooms Help Online Companies

Idea posted: August 2014
  • Marketing
  • Operations

Nearly every bricks-and-mortar company will have an online presence today. But a few intrepid companies are going in the opposite direction: online companies are starting to open offline showrooms — and research shows the result is a boost in sales… and happy customers.

Idea #434
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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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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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Why Leaders Sabotage Their Own Teams

Idea posted: February 2015
  • Leadership & Change

Some leaders, afraid of losing their grip on power, will use whatever means they have to stay in their position. Their favourite strategy is to divide and conquer: they systematically prevent skilled subordinates — the greatest threats to their power — from forming alliances with other subordinates that would help push them to the top. Divide-and-conquer strategies undermine the positive, collaborative relationships that are key success factors for effective groups…but these leaders couldn't care less. 

Idea #482
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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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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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Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich: the Sister, by Edward Ardizzone,1941 (Courtesy: The Imperial War Museum, London)

The Overlooked Productivity Costs of Collaboration

Idea posted: October 2015
  • Leadership & Change
  • Operations

While management theorists and business leaders trumpet knowledge sharing and other advantages of collaboration, new research shows that workforce collaboration also comes with ‘spillover’ time-related costs that hurt productivity. These costs, however, can be managed.  

Idea #552
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Satan Leaving the Court of Chaos, Paradise Lost, Anon. British, c.1800 (Courtesy: Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina)

Expel Expensive Toxic Workers Before Hiring Superstars

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

While organizations are focused on acquiring star performers, new research shows that avoiding toxic workers is even more profitable. Watching in job interviews for the red flags of potentially toxic workers — self-regarding, overconfidence, stating that rules should always be followed — can prevent expensive hiring mistakes. 

Idea #576
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The Cheats, Valentin de Boulogne, c.1619 (Courtesy: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC)

Last Chance Cheating: A Gig Economy Challenge

Idea posted: May 2016
  • CSR & Governance
  • Leadership & Change
  • Learning & Behaviour

Because short-term or contract employees are hired for a specific period of time, they know when the end of their time with the employer is near. A new study shows that as they approach this final period, departing short-termers will often cheat the employer in some way. The reason: it’s their last chance to make a little gain at the employer’s expense. 

Idea #605
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