Amy C. Edmondson

27 Results


The Business of Climate Change

What is the role of business and its leaders in creating positive climate change? In the middle of Climate Week, Six Harvard Business School faculty provide different perspectives. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Take a Trim Tab Approach to Climate Change

Often depicted as greedy and shortsighted, business leaders face a crucial opportunity on the issue of climate change to change that perception, says Amy Edmondson. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Research Symposium 2014

Harvard Business School professors presented their research to colleagues, with topics including speaking up at work, a manager's responsibility to capitalism, and a strategy to fix the health care system. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Should We Rethink the Promise of Teams?

Summing Up: Teams that are properly structured and managed can support innovative thinking that depends on contributions from both extroverts and introverts, according to Professor Jim Heskett's readers. Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Teaming in the Twenty-First Century

Today's teams are not well designed for getting work done in the twenty-first century, argues Professor Amy C. Edmondson. One starting point: learn the skill of "teaming." Open for comment; 18 Comments posted.

The Rich Get Richer: Enabling Conditions for Knowledge Use in Organizational Work Teams

Individuals on the periphery of organizational knowledge-sharing networks, due to inexperience, location, or lack of social capital, may struggle to access useful knowledge at work. An electronic knowledge repository (KR) offers a practical solution to the challenges of making knowledge available to people who might otherwise lack access to relevant expertise. Such a system may function as a knowledge-access equalizer. However, the presence of a knowledge repository will not solve the problem of access to knowledge for those at the periphery of the organization unless it is used. In this paper, the authors begin to theorize the social and structural conditions that support KR use by exploring whether individuals on the organizational periphery take advantage of KRs, or whether KRs function more to enrich individuals whose experience and position already provide them better access to other knowledge sources. Using extensive data on KR use at a global, outsourced provider of software services, the authors' results show that despite the seeming promise of a KR to integrate or equalize peripheral players, it instead enriches knowledge access for people who are already well positioned. Findings thus suggest that KR use is not simply an individual activity based on need, but is instead enabled by certain social conditions (such as familiarity and experience) and inhibited by others (such as status disparities and remote location). An organizational KR thus fails to serve as an equalizer absent intervention. Read More

The Importance of Teaming

Managers need to stop thinking of teams as static groups of individuals who have ample time to practice interacting successfully and efficiently, says Amy Edmondson in her new book, Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy. The reason: Today's corporate teams band and disband by the minute, requiring a more dynamic approach to how teams absorb knowledge. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Team Scaffolds: How Minimal In-Group Structures Support Fast-Paced Teaming

It is increasingly necessary for 24/7 shift operations to include some component of team-based work. But how can organizations support such work among constantly changing groups of people in a setting where stable teams are not feasible? This research investigates an organizational structure the authors call team scaffolds: a role set with collective responsibility for accomplishing interdependent tasks. Studying the implementation of team scaffolding in a high-stakes setting, a city hospital emergency room, the authors observed that workers readily affiliated with the temporary teams—even without ongoing relationships—and worked together intensely during the short duration of these groupings, even developing a competitive dynamic with other team scaffolds. The role sets established job placeholders in an interdependent group so that people starting up a shift could take their places in the set and immediately understand the interdependence and accountability they shared with others. Overall, this design improved the ability and motivation of clinicians to engage in teaming. Read More

Designing Cities for a Sustainable Future

The city of the past is likely not the city of the future—climate change is bringing an end to the traditional model. Harvard Business School faculty are thinking along with government leaders and business practitioners about how to create sustainable places to live and work. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Measuring Teamwork in Health Care Settings: A Review of Survey Instruments

It is critical to accurately assess teamwork in health-care organizations. About 60 percent of primary-care practices in the United States use team-based models to coordinate work across the broad spectrum of health professionals needed to deliver quality care; in many other countries the percentage is almost 100 percent. While the benefits of effective teamwork are substantial, effective teamwork is often lacking in these settings, with negative consequences for patients. To date, little has been known about the survey instruments available to measure teamwork. In this paper Valentine, Nembhard, and Edmondson report the results of their systematic review of survey instruments that have been used to measure teamwork in various contexts. Their research helps to identify existing teamwork scales that may be most useful in testing theoretical models. Read More

HBS Faculty Comment on Environmental Issues for Earth Day

Harvard Business School faculty members offer their views on the many business facets of "going green." Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Risky Trust: How Multi-entity Teams Develop Trust in a High Risk Endeavor

Work that comes with high risk requires a great deal of trust among the individuals involved, whether it's the financial risk of producing a high-budget film or the personal safety risk of working in a war zone. In this paper, reporting on case study research on a high-risk, multimillion-dollar construction project, HBS doctoral candidate Faaiza Rashid and professor Amy C. Edmondson explore the concept of "risky trust," and examine how colleagues can learn to trust each other in the midst of high-risk work situations. Read More

Sustainable Cities: Oxymoron or the Shape of the Future?

