Category: Social Impact

Jim Post on Toxic Politics and a Bank Too Good to Survive

October 26th, 2011 in Markets, Public Policy & Law, Social Impact

Jim PostFor their recent piece in Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Too Good to Fail,” James Post and Fiona Wilson write about the strange case of ShoreBank Corporation, which was shuttered in 2010 for essentially being, they argue, not enough of a big, bad bank to save.

Post is the John F. Smith, Jr. Professor in Management at Boston University School of Management, recent recipient of the Faculty Pioneer for Lifetime Achievement Award from the Aspen Institute, and a widely cited scholar on management and ethics. He and Wilson write,

“On Aug. 20, 2010, the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation closed ShoreBank, the nation’s first and leading community bank, and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. The closure was not unexpected. Reports of the bank’s problems—and a potential rescue—had been circulating for months. But the closure brought to a bitter end an iconic example of progressive social enterprise.”

Post and Wilson note the leadership of ShoreBank Corporation throughout its 37 years of existence in the field of social enterprise, citing the following:

  • ShoreBank’s for-profit bank subsidiary was the largest certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in the nation.
  • It made $4.1 billion in mission investments and financed more than 59,000 units of affordable housing.
  • In 2008, ShoreBank had more than $2.4 billion in assets and earned more than $4.2 million in net income.
  • The organization’s national and international influence ranged from inspiring a national movement of community development financial institutions, shaping federal community investment legislation, and serving as a role model for dozens of progressive banks in the US, as well as managing social and economic development projects in over 60 countries.

Doomed by Washington’s Toxicity?

So, the authors ask, “Why did ShoreBank fail? What lessons can the social enterprise community learn from its record of success? And what can be learned from its closure?”

They argue that, at base, ShoreBank was doomed, at least in part, because of the “toxic politics of Washington today.” For one, the organization suffered by the very fact that it, unlike many Wall Street giants, was not considered “too big to fail.” “Had it been much larger,” they write, “the federal government might have saved it from collapse. But the federal government was not concerned about smaller banks or banks that were socially beneficial, in other words, “too good to fail.”

Moreover, Republican lawmakers, Post and Wilson write, suspicious of their Democratic counterparts’ interest in saving ShoreBank, lead them to reject a bailout for the organization after the financial meltdown in Chicago and beyond threatened its existence.

Lessons from Beyond Politics

“Beyond this lesson in toxic politics, there are several big-picture lessons to be gleaned from the closing of ShoreBank,” the authors write.  Some of these include:

  • Balance Social Mission with Financial Realities: “An organization’s social mission must be balanced with financial realities. A social mission should serve as a powerful incentive to strengthen an organization’s operating systems from the harsh consequences of the economy, competition, or a hostile environment.”
  • Ensure Resources Match Achievement Goals: “ShoreBank also provides a cautionary lesson about new organizational models and resource limitations. There was genius in the idea of using a bank holding company to own and operate for-profit and nonprofit entities focused on the same social mission….At the same time, legitimate questions remain about whether the resources of the holding company were sufficient for the breadth of its activities.”

Read the full article at Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Why Is the U.S. Losing the Green Race?

October 21st, 2011 in Digital Technology Sector, Energy & Environment Sector, Faculty, News, Sectors, Social Impact


Nalin Kulatilaka, finance professor and co-director of the Clean Energy Initiative at Boston University, joins the discussion in the New York Times Room for Debate series.

According to Professor Nalin Kulatilaka, a smart grid is crucial.

“Americans pride themselves on being global leaders in innovation. So why is the nation lagging behind China and Germany on renewable energy?

The failure of clean energy efforts in the U.S. comes not from a lack of technology innovations, but from the lack of their widespread adoption. Rather than singling out specific companies or industries, our clean energy efforts should focus on building a smarter electricity system, one in which consumers and producers base their decisions on timely information that reflect true costs. Such a system will accelerate the adoption of clean energy by bridging information gaps that are dissuading investments and inhibiting energy-saving behavior.

“Once businesses and individuals can see what drives up their electric bills, a wide range of new energy business models will emerge.”

