Category: Emerging Research
Article Forthcoming in Organization Science
Winner of 2009 European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Best Paper Award
Stine Grodal’s article “Hedging Your Bets: Examining Executives’ Market Labeling Strategies in Nanotechnology,” is forthcoming in the journal Organization Science (2013). Grodal is Assistant Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Boston University School of Management.
She co-authored the paper with Nina Granqvist, Aalto University, School of Economics, Department of Management, Helsinki, Finland; and Jennifer Woolley, Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara, CA. “Hedging Your Bets” also won the 2009 European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Best Paper Award.
Executives use market labels to position their firms within market categories. Yet, this activity has been given scarce attention in the extant literature that widely assumes that market labels are simple, prescribed classification brackets that accurately represent firms’ characteristics. By examining how and why executives begin to use the nanotechnology label, we uncover three strategies: claiming, disassociating, and hedging. Comparing these strategies to firms’ technological capabilities we find that capabilities alone do not explain executives’ label use. Instead, the data show that these strategies are driven by executives’ aspiration to symbolically influence their firms’ market categorization. In particular, executives’ perception of the label’s ambiguity, their avoidance of perceived credibility gaps, and their assessment of the label’s signaling value shape their labeling strategies. In contrast to extant research, which suggests that executives should aim for coherence, we find that many executives hedge their affiliation with a nascent market label. Thus, our study shows that in ambiguous contexts, non-commitment to a market category may be a particularly prevalent strategy.
Boston University School of Management’s Barry Dym sees a watershed moment approaching for nonprofits across the U.S., one that could have repercussions for the nation’s broader economy.
Dym is Founder and Executive Director of the School’s Institute for Nonprofit Management & Leadership. In his recent book Managing Leadership Transition for Nonprofits: Passing the Torch to Sustain Organizational Excellence, published in March 2001 by FT Press and coauthored by Susan Egmont and Laura Watkins, he notes that a significant percentage of today’s nonprofit organizations are led by baby boomers expected to retire sometime within the next decade. With 1.4 million nonprofits in the U.S.–and another 40,000 created every year, equaling 15-20% of the economy in many of our nation’s cities–the crisis of leadership that’s poised to erupt in the nonprofit sector could make waves throughout the broader marketplace.
The stakes: A crisis of leadership, poised to erupt in the nonprofit sector, could make waves throughout the economy.
When these baby-boomer leaders do retire, “Tens of thousands of new leaders will be selected and chartered by hundreds of thousands of board members, managing millions of staff people and serving many millions of clients,” Dym says.
In response to this potential crisis, Managing Leadership Transitions offers a game-plan for adeptly navigating changes of leadership, especially in the nonprofit sector. “Our goal is to supply a new theoretical perspective on leadership continuity and transition, and a practical guide for managing both,” Dym says. “The framework should orient readers for the long haul, addressing such questions as how boards should manage professionals through the seasons of organizational life–providing equal comfort to those soon to face or already in the midst of a difficult transition by presenting a step-by-step guide to transition management.”
Transitions are developmental crises that can move organizations from their current stage to the one they have envisioned in their strategic plans.
A New Perspective: Leadership Transitions as Positive Change-Agents
Explaining what is particularly unique about the work Managing Leadership Transitions, Dym and his coauthors write, “To our knowledge, books already in print take a narrow view of leadership transition. They treat transitions as though they were anomalies, situational crises to be ‘fixed’ as quickly as possible.” In contrast, this book posits “transitions as part of the natural course of life in organizations, to be managed in the way that all other stages of organizational life should be managed: with the skill and care that come from reflecting on what came before and what should follow.”
Building on this view of leadership changes as potentially positive change-agents, the book casts “transitions as developmental crises that have the potential to move organizations from their current stage to the one they have envisioned in their mission and strategic plans.” To help readers tap this potential, Dym and his coauthors offer “a blueprint” for “seizing the transitional day.”
