Organizations: Human Resources

52 Results

 

The Triumph of the Humble Chief Risk Officer

How do senior risk officers strike a balance between the twin roles of "compliance champion" and "business partner"? Understanding what role risk officers may play in organizational life is especially important in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, continuing corporate debacles, and ongoing corporate governance calls for the appointment of chief risk officers (CROs) and risk-management committees. This paper tracked the evolution of the role of two highly acclaimed chief risk officers (CROs), and the tools and processes they implemented in their respective organizations. While the companies are from very different industries (one is a power company, the other is a toy manufacturer), they both embraced the concepts and tools of Enterprise Risk Management. Over a number of years, at both firms, risk management transformed from a collection of "off-the-shelf," acquired tools and practices into a seemingly inevitable and tailored control process. The paper investigated the role of the CRO in making these transformations happen and discusses implications for managers. Read More

Cohort Turnover and Productivity: The July Phenomenon in Teaching Hospitals

Nearly all managers must deal with the consequences of employee turnover within their organizations. Despite the importance of this issue, several authors have observed that academic attention has been disproportionately focused on the causes rather than consequences of turnover. To investigate consequences more closely, the authors of this paper focus on the effects of turnover in a particularly high-stakes setting: teaching hospitals. Specifically, the authors examine the effects on productivity of cohort turnover-the planned simultaneous exit of a large number of experienced employees-in this case, medical residents and fellows-and a similarly sized entry of new residents and fellows. Typically, at (or slightly before) the beginning of every July, the most senior residents at teaching hospitals move on to permanent medical positions or fellowships at other hospitals, and recent medical school graduates arrive as first-year residents. The authors examine the impact of the July turnover on hospital productivity using data on all patient admissions from a large, multi-state sample of American hospitals over a 16-year period. By comparing trends in teaching hospitals to those for non-teaching hospitals over the course of the year, they find significant negative effects of the residency turnover on hospital efficiency as measured by risk-adjusted, average length of stay. Overall, the cohort turnover of resident physicians in teaching hospitals reduces medical productivity by increasing resource utilization and, to a lesser degree, decreasing quality. The authors discuss implications for labor turnover in other types of organizations. Read More

High-Tech Immigrant Workers Don’t Cost US Jobs

Hiring skilled immigrants by United States high-tech firms not only doesn't push out existing workers, it creates job opportunities for all, argues William Kerr. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of US Firms

The immigration of skilled workers is of deep importance to the United States, particularly in occupations closely linked to innovation and technology commercialization. Appropriate policies and admissions levels for skilled workers remain bitterly debated in the popular press. The authors analyze how the hiring of skilled immigrants affects the employment structures of US firms. This focus on the firm is both rare and important, since economists typically study immigration through the conceptual framework of shifts in the supply of workers to a labor market; yet substantial portions of the US immigration framework have been designed to allow American firms to choose the immigrants that they want to hire. Young workers account for a large portion of such skilled immigrants; for example, 90 percent of H-1B workers are under the age of 40. Given this context, the authors look specifically at the role of young skilled immigrants within more than 300 large employers and major patenting firms over the 1995-2008 period. The evidence suggests that increased employment of young skilled immigrants 1) raises the overall employment of skilled workers in the firm, 2) increases the immigrant share of these workers, and 3) reduces the older worker share of skilled employees. The latter effect is evident even among natives only. Overall, these results provide a multifaceted view of how young skilled immigration shapes the employment structures of US firms. There are significant implications for the competitiveness of American firms, the job opportunities of natives and immigrants employed by these firms, the larger national innovative capacity of the United States, and much beyond. Read More

Why Unqualified Candidates Get Hired Anyway

Why do businesses evaluate candidates solely on past job performance, failing to consider the job's difficulty? Why do university admissions officers focus on high GPAs, discounting influence of easy grading standards? Francesca Gino and colleagues investigate the phenomenon of the "fundamental attribution error." Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

First Minutes are Critical in New-Employee Orientation

Employee orientation programs ought to be less about the company and more about the employee, according to new research by Daniel M. Cable, Francesca Gino, and Bradley R. Staats. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Pay Harmony: Peer Comparison and Executive Compensation