Once businesses and individuals can see what drives up their electric bills, a wide range of new energy business models will emerge.

The sources of generating electricity, hence the environmental impact and costs, change often and unpredictably. In the current system this is opaque to retail users. By making prices readily visible, smart electricity systems will reduce energy use. In fact, some European countries already have appliances that receive pricing information from the grid and are programmed to run during cheaper times. Having a smart grid is also essential in integrating renewable sources of energy like solar and wind by better managing their intermittent availability. Such a system is also imperative for the electrification of the transportation sector that needs to coordinate charging batteries with availability of cheap and clean sources of power. Because electricity and the transportation sector currently consume two-thirds of our fossil fuel use, these changes would have an enormous impact.

With the smart electricity infrastructure in place, a wide range of new energy business models will emerge. For example, the new information will enable cheaper and better audits of buildings’ energy use, which would help to tailor efficiency improvements.

As with the highway system, by investing public resources on a smart electricity infrastructure, we can create a truly transformative environment in complementary sectors and can take the U.S. to a leadership position in clean energy.”

Once businesses and individuals can see what drives up their electric bills, a wide range of new energy business models will emerge.

Public Nonprofit Program Students on their Summer Internships

October 21st, 2011 in Graduate Students, Social Impact, Students

Left Photo: Anya Thomas (far left) with Dominique Chambless (MPH 2012), and Meg Meyer (MBA/MPH 2012); Right Photo: Steph Bloch with Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, and Uri Feld (former BU PNP student)

Left Photo: Anya Thomas (far left) with Dominique Chambless (MPH 2012), and Meg Meyer (MBA/MPH 2012); Right Photo: Steph Bloch with Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, and Uri Feld (former BU PNP student)

Anya Thomas (MBA 2012, Public and Nonprofit Management)
Summer 2011 Vestergaard Frandsen (VF) Intern

“Your goal is to change Ghana’s water policy.”  When my Boston University teammates and I secured an internship with Vestergaard Frandsen (VF), we had no idea that we would get to work on a presentation that has the potential to impact the lives of millions of Ghanaians.  Even though VF is not a non-profit, it is a social enterprise focused on “humanitarian entrepreneurship.”  This small company invents technologies that promote health through out the developing world.  Its most famous product is a bed net that protects people from mosquitoes that carry malaria.  Now VF has started to tackle the international water crisis with an extremely effective membrane water filter.

” This internship allowed my teammates and I to participate in a fascinating public-private partnership.”

This internship allowed my teammates and I to participate in a fascinating public-private partnership.  As VF interns we got to meet with Ghanaian officials in the water sector, multilaterals such as the World Bank and UNICEF, as well as local NGOs.  Together these public and private organizations are trying to save millions of lives. As our research is came to a close, we became more convinced than ever that filters and other types of household water treatment are crucial components of a comprehensive water and sanitation strategy for any developing country.

Our presentation is being used by VF to help the Ghanaian government and various development partners realize that household water treatment is the interim solution they need.  This experience has opened my eyes to so many new areas.  Now I understand the huge affect water quality has on health and economics, and I am inspired by how a small innovative company can affect policy change and promote the health of a whole nation.

Steph Bloch (MBA Dec 2011, Public and Nonprofit Management)
Summer 2011 Rappaport Fellow, Rappaport Institute and Harvard Kennedy School of Public Policy

As a Rappaport Fellow for the summer of 2011, I was placed in Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s Office.  I was charged with educating entrepreneurs about the permitting process for start-up small businesses  through a website launch, the initiation of a collateral series, and a TV segment.  My goal was to help create a comprehensive package for new business owners to access the information they need from all city departments, in order to navigate the permitting process.

My internship gave me the chance to interact with many of Boston’s top policymakers and learn from them about how they keep the city running.  One of the best experiences was riding on a police boat to visit a summer camp on one of Boston’s Harbor Islands for Boston’s underprivileged youths.  But day in and day out, working at the Mayor’s Office has made for an excellent summer.  Everyone is here because they want to do good for the city.  Being surrounded by intelligent people who want to do right by the public is invigorating.

