Organizations: Organizational Design

136 Results

 

Chief Sustainability Officers: Who Are They and What Do They Do?

A number of studies document how organizations go through numerous stages as they increase their commitment to sustainability over time. However, we still know little about the role of the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in this process. Using survey and interview data, the authors of this paper analyze how CSOs' authority and responsibilities differ across organizations that are in different stages of sustainability commitment. The study documents the increased authority that CSOs have in companies that are in more advanced stages of sustainability. But while CSOs assume more responsibilities initially as the organization's commitment to sustainability increases, CSOs decentralize decision rights and allocate responsibilities to the different functions and business units. Furthermore, the authors document that a firm's sustainability strategy becomes significantly more idiosyncratic in the later stages of sustainability, a factor that influences significantly where in the organization responsibility for sustainability issues is located. The study also reflects on the best avenues for future research about CSOs and transformation at the institutional, organizational, and individual levels. This article is a chapter of the forthcoming book Leading Sustainable Change (Oxford University Press). Read More

Family Businesses Need Entrepreneurs for Long-Run Success

Families that want to stay in business for generations don't have a choice but to encourage entrepreneurship in and out of their family company, say Michael Roberts and John Davis. Here's how. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Fixing the ‘I Hate Work’ Blues

Many employees report they are overworked and not engaged—a recent New York Times article on the phenomenon was titled, "Why You Hate Work." The problem, says Bill George, is that the way we design work stifles engagement. Here's the fix. Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Facts and Figuring: An Experimental Investigation of Network Structure and Performance in Information and Solution Spaces

How can managers create organizations that bring people together to successfully solve problems? One increasingly popular managerial tactic to improve problem-solving performance is to increase the connectedness, or what academics call clustering, of the organization. Using everything from transparent, open offices to open social collaboration platforms, connecting everyone and everything, the theory goes, will produce better solutions. True or false? In the lab, the authors randomly assigned individuals to 70 sixteen-person organizations—some more clustered than others—and asked each organization to solve a complex problem: divine the who, what, where, and when of an impending terrorist attack (akin to the famous Clue® whodunit game). They did so using a platform not unlike real intelligence problem-solving environments: Through their computers, individuals could search for information, share information with each other, and share theories about the solutions, while the platform tracked all behavior. The results? Connectedness had different effects on the "facts" and "figuring" stages of problem solving. Search for information (facts) was, indeed, more efficient the more connected the organization. But performance in interpreting the information (figuring) to develop solutions was undermined by too much connectedness. The same connections that helped individuals coordinate their search for information also encouraged individuals to reach consensus on less-than-perfect solutions, making connectedness a true double-edged sword. The authors conclude with a discussion of implications for both theory and practice in our increasingly connected 'small world' and suggest directions for future research. Read More

Book Excerpt--‘Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World’

Management and leadership are not the same thing. But which is more important to a growing, innovative organization? An excerpt from John Kotter's new book, Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

John Kotter’s Plan to Accelerate Your Business

In the fast-paced modern economy, businesses can no longer rely on just one organizational design, argues John Kotter in a new book, Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World. Why we need two "operating systems." PLUS Book excerpt. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Language Wars Divide Global Companies

An increasing number of global firms adopt a primary language for business operations—usually English. The problem: The practice can surface dormant hostilities around culture and geography, reports Tsedal Neeley. Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Is Walmart Defying Economic Gravity?

Summing Up Can Walmart sustain its half-a-trillion-dollar enterprise much longer? Jim Heskett's readers see a conflict between the company's immense size and its business model. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Is Top-Down Resource Allocation on the Rise?

Summing Up Respondents to this month's column provided Jim Heskett possible explanations for greater reliance on top-down resource allocation processes while arguing that a blend of influences from the top and bottom of an organization are still important for best results. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Sharing Design Rights: A Commons Approach for Developing Infrastructure

Traditionally, a commons is a natural resource that gives rise to the problem of collective action: Individuals who act alone without consideration for others will arrive at outcomes that are bad for all. Pioneering research by Elinor Ostrom, a scholar of economic governance, has revealed that the claimants to a common pool resource are sometimes able to organize themselves to manage the commons on a day-today basis and to adapt to changing circumstances. In this paper, the authors study the dynamics of a commons organization: In 2006-2007, the Manchester City Council created a commons organization to design a number of new school buildings. The Council had broad decision rights over school design and construction, but rather than delegating those rights to its own staff or to a joint venture, as were the typical practices, the Council gave each school co-equal rights to approve the design so that no building project could go forward unless signed off by both the school and the Council staff. As such, the Council converted the decision-making process from a controlled, centralized style to a commons-based approach. Using the principles of Ostrom's commons theory the authors show that, overall, the commons form of organizing brought with it concomitant risk. This risk, however, was significantly lessened through the creation of a robust commons organization. Read More

What Do We Know About Corporate Headquarters? A Review, Integration, and Research Agenda

For the last five decades, research on the multidivisional firm has developed into one of the most important areas of management research. While the majority of this research deals with the firm's portfolio of businesses and international subsidiaries, there is a smaller but significant body of literature on the corporate headquarters (CHQ) - the multidivisional firm's central organizational unit. In this paper, the authors identify major shortcomings and gaps in this research. They then propose five high-priority research opportunities that demand particular attention: (1) The CHQ's nature and boundaries; (2) the CHQ's "functioning"; (3) the CHQ's staff(ing); (4) the CHQ's relationship with the operating units; and (5) the CHQ's impact. Overall, there is a need for a research agenda that builds upon the collective insights from the review but, at the same time, considers the findings of related literature as well as novel ideas from practice. Read More

How the Zebra Got Its Stripes: Imprinting of Individuals and Hybrid Social Ventures

Creating hybrid organizations that combine existing organizational forms is a complex process. Given the legitimacy challenges facing hybrid organizations, why are they created in the first place? The authors focus on the role of "environmental imprinting" on individuals: this means the persistent effects that individuals' environments during sensitive periods have on their subsequent behaviors. After constructing and analyzing a novel dataset of over 700 founders of social ventures, all guided by a social welfare logic, the authors suggest that individual imprinting helps to explain why an entrepreneur founding a social venture might create a hybrid by incorporating a secondary, commercial logic. Overall, the paper contributes to the understanding of hybrid organizations by providing the first large-scale, empirical examination of the antecedents of the widely-discussed type of hybrids that combine social welfare and commercial logics. Read More

‘Hybrid’ Organizations a Difficult Bet for Entrepreneurs

Hybrid organizations combine the social logic of a nonprofit with the commercial logic of a for-profit business, but are very difficult to finance. So why would anyone want to form one? Julie Battilana and Matthew Lee investigate. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Catching Up With Boards--Jay Lorsch

Few scholars have studied the behavior of boards as extensively as Jay Lorsch. In this interview, Lorsch discusses current issues facing boards including executive pay, underrepresentation of women, and proposals to cleave the roles of CEO and chairman. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

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

Who Should Manage Our Work Time?

