Collaboration Across Borders
Martine Haas examined collaboration efforts across geographic borders and business disciplines at a large multinational firm, with a view to developing insight into when such efforts succeed or fail. The project focused on the challenges of achieving the promise of integrating ideas, know-how, and talent that resides in different parts of the company when employees had to work across organizational boundaries.
Emotional Culture in Organizations
Sigal Barsade studied how affective culture is a critical component in understanding organizational culture, and she examined how an affective culture of love and care can influence employee outcomes and the customers they serve.
Evan Rawley and Jason Snyder (2008) studied how physician relocation influences knowledge spillovers between liver transplant centers. The project builds on the learning-by-doing and knowledge spillovers literatures using procedure volume as a proxy for knowledge stock and physician relocation to capture knowledge flows across transplant centers. They anticipate that residents acquire knowledge when they learn cutting-edge life-saving techniques assisting senior physicians and then transfer this knowledge to other transplantation centers when they relocate to become attending physicians.
Leadership and Capabilities
Joydeep Chatterjee examined how senior leadership enables capability development, and its impact on firm performance, with a focus on the global software services industry.
In collaboration with INSEAD, Katherine Klein, Michael Useem, and doctoral students Andy Cohen and Alex Leeds organized a conference in June, 2008 to take stock of what we know about leadership from academic research and where that research should be going. The conference conceived of leadership research to include work in the areas of firm strategy, top management teams, corporate governance, company culture, and leader behaviors, characteristics, and relationships with followers. Though much of the work in these areas does not explicitly conceptualize these issues as questions of leadership, they have much to say about company leadership in that they all reference those whose views and decisions are decisive in shaping company direction, company strategy, and employee behavior.
Loneliness at the Top
Sigal Barsade studied the antecedents and consequences of loneliness at work. Is it really lonelier at the top, and if so, why?
Resilience and Failure
Alexander Leeds studied resilience and failure among inexperienced leaders.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
Mauro F. Guillén studied the rise of sovereign wealth funds, focusing on their causes, investments, and consequences.
Katherine Klein and Ph.D. student Alex Leeds examined how leadership-by-example functions in medical teams and teams in the services industries. They asked whether effective leader behavior remains effective when emulated wholesale by followers. In particular, they studied how leaders’ approaches, including expressions of enthusiasm and rational problem solving tactics, functioned once they had been widely adopted by other members of their teams.
Michael Useem and Neng Liang of the China Europe International Business School initiated a project on the transformation of governing boards of Chinese companies as they enter the global economy.
Emerging Multinationals from Emerging Markets
Jitendra Singh and Northeastern University faculty member Ravi Ramamurti organized a conference in mid-2007 on newly internationalizing firms. The central questions included: 1) In which industries have local firms emerged as multinational competitors, and why? Conversely, in which industries have firms tried to internationalize but failed? 2) How did the successful firms overcome the handicaps of being late internationalizers? 3) What types of competitive advantages do these firms enjoy, and why, i.e. how are those advantages shaped by the national and international context (economic, political, institutional, and social)? 4) How sustainable are their competitive advantages? Are the firms likely to be acquired by firms from developed countries or are they likely to remain independent players, and why? 5) Through what strategies have they built their international presence? Which countries have they targeted (rich, poor, or both), how rapidly have they internationalized, and what modes of entry have they used, and why? 6). How is rise of these multinationals changing competitive dynamics in their respective industries? How are firms from developed countries responding to the opportunities and challenges?
Indian Corporate Leadership, Governance, and Human Resource Management
Peter Cappelli, Harbir Singh, Jitendra Singh, and Michael Useem, with additional support from India’s National Human Resource Development Network, Wharton’s Mack Center for Technological Innovation, Wharton’s Center for Human Resources, and Wharton Executive Education, initiated a long-term research project on leadership, governance, and human resource management among large publicly-traded Indian companies.
Organizational Behavioral Conference
Jennifer Mueller and Nancy Rothbard organized the annual organizational behavior mini-conference, a forum for junior faculty to present thought-provoking new research on organizational behavior and change. A diverse group of scholars from top research institutions presented their work on topics such as identity, emotions, diversity, knowledge transfer, creativity, and team performance.
Strategic Change, Dynamic Capabilities of the Firm, and CEO Career Paths
Anuja Gupta and Sidney Winter studied CEO career patterns and the relationship of their careers to the degree of change in the industries in which the CEOs served.
Strategy and Leadership in China
Marshall Meyer examined Procter and Gamble’s entry into China, with a focus on how its leadership established connections, built a distribution system, and transferred practices from elsewhere in Asia. More recently he has been working on a survey of Chinese company leaders conducted by the China Entrepreneur Survey System.
