First Look

October 17, 2017

Of special interest among new research papers, case studies, articles, and books released this week by Harvard Business School faculty:

Beware the lasting impression of a temporary selfie

On some social media platforms, one’s selfies are viewable only temporarily before disappearing forever into the internet ether. But they do live on in the memory of a boss or co-worker, which may be unfortunate for the person who thinks impermanence is a license for craziness. “As a result, induced by the promise of temporary sharing, sharers of uninhibited selfies come across as having worse judgment relative to those who share relatively discreet selfies…,” write authors Reto Hofstetter, Roland Rueppell, and Leslie John. Temporary Sharing Prompts Unrestrained Disclosures That Leave Lasting Negative Impressions.

Competing against Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto film festivals

The Dubai International Film Festival has pursued years of innovative programs to compete against top-name film fests, but now organizer Abdulhamid Juma is at a crossroads. “Could he continue to follow the historical strategy, or was it time to consider a change in order to take it the next level? What would be the best strategy for ensuring DIFF’s survival for many years to come?” ask case writers Rohit Deshpandé and Alpana Thapar. The Dubai International Film Festival.

Should a leading game developer sell out?

King Digital Entertainment’s “Candy Crush Saga” made it a leading game developer for mobile devices—and thus a prime acquisition candidate. A recent case study looks at decisions facing CEO Riccardo Zacconi as he considers a $6 billion buyout bid from Activision Blizzard, and the clock is ticking. The case was written by Jeffrey Rayport, Davide Sola, Federica Gabrieli, and Elena Corsi. King Digital Entertainment.

A complete list of new research and publications from Harvard Business School faculty follows.

— Sean Silverthorne
  • 2017
  • Boston: Harvard Business Review Press

Entering StartUpLand: An Essential Guide to Finding the Right Job

By: Bussgang, Jeffrey J.

Abstract—Many professionals aspire to work for startups. Executives from large companies view them as models to help them adapt to today's dynamic innovation economy, while freshly minted MBAs see magic in founding something new. Yes, startups look magical, but they can also be chaotic and inaccessible. Many books are written for those who aspire to be founders, but a company only has one or two of those. What's needed is something that deconstructs the typical startup organization for the thousands of employees who join a fledgling company and do the day-to-day work required to grow it into something of value. Entering StartUpLand is a practical, step-by-step guide that provides an insider's analysis of various startup roles and responsibilities—including product management, marketing, growth, and sales—to help you figure out if you want to join a startup and what to expect if you do. You'll gain insight into how successful startups operate and learn to assess which ones you might want to join—or emulate. Inside this book you'll find 1) a tour of typical startup roles to help you determine which one might be the best fit for you, 2) profiles of startup executives across many different functions who share their stories and describe their responsibilities, and 3) a methodology to identify and evaluate startups and position yourself to find the opportunity that's right for you. Entering StartUpLand will guide you as you seek your ideal entry point into this popular, cutting-edge organizational paradigm.

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  • 2017
  • Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Platforms

Platforms, Open/User Innovation, and Ecosystems: A Strategic Leadership Perspective

By: Altman, Elizabeth J., and Michael Tushman

Abstract—Platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies embrace and enable interactions with external entities. Firms pursuing these approaches conduct business and interact with environments differently than those pursuing traditional closed strategies. This chapter considers these strategies together highlighting similarities and differences between platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies. We focus on managerial and organizational challenges for organizations pursuing these strategies and identify four institutional logic shifts associated with these strategic transitions: (1) increasing external focus, (2) moving to greater openness, (3) focusing on enabling interactions, and (4) adopting interaction-centric metrics. As mature incumbent organizations adopt these strategies, there may be tensions and multiple conflicting institutional logics. Additionally, we consider four strategic leadership topics and how they relate to platform, open/user innovation, and ecosystem strategies: (1) executive orientation and experience, (2) top management teams, (3) board-management relations, and (4) executive compensation. We discuss theoretical implications, and consider future directions and research opportunities.

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  • 2017
  • The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism

On Hybrids and Hybrid Organizing: A Review and Roadmap for Future Research

By: Battilana, Julie, Marya Besharov, and Bjoern Mitzinneck

Abstract—The purpose of this chapter is to advance research on hybrids by bringing together work from these multiple perspectives; identifying common themes in the antecedents, challenges, opportunities, and management strategies associated with hybridity and highlighting critical directions for future research.

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  • September 18, 2017
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review

Should You Agitate, Innovate, or Orchestrate?

By: Battilana, Julie, and Marissa Kimsey

Abstract—The article provides a framework for understanding the roles that individuals and organizations can play in a movement for social change.

