Robert L. Simons

8 Results


The Entrepreneurial Gap: How Managers Adjust Span of Accountability and Span of Control to Implement Business Strategy

The management accounting literature of the past twenty years is replete with studies of budgeting systems, balanced scorecards, performance measures, and contract-based incentives. Relatively little attention has been devoted, however, to the organization structure in which these systems exist. Existing accounting theory has little to say, for example, on how the design of performance measures might differ if a business is organized by function, by region, or by product or customer group. In this study, which augments in-depth field data collected by the author in three separate companies with a larger data set generated by 72 teams of MBA student researchers, organization design is reintroduced as a critical variable in understanding management control systems in the context of intensifying global competition. Results suggest that managers appear to adjust span of accountability relative to span of control based on the degree of innovation and independent initiative they wish to foster. In addition, when managers want employees to build long-term relationships with customers, develop new products and services, or navigate the labyrinths created by complex organization designs, they set span of accountability wider than span of control. Read More

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution

Successful business strategy lies not in having all the right answers, but rather in asking the right questions, says Harvard Business School professor Robert Simons. In an excerpt from his new book, Seven Strategy Questions, Simons explains how posing these questions can help managers make smart choices. Read More

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach to Execution

Faculty Research Symposium 2010: Business managers who fail to make tough strategic choices doom their organizations to eventual failure. Read More

Accountability and Control as Catalysts for Strategic Exploration and Exploitation: Field Study Results

The need for organizations to both exploit current resources and explore new opportunities is a central and long-standing theme in the literature of organizations. The challenge, of course, is that these two imperatives require very different structures and skills. Exploitation demands a focus on efficiency and effectiveness in executing preset plans and procedures. Exploration requires the ability to step outside these routines by emphasizing experimentation, creativity, and novelty. In this study, HBS professor Robert L. Simons focuses on the relationship between two organization design variables—span of control and span of accountability. Using data from 102 field studies, he illustrates how these variables can be manipulated by managers to tilt the balance toward either exploration or exploitation in response to different tasks, different organizational contexts, and changing competitive environments. Read More

Learning to Make the Move to CEO

Even experienced managers need to learn more if they hope to ascend to the C-Suite. In a program created by Harvard Business School Executive Education, participants learn new techniques and perspectives not only from faculty but from their cohorts as well. Read More

Tuning Jobs to Fit Your Company

In this article excerpt from Harvard Business Review, professor Robert Simons looks at how organizations can adjust the "span" of jobs to increase performance. Read More

An Organization Your Customers Understand

Defining your primary customer is an ideal "outside-in" approach to better designing your whole organizational structure. In this excerpt from his new book, Levers of Organization Design, HBS professor Robert Simons describes how to do it. Read More