Summing Up Who will save us from our work habits? Jim Heskett's readers offer a range of viewpoints on the responsibility of employees to manage their time at work. Open for comment; 26 Comments posted.

Hurry Up and Wait: Differential Impacts of Congestion, Bottleneck Pressure, and Predictability on Patient Length of Stay

This paper quantifies and analyzes trends related to the effects of increased workload on processing time across more than 250 hospitals. Hospitals are useful settings because they have varying levels of workload. In addition, these settings have high worker autonomy, which enables workers to more easily adjust their processing times in response to workload. Findings show that heavy load plays a significant role in processing times. Congestion is associated with longer lengths of stay. More surprisingly, when there is a high load of incoming patients from a low pressure area (emergency medical patients), current hospital inpatients' stays are longer compared to when incoming patients are from a high pressure area (emergency surgical patients). Furthermore, high predictability of the incoming patients (e.g. scheduled surgical patients) is associated with shorter lengths of stays for the current inpatients than when the incoming patients are less predictable (emergency surgical patients). In this study, there was no decrease in quality of care for patients with shorter lengths of stay. Read More

Fostering Organizational Learning: The Impact of Work Design on Workarounds, Errors, and Speaking Up About Internal Supply Chain Problems

In competitive environments, it is essential that organizations develop techniques that increase the willingness of employees to improve organizational performance. This is especially true in complex service organizations, such as hospitals, where employees have a wide range of discretionary activities that they can perform and lower levels of supervision. For this paper, the author conducted a series of laboratory experiments to test the possibility that managers can manipulate specific work circumstances to increase employees' willingness to speak up about problems, regardless of the employees' individual characteristics. Findings show that participants were more likely to contribute improvement suggestions when employees' role orientation was primed to include process improvement as part of daily work activities and when deliberate blockages made it difficult to work around problems in a way that conformed with policy. The study supports the notion that employee positive behavior can stem from deliberate work design, which falls under managers' jurisdiction, rather than solely from self-motivated employees. Overall, the research advances understanding of the influence of work design on two important employee behaviors-improvement-oriented action and risky workarounds that may harm customers. Read More

Spatial Organization of Firms: Internal and External Agglomeration Economies and Location Choices Through the Value Chain

How do firms decide location strategy for distinct activities in the value chain, such as manufacturing, research and development, or sales? Does strategy depend on geographically bounded spillovers between firms, or within firms? This paper uses data for organic expansions in the US by firms in pharmaceuticals in 1993-2005 to consider two types of expansions. The first is internal: an increase in employment in existing establishments. The second is external: opening new establishments. Alcacer (HBS) and Delgado (Fox School of Business) argue that decisions about geographical location are a tradeoff between external drivers pulling firms to geographically disperse activities and internal drivers pushing within-firm collocation, either across activities (such as manufacturing and R&D) or within activities (such as multiple R&D labs). Read More

Employee-Suggestion Programs That Work

The key to operating a successful employee-suggestion program is to stop spending so much time on big-bang projects and focus on solving "low-hanging-fruit" problems. Research by Anita L. Tucker and Sara J. Singer. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Strategic Intelligence: Adapt or Die

In his new book, Strategic IQ, Professor of Management Practice John R. Wells explains why adapting to changing circumstances isn't only smart, it's also a matter of survival. Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Should CEOs Worry About ‘Too Big to Succeed?’

Summing Up Is there a right size for a company? Jim Heskett's readers ponder his question: Can companies become too big to succeed? Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Book Excerpt: ‘Talk, Inc.’

In their book Talk, Inc. Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind show how several global companies are adapting the principles of face-to-face conversation to improve companywide corporate communication. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

The Power of Conversational Leadership

Communication is always a challenge, especially in multinational corporations. Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind discuss why it makes sense to adopt the principles of face-to-face conversation in organizational communication. Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Book Excerpt: ’The Future of Boards’

In an excerpt from The Future of Boards, Professor Jay Lorsch discusses why directors are newly questioning their roles. Closed for comment; 0 Comments posted.

The Future of Boards

In The Future of Boards: Meeting the Governance Challenges of the Twenty-First Century, Professor Jay Lorsch brings together experts to examine the state of boards today, what lies ahead, and what needs to change. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Location Choices Under Strategic Interactions

How do firms decide their location when expanding geographically? This paper explores how strategic interaction among competitors affects firms' geographic expansion across time and markets. HBS professor Juan Alcacer builds a model in which two firms that differ in their capabilities enter sequentially into two markets with different potentials for profit. The model is solved using game theory under three learning scenarios that capture the ability of a firm to transfer its capabilities across markets: no learning, local learning, and global learning. Three equilibrium strategies emerge: accommodate, marginalize, and collocate. Alcacer identifies how these strategies are more or less likely to emerge depending on three parameters: initial relative firm capabilities, relative market profitability, and learning rates. For managers, the paper illustrates different ways that firms can use location choices across time and geographic markets as a tool to enhance or preserve their competitive position within an industry. Read More

Organization Design for Distributed Innovation

MIT professor Eric von Hippel first coined the term "distributed innovation" to describe a system in which innovation emanates not only from the manufacturer of a product but from many sources including users and rivals. Over the years, systems of distributed innovation—so-called business ecosystems—have become increasingly prevalent in many industries. These entities generally encompass numerous corporations, individuals, and communities that might be individually autonomous but related through their connection with an underlying, evolving technical system. In this paper, prepared for the 1st Organizational Design Conference, held at Harvard Business School in August 2012, HBS professor Carliss Baldwin examines four central themes: 1) Distributed innovation as the unintended consequence of modularity; 2) The advantage of business ecosystems for creative problem-solving; 3) Organizational design of business ecosystems; and 4) Competition and technological innovation in business ecosystems. Overall, Baldwin argues that the potential benefits of distributed innovation must be recognized, and the field of organization design must broaden its traditional focus on the individual firm to encompass this compelling new approach for creating value. Read More