” Maybe the most important thing I learned from the experience was to think about the short term in balance with the long term.”

Maybe the most important thing I learned from the experience was to think about the short term in balance with the long term.  If left to my own devices, as a business student, I would have done research, written proposals, made plans, and nothing tangible would have come to fruition. Being here, I realize that since everything is about the people of Boston, you have to give the people signs that you care about them by going for some shorter term solutions they can relate to and feel good about. The thing is that you’re always working for the long-term greater good, but sometimes you have to help people be proud of their city now.

A Student’s Account of the India Field Seminar

October 21st, 2011 in Graduate Students, Health Sector, School, Social Impact, Students

HSMP India Seminar 2

Deedar Samant, a 2011 alumnus of the Health Sector Management program at the School of Management, shares his experience attending the India Field Seminar as a second-year MBA student.

Earlier this year, 20 students from Boston University School of Management, accompanied by two faculty members, visited three of India’s biggest and most rapidly developing cities: Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Our journey began in the wintry, cold-gripped capital city of Delhi.  For four days we absorbed information and sights in this city rich with historic significance and landmarks, from the Mughals to India’s independence struggle with the British Raj.

Our visit to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) was particularly interesting. Enjoying the good fortune of being located in the nation’s capital, AIIMS is backed by a surprisingly huge budget for a government hospital, which enables it to provide the populous with state-of-the-art services ranging from preventive to the best diagnostic and surgical services offered anywhere in the world. It was fascinating to observe the workings of the emergency department, which looked extremely busy even though the administrator accompanying us assured us that it was a relatively “light” day.

“India is a fascinating country with marked differences in languages, cultural practices, health care needs, and provisions and access to these services.”

Next, our encounters with two individuals on the opposite side of the battle, developing over drug patent protection rights, introduced us to the world of generic medicines and the economic and cultural issues linked with the struggle.

Next on our travel map was the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), undoubtedly the economic, fashion, entertainment, and street-food capital of India. To describe Mumbai in a single sentence, it is the perfect blend of New York and Los Angeles with an abundant cultural diversity. Our meeting with the head of the preventive medicine department of one of the largest government hospitals in Mumbai, and subsequent visit to the Dharavi urban health center, were wonderful experiences. The center (part of the government hospital system) provides absolute free preventive and medical services to the slum of Dharavi, with a population of more than a million.

“A visit to generic drug manufacturing firms strengthened our understanding of the market strategies applied by these companies in battling the multinational corporations in the highly lucrative Indian pharmaceutical market.”

A visit to the generic drug manufacturing firms of Glenmark and Cipla strengthened our understanding of the market strategies applied by these firms in battling the multinational corporations in the highly lucrative Indian pharmaceutical market.

Our last stop on the seminar brought us to the technology capital of India, Bangalore. A visit to Narayana Hrudayalaya (a cardiac care center) and an encounter with its founder, Dr Devi Shetty, was very rewarding. Our conversation with Dr Shetty made us realize the clarity and dedication of his vision in bringing quality medical services to the low income population at a fraction of the cost incurred by providers in the western world. The level of operating efficiency and progress achieved through simple, effective, evidence-based medical practices, prompted some of our team members to ask Dr Shetty for internships at his institute to discover more details on the organizations operating strategies and expansion initiatives.

“Indians have definitely broken the first set of codes unlocking the doors into the world of quality health care to the masses at highly affordable prices and will be a great resource of lessons-learned for the health care institutions in the US. “

India is a fascinating country with marked differences in languages, cultural practices, health care needs, and provisions and access to these services. The pace of development and ideation is tremendous but the infrastructure needed to sustain these processes is not keeping pace. There is a sincere effort on part of the government, and national as well as international private parties, to develop the infrastructure to ensure rapid and organized progress of the health care system. However, one fact prominently stands out: Indians have definitely broken the first set of codes unlocking the doors into the world of quality health care to the masses at highly affordable prices and will be a great resource of lessons-learned for the health care institutions here in the United States.