Chris Maxwell interviewed ten world-class mountain guides to determine how they lead teams of less experienced climbers in challenging environments, and outlined the implications for business team leaders.
Intellectual Leadership in the Sciences and Social Sciences
Lori Rosenkopf and doctoral student Phin Upham investigated intellectual leadership in science and social science. They focused on a powerful form of intellectual leadership that resides in paradigms – or frameworks for looking at the world – that under-grid scientific and technical knowledge communities.
Leading Team Development and Performance
Katherine Klein and PhD student Andrew Knight studied the role of formal leaders in guiding team learning and team performance in short-term project teams. They used longitudinal data from team leaders and team members preparing to compete in a West Point military competition to understand how leaders shape team developmental trajectories and how team developmental trajectories relate to team performance.
National Governance Systems, Stakeholder Power, and Post-Acquisition Dynamics
Laurence Capron (INSEAD) and Mauro Guillen sought to assess the extent to which post-acquisition dynamics are driven by the power of organizational stakeholders. They examined whether downsizing of the target company, resource transfers from the acquirer, and enhanced performance of the target are more likely to occur when the new owners can exert more power than the old owners, and when the target’s employees are less powerful. They also examined whether experienced acquirers are able to overcome the likely resistance of powerful employees more easily. Using survey responses from 190 North American and European acquirers of as many as 253 targets located in 27 different countries, they obtained preliminary findings indicating stakeholder rights and experience do exert an effect on some post-acquisition dynamics and outcomes. They highlight the crucial role that power plays in the pursuit of value creation in the wake of corporate acquisitions, noting that both owners and employees have at their disposal tools to advance their interests.
New Institutions, Old Networks, and Increasing Turbulence: The Evolution of Corporate Governance in South America in the Age of Globalization
Gerald A. McDermott analyzed the evolution of corporate boards in South America, especially Argentina, in face of wholesale reforms of market liberalization and volatile growth from 1995 to 2005. The principle empirical questions guiding this research were twofold: 1) How do the forces of regulatory institutions, industry isomorphism, and social networks interact to re shape corporate boards? 2) What types of strategies do managers and investors use to maintain corporate control if the face of economic volatility and wholesale market liberalization? The research draws on a unique data set constructed of board membership and inter-locking ownership of the largest 130 firms in Argentina, and the data will be compared with similar data from Chile and Brazil.
Is Silence Golden? The Attributions of Silence and its Influence on Negotiations
A part of the role of a leader involves negotiations with both internal and external stake-holders. Sigal Barsade focused on a rarely studied part of this leadership role, the use and effectiveness of silence in the negotiation process. Silence has many functions, from a way to communicate affective and cognitive information to a mechanism for shaping interpersonal connections. In the context of negotiations, while negotiators resonate to the idea of using silence to great effect, there is almost no systematic empirical research that has been conducted about the attributions that are made about silence and the emotional, attitudinal, and behavioral outcomes of silence. For example, do people tend to perceive silence as a signal of disagreement or a time-out for thinking about different solutions — or both and more? Is silence beneficial or detrimental for the silent party? What are the boundary conditions, for example, differential power between the two negotiating parties, which determine the different meanings of silence? The research project aimed to both understand the varying attributions that can be made about silence; to develop scales measuring these attributions; and to examine the behavioral, attitudinal, and emotional outcomes of silence. She did so through a set of critical incident retrospective studies of workplace negotiations, as well as laboratory studies in which participants negotiate with each other in a way that the use of silence is intentionally created, observed and its effects on negotiation outcomes analyzed.
Strategy-Making in a Crisis
Sarah Kaplan and MIT Sloan School’s Rebecca Henderson and Wanda Orlikowski examined strategy-making in real time through the analysis of the private monthly letters a CEO wrote to his company’s board of directors during a major industry crisis. These letters contain both the CEO’s evolving assessment of the market as well as contemporary plans for responding to the situation. The analysis included in-depth discourse-based interviews with the CEO. These data provided a perspective on how a manager made sense of a changing environment and made choices about what strategic direction to take. This research contributed to the literature on understanding firm response to change and more specifically to an understanding of how managers’ specific choices and actions shape these responses.