The Flattened Firm—Not as Advertised

For decades, management consultants and the popular business press have urged large firms to flatten their hierarchies. Flattening (or delayering, as it is also known) typically refers to the elimination of layers in a firm's organizational hierarchy, and the broadening of managers' spans of control. While flattening is said to reduce costs, its alleged benefits flow primarily from changes in internal governance: by pushing decisions downward, firms not only enhance customer and market responsiveness, but also improve accountability and morale. But has flattening actually delivered on its promise and pushed decisions down to lower-level managers? In this paper, Julie Wulf shows that flattening actually can lead to exactly the opposite effects from what it promises to do. Wulf used a large-scale panel data set of reporting relationships, job descriptions, and compensation structures in a sample of over 300 large U.S. firms over roughly a 15-year period. This historical data analysis was complemented with exploratory interviews with executives (what CEOs say) and analysis of data on executive time use (what CEOs do). Results suggest that flattening transferred some decision rights from lower-level division managers to functional managers at the top. Flattening is also associated with increased CEO involvement with direct reports—the second level of top management—suggesting a more hands-on CEO at the pinnacle of the hierarchy. In sum, flattening at the top is a complex phenomenon that in the end looks more like centralization. Yet it is crucial to consider different types of decisions and activities and how they vary by level in the hierarchy. Read More

The Inner Workings of Corporate Headquarters

Analyzing the e-mails of some 30,000 workers, Professor Toby E. Stuart and colleague Adam M. Kleinbaum dissected the communication networks of HQ staffers at a large, multidivisional company to get a better understanding of what a corporate headquarters does, and why it does it. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Crowded at the Top: The Rise of the Functional Manager

It's not lonely at the top anymore—today's CEO has an average of 10 direct reports, according to new research by Julie M. Wulf, Maria Guadalupe, and Hongyi Li. Thank a dramatic increase in the number of "functional" managers for crowding in the C-suite. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Breaking Them In or Revealing Their Best? Reframing Socialization around Newcomer Self-Expression

How can organizations build strong, sustainable employment relationships from the very start? To date, the socialization literature has focused on transmitting and maintaining culture so that new employees accept the organizational values and behavioral norms. Many organizations require newcomers to wear standard wardrobes, forbid personal possessions, follow detailed verbal scripts, and enforce appropriate displays of emotion all designed to hinder individuality. In two studies described in this paper, the authors found that organizational and employee outcomes were better when socialization tactics encouraged authentic self-expression of newcomers' personal identities and signature strengths. Organizational socialization is optimized when organizations start by recognizing and highlighting newcomers' unique identities at the very beginning of the employment relationship, when identity negotiation is a critical concern for both parties. Read More

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

Discretion Within the Constraints of Opportunity: Gender Homophily and Structure in a Formal Organization

Research has demonstrated that people associate most with others who are similar to themselves, including others of the same sex. What are the implications of such patterns for organizations? This study, written by Adam M. Kleinbaum, Toby E. Stuart, and Michael L. Tushman, offers evidence of how and by whom formal lateral structures serve to link together an otherwise siloed organization. Analyzing millions of e-mail interactions among tens of thousands of employees of a single large firm, the researchers find that it is women more than men who tend to bridge formal structural boundaries in organizations. Thus women play a potentially valuable role in creating ties throughout an otherwise siloed multidivisional corporation. Despite the influence of a firm's formal organizational structure, people often have plenty of discretion to exercise choice. Same-sex interaction results from discretionary choice within the boundaries of the firm's opportunity structure. These results suggest (but do not prove) that same-sex interaction especially by woman can help to span formal organizational boundaries that are otherwise difficult to traverse. The findings raise questions for future research about whether conventional wisdoms regarding gender differences in social network structure remain accurate in current-day organizations. Read More

Who Lives in the C-Suite? Organizational Structure and the Division of Labor in Top Management

The size of a CEO's executive team has increased dramatically in recent decades, but little has been known about its composition. Using a rich dataset of US firms from 1986 to 2006, this paper documents the dramatic increase in the number of functional managers in the executive team. The size of the team in these firms doubled over the time period from five to 10 positions, with approximately three-fourths of the increase attributable to functional managers (such as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and so on) rather than general managers. The paper explores the drivers of these changes. Findings are critical for practitioners, and specifically CEOs, as they structure their executive teams and more generally as they make decisions to implement or execute strategy. Read More

Location, Location, Location: The Strategy of Place

Business success in one geographic location doesn't necessarily follow a company to a new setting. Professor Juan Alcácer discusses the importance of taking a long-term strategic view. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Sharpening Your Skills: Organizational Design

In this collection from our archives, Harvard Business School faculty discuss specific challenges that can be solved with the right organizational design. Read More

The Most Powerful Workplace Motivator

When evaluating compensation issues, economists often assume that both an employer and an employee make rational, albeit self-interested choices while working toward a goal. The problem, says Assistant Professor Ian Larkin, is that the most powerful workplace motivator is our natural tendency to measure our own performance against the performance of others. Open for comment; 33 Comments posted.

How ‘Hybrid’ Nonprofits Can Stay on Mission

As nonprofits add more for-profit elements to their business models, they can suffer mission drift. Associate Professor Julie Battilana says hybrid organizations can stay on target if they focus on two factors: the employees they hire and the way they socialize those employees. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

The Profit Power of Corporate Culture

In the new book The Culture Cycle, Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett demonstrates that developing the right corporate culture helps companies be more profitable and provides sustainable competitive advantage. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

What’s Apple’s Biggest Challenge: Replacing Steve or Wall Street?