New Research Uncovers Crucial Role of Public-Sector Research in Drug Discovery

July 27th, 2011 in Digital Technology Sector, Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Health Sector, Social Impact, Strategy & Innovation

Ashley Stevens

Ashley Stevens

New work from Boston University School of Management’s Ashley J. Stevens, D.Phil, co-authored by colleagues from across the University and the National Institutes of Health, has illuminated how public-sector research has had a more profound effect on improving public health than previously realized, most notably in the realm of drug discovery.
Stevens is a lecturer and Senior Research Associate at the School’s Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship and Commercialization (ITEC), as well as Special Assistant to the Vice President for Research at Boston University.

His article “The Role of Public-Sector Research in the Discovery of Drugs and Vaccines”* appeared recently in The New England Journal of Medicine and was co-authored by Jonathan J. Jensen (Boston University School of Management alumnus), Katrine Wyller (previous School of Management Technology Transfer Fellow), Patrick C. Kilgore,  Sabarni Chatterjee, and Mark L. Rohrbaugh (National Institutes of Health).

153 new FDA-approved drugs, vaccines, or indications for existing drugs were discovered by PSRIs (four of which can be credited to current or former Boston University researchers).

Bayh-Dole and the Federal Technology Transfer Act

Stevens and his colleagues traced the impact on public health of two U.S. laws: the Bayh–Dole Act of 1980, allowing universities, nonprofit research institutes, and teaching hospitals to own the intellectual property resulting from federally funded research and  license it according to terms of their choosing; and the Stevenson–Wydler Technology Innovation Act as amended by the Federal Technology Transfer Act of 1986, extending the same authority to federal laboratories.

These acts enabled studies conducted at public-sector research institutes (PSRIs)–universities, research hospitals, nonprofit research institutes, and federal laboratories–in the United States to be freely published in the scientific literature, and also converted into intellectual property and transferred, through license agreements, to the private sector, enabling its commercialization and public use.

New Discoveries about Drug Discovery

The authors, exploring the impact of these acts three decades on, found that 153 new FDA-approved drugs, vaccines, or indications for existing drugs were discovered through studies carried out by PSRIs (four of which can be credited to current or former Boston University researchers).

They also found that PSRIs tend to discover drugs that have a disproportionately important clinical impact. “Slightly over half of these drugs were for the treatment or prevention of cancer or infectious diseases,” Stevens explains. “Furthermore, drugs discovered by PSRI’s received Priority Review by the FDA at twice the rate as for all FDA drug approvals, indicating that PSRI discovered drugs were expected to have a disproportionately high therapeutic impact.”

“Slightly over half of these drugs were for the treatment or prevention of cancer or infectious diseases; Drugs discovered by PSRI’s received Priority Review by the FDA at twice the rate as for all FDA drug approvals.”

As he and his colleagues write, “Our data show that PSRIs have contributed to the discovery of 9.3 to 21.2% of all drugs involved in new-drug applications approved during the period from 1990 through 2007.”

The paper has had broad influence since its publication, being  widely cited in the media and heavily quoted by policy makers in Washington noting the significant economic spillover from federal investments in basic science.  Recently, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, cited the study in his explanation of the NIH’s proposed 2012/13 budget.

Ultimately, Stevens comments, “we believe that our study supports the concept that the emergence of biotechnology in the mid-1970s, combined with policy changes implemented in the early 1980s regarding the ownership and management of the intellectual property of PSRIs, allowed–and will continue to allow–these institutions to play an important role in the downstream, applied phase of drug  discovery.”

*“The Role of Public-Sector Research in the Discovery of Drugs and Vaccines,” Ashley J. Stevens, D.Phil., Jonathan J. Jensen, M.B.A., Katrine Wyller, M.B.E., Patrick C. Kilgore, B.S., Sabarni Chatterjee, M.B.A., Ph.D., and Mark L. Rohrbaugh, Ph.D., J.D., The New England Journal of Medicine, February 20, 2010.

SMG’s Public & Nonprofit MBA Program Featured in “The Chronicle of Philanthropy”

July 27th, 2011 in News, School, Social Impact


Medicine Wheel Productions, which uses public art projects to help urban kids express themselves, won a grant awarded by a group of Boston University business students. Photo courtesy of Medicine Wheel.

From The Chronicle of Philanthropy:

By Eric Frazier

As a fund raiser at Rosie’s Place, a charity that helps poor and homeless women in Boston, Benjamin Weisman knows a lot about asking people for money. But what’s it like to be a program officer on the other end of the equation, struggling to decide which fund raisers to send away empty-handed?

Mr. Weisman, a student in a master’s in business administration program at Boston University designed for people who want to run nonprofit groups or government agencies, recently got a chance to see. He was part of an all-student board assigned to give away $10,000 as a real-world lesson in philanthropy.

It proved more challenging than he and his classmates thought it would be.

“Boy, was it an eye-opening experience,” he says. “I feel like I’m more in tune to the relationships between funders and [charitable] organizations.”

Benjamin Weisman, a fund raiser at Rosie’s Place, a homelessness charity, says his Boston University class project to award $10,000 to a nonprofit was “eye-opening.”

He and six other MBA students participated in the recently completed project, which was underwritten by a grant from the Highland Street Foundation, in nearby Newton, Mass. Mr. Weisman and several of his classmates already work for charities, but they still came away surprised by how many tough questions arise in deciding to award a grant. They say the experience made them better at asking for grants and better at using the money as grantees.

Kristen McCormack, the faculty director of the business-degree program, says grant-making exercises like hers can be a potent tool for sharpening the minds of emerging leaders in nonprofit organizations.

“They often think the people on the foundation side have it easy—all you do is give away money all day,” Ms. McCormack says.

But, she adds, grant-making assignments make students “think hard about what success is in philanthropy. It’s easy to give away $10,000. It’s less easy to create social change.”

Finding Consensus

Similar classroom exercises are cropping up on campuses around the country as universities, corporations, and alumni increasingly recognize the important role charities and foundations play in building civil society, Ms. McCormack says.

Her project began three years ago as part of Students4Giving, a program run by the Campus Compact, a coalition of more than 1,100 college and university presidents that seek to encourage students to get involved in community-service efforts.

But after money from Campus Compact was no longer available, Boston University secured support from the Highland Street Foundation.

Ms. McCormack’s most recent student project got under way last fall, with members of the group trying to figure out what to do with their $10,000. Should they make one grant or multiple grants? Should they focus on one cause or many? What should their grant-making mission statement be?

Students had different—and passionately held—opinions about what to do with the money, Mr. Weisman says, and had to work hard to hammer out a consensus.

Finally, he says, the students realized many of them shared an affinity for the arts, and they all wanted the $10,000 to make a lasting difference. They decided to award one grant and agreed to look for a group that used the arts to produce positive social change. And, like real-world foundation officials, they wanted applicants to prove their programs had affected people’s lives.

They dubbed themselves the MBA’s for the Arts, then released an application form and request for proposals. About 30 applications came in, and the budding grant makers drew up a set of guidelines based on the qualities they valued and used it to winnow the applications down to five finalists.

Choosing was hard for Lindsay Jensen, who runs a financial-education program at Jewish Family & Children’s Service, in Waltham, Mass. In her work, she says, she has written both successful and unsuccessful grant applications.

Sitting on the grant maker’s side of the table, she saw just how slim the margin can be between winning and losing.

“That was such a challenging, challenging process,” she says. “You start to understand the challenges the funders face when you have so many terrific nonprofits coming through the door.”

Choosing a Grantee

Still, Mr. Weisman says, he was surprised by the “low quality” of a couple of the applications. They were either poorly written, he says, or the applicants skipped questions. One proposal clearly contained what he calls “cut and paste” answers the charity probably used in many other grant applications.

“It was surprising how much that mattered” to the novice grant makers, he says.

The students found their winner after a visit to Medicine Wheel Productions, a charity run by the Boston artist Michael Dowling. It uses public art projects to help inner-city children express themselves, as they help revive and beautify their neighborhoods.

Medicine Wheel’s application showed thoughtful responses and attentiveness to detail, Mr. Weisman says. When members of the group visited the charity, children participating in its programs offered vivid examples of how the charity’s art projects taught them a variety of skills, including leadership and public speaking, as well as landscaping and visual-arts techniques.

The MBA students closely questioned Medicine Wheel officials about their programs, Mr. Weisman says. “Every time we asked, ‘Why do you do this?’ there was a reason.”

The charity could also point to its participation in a three-year project in which several Boston-area arts groups collaborated to craft more precise and uniform methods to measure the difference they made to young people.

Feeling the Power

MBA’s for the Arts presented Medicine Wheel with a $10,000 check on the students’ last day of class.

The experience made Ms. Jensen realize just how much power foundations can wield when it comes to steering social change, she says—and has made her think hard about perhaps someday working for a foundation.

Mr. Weisman says the experience of sitting around the table with his fellow students trying to reach consensus gave him insights into his own negotiation style and skills, even as it taught him the complexities of the grant-making process.

“It was a powerful project,” he says. “As much as we helped Medicine Wheel with the $10,000 grant, they helped us accomplish the purpose we set out to fulfill.”

With WikiMedia Policy Initiative, SMG Class Makes Lasting Impact

July 27th, 2011 in Markets, Public Policy & Law, School, Social Impact, Students

Professor David Weil

Professor David Weil

Boston University’s David Weil has incorporated an innovative combination of critical thinking, rigorous research, real-world engagement, and public policy into the classroom.  Weil, the Everett W. Lord Distinguished Faculty Scholar of the Markets, Public Policy & Law Department, is engaging his students in the WikiMedia Foundation’s new WikiMedia Public Policy Initiative (WPPI), a pilot project spanning the 2010-11 academic year. The project engages students and faculty to improve articles on Wikipedia that must fulfill three requirements: They must be nonpartisan, heavily referenced, and factually defendable.

According to Weil, who teaches an MBA-level policy course in the Public & Nonprofit MBA Program, “The course is a perfect match for Wikipedia. It’s a unique opportunity to learn and apply policy analysis methods and at the same time engage in debates about facts, analysis, and implications.”

“It’s a unique opportunity to learn and apply policy analysis methods and at the same time engage in debates about facts, analysis, and implications.”

Throughout the semester, the class debates a variety of pressing social problems–such as regulating exposures to environmental risks, improving educational performance for disadvantaged children, setting policies for organ donation, and requiring disclosure by automakers of carbon footprints–all informed by the tools of economics and public policy analysis.

Joining the WikiMedia Initiative “allows students to subject their research and analysis to a debate involving a real-world audience of thousands of readers,” Weil explains. “The bottom line of the course,” he says, “is to think about a wide variety of difficult public policy questions using insights on how private choices at the individual, firm, and industry levels affect the achievement of public ends.

“The aim of our discussions will be to build their abilities to weigh the different sides of these issues; gain a greater understanding of the nature of debate regarding facts, analysis, and opinion; and ultimately come to their own conclusions about what they say about appropriate private and public policy choices.”

Weil notes the inherent difficulty of the task. “The increasingly polarized nature of many public debates leads many to believe that policy analysis is inherently subjective, with each side of the policy selecting their preferred experts. A critical task is therefore to separate disagreements over facts and analysis from those about the values underlying chosen objectives and recommendations.”

“Unlike the vast majority of student research papers that are filed away at semester’s end, this represents an emerging frontier of student work with relevance for the world beyond the academy.”

Although Weil admits that this is seldom easy to do, “It is an intrinsic and essential part of the public policy analysis process,” he says. ”In these papers, we’re seeking to arrive at a place where all the research, the statistics, the successful and unsuccessful ideas that have come before lead you to a more objective conclusion.”

“Another benefit,” Weil notes, “is that unlike the vast majority of student research papers that are filed away at semester’s end, this represents an emerging frontier of student work with relevance for the world beyond the academy. The students are writing articles that form the basis for how various issues are discussed on Wikipedia, that become the building blocks for future work.

As one of the student groups (writing its policy analysis on the adequacy of Veteran’s benefits for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorders) told the class recently, the WikiMedia Initiative allows their research to directly benefit  people with a real need for answers and expands our collective knowledge about socially important topics.”