This paper demonstrates how horizontal wage comparisons within firms and concerns for "pay harmony" affect firm policies in setting pay for executives. Using a rich dataset of pay practices for the senior-most executives within divisions, Gartenberg and Wulf ask whether horizontal comparisons between managers in similar jobs affect pay. The authors also evaluate evidence in support of a tradeoff between pay harmony and performance pay. Findings are consistent with the presence of peer effects in influencing pay policies for executives inside firms. These results contribute to the ongoing policy debate on the consequences of transparency and mandatory information disclosure and potential ratchet-effects in executive pay. For practitioners involved in designing the structure of executive compensation and pay disclosure policies for firms -- including compensation committee directors, senior human resource executives, and compensation consultants -- it is important to recognize the tradeoff between the incentive effects of performance-based pay and costs of peer comparison that arise from unequal pay when designing executive wage contracts. The research also raises questions on the costs of pay disclosure and on labor markets more generally. Read More

HBS Cases: Overcoming the Stress of ‘Englishnization’

CEOs of global companies increasingly mandate that their employees learn English. The problem: these workers can experience a loss of status and believe they aren't as effective in their learned language, says Assistant Professor Tsedal Neeley. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Leadership Program for Women Targets Subtle Promotion Biases

Despite more women in the corporate work force, they still are underrepresented in executive officer positions. Professor Robin Ely and colleagues propose a new way to think about developing women for leadership. Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Non-competes Push Talent Away

California is among several states where non-compete agreements are essentially illegal. Is it a coincidence that so many inventors flock to Silicon Valley? New research by Lee Fleming, Matt Marx, and Jasjit Singh investigates whether there is a "brain drain" of talented engineers and scientists who leave states that allow non-competes and move to states that don't. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Why Do We Chase Stars?

Summing Up: Is it wise for companies to recruit "star" performers? Discussing the book "Chasing Stars", Jim Heskett's readers support the idea that talent is portable between employers and that women are better at it than men. (Next Forum opens December 2) Closed for comment; 46 Comments posted.

Reversing the Queue: Performance, Legitimacy, and Minority Hiring

While there has been a steady rise in the number of black executives in corporate America, the fact remains that white males have a persistent advantage in terms of access to managerial positions. This paper sets out to find out how a company's performance influences the hiring of minorities into management positions, and whether the presence of minorities in senior management positions affects the racial composition of the subordinate management team. Research, which focused on the corporate structure of the National Football League, was conducted by Harvard Business School doctoral candidate Andrew Hill and professor David Thomas. Read More

Unraveling Results from Comparable Demand and Supply: An Experimental Investigation

In many professional labor markets, most entry-level hires begin work at around the same time: for example, soon after graduating from college or graduate or professional school. Despite a common start time, offers can be made and contracts can be signed at any time prior to the start of employment, sometimes well over a year before employment will begin. "Unraveling" happens in markets in which competition for the elite firms and workers is fierce, but the quality of workers may not be reliably revealed until after a good deal of hiring has already been completed. Thus unraveling is sometimes a cause of market failure, particularly when contracts come to be determined before critical information is available. In this paper Muriel Niederle of Stanford, Alvin E. Roth of HBS, and M. Utku ▄nver of Boston College consider conditions related to supply and demand that tend to facilitate or mitigate unraveling. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Managing the Economic Crisis

The economic crisis is tapping the inner reserves of experienced leaders and introducing a new generation of managers to crisis management. These previous WK articles explore leadership, the role of the Board, the emotional needs of managers, and the risk to corporate giving programs. Read More

Should Immigration Policies Be More Welcoming to Low-Skilled Workers?

Immigration is a topic that stirs passions globally, judging from the responses to this month's column, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Readers suggested ways to bring immigration policy into alignment with the reality of what is happening at borders and in workplaces around the world. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins January 6.) Closed for comment; 43 Comments posted.

Specific Knowledge and Divisional Performance Measurement

Performance measurement is one of the critical factors that determine how individuals in an organization behave. It includes subjective as well as objective assessments of the performance of both individuals and subunits of an organization such as divisions or departments. Besides the choice of the performance measures themselves, performance evaluation involves the process of attaching value weights to the different measures to represent the importance of achievement on each dimension. This paper examines five common divisional performance measurement methods: cost centers, revenue centers, profit centers, investment centers, and expense centers. The authors furnish the outlines of a theory that attempts to explain when each of these five methods is likely to be the most efficient. Read More

Are Retention Bonuses Worth the Investment?

There is a time and place for retention bonuses but they should be used sparingly, wrote many respondents to this month's column, says Professor Jim Heskett. Others challenged the value of bonuses, and suggested compelling alternatives. (Online forum now closed; next forum begins October 2.) Closed for comment; 42 Comments posted.