Among the issues looming large in the twenty-first century is a rapid rise in the number of people living in cities and a rapidly growing awareness of our threat to the Earth's environment. In response to both, a number of major corporations and various government bodies have teamed up to explore the idea of "ecocities" —urban communities ideally designed around the idea of environmental sustainability. This paper explores the idea by looking at several ecocities in progress in China, Abu Dhabi, South Korea, Finland, and Portugal. Research by professors Robert G. Eccles and Amy C. Edmondson, doctoral candidate Tiona Zuzul, and HBS research assistant Annissa Alusi. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Using What We Know: Turning Organizational Knowledge into Team Performance

An organization's captured (and codified) knowledge--white papers, case studies, documented processes--should help project teams perform better, but does it? Existing research has not answered the question, even as U.S. companies alone spend billions annually on knowledge management programs. Looking at large-scale, objective data from Indian software developer Wipro, researchers Bradley R. Staats, Melissa A. Valentine, and Amy C. Edmondson found that team use of an organization's captured knowledge enhanced productivity, especially for teams that were geographically diverse, relatively low in experience, or performing complex work. The study did not find effects of knowledge use on the quality of the team's work, except for dispersed teams. Read More

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

A recent Harvard Business School case by HBS professors Amy C. Edmondson and Anita Tucker explores how one hospital implemented its own version of health-care reform, taking overall performance levels from below average to the top 10 percent in the industry. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Managing Teams

The ability to lead teams is fast becoming a critical skill for all managers in the 21st century. Here are four HBS Working Knowledge stories from the archives that address everything from how teams learn to turning individual performers into team players. Read More

Encouraging Dissent in Decision-Making

Our natural tendency to maintain silence and not rock the boat, a flaw at once personal and organizational, results in bad—sometimes deadly—decisions. Think New Coke, The Bay of Pigs, and the Columbia space shuttle disaster, for starters. Here's how leaders can encourage all points of view. Read More

Are Great Teams Less Productive?

While studying teamwork, Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson chanced upon a seeming paradox: Well-led teams appeared to make more mistakes than average teams. Could this be true? As it turned out, good teams, which value communication, report more errors. In a recent research paper Edmondson and doctoral student Sara Singer explore this and other hidden barriers to organizational learning. Read More

Three Perspectives on Team Learning: Outcome Improvement, Task Mastery, and Group Process

Organizations increasingly rely on teams to carry out critical strategies and operational tasks. How do teams learn, and what factors are most important to team learning? This paper reports on current perspectives and findings that address these questions, looking at empirical studies on team learning from three areas of research: outcome improvement, task mastery, and group process. Overall, Edmondson and coauthors characterize the nature of research to date and assemble what is known and unknown about the theoretically and practically important topic of team learning. Read More

When Learning and Performance are at Odds: Confronting the Tension

While most people agree that learning leads to improved performance, there are several ways in which learning and performance in organizations can be at odds. First, when organizations take on a new learning challenge, performance often suffers in the short term, because new behaviors or practices are not yet highly skilled. Second, by revealing and analyzing their failures and mistakes—a critical aspect of learning—individuals or work groups may appear to be performing less well than they would otherwise. This paper reviews research that describes the challenges of learning from failure in organizations, and argues that these challenges can be at least partly addressed by leadership that creates a climate of psychological safety and that promotes inquiry. Read More

Implementing New Practices: An Empirical Study of Organizational Learning in Hospital Intensive Care Units

How do hospital units, as complex service organizations, successfully implement best practices? Practices involve people and knowledge; people must apply knowledge to particular situations, so changing practices requires changing behavior. This study is a starting point for healthcare organizations to improve work practices. The researchers drew from literature on best practice transfer, team learning, and process change and developed four hypotheses to test at highly specialized hospital units that care for premature infants and critically ill newborns. Read More

Do I Dare Say Something?

Are you afraid to speak up at work? The amount of fear in the modern workplace is just one surprising finding from recent research done by HBS professor Amy Edmondson and her colleague, Professor James Detert from Penn State. Read More

Corporate Values and Employee Cynicism

A values-driven organization poses unique risks for its leaders—in particular, charges of hypocrisy if the leaders make a mistake. Sandra Cha of McGill University and Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School discuss what to do when values backfire. Read More

The Hard Work of Failure Analysis

We all should learn from failure—but it's difficult to do so objectively. In this excerpt from "Failing to Learn and Learning to Fail (Intelligently)" in Long Range Planning Journal, HBS professor Amy Edmondson and coauthor Mark Cannon offer a process for analyzing what went wrong. Read More

Learning Tradeoffs in Organizations: Measuring Multiple Dimensions of Improvement to Investigate Learning-Curve Heterogeneity

How and why experience leads to performance improvement has made the learning curve an important management topic for sites ranging from nuclear power plants to cardiac surgical units. This new research looks deeper at learning curves by focusing on learning rates in technology adoption in similar organizations along multiple, potentially competing dimensions. Using longitudinal data from sixteen hospitals that are adopting a new technology for cardiac surgery, it specifically studies two dimensions: efficiency and application innovation and the potential tradeoff between efficiency and application innovation. It also asks how such tradeoffs are influenced. Read More

Failing to Learn and Learning to Fail (Intelligently): How Great Organizations Put Failure to Work to Improve and Innovate

Successful companies see failure as a part of the innovative process, but there are social (organizational) and technical (skill-based) reasons why it is difficult to turn failures into learning opportunities. First, executives need to develop the skills to probe failures and analyze the root causes. Then improve management's technical skills in problem diagnosis, statistical process design, and qualitative and quantitative analysis. Organizationally, executives should create an environment where people are encouraged to identify failures, rather than encourage a "shoot the messenger" mindset. Read More

Inside the OR: Disrupted Routines and New Technologies

A hospital operating room may seem an unlikely place to attract the attention of a group of management professors. But for HBS faculty members Amy Edmondson, Richard Bohmer and Gary Pisano it's a setting that offers great insights into work teams and the ways they adapt and learn. Read More