Stay tuned for more on Boston University School of Management’s participation in the WikiMedia Public Policy Initiative, forthcoming in the Spring ’11 issue of the School magazine, Builders & Leaders.

Professor Susan Samuelson Addresses Business Ethics for CNN International

November 3rd, 2010 in Markets, Public Policy & Law, Social Impact

SamuelsonSusanBoston University School of Management’s Susan Samuelson, professor of Business Law and faculty director of the School’s top-ranked Executive MBA Program, has written for CNN International about how ethical behavior needs to start at the top of an organization.

In her piece “Telling right from wrong starts at the top” (published October 22, 2010), she writes,

“Managers say they want their employees to behave ethically. Yet corporate scandals occur with all the regularity of the seasons….

“Many execs have never had an ethics discussion at work that dealt with the kinds of issues they faced on a day-to-day basis. Nothing, zipola, nada.”

“[W]here do people learn about ethics? Some of the executives I teach had ethics training as children — usually from a religious institution. But most of them said that they had never thought about ethics before. Sure, their company had a vision statement, but that was some high-faluting language that meant nothing on a day-to-day basis. By and large, they had never had an ethics discussion at work that dealt with the kinds of issues they faced on a day-to-day basis. Nothing, zipola, nada…..

“What can managers do to promote ethics? Give examples, make suggestions…publicly reward ethical behavior, punish the opposite.”

“What can managers do to promote ethical decisions in the workplace? Behaving ethically yourselves is a good start. Have ethics discussions with employees. Give examples, make suggestions as to how employees should handle these incidents. Explicitly, publicly reward ethical behavior, punish the opposite. Make it clear that ethical behavior is more important than good results. If that is not true at your company, then don’t be surprised when you’re dealing with a painful and public scandal.”

Read Professor Samuelson’s full commentary at CNN International.

Fall Lineup Announced for Cross-Functional Speaker Series

October 27th, 2010 in Entrepreneurship, Faculty, Information Systems, Organizational Behavior, School, Social Impact, Strategy & Innovation

smgDrawing thought leaders in OB, IS, and Strategy & Innovation

Supporting the School of Management’s mission to foster cross-functional research and innovation, faculty from the departments of Organizational Behavior, Strategy & Innovation, and Information Systems have announced the Fall 2010 lineup of the Boston University Organizations Seminar (BOS) series.

Events include:

Friday, October 29: Building an Institutional Field to Corral a Government

Stephen R. Barley, Stanford University
Charles M. Pigott Professor in the School of Engineering; Co-Director, Center for Work, Technology & Organization

Abstract: Although organizational theorists have given much attention to how environments shape organizations, they have given much less attention to how organizations mold their environments. This paper demonstrates what organizational scholars could contribute if they were to study how organizations shape environments. Specifically, the paper synthesizes work by historians, political scientists and students ofcorporate political action to document how corporations systematically built an institutional field during the 1970s and 1980s to exert greater influence on the US Federal government. The resulting network, composed of nine distinct populations of organizations and the relationships that bind them into a system, channels and amplifies corporate political influence, while simultaneously shielding corporations  from appearing to directly influence Congress and the administration.

Friday, November 5

Michael G. Pratt, Boston College
Professor of Organizational Studies; Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics Fellow

Friday, September 24: “Routines as a Source of Change in Organizational Schemata: The Role of Trial-and-Error Learning”

Martha Feldman, University of California at Irvine
Professor of Planning, Policy & Design, Management, Sociology, and Political Science; Johnson Chair for Civic Governance and Public Management



Friday, March 12: Organizations & Positive Social Change: Generative Possibilities for Theory and Practice

With Panelists:

  • Debra Meyerson, Stanford University, Power beyond the Purse: Philanthropic Foundations as Agents of Social Change
  • Andy Hoffman, University of Michigan, Hybrid Organizations and Social Change: Blurring the For-Profit/Nonprofit Boundary on Environmental Issues
  • Carrie Leana, University of Pittsburgh, Positive Organizational Change for the Working Poor
  • Karen Golden-Biddle, Boston University, Fostering Positive Implementation Processes for Sustainable Health System Change

Moderated by: Jane Dutton, University of Michigan

Friday, March 26:

William Kerr, Harvard Business School
Assistant Professor, Entrepreneurial Management

Friday, April 30:

Sally Maitlis, University of British Columbia
Associate Professor, Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources; Associate Editor, Journal of Management Inquiry; Board Member, Academy of Management Journal and Academy of Management Review

Friday, February 26: Legitimating Entrepreneurial Identities in a New Market Category: A Study of Satellite Radio, 1990-2005

MaryAnn Glynn, Boston College
Joseph F. Cotter Professor, Organization Studies, Boston College; Board member, Organization Science


Friday, September 25: Trouble In Store: Probes, Protests, and Store Openings By Wal-Mart: 1998-2005

Hayagreeva Rao, Stanford University
Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources; Editor, Administrative Science Quarterly

Friday, October 23: Grabbing onto Things in the Digitized World

Richard Boland, Case Western Reserve University
Professor, Information Systems

Friday, November 20: Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation

Fiona Murray, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Associate Professor, Management of Technological Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Get more info about the BOS series

Clean Energy Heats Up at Boston University: New Lectures and Research

August 9th, 2010 in Energy & Environment Sector, Finance, Information Systems, School, Sectors, Social Impact, Strategy & Innovation

Lectures on Energy & Environmental Sustainability – Spring 2010 Lineup Announced

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BU School of Management (SMG) faculty and their colleagues across the University are energizing the debate over how best to accelerate the development and adoption of sustainable clean energy solutions, through new research, conferences, and lectures.

See the schedule for the 2010 Boston University Presidential Lectures on Clean Energy and Environmental Sustainability.

See video from the recent School of Management event Smart Grid as a Business Platform: Innovation, Adaptation, and Systems Challenges in the Clean Energy Market



Generating Thought Leadership in the Field

Explains Professor Kulatilaka, “my colleagues and I working at SMG and across the University on clean energy innovation are seeking to leverage and expand our research initiatives in the following key areas:

  1. Research in systems, business models, and smart grid technologies required for the large scale integration of renewables, electric vehicles, and smart buildings into the electric power infrastructure.
  2. Development and commercialization of new and emerging clean energy technologies through entrepreneurial business incubation, education, support and market integration.
  3. Analysis and development of policy initiatives, requisite real-time market developments, incentive arrangements, and regulatory frameworks related to energy, climate, and the environment.”

In summary, Professor Kulatilaka adds, “we expect that exploration into the transformation of the energy ecosystem as smart technology will enable fundamentally new layers in the industry stack to emerge. We’re excited to work with colleagues across academia, and partners in industry, anticipate, navigate, and tap these opportunities.”

The “Synergistic Management of Challenges to Sustainable Energy Adoption”

Assessing the state of clean energy technology development and adoption to date, Professor Kulatilaka explains, “Many environmentally-friendly technologies, when considered in isolation, encounter barriers to widespread adoption.

“For example, wind generated electricity may see its widespread adoption hampered by increasing costs of the fast capacity reserves required to safeguard against wind’s intermittency. Similarly, high penetration of electric vehicles may be checked by the cost of expanding the capacity of requisite distribution network.”

Of the new research he and his colleagues are undertaking, Professor Kulatilaka says, “Our multi-disciplinary team proposes synergistic management of these technologies. For example, coordinated smart charging of electric vehicle (EV) batteries can both mitigate the intermittency of wind power and ease congestion in the distribution network.

“Indeed, many clean energy technologies, including roof top photovoltaics, distributed storage, thermal energy conversion and conservation, offer sustainable solutions when combined with real-time markets enabled by the requisite cyber infrastructure for real-time information.”

“In addition,” he adds, “we propose new business models that use markets and innovative contract forms to connect generators, transmission and distribution (T&D) with end-users. Bridging information gaps, reducing transactions costs, and managing risk, such networked business models can direct investment capital to clean projects, spawn technological innovations and encourage greener end-user behavior.

“Moreover, such business models are key to motivating the evolutionary public policy that will facilitate this critical shift to energy sustainability.”