Fluid Teams and Fluid Tasks: The Impact of Team Familiarity and Variation in Experience

In the context of team performance, common wisdom suggests that performance is maximized when individuals complete the same work with the same people. Although repetition is valuable, at least up to a point, in many settings such as consulting, product development, and software services organizations consist largely of fluid teams executing projects for different customers. In fluid teams, members bring their varied experience sets together and attempt to generate innovative output before the team is disassembled and its individual members move on to new projects. Using the empirical setting of Wipro Technologies, a leading firm in the Indian software services industry, this study examines the potential positive and negative consequences of variation in team member experience as well as how fluid teams may capture the benefits of variation while mitigating the coordination costs it creates. Read More

Business Summit: Managing Human Capital—Global Trends and Challenges

Human capital needed for globalization is lacking. Progress is required in important areas such as elevating more women to leadership positions, according to panelists at the HBS Business Summit. Read More

Conducting Layoffs: ’Necessary Evils’ at Work

"The core challenge for everyone who performs necessary evils comes from having to do two seemingly contradictory things at once: be compassionate and be direct," say Joshua D. Margolis of Harvard Business School and Andrew L. Molinsky of Brandeis University International Business School. Their research sheds light on best practices—typically overlooked—for the well-being of those who carry out these emotionally difficult tasks. Q&A Read More

Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting

For decades, goal setting has been promoted as a halcyon pill for improving employee motivation and performance in organizations. Advocates of goal setting argue that for goals to be successful, they should be specific and challenging, and countless studies find that specific, challenging goals motivate performance far better than "do your best" exhortations. The authors of this article, however, argue that it is often these same characteristics of goals that cause them to "go wild." Read More

The Value of a ‘Portable’ Career

Can you predict whether star performers will replicate their success in a new environment? HBS professor Boris Groysberg and colleagues ask this question of professional football teams, and the results offer valuable lessons for star performers and hiring executives of business firms, too. Q&A with Groysberg, Lex Sant, and Robin Abrahams. Read More

Variation in Experience and Team Familiarity: Addressing the Knowledge Acquisition-Application Problem

Team familiarity helps team members successfully locate knowledge within a group, share the knowledge they possess, and respond to the knowledge of others. While team familiarity may help all teams to better coordinate their actions, it may play a particularly important role for teams with individuals looking to apply knowledge from their varied experience. This possibility leads to the question that provides the foundation for this paper: Does team familiarity moderate the relationship between variation in experience and performance? Prior research attempting to link variation in experience and performance has found effects ranging from positive to neutral to negative. Huckman and Staats explain these differential results by drawing on related work from learning, knowledge management, and social networking. Read More

How Economics May Lead to Better Football Games

When economists watch football games they see more than flying pigskin and stadiums overflowing with fans. In the case of U.S. college football, Harvard Business School professor Alvin E. Roth along with Guillaume R. Fréchette and M. Utku Ünver studied the timing of team selection for championship bowls. What they found: Good teams are much better matched up than they used to be, and there are implications beyond sports. Q&A with Al Roth. Read More

A Replication Study of Alan Blinder’s “How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?”

The movement of business activity from developed economies to developing economies—commonly called offshoring—has become the focus of heated debates. Behind these debates lies a pivotal question of scale: How much business activity and how many jobs are at stake? Official statistics are nearly silent, and private-sector researchers vary widely in their estimates of the number of U.S. jobs that have moved offshore, will move offshore, or could move offshore. In an effort to address this gap in prior literature, Princeton economist Alan Blinder released an innovative working paper in 2007 in which he personally reviewed more than 800 occupations in the United States, assessed the "offshorability" of each, and used the evaluations to estimate the total number of U.S. jobs that might be offshorable. Here, HBS research associate Troy Smith and Professor Jan W. Rivkin describe an online exercise that allowed 152 teams of HBS MBA students, collectively, to recreate Blinder's study and to develop insights about the future of offshoring. Read More

What Should Employers Do about Health Care?

Companies that cut health care costs without improving the overall value of care eventually pay a price in terms of employee absenteeism and chronic ailments. According to Harvard University professor and strategy expert Michael E. Porter and coauthors, the best way to truly reduce health care costs is to improve quality. Read More

The Surprising Right Fit for Software Testing

Software analysts and programmers live to innovate—but hate to run tests. Yet top-notch testing saves many a company money when bugs are caught early. A new case coauthored by HBS professor Robert D. Austin describes the secret behind a Danish consultancy's success: The majority of its testers have Asperger syndrome or a form of autism spectrum disorder. 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

Grooming Next-Generation Leaders

Organizations succeed by identifying, developing, and retaining talented leaders. Professors W. Earl Sasser and Das Narayandas, who teach leadership development in one of Harvard Business School's Executive Education programs, discuss the fine points of leadership development. 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

What’s to Be Done About Performance Reviews?

