Category: Emerging Research

Kabrina Chang Honored for Work on Medical Marijuana and Employment Law

January 19th, 2012 in Emerging Research, Faculty, Markets, Public Policy & Law, News

Best Paper Prize for “High Risk Employment: The Management Headache from Medical Marijuana”

New work by Kabrina Krebel Chang, an assistant professor in Boston University School of Management’s Markets, Public Policy & Law Department, has been honored with a Best Paper prize from the South East Regional American Business Law Society Conference, which took place in November 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Chang’s research areas encompass employment law and employer liability, including the ethical, legal, and managerial implications of lifestyle discrimination. Her winning paper is titled “High Risk Employment: The Management Headache from Medical Marijuana.” The article explores an emerging ethical and legal workplace quandary that stems from contradictory positions on employee protection and the use of medical marijuana between some state and Federal courts.

If it is legal in my state, medical marijuana must be treated like any other prescription drug, right? Wrong.

Legalization of medical marijuana is a growing trend in the U.S.: 16 states and DC have medical marijuana laws, 13 states have decriminalized possession of small amounts, and 80% of Americans support allowance of medical marijuana to treat pain, Chang notes. Based on this trend, it seems employees using marijuana with a valid prescription would have protection. If it is legal in my state, medical marijuana must be treated like any other prescription drug, right?

Wrong, Chang shows. Courts have made it clear that, so far, there is no protection for employees who fail their company’s drug test because they tested positive for their medically legal marijuana use. By looking at various cases on both the state and Federal level, Chang outlines this tension and the ensuing confusion it causes both employees and employers.

The courts may have given management a blueprint for an effective policy.

She also points towards likely future trends in court decisions and illuminates two seminal, dissenting Federal arguments that might provide useful guidelines for managers. “Some employers want to accommodate marijuana and create workplace policies that reflect a new view of off-duty use of medical marijuana,” Chang writes. “The courts may have given management a blueprint for…an effective workplace drug policy that allowed for some medical marijuana use.”

But whether these guidelines can “adequately and appropriately address the very real concerns for employers about drug use” in the workplace today, Chang concludes, “remains a decision managers are making on a piecemeal basis.”

The Impact of Immigration on the Success of High-Skilled Women in the U.S.

January 19th, 2012 in Emerging Research, Faculty, Markets, Public Policy & Law, News

Patricia Cortes

Patricia Cortés’ New Research Appears in the American Economic Journal

Much controversy about immigration in the U.S. stems from the fear that incoming foreigners deprive natives’ access to jobs. But a recent study by Boston University School of Management’s Patricia Cortés and co-author José Tessada suggests a different, long-ignored result of immigration: that the arrival of low-skilled laborers in this country provides the conditions for high-skilled women to succeed in their careers.

Cortés, an assistant professor in the Markets, Public Policy & Law Department, and Tessada, faculty member at Escuela de Administración (Business School), Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, reveal their findings in their paper “Low-Skilled Immigration and the Labor Supply of Highly Skilled Women,” appearing in the July 2011 American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Using census data and tracking the immigration wave of the 1980s and 1990s, the authors find a striking correspondence between the availability of low-cost, flexible housekeeping and child care services provided by newcomers, and an increase in the number of hours worked by women in high-salary jobs, particularly those traditionally dominated by men. However, though the availability of support for home-related responsibilities correlates to an increase in labor hours for highly educated women in the top income bracket, it has no impact on the likelihood of these women gaining employment to begin with, suggesting that low-skilled immigration might increase job success for high-skilled women who already have careers but doesn’t necessarily compel them into the workplace.

“Low-skilled immigration into the U.S. can generate effects on the labor supply that go beyond the standard analysis of the impact immigrants have on natives of similar skill.”

Explain Cortés & Tessada, “We find a large positive and statistically significant effect of low-skilled immigration on the hours worked per week of working women at the top quartile of the female wage distribution. Much smaller, but still statistically significant, effects are found for women above the median, and no effects are found for women with wages below the median….Focusing on women working in occupations where men have long hours of work, we find large positive and statistically significant effects of low-skilled immigration in the probability that women also work long hours.”

Among their specific findings are data suggesting that the low-skilled immigration wave of the period 1980–2000:

  • Reduced by close to seven minutes a week the average time women at the top of the wage distribution spent on household chores;
  • Increased by 20 minutes a week the average time women at the top of the wage distribution devoted to market work; and
  • Increased the probability that women employed in occupations demanding long hours would work more than 50 to 60 hours a week.

This last result is especially important, since many women in this group ― lawyers, physicians, and women with PhDs ― work in fields where success depends upon working long hours.

“By lowering the prices of services that are close substitutes of home production, low-skilled immigrants might increase the labor supply of highly skilled native women.”

“Low-skilled immigration into the United States can generate effects on the labor supply of natives that go beyond the standard analysis of the impact immigrants have on natives of similar skill,” argue Cortés & Tessada. “By lowering the prices of services that are close substitutes of home production,” they conclude, “low-skilled immigrants might increase the labor supply of highly skilled native women.”

Read more about “Low-Skilled Immigration and the Labor Supply of Highly Skilled Women.” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 3 (July 2011): 88–123.

Stine Grodal on Market Label Strategies in Nanotech

January 13th, 2012 in Emerging Research

Article Forthcoming in Organization Science

Winner of 2009 European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS) Best Paper Award

Stine GrodalStine 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.

Article Abstract:

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.

New Book Spotlight: Barry Dym’s Managing Leadership Transition for Nonprofits

July 27th, 2011 in Emerging Research, Faculty, Organizational Behavior, School


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Professors Share Research Findings at First Annual SMG Faculty Research Day

July 27th, 2011 in Emerging Research, Faculty

Faculty Research Day

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.