The Four Keys to Beginning Well in a New Transition
Managing Leadership Transitions lays out four crucial perspectives from which to understand organizational change and then seize the opportunities it can create:
- We believe that transitions takes place over a longer period of time. We ask: What came before the departure; what led to contentious or drawn out departures, and how will we do better next time? Knowing the answers to these questions is a key to understanding, and thus being able to manage well, through any leadership change.
- The fundamental challenge of leadership is to align all organizational resources in the service its mission, vision, and strategies. Hiring a new leader without some clarity about strategic directions is asking him or her to fly blind. Developing at least a rough agenda to serve as the new leader’s guide star is crucial, and is the second key to successful transitions.
- The quality of leadership and the relationship between lay and professional leaders move through recognizable stages, including periods of hope and disillusionment and moving towards periods of balance between expectations and the ability to meet them. Each stage presents its own challenges. Managing well through all of these stages represents the best chance of sustained and effective organizational leadership. It is the third key to effective transitions.
- Board presidents cycle in and out with even greater rapidity, often differing dramatically in style and values; and these differences require powerful adjustments by the CEOs. The coming and going of chief operating and chief financial officers and program directors can also be disruptive, creating problems and opportunities. In other words, there are regular transitions in key organizational relationships that are almost as powerful as those of the leader, himself. They must be managed, too.
Learn more about Managing Leadership Transition for Nonprofits: Passing the Torch to Sustain Organizational Excellence.
Do you get what you pay for?
Companies pay ad agencies hundreds of thousands of dollars to create their advertising. But some ads created by actual consumers for the same products often tend to generate more attention, rate higher in believability, and generate higher sales than their professionally crafted counterparts. So says Associate Professor of Marketing Frederic Brunel of his recent research (along with Associate Professor Susan Fournier and PhD candidate Benjamin Lawrence). Brunel is one of 25 professors who shared findings at the first Annual School of Management Faculty Research Day on June 14.
Faculty, staff, and PhD students packed the School’s fourth floor dining room on June 14. Professors from seven departments presented 10-minute “snap lectures” of scholarly papers that are either nearing completion or are already accepted by peer journals.
The organizing committee split the day into four themes: Digital Technologies, Firm and Industry Dynamics, Institutions and Regulation, and Information and Innovation. The topics ranged from Justin Ren’s study of market entry of international firms into China to Delvon Parker’s analysis of lean production methods to Emily Heaphy’s investigations of hospital patient advocacy.
“It was our hope from the beginning,” said co-organizer Siobhan O’Mahony, associate professor of strategy and innovation, “that this would be an opportunity to share knowledge, celebrate research efforts, and perhaps spark new inquiry across disciplines.” Dean Ken Freeman said, “This was just the beginning, and Research Day will become an annual event. The research contributions of our faculty give me great confidence that we are moving in the right direction as we strive to become one of the elite business schools in the world.”
The animated conversations in the post-event cocktail party indicated that the faculty indeed would hope to repeat this event. Assistant Professor of Marketing Remi Trudel, who presented research on about self-regulation, said “I was really impressed with the breadth of knowledge at SMG and at the type of research that is being conducted here – the faculty here is working on some really big ideas that could have huge impact.”
“Research Day was a great way to break down the silos that are an unfortunate reality of academic institutions,” observed Professor of Markets, Public Policy and Law Michael Salinger, who presented on the topic of product bundling and tying, “I was impressed by the breadth and quality of the research going on in this building (and a bit embarrassed that I had not been fully aware of it previously). Samina Karim added, “It was an informative window into the novel, rigorous, and impactful research being done by my colleagues.”
Senior Associate Dean Karen Golden-Biddle, professor of organizational behavior, added, “Our first annual Research Day was a tremendous event that showcased the high quality research of our faculty and enriched our scholarly community. Special kudos go to the faculty organizing committee for a job really well done.”
Along with O’Mahony, the event organizers were Rui Albuquerque, associate professor of finance, Chris Dellarocas, associate professor of information systems, and Susan Fournier, associate professor of marketing.