What can we do to make performance reviews more productive and less distasteful? Should their objectives be scaled back to just one or two? Should they be disengaged from the determination of compensation and, if so, how? Closed for comment; 93 Comments posted.

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

Take Responsibility for Rising Stars

Leadership succession and recruitment need the sharp attention of your company's top executives and board. But who should be held accountable—and how? An excerpt from a Harvard Business Review article by Jeffrey Cohn, Rakesh Khurana, and Laura Reeves. 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

Reinforcing Values: A Public Dressing Down

Often the hardest part of a turnaround is improving bad interpersonal behavior in the organization. A Harvard Business Review excerpt by professors David Garvin and Michael Roberto. Read More

The Knowledge Coach

Make sure the knowledge gained by top employees doesn't leave with their retirement, say Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap in their new book, Deep Smarts. One solution: Develop a knowledge transfer coach. Read More

IBM Finds Profit in Diversity

Former CEO Lou Gerstner established a diversity initiative that embraced differences instead of ignoring them. In this Harvard Business Review excerpt, professor David A. Thomas describes why IBM made diversity a cornerstone strategy. Read More

Work-Life: Is Productivity in the Balance?

Many organizations regard work-life benefits as an investment designed, among other things, to attract and retain talent. How do such benefits affect productivity for the individuals, the company, and society? Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

Racial Diversity Pays Off

Diversity has been a buzzword in organizations for at least fifteen years. How much is really known about its effects on performance? HBS professors Robin Ely and David Thomas investigate. Read More

Should We Brace Ourselves for Another Era of M&A Value Destruction?

It looks like more mergers and acquisitions are on the horizon. Time and again, why do so few mergers and acquisitions meet expectations? Is the information about human resources just too difficult to obtain during a sensitive acquisition process? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

The Business Case for Diabetes Disease Management

Diabetes is a tough disease to tackle. A case-study discussion led by HBS professor Nancy Beaulieu asked why it is so complex for business and society, and what might be done to curb its incidence. Read More

Marrying Distance and Classroom Education

Distance learning—extending the classroom over time and space using technology—certainly holds appeal for companies looking to keep executives on the cutting edge. In an interview, HBS professor Dorothy Leonard looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the online classroom, and how it can marry with traditional face-to-face teaching. Read More

The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs

Companies reflexively look to charismatic CEOs to save them, and that's a bad idea, says HBS professor Rakesh Khurana. In this excerpt from his new book and in an e-mail interview with HBS Working Knowledge, he explains how the CEO cult arose. Read More

Do You Have Change Fatigue?

Many corporate change efforts are greeted with rolling eyes from employees. Harvard Business School professors David Garvin and Rosabeth Moss Kanter help identify the keys to a successful company transformation. Read More

Looking for CEOs in All the Wrong Places

In searching for a new CEO, many companies depend on board contacts to find candidates and diminish the role of search firms. And that may be a big mistake, suggests HBS assistant professor Rakesh Khurana. Read More

Race Does Matter in Mentoring

In studying the different career paths of whites and minorities, HBS Professor David Thomas finds one characteristic of people of color who advance the furthest: a strong network of mentors and corporate sponsors. Read More

Minding the Muse: The Impact of Downsizing on Corporate Creativity

HBS Professor Teresa Amabile's in-house study of creativity at a high-tech Fortune 500 firm took on new implications when the company began a significant reduction in the size of its global workforce. Expanding the research to measure changes in the creative environment during and after the layoffs, Amabile and colleague Regina Conti of Colgate University showed that downsizing can have surprising effects on the creativity of remaining employees and the company's strategic position in the marketplace. Read More

Leading Professional Service Firms

Firms in the $80 billion professional services industry all face the same fundamental challenge: aligning their most valuable assets—the talents of their employees—with the strategy and organization of the firm. In this interview, HBS Professor Jay Lorsch, chair of the Executive Education program Leading Professional Service Firms, discusses the role these firms play in the world's economy and the keys to their success. Read More

What It Takes: Minorities in the Executive Suite

For diversity to take hold in America's corporate boardrooms, companies need to find new ways to develop more conducive environments for minority advancement and opportunity. But minority executives who want to move up can't simple wait for their work environment to be perfect. HBS Professors David Thomas and John Gabarro are studying what it takes — on both sides — to make corporate diversity a reality. Read More