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  • forthcoming
  • Operations Research

Data Uncertainty in Markov Chains: Application to Cost-Effectiveness Analyses of Medical Innovations

By: Goh, Joel, Mohsen Bayati, Stefanos A. Zenios, Sundeep Singh, and David Moore

Abstract—Cost-effectiveness studies of medical innovations often suffer from data inadequacy. When Markov chains are used as a modeling framework for such studies, this data inadequacy can manifest itself as imprecision in the elements of the transition matrix. In this paper, we study how to compute maximal and minimal values for the discounted value of the chain (with respect to a vector of state-wise costs or rewards) as these uncertain transition parameters jointly vary within a given uncertainty set. We show that these problems are computationally tractable if the uncertainty set has a row-wise structure. Conversely, we prove that the row-wise structure is necessary for tractability. Without it, the problems become computationally intractable (strongly NP-hard). We apply our model to assess the cost effectiveness of fecal immunochemical testing (FIT), a new screening method for colorectal cancer. Our results show that despite the large uncertainty in FIT's performance, it could be cost-effective relative to the prevailing screening method of colonoscopy.

Publisher's link:

  • forthcoming
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Temporary Sharing Prompts Unrestrained Disclosures That Leave Lasting Negative Impressions

By: Hofstetter, Reto, Roland Rueppell, and Leslie John

Abstract—With the advent of social media, the impressions people make on others are based increasingly on their digital disclosures. Yet digital disclosures can come back to haunt, making it challenging for people to manage the impressions they make. In field and online experiments in which participants take, share, and evaluate “selfies” (self-photos), we show that paradoxically, these challenges can be exacerbated by temporary sharing media—technologies that prevent content from being stored permanently. Relative to permanent sharing, temporary sharing affects both whether and what people reveal. Specifically, temporary sharing increases compliance with the request to take a selfie (study 1) and induces greater disclosure risks (i.e., people exhibit greater disinhibition in their selfies, studies 1 & 2). This increased disclosure is driven by reduced privacy concerns (study 2). Yet observers’ impressions of sharers are insensitive to permanence (i.e., whether the selfie was shared temporarily versus permanently) and are instead driven by the disinhibition exhibited in the selfie (studies 4–7). As a result, induced by the promise of temporary sharing, sharers of uninhibited selfies come across as having worse judgment relative to those who share relatively discreet selfies (studies 1, 2, & 4–7)—an attributional pattern that is unanticipated by sharers (study 3), persistent days after the selfie has disappeared (study 5), robust to personal experience with temporary sharing (studies 6A & 6B), and holds even among friends (studies 7A & 7B). Temporary sharing may bring back forgetting, but not without introducing new (self-presentational) challenges.

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  • September 25, 2017
  • JAMA Internal Medicine

The Business Case for Investing in Physician Well-Being

By: Shanafelt, Tait D., Joel Goh, and Christine A. Sinsky

Abstract—Importance: Widespread burnout among physicians has been recognized for more than two decades. Extensive evidence indicates that physician burnout has important personal and professional consequences. Observations: A lack of awareness regarding the economic costs of physician burnout and uncertainty regarding what organizations can do to address the problem have been barriers to many organizations taking action. Although there is a strong moral and ethical case for organizations to address physician burnout, financial principles (e.g., return on investment) can also be applied to determine the economic cost of burnout and guide appropriate investment to address the problem. The business case to address physician burnout is multifaceted and includes costs associated with turnover, lost revenue associated with decreased productivity, as well as financial risk and threats to the organization’s long-term viability due to the relationship between burnout and lower quality of care, decreased patient satisfaction, and problems with patient safety. Nearly all U.S. health care organizations have used similar evidence to justify their investments in safety and quality. Herein, we provide conservative formulas based on readily available organizational characteristics to determine the financial return on organizational investments to reduce physician burnout. A model outlining the steps of the typical organization’s journey to address this issue is presented. Critical ingredients to making progress include prioritization by leadership, physician involvement, organizational science/learning, metrics, structured interventions, open communication, and promoting culture change at the work unit, leader, and organization level. Conclusions and Relevance: Understanding the business case to reduce burnout and promote engagement as well as overcoming the misperception that nothing meaningful can be done are key steps for organizations to begin to take action. Evidence suggests that improvement is possible, investment is justified, and return on investment measurable. Addressing this issue is not only the organization’s ethical responsibility, it is also the fiscally responsible one.

Publisher's link:

  • November–December 2017
  • Research-Technology Management

Innovation Streams and Executive Leadership

By: Tushman, Michael

Abstract—Incumbent firms face steep challenges in dealing with technological change and associated innovation streams. The firm's senior leadership team, and especially R&D leadership, plays a central role in shaping a firm's ability to both exploit existing capabilities and explore new technological domains.

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Abstract—We examine whether centralized hiring (in this study, by the head office of a U.S. retail chain) or decentralized hiring (by store managers) leads to higher quality employee-company matches. While centralized hiring can ensure that enough resources are invested in consistently hiring people aligned with company values, it can also neglect unit managers’ knowledge about which individuals would best match local conditions. We use difference-in-differences analyses to examine the effects of a switch from decentralized to centralized hiring at our research site. We find that, on average, centralized hiring does not increase the quality of employee-company matches, except when store managers are overly busy. Yet, we find that centralized hiring is associated with higher employee departure rates in stores where the manager is likely to be more informed than headquarters (stores that serve repeat customers or customers with atypical demographic characteristics relative to customers typically served by the chain).

