Organizations: General Organizations

18 Results


Who Should Choose Your Boss?

The employee-led battle to reinstate the fired CEO of Market Basket has riveted the business world. But Jim Heskett asks, who really should hire the CEO? The board? Company leaders? Rank and file employees? What do YOU think? Open for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Do Mergers Hurt Product Quality?

Albert W. Sheen finds that while mergers lead to product price decreases, they generally have little effect on product quality over time. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Status: When and Why It Matters

Status plays a key role in everything from the things we buy to the partnerships we make. Professor Daniel Malter explores when status matters most. Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Analyzing Institutions to Solve Big Problems

The academic study of institutions provides important insights into complex problems, but is often criticized for lacking practical relevance. Institutional theorists gathered at Harvard Business School to discuss how to make their work more broadly understood and useful. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

How to Do Away with the Dangers of Outsourcing

The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh should be a warning to companies that embrace outsourcing, says Professor Ranjay Gulati. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Improving Store Liquidation

Store liquidation, defined as the time-constrained divestment of retail stores through an in-store sale of inventory, is a critical aspect of the retail industry for both defunct and going concerns. Store liquidation is important for firms and investors, affecting everything from retailer performance to how retailers are financed and how investors are compensated. Further, store liquidation is fundamental to innovation in the retail sector, since extracting value from defunct stores and firms is a key step in the process of creative destruction. In this paper, the authors introduce methods for increasing the efficiency of store liquidations operated by retail asset disposition firms, and they thus extend management science techniques to a consequential problem that has not yet been addressed by the literature. These methods were developed through a collaboration with GBG, a prominent liquidator, during the liquidation of over $3B of inventory. Read More

Blue Skies, Distractions Arise: How Weather Affects Productivity

New studies show that workers are more productive on rainy days than on sunny ones. Does your office take advantage? Research by Francesca Gino and colleagues. Closed for comment; 15 Comments posted.

Temptation at Work

Among the many distractions that keep office employees from their work, surfing the web is arguably the most irresistible time-waster of all. In order to deal with that problem, many companies either prohibit Internet use during working hours, or closely monitor employees' web activity. This means workers must wait until they get home to get their daily YouTube fix. But does forbidding this distraction actually increase productivity? In this paper, researchers find that the answer is no—and that delaying gratification actually has a negative impact on employee performance. Research was conducted by Alessandro Bucciol of the University of Verona and the University of Amsterdam, Daniel Houser of George Mason University, and Marco Piovesan, a research fellow at Harvard Business School. Read More

How Foundations Think: The Ford Foundation as a Dominating Institution in the Field of American Business Schools

What causes institutions to change? This paper adds organizational and exogenous perspective to existing theories by looking at the idea of "dominating institutions"—a class of formal organizations purposively designed to change other institutions. HBS professor Rakesh Khurana and colleagues look at the Ford Foundation and its work reshaping America's graduate schools of management between 1952 and 1965 through funding of "centers of excellence" at a number of schools, including Harvard Business School. Read More

New Dean Sets Five Priorities for HBS

Harvard Business School's new Dean Nitin Nohria outlines five priorities that will shape the agenda for the School during his tenure: curriculum innovation, intellectual ambition, internationalization, inclusion, and closer ties to the University. Read More

Matching Firms, Managers, and Incentives

Do different kinds of firm ownership drive the adoption of different managerial practices? HBS professor Raffaella Sadun and coauthors focus on the difference between the two most common ownership modes, family firms and firms that are widely held, namely that have no dominant owner. They find that the greater weight attached by family firms to benefits from control induces a conflict of interest between family-firm owners and high-ability, risk-tolerant managers. Read More

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

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

Initiating Divergent Organizational Change: The Enabling Role of Actors’ Social Position

Does social position influence the ability to launch groundbreaking organizational projects? This study investigates that question as well as whether workers' social position in their professional field affects their ability to begin such projects. Using data based on more than ninety clinical managers in the United Kingdom's National Health Service, Battilana studied initiatives such as the development of an alternative to hospitalization for older people and another that would shift role division by transferring decision-making power from physicians to nurses. Her results indicate that social position is an important condition at the heart of organizational change. Read More

Is There Too Little “Know Why” In Business?

There's know-how in business and then there's "know why." Purpose is a powerful motivator on many levels, says Jim Heskett. Can we aspire to a strong sense of "know why" even if our organization is not out to change the world? What do you think? Online forum now open. Closed for comment; 83 Comments posted.

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

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

Why CEOs Are Not Plug-and-Play

Company-specific skills may be valuable in a new job under the right conditions, say Harvard Business School's Boris Groysberg, Andrew N. McLean, and Nitin Nohria. They studied GE; here's an excerpt from Harvard Business Review. Read More

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

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

The Gulf: It’s a Family Affair

In a wide-ranging interview with HBS Working Knowledge, HBS professor John Davis discusses the state of family-business research—and the special challenges faced by families in the Gulf Region. Read More