Task Engagement, Positive and Negative Feedback, and Self Affirmations
Nancy Rothbard studied leadership feedback. An important part of a leader’s job is to give feedback – to immediate subordinates, and in some ways to the organization as a whole. Receiving positive or negative performance feedback from a supervisor, or cautionary advice or praise from co-workers is commonplace in organizations. Such feedback is considered to be an important motivational tool or pitfall that leaders face as they try to navigate the difficulties involved in effectively motivating employees to engage in their work. Feedback is a challenging management tool because it often invokes a person’s sense of self. Indeed, among other things, positive and negative feedback can serve to either affirm one’s self concept or threaten it. Yet, there is a dearth of research looking at how satisfying people’s need to affirm the self influences their subsequent performance and level of engagement in future tasks. Would negative feedback lead individuals to disengage from a subsequent task or would it lead them to compensate by becoming more engaged in that subsequent task? Likewise, would positive feedback be a springboard to increased engagement, leading people to be better performers on subsequent tasks, or would providing such positive self-affirmation serve as a soother, leading to contentedness and a lack of engagement and productivity in future tasks? This study sought to understanding the role of feedback as a springboard for increased engagement or a sop for further engagement as such it has important leadership implications. Because people have a hard time hearing negative feedback, leaders may be inclined to soften the message by providing affirmations to the employee regarding other unrelated aspects of their self concept. Ironically, such affirmations may undermine the motivational aspect of the negative feedback message. Similarly, giving unreservedly positive feedback may cause people to become less motivated and bask in their past good performance.
The Upside of Anger and Compassion
Jennifer Mueller and doctoral student Shimul Melwani examined how people reacted when viewing interviews of others. Past research has found that when those viewed express anger and pride, the viewers see them as having higher status. Conversely, when those viewed express guilt and sadness, the viewers see them as having lower standing. This study examined whether the attribution of higher or lower status stems from the viewers’ inference of competence – or other factors – from the emotions expressed by those interviewed. It also studied how much additional salary a viewer will give or deny a person expressing these various emotions.
When Disclosing Information Aids Your Network
Jennifer Mueller studied how adverse information affects network relations. Research suggests that disclosing negative information (e.g., admitting mistakes or asking for help) can have positive benefits for individual performance. However, a compelling amount of evidence underscores a pervasive perception held by employees in the workplace that the costs of disclosing negative information outweigh the benefits. This study explored when disclosing negative information might aid or hinder others’ perceptions of competence and likeability of a particular individual and the resulting network associations that ensue. It is anticipated that disclosure of negative information by individuals contributes to positive trait perceptions and higher number of ties when individual’s level of status is relatively similar or high. When an individual’s status is relatively low, disclosing negative information is expected to decreases perceptions of competence and overall liking, resulting in fewer network ties.
Corporate Governance and Cross-Border Acquisitions
Mauro F. Guillén and doctoral student William D. Schneper examined the predictors of company acquisitions across national borders from 1990 to 2003, including governance practices, cultural differences, investor protections, and international relations. They theorized, for example, that countries with stronger shareholder rights might seek to acquire firms from countries with weaker shareholder protection in an effort to improve the corporate governance and, thus, the financial and operational performance of the target organization. Their study carries implications for company leaders when evaluating the costs and benefits of cross-border acquisitions and related transactions.
Framing the Future
Sarah Kaplan studied with MIT’s Wanda Orlikowski how managers at a communications technology company interpreted changing technologies and market conditions, and how that affected their strategic response to technical change in the industry. They focused on a period of rapid change when the managers were faced with confusing data, competing technologies, unclear market needs, competitive threats and doubts about technological viability.
Personal Networks and Managerial Success
Emilio Castilla identified the personal experiences, career paths, and network contacts within a multinational company that produce higher job satisfaction, stronger commitment to the firm, greater work performance, faster advancement in the enterprise, and better leadership capacities. He focused on the impact of managers’ experiences and networks both within and outside the company, and compared their impact across three national settings where the firm operated.
Risk vs. Incentives
Julie Wulf evaluated the trade-offs between risk and incentives — since risk-averse managers require additional compensation to offset risk, it is more costly for firms operating in riskier environments to offer incentive pay to managers — among division managers. The study also examined the impact of measures of authority and monitoring costs, including physical proximity of divisions to headquarters and product proximity of divisions to the firm’s core business.
Total Leadership Experience
Stewart Friedman examined the impact of the immersion of managers and students in a “total leadership” program on their leadership identities, performance in a range of domains, and leadership capacities, including authenticity, integrity, and creativity.
Women Stepping-Out and Then Back into the Workforce
Monica McGrath, Marla Driscoll (independent consultant), and Mary Gross (Director, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, Head of Learning & Development) studied the challenges faced by professional women who “stepped out” of their careers for a period of time and then returned to the workforce, or attempted to do so. They also examined actions that companies, academic institutions, and individuals take to facilitate such re-integration into the workforce.
Alliance Formation Through Inter-Firm Networks
Lori Rosenkopf investigated the relative role that top executives and mid-level managers played in the formation of alliances among firms in the cellular industry.
Martin J. Conyon and Mark Muldoon studied the centrality and structural influence of corporate boards of directors in the U.S. and U.K. by drawing upon an algorithm developed by a web search engine. The centrality of a board within the network of company directors facilitates the diffusion of information, rumors, and innovation among companies — and may be correlated with superior governance and leadership.
Leader Emotion and