Summing Up: Steve Jobs' influence on Apple is pervasive--maybe too much so. Jim Heskett's readers think Apple faces an almost impossible task in replacing the visionary founder. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

A Dynamic Perspective on Ambidexterity: Structural Differentiation and Boundary Activities

Firms renew themselves by exploring new business models even as they exploit existing ones. But to conduct "explore and exploit" simultaneously, organizations must reconcile associated internal tensions and conflicting demands. Sebastian Raisch and Michael L. Tushman explore the shifting nature of differentiation and integration in organizations attempting to explore and exploit. Read More

Delegation in Multi-Establishment Firms: Adaptation vs. Coordination in I.T. Purchasing Authority

Scholars have intensely studied the similarities and differences between organizations that are decentralized in their decision making versus those favoring more command-and-control central authority. What leads to a firm following a decentralized approach, and can that approach be predicted? Professor Kristina McElheran advances previous, largely theoretical, research on this subject to explore in the real world the economic determinants affecting how IT purchasing authority in 3,000 multi-establishment companies was allocated between central headquarters and outlying establishments. Read More

How Do Risk Managers Become Influential? A Field Study of Toolmaking and Expertise in Two Financial Institutions

Most organizations have technical experts on staff—accountants, finance professionals, internal auditors, risk managers-but not all experts are listened to at higher levels. To understand how expert influence on strategic thinking can be increased, Matthew Hall, Anette Mikes, and Yuval Millo followed the organizational transformation of risk experts in two large UK banks. One transformation was successful, the other not. Are your experts merely "box-tickers," or are they influential "frame-makers"? Read More

Casino Payoff: Hands-Off Management Works Best

Micromanagers beware: Research of casino hosts by Harvard Business School's Dennis Campbell and Francisco de Asís Martinez-Jerez and Rice's Marc Epstein makes the case that hands-off management can work to improve employee learning and decision making. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Learning from Customers in Outsourcing: Individual and Organizational Effects

In farming out work to an external service provider, companies often count on volume-based learning--the idea that outsourced workers will build experience and improve their productivity if there is a large volume of work for them to do, and that the bigger the volume, the more productive and efficient they'll eventually become. However, there are several factors that challenge that education process. This paper explores whether and how repetition can breed competence in a business setting, using data from a provider of outsourced radiological services. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Huckman, Jonathan R. Clark (HBS PhD 2010) of Pennsylvania State University, and Bradley R. Staats (HBS MBA 2002, DBA 2009) of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read More

Managing the Support Staff Identity Crisis

Employees not connected directly to profit and loss can suffer from a collective "I-am-not-strategic" identity crisis. Professor Ranjay Gulati suggests that business managers allow so-called support function employees to become catalysts for change. Open for comment; 29 Comments posted.

Do Bonuses Enhance Sales Productivity? A Dynamic Structural Analysis of Bonus-Based Compensation Plans

Companies generally pay their sales staff with some combination of salary, commissions, and bonuses for meeting quotas-with sales force costs averaging about 10 percent of sales revenue in the United States. This paper aims to gain insight into the most effective way to design a compensation plan, concentrating on whether bonuses boost sales productivity and whether they should be awarded quarterly or annually. Research, focusing on the sales force of a large office supply company, was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Thomas Steenburgh and Doug J. Chung and K. Sudhir of the Yale School of Management. Read More

How to Fix a Broken Marketplace

Alvin E. Roth was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science this week for his Harvard Business School research into market design and matching theory. This article explores his research. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

How IT Shapes Top-Down and Bottom-Up Decision Making

What determines whether decisions happen on the bottom, middle, or top rung of the corporate ladder? New research from professor Raffaella Sadun finds that the answer often lies in the technology that a company deploys. Open for comment; 15 Comments posted.

The Distinct Effects of Information Technology and Communication Technology on Firm Organization

At what point in the corporate food chain are big decisions made? It depends on technology, according to new research, which finds that information-based software will help to push decisions further down the corporate ladder, whereas communication technologies will push decisions up to the top. Research was conducted by Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University; Assistant Professor Raffaella Sadun of Harvard Business School; and Luis Garicano and John Van Reenen of the London School of Economics. Read More

Employee Selection as a Control System

One of the most powerful tools that an organization has to achieve its goals is the ability to hire employees with complementary values and capabilities. Reviewing personnel and lending data from a financial services organization undergoing a major decentralization process, Dennis Campbell offers the first direct empirical evidence establishing a link between employee selection and better alignment with organizational performance goals. Read More

Will Transparency in CEO Compensation Have Unintended Consequences?

Summing Up: The Dodd-Frank legislation requiring companies to compare CEO compensation with rank-and-file pay will have little or no impact on executive compensation levels, say Jim Heskett's readers. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens November 4.) Closed for comment; 55 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

Disagreement about the Team’s Status Hierarchy: An Insidious Obstacle to Coordination and Performance

What happens when team members disagree about how much status each of the other members actually deserves? Does it matter that members might not even be aware that they disagree with one another? Published research on status conflict has so far focused primarily on the effects of overt status challenges, often originating from high-status members jockeying for top positions to attain valuable resources such as power, credit, and a better reputation. Yet new research by HBS professor Heidi K. Gardner explores how small differences, even latent ones, in team members' perceptions about their group's status hierarchy can undermine group collaboration, heighten team conflict, and lower performance. Read More

Rocket Science Retailing: A Practical Guide

How can retailers make the most of cutting-edge developments and emerging technologies? Book excerpt plus Q&A with HBS professor Ananth Raman, coauthor with Wharton professor Marshall Fisher of The New Science of Retailing: How Analytics Are Transforming the Supply Chain and Improving Performance. 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

The Role of Institutional Development in the Prevalence and Value of Family Firms

Family firms dominate economic activity in most countries, and are significantly different from other companies in their behavior, structural characteristics, and performance. But what explains the significant variation in the prevalence and value of family firms around the world? The two leading explanations are legal investor protection and institutional development, but cross-country studies are unable to rule out the alternative explanation that cultural norms are what account for these differences. In contrast, China provides an excellent laboratory for addressing this question because it offers great variation in institutional efficiency across regions, yet the country as a whole shares cultural and social norms together with a common legal and regulatory framework. In this paper, HBS professor Belén Villalonga and coauthors study ownership data from a sample of nearly 1,500 publicly listed firms on the Chinese stock market. They conclude that institutional development plays a critical role in the prevalence and value of family firms, and that the differences observed across regions are not attributable to cultural factors. Read More

Does Diversification Create Value in the Presence of External Financing Constraints? Evidence from the 2008-2009 Financial Crisis

The global financial crisis of 2008-2009 has led academics and practitioners to question many widely held beliefs about business and economics. One such belief relates to the value of corporate diversification. Popular views about diversification have swung like a pendulum over the past half-century, from a generally positive view in the 1960s and 1970s, when many large conglomerates were formed, to a generally negative view in the 1980s and early 1990s, when many such conglomerates were dismantled or at least fell out of the stock market's favor. In 2009, in the wake of the global financial crisis, a new view seems to be emerging that conglomerates are ready for a comeback. In this paper, HBS doctoral candidate Venkat Kuppuswamy and professor Belén Villalonga examine whether and why conglomerates have become more valuable during the 2008-2009 financial crisis. They find that they have, and that the increase does not simply reflect changes in investor perceptions but real differences in corporate finance and investment. Read More

Conceptual Foundations of the Balanced Scorecard

This article documents the precursors of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) strategic performance management tool and describes the evolution of the BSC since its introduction in 1992 in the Harvard Business Review. During the last 15 years, the BSC has been adopted by thousands of private, public, and nonprofit enterprises around the world. HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan, who created the concept and tool with David Norton, explains the roots and motivation for their original article as well as subsequent innovations that connect it to a larger management literature. Read More

Will I Stay or Will I Go? Cooperative and Competitive Effects of Workgroup Sex and Race Composition on Turnover

Inequalities in the senior ranks by sex and race remain rampant in up-or-out knowledge organizations such as consulting firms, law firms, and universities. HBS professor Kathleen L. McGinn and Wharton School professor Katherine L. Milkman focus on patterns of voluntary and involuntary turnover over six years in one such organization to untangle the multiple ways in which social identity influences career mobility. Predicting that higher proportions of demographically similar supervisors will reduce the likelihood of subordinate turnover, while higher proportions of demographically similar peers will increase the likelihood of turnover, the researchers find evidence of the hypothesized effects. They suggest that integrating research about social cohesion and social comparison enhances understanding of racial and gender inequality within organizations and facilitates organizations' ability to reduce that inequality. Read More

The Mirroring Hypothesis: Theory, Evidence and Exceptions

In its simplest form, the mirroring hypothesis suggests that the organizational patterns of a development project, such as communication links, geographic collocation, and team and firm membership, correspond to the technical patterns of dependency in the system under development. According to the hypothesis, independent, dispersed contributors develop largely modular designs, while richly interacting, collocated contributors develop highly integral designs. Yet many development projects do not conform to the mirroring hypothesis. HBS doctoral graduate Lyra Colfer and professor Carliss Y. Baldwin synthesize observations from a large number of cases that violate the hypothesis to explain when and how development organizations can "break the mirror." Read More

The Outside-In Approach to Customer Service

Is your enterprise resilient or rigid? In this Q&A, HBS professor Ranjay Gulati, an expert on leadership, strategy, and organizational issues in firms, describes how companies can evolve through four levels to become more customer-centric. Plus: book excerpt from Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. Read More

Does Product Market Competition Lead Firms To Decentralize?

There is a widespread sense that over the last two decades firms have been decentralizing decisions to employees further down the managerial hierarchy. Economists have developed a range of theories to account for delegation, but there is less empirical evidence, especially across countries. This has limited the ability to understand the phenomenon of decentralization. Nicholas Bloom, HBS professor Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen assembled a new data set on about 4,000 firms across 12 countries in Europe, North America, and Asia, and then measured the delegation of authority from central headquarters to local plant managers. Read More

International Differences in the Size and Roles of Corporate Headquarters: An Empirical Examination

Are small headquarters more nimble and efficient than large ones? Not necessarily, according to HBS adjunct professor David Collis and coauthors David Young and Michael Goold. Even within a single industry in one country, the variance can be enormous: In Germany in the late 1990s, for instance, Hoechst, the chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer, had only 180 people in the headquarters function at the same time that Bayer had several thousand. This paper seeks to fill gaps in the research by using a unique database of over 600 companies in seven countries to determine whether systematic differences in the size and roles of corporate headquarters between countries actually exist, and if so, how they differ. In particular, the authors examine whether there is a systematic difference between market- and bank-centered economies, and between developed and developing countries. Read More

Management’s Role in Reforming Health Care

Health care managers are the missing link in debate over reform. Their skills and ideas are needed to sustain and improve upon multiple advances in the delivery of health care for the benefit of patients. An interview with HBS professor Richard M.J. Bohmer, MD, and an excerpt from his book Designing Care: Aligning the Nature and Management of Health Care. Read More

Walking Through Jelly: Language Proficiency, Emotions, and Disrupted Collaboration in Global Work

As organizations increasingly globalize, individuals are required to collaborate with coworkers across international borders. Many organizations are mandating English as the lingua franca, or common language, regardless of the location of their headquarters, to facilitate collaboration across national and linguistic boundaries. What is the emotional impact of lingua franca adoption on native and nonnative speakers who work closely together and often across national boundaries? This study examines the communication experience for native and nonnative English speakers in an organization that mandates English as the lingua franca for everyday use, and the impact of the lingua franca on collaboration among globally distributed coworkers. HBS professor Tsedal Neeley and coauthors describe in detail how emotions and actions were intertwined and evolved recursively as coworkers attempted to release themselves from unwanted negative emotions and inadvertently acted in ways that transferred negative experiences to their distant coworkers. Their findings have implications for managers who are charged with overseeing internationally distributed projects. Read More

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

The Vanguard Corporation

In the book SuperCorp, Rosabeth Moss Kanter lays out a model for 21st-century companies that care as much about creating value for society as they do value for shareholders and employees. The best part: It pays to be good. Read More

SuperCorp: Values as Guidance System

In her new book SuperCorp, professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter details how vanguard companies such as IBM, Cemex, and Omron are rewriting the nature of the business enterprise and how firms will gain sustainable prosperity in the 21st century. Read our excerpt. Read More

Culture Clash: The Costs and Benefits of Homogeneity

Culture clash is often considered a major cause for the failing of mergers and acquisitions, and for this reason it is an important consideration for corporate strategy. Although less publicized, culture clash has also plagued alliances and long-term market relationships. It provides a unique lens on the performance effects of corporate culture itself, and thus culture's potential to generate a competitive advantage. This paper develops an economic theory of the costs and benefits of corporate culture—in the sense of shared beliefs and values—in order to study the effects of culture clash in mergers and acquisitions. Read More

High Commitment, High Performance Management

High commitment, high performance organizations such as Southwest Airlines, Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey, and Toyota effectively manage three paradoxical goals, says HBS professor Michael Beer. His new book explains what all companies can learn. Q&A Read More

Why Can’t Americans Get Health Care Right?

Change is desperately needed, agreed readers of Professor Jim Heskett's online forum. But how to make that change remains in doubt. What can Americans learn from solutions implemented by other countries? (Forum now closed; next forum begins September 4.) Closed for comment; 103 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

Performance Pressure as a Double-Edged Sword: Enhancing Team Motivation While Undermining the Use of Team Knowledge

Why do teams often fail to use their knowledge resources effectively even after they have correctly identified the experts among them? Project teams are a prominent feature of the knowledge-based economy, and member expertise has long been recognized as an important resource that can greatly affect team performance, but only to the extent that it is accurately recognized and used to accomplish the objective. The step between recognizing others' expertise and then actually applying it to achieve a collective outcome, however, is highly problematic: Even when individuals know who holds relevant task expertise, they are often unwilling or unable to give the experts appropriate influence over the group process and outcomes. HBS professor Heidi K. Gardner takes a multidisciplinary approach to develop theory explaining how interpersonal dynamics in teams affect members' use of each other's distinct knowledge, ultimately leading to differential performance outcomes. Read More

On Good Scholarship, Goal Setting, and Scholars Gone Wild

When confronted by anecdotal evidence and some causal evidence, how should scholars—and indeed businesses and society—react? In this response to a critique in the journal Academy of Management Perspectives, the authors articulate the aims of their article "Goals Gone Wild: How Goals Systematically Harm Individuals and Organizations," describe points of disagreement with the critics, offer a definition of good scholarship, and suggest a program of research for future studies of goal setting. 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

Do Innovation and Entrepreneurship Have to Be Incompatible with Organization Size?

Like a good case study, this month's question divided respondents nearly down the middle, says professor Jim Heskett. Can managers lead both a large, established organization and encourage intrapreneurial effort inside it? Readers weighed in. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins June 5.) Closed for comment; 81 Comments posted.

The Silo Lives! Analyzing Coordination and Communication in Multiunit Companies

A new Harvard Business School working paper looks inside the communications "black box" of a large company to understand who talks to whom, and finds the corporate silo as impenetrable as ever. Q&A with professor Toby E. Stuart. Read More

The Internalization of Advertising Services: An Inter-Industry Analysis

When are advertisers more likely to establish and maintain their own in-house agencies? Despite occasional indications to the contrary, such self-sufficiency has long been viewed by industry observers and scholars as more the exception than the rule in the U.S. advertising and marketing services business. With the background that vertical integration in this industry is a neglected domain of research, analysis by HBS professor emeritus Alvin J. Silk and colleagues suggests that while most large U.S. advertisers rely primarily on independent agencies for advertising services, many other advertisers operate in-house advertising units. Read More

Wellsprings of Creation: Perturbation and the Paradox of the Highly Disciplined Organization

Many organizations struggle to balance the conflicting demands of efficiency and innovation. Organizations can become more efficient in the short run by replacing costly, unpredictable problem solving activity with consistent, streamlined routines. However, this efficiency often comes at the cost of long-run adaptability. The more organizational activity is dominated by stable routines, the less the organization learns, and the more rigid and inflexible it becomes. To escape this fate, the authors of this working paper theorize that highly disciplined organizations must actively engage in strategic and selective perturbation of established routines. A perturbation interrupts an established routine and creates an opportunity to innovate and learn. Using illustrations from Toyota, the authors investigate the conditions under which perturbations can sustain exploration in highly disciplined organizations. Read More

Communication (and Coordination?) in a Modern, Complex Organization

Coordination, and the communication it implies, is central to the very existence of organizations. Despite their fundamental role in the purpose of organizations, scholars have little understanding of actual interaction patterns in modern, complex, multiunit firms. To open the proverbial "black box" and begin to reveal the internal wiring of the firm, this paper presents a detailed, descriptive analysis of the network of communications among members of a large, structurally, functionally, geographically, and strategically diverse firm. The full data set comprises more than 100 million electronic mail messages and over 60 million electronic calendar entries for a sample of more 30,000 employees over a three-month period in 2006. Read More

Organizational Design and Control across Multiple Markets: The Case of Franchising in the Convenience Store Industry

Chain organizations operate units that are typically dispersed across different types of markets, and thus serve significantly different customer bases. Such "market-type dispersion" is likely to compromise the headquarters' ability to control its stores for two reasons: Relative differences in local conditions make it difficult to monitor a store manager's behavior, and a chain with wide-ranging customer bases will have a harder time serving its customers and will need to rely more heavily on store managers' ability to adapt to local needs. This study identifies market-type dispersion as a factor that is systematically related to firms' organizational design choices. The results may help managers and consultants who deal with control challenges related to a chain's geographic expansion into different markets. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Disaster!

Disaster brings out the best in some, the worst in others. But every disaster tells a tale we can learn from. Here we look at lessons learned from failures involving polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, NASA, and a Mount Everest climbing team. Read More

See No Evil: When We Overlook Other People’s Unethical Behavior

Even good people sometimes act unethically without their own awareness. This paper explores psychological processes as they affect the ethical perception of others' behavior, and concludes with implications for organizations. First, there is a tendency for people to overlook unethical behavior in others when recognizing such behavior would harm them. Second, people might readily ignore unethical behavior when others have an agent do their dirty work for them. Third, gradual moral decay leads people to grow comfortable with behavior to which they would otherwise object. Fourth, the tendency to value outcomes over processes can lead us to accept unethical processes for far too long. Read More

Growing CEOs from the Inside

Who is the best CEO candidate? An insider with intimate knowledge of your company, or an outsider who is ready to put sacred cows out to pasture? The answer, says HBS professor Joseph L. Bower, is both. In this Q&A, he discusses his new book, The CEO Within, and why inside-outsiders are the key to succession planning. Read More

Team Familiarity, Role Experience, and Performance:Evidence from Indian Software Services

In contexts ranging from product development to service delivery, a significant amount of an organization's work is conducted by "fluid teams" that strive for innovative output. Fluid project teams exist only for the duration of a single project, and are comprised of members who may join or leave a team during the course of a project. In such settings, simple measures of cumulative output may not accurately capture team experience, particularly when changes in team composition are substantial over time. This study of an Indian software services firm, Wipro Technologies, considers an approach for capturing the experience held by fluid teams. It extends the concept of team fluidity in a way that allows for greater granularity in the measurement of team experience and a finer understanding of the determinants of team performance. Read More

Improving Patient Outcomes: The Effects of Staff Participation and Collaboration in Healthcare Delivery

Health-care organizations have a well-documented, industry-wide need to improve their processes. To that aim, the Institute of Medicine has made at least 2 recommendations that focus on front-line staff—physicians, nurses, and respiratory therapists. The first recommendation states that front-line staff should be involved in unit decision-making and the design of work processes and workflow (participation). The second emphasizes respectful interactions among front-line staff, including information-sharing and coordinating activities to achieve organizational goals (collaboration). This study provides preliminary supporting evidence for the Institute of Medicine's recommendations to use a dual, front-line strategy of participation and collaboration to improve patient outcomes. Read More

Leading and Creating Collaboration in Decentralized Organizations

No matter how a multi-divisional organization is designed, it will need to find effective ways for its units to spontaneously and responsively cross boundaries. This paper discusses 3 key barriers to collaboration and information-sharing within an organization, and offers 3 strategies to overcome them. Read More

Organizational Designs and Innovation Streams

Ambidextrous organizational designs are those that sustain current success while simultaneously building new products, services, or processes. This research looks at a sample of 13 business units and describes the relations between alternative organizational designs and innovation streams. These business units used 4 distinct organizational designs in service of innovating and improving existing products: functional, cross-functional, spinouts, and ambidextrous. The researchers also used longitudinal data in order to explore how designs evolve over time and how design transitions affect innovation success. Read More

Ambidexterity as a Dynamic Capability: Resolving the Innovator’s Dilemma

Can organizations adapt and change—and if so, how does this occur? There are two major camps in the research on organizational change: those that argue for adaptation, and those that argue that as environments shift, inert organizations are replaced by new forms that better fit the changed context. There are data to support both arguments. This paper discusses the idea and practicality of ambidexterity and shows how the ability to simultaneously pursue emerging and mature strategies is a key element of long-term success. Read More

Managing Know-How

For many firms, the ability to create, organize, and disseminate know-how is a key factor in their ability to succeed. But should all companies engage in formal knowledge management? If not, which companies derive most value from a formal knowledge system? Conditional on implementing such a system, should the company focus more on learning from successes or learning from failures? Should such knowledge systems simply capture all experience, or should they be more selective? This paper develops and applies an economic framework to examine these questions. Read More

When Good Teams Go Bad

Know when teamwork doesn't work—and how to fix it. Professors Jeff Polzer and Scott Snook teach "The Army Crew Team" case and the dilemma faced by a rowing coach who has great individual parts but can't get them to synchronize. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

The Challenge of Managing National Security

What can we learn from mistakes made in managing national intelligence before 9/11? Professor Jan Rivkin discusses the difficulties of integrating a highly differentiated organization, and the dangers of overcentralizing decision making. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

The Demise of Cost and Profit Centers

The Balanced Scorecard has proven to be a general and powerful performance management framework for units previously treated as profit and investment centers. The management control literature, however, identifies other organizational forms for decentralized units, including standard cost centers, revenue centers, and support units treated as discretionary expense centers. Starting from the example of a classic teaching case, Empire Glass Company, Kaplan explains how strategy maps and the Balanced Scorecard transform cost, revenue, and discretionary expense centers into strategic business units in their own right. Read More

Managing Functional Biases in Organizational Forecasts: A Case Study of Consensus Forecasting in Supply Chain Planning

By their very nature, consensus forecasts contain subjective elements that can compromise forecast accuracy. In this case study of the implementation of a sales and operations planning process in a consumer electronics company, Oliva and Watson studied the organizational and political dimensions of forecast generation and improvement. Ultimately, consensus forecasting constructively managed the influence of biases (such as overconfidence) on forecasts. Read More

Governing Sumida Corporation

In a new Harvard Business School case, Professor Lynn Paine and her colleagues explore the nature of corporate governance systems by studying Japanese electronics components maker Sumida Corp. CEO Shigeyuki Yawata looks to create a governance structure that would be transparent to investors and stakeholders worldwide. Read More

Racial Diversity Initiatives in Professional Service Firms: What Factors Differentiate Successful from Unsuccessful Initiatives?

What organizational factors are needed for racial diversity initiatives to succeed? While diversity continues to grow in importance in organizations, very little research has focused on the processes that underlie diversity management. Modupe Akinola and David A. Thomas propose a study intended to explore management initiatives that focus on racial diversity in professional service firms. Given that such firms rely on the high level of skills, expertise, and diverse perspectives offered by their professional staff, these firms may be ideal laboratories for examining diversity initiatives. Read More

Cross Functional Alignment in Supply Chain Planning: A Case Study of Sales & Operations Planning

Why do companies have such a hard time getting various functions to coordinate? Leitax, the pseudonym for a consumer electronics company studied by the authors, was suffering major supply-chain planning problems in 2002. The chief reason was typical to organizations: poor integration among the various functions. In response, the company introduced a system (rather than just a set of mechanisms) to better coordinate all processes and functions. The new system led to better collaboration from all participants, improved information-sharing, accurate and validated plans, and alignment in the execution of those plans. Read More

Are We Ready for Self-Management?

On its face, self-management looks like a "win-win" answer to the scarcity of good managers and the predominance of low-involvement entry-level jobs. But are sufficient numbers of entry-level employees ready for self-management? And is management ready? Closed for comment; 94 Comments posted.

The Accidental Innovator

Many important innovations are the byproduct of accidents—the key is to be prepared for the unexpected. Professor Robert D. Austin discusses his research and practical implications on the concept of accidental innovation. 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

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

Using the Law to Strategic Advantage

Used proactively, corporate legal departments can give you a strategic advantage, argues HBS professor Constance Bagley. It's time for a new relationship between managers and legal. 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

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

Decision Rights: Who Gives the Green Light?

Four steps to ensure that the right decisions are made by the right people. HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen explains in Harvard Management Update. 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

Germany’s Pioneering Corporate Managers

Professor Jeffrey Fear's new book Organizing Control takes a fresh look at corporate management innovations created by German companies and managers over the last two centuries. A Q&A with the author. Read More

Can an Organization’s “Deep Smarts” Be Preserved?

When employees leave, they take more than their coat and hat. How can companies better preserve the accumulated knowledge of individuals? Isn’t that what separates average companies from truly great ones? Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Why Innovations Sit on the Shelf

Why can't your organization capitalize on great ideas? Surprise! The answer may have more to do with communication than inventiveness. From Strategy and Innovation. 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.

Mission to Mars: It Really Is Rocket Science

Do the successful Mars missions mean NASA again has the right stuff? Professor Alan MacCormack dissects the space agency’s "Faster, Better, Cheaper" program. Read More

Got a New Strategy? Now Make it Happen

Many strategies never take off for lack of honest discussion, say Harvard Business School's Michael Beer and co-author Russell A. Eisenstat. A Harvard Business Review excerpt. Read More

Does Your HQ Operation Fit With Corporate Strategy?

Is a lean headquarters operation the key to success? How should headquarters design fit with corporate strategy? New research from professor David J. Collis has surprising answers. Read More

Women Leaders and Organizational Change

Merely expanding the number of women in leadership roles does not automatically induce organizational change. Harvard professor Robin Ely and Debra Meyerson call for fundamental changes to transform organizations. Read More

The Organizational Model for Open Source

A surprising entity has emerged to protect the interests of open source software developers: the non-profit foundation. HBS professor Siobhán O'Mahony discusses this emerging organizational model. Read More

Are You Supporting Your B Players?

B players are the heart and soul of top organizations, says HBS professor Thomas J. DeLong. Here’s why—and what you can do to manage B players better. Read More

How the U.S. Army Develops Leaders

Leadership development in the U.S. Army has ramifications beyond American borders. In this e-mail interview, HBS professor Scott A. Snook, a retired Army colonel, describes how military leaders grow. Plus: Book excerpt Read More

Mentoring—Using the Voice of Experience

Companies crave experienced executives—so why don't they do more to make sure that wisdom is captured in the corporate DNA? Harvard Business Professor Dorothy Leonard discusses the differences between mentoring and coaching; why it can be difficult for "masters" to reach "novices" and who should be responsible for managing a corporate mentoring program. Read More

From Lone Star to Team Player

If you're serious about building a collaborative company and want to reap the economic rewards from doing so, you have to screen out "lone stars." Harvard Business School professor Morten T. Hansen explains. Read More

Want a Happy Customer? Coordinate Sales and Marketing

In today's hyper-competitive world, your sales and marketing functions must yoke together at every level—from the core central concepts of the strategy to the minute details of execution. Harvard Business School professor Benson Shapiro on creating the customer-centric team. Read More

A Cure for Enron-Style Audit Failures

In an opinion piece in the Financial Times, Harvard Business School professor Jay Lorsch argues for legislation to create an independent, self-regulatory organization to oversee accounting firms. Enron, he says, is not an isolated incident. Read More

You’re Wasting Your Employees! What You Can Do About It

A decade of organizational restructuring has produced employees "who are more exhausted than empowered, more cynical than self-renewing," says Harvard Business School professor Christopher Bartlett. CEOs must rethink how they use their people. Read More

How Toyota Turns Workers Into Problem Solvers

Toyota's reputation for sustaining high product quality is legendary. But the company's methods are not secret. So why can't other carmakers match Toyota's track record? HBS professor Steven Spear says it's all about problem solving. Read More

Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Organizations

Exclusive! In this first look at a new book, HBS professors Paul Lawrence and Nitin Nohria explore how human nature shapes business organizations. Does your organization reflect the four basic human drives? Plus: Q&A. Read More

Are You Managing To a ‘T’? Time To Break With Tradition

Say hello to the T-shaped manager. In this HBR excerpt, HBS professor Morten Hansen and colleague Bolko Von Oetinger introduce a new-generation exec who shares information horizontally across the organization as well as vertically among individual business units. Read More

Managing to Learn: How Companies Can Turn Knowledge into Action

New ideas are important, says HBS professor David Garvin, but they're not enough: A true "learning organization" must enable every member of the organization to act in an informed way upon what's been learned before. Read More

The Strategy-Focused Organization

In the ten years since it was introduced, Robert Kaplan's and David Norton's Balanced Scorecard has become not just a measurement tool but a means of putting strategy at the center of a company's key management processes and systems. 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

Learning in Action

Most managers today understand the value of building a learning organization. But in moving from theory into practice, managers must realize there's no one-size-fits-all strategy applicable to every company and every situation. In this excerpt from his book Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work (HBS Press), HBS Professor David A. Garvin shows how different organizations put different learning strategies to work. Read More

Leading Change and Organizational Renewal

A critical question confronting organizations today is not whether to change in response to their swiftly changing environment, but precisely how to manage that change. In this interview, HBS Professors Michael Tushman and Charles O'Reilly, developers of the Executive Education program Leading Change and Organizational Renewal, describe their thinking about the impact of rapid-fire change on contemporary organizations, and what managers must do to effectively lead the change process. Read More

Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System

How can one production operation be both rigidly scripted and enormously flexible? In this summary of an article from the Harvard Business Review, HBS Professors H. Kent Bowen and Steven Spear disclose the secret to Toyota's production success. The company's operations can be seen as a continuous series of controlled experiments: whenever Toyota defines a specification, it is establishing a hypothesis that is then tested through action. The workers, who have internalized this scientific-method approach, are stimulated to respond to problems as they appear; using data from the strictly defined experiment, they are able to adapt fluidly to changing circumstances. Read More

A Perfect Fit: Aligning Organization & Strategy

Is your company organizationally fit? HBS Professor Michael Beer believes business success is a function of the fit between key organizational variables such as strategy, values, culture, employees, systems, organizational design, and the behavior of the senior management team. Beer and colleague Russell A. Eisenstat have developed a process,termed Organizational Fitness Profiling, by which corporations can cultivate organizational capabilities that enhance their competitiveness. Read More