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Abstract—Many service organizations rely on information sharing systems to boost employee creativity to meet customer needs. We conducted a field experiment in a retail chain, based on a registered report accepted by JAR to test whether an information sharing system recording employees’ creative work affected the quality of creative work, job engagement, and financial performance. We found that, on average, this system did not have a significant effect on any outcomes. However, it significantly improved the quality of creative work in stores that had accessed the system more frequently and in stores with fewer same-company nearby stores. It also improved creative work and job engagement in stores in divergent markets, where customers needed more customization. We found weak evidence of better financial results where salespeople had lower creative talent before the system was introduced. Our findings shed light on those conditions in which information sharing systems affect employees’ creative work.

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Digital Agility: The Impact of Software Portfolio Architecture on IT System Evolution

By: MacCormack, Alan, Robert Lagerström, Martin Mocker, and Carliss Y. Baldwin

Abstract—The modern industrial firm increasingly relies on software to support its competitive position. However, the uncertain and dynamic nature of today’s global marketplace dictates that this software be continually evolved and adapted to meet new business challenges. This ability—to rapidly update, improve, remove, replace, and reimagine the software applications that underpin a firm’s competitive position—is at the heart of what has been called IT agility. Unfortunately, we have little understanding of the antecedents of IT agility, specifically with respect to the choices that a firm makes when designing its portfolio of software applications. In this paper, we explore the relationship between software portfolio architecture and IT agility. In particular, we use modular systems theory to examine how different types of coupling impact the ability to maintain, retire, and commission new software applications. We test our hypotheses with a unique longitudinal dataset from a large financial services firm. Our sample comprises information on over 2,000 software applications observed over a four-year period. We find that applications with higher levels of coupling cost more to maintain, are less likely to be retired, and are less likely to be commissioned. However, we show specific types of coupling present greater challenges than others in terms of their impact. In particular, applications that are cyclically coupled (i.e., mutually interdependent) are the most difficult to manage in terms of maintaining and updating the software portfolio. Our results suggest that IT managers have a critical design role to play in firms that seek enhanced digital agility.

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Abstract—We study how local U.S. newspapers respond to entry by TV broadcast stations in 1945–1963. We find that newspaper firms’ responses depend on their customers’ tendencies to multi-home (adopt both newspaper and TV) or single-home (adopt only newspaper or only TV). We also find that their prior experience responding to entry by radio stations improves their capability to respond to entry by TV stations. Our research builds on and extends literatures on platforms and learning-by-doing and offers practical implications for managers in two-sided market settings.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 817-084

Guillermo Jaime—An Endeavor Entrepreneur

Guillermo Jaime was the founder and CEO of Mejoramiento Integral Asistido (MIA), a for-profit company providing affordable housing to low-income Mexicans living at the base of the pyramid (BOP). This case tells the story of Jaime and Endeavor, a nonprofit dedicated to leading the high impact entrepreneurship movement as a tool for economic development in countries around the world. In 2010, Jaime was named an Endeavor Entrepreneur. This case can accompany HBS Case No. 817-073, “MIA: Profit at the Base of the Pyramid.”

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  • Harvard Business School Case 517-110

The Dubai International Film Festival

This case follows the conception and emergence of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). In an already crowded and highly competitive industry, Abdulhamid Juma was attempting to define and establish a unique brand positioning for DIFF. Committed to its vision, Juma led the introduction of various initiatives over the years and was able to effectively grow the festival’s profile amid emerging regional and well-established global players like the Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto film festivals. By the end of 2016, Juma found himself at a crossroads. Could he continue to follow the historical strategy, or was it time to consider a change in order to take it the next level? What would be the best strategy for ensuring DIFF’s survival for many years to come?

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  • Harvard Business School Case 417-091

Maggie Wilderotter: The Evolution of an Executive

In a career that spanned over 30 years, Maggie Wilderotter served as CEO of two publicly traded companies and served on 32 corporate and 9 association and nonprofit boards of directors. As CEO of Frontier Communications, a U.S. telecom company with over $25 billion in assets, Wilderotter executed three major acquisitions, transforming the company’s business mix and more than doubling its size. This case explores Wilderotter’s career, examining the personal characteristics that made her such a successful executive and board member. The case also looks at the turning points in Wilderotter’s career, including the decisions she made and the way in which she built her skills.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 817-117

King Digital Entertainment

Riccardo Zacconi was the co-founder and CEO of King Digital Entertainment, the video game company that had quickly established itself as the world’s leading maker of casual games for mobile devices after the sensational success of its game “Candy Crush Saga.” Zacconi had only a few days left to decide what to reply to Activision Blizzard, one of the largest video game publishers in the world, which had offered to acquire King for almost $6 billion. King had already managed to successfully adapt to disruptive technological changes in the course of its history. Could it continue to go solo? Or would an acquisition by a complementary video game maker like Activision be the best choice for King to continue to thrive? The clock was ticking, but Zacconi knew that whatever the final decision, it had to satisfy one condition: Player was King.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 717-017

Blue Sky: Investing in Water

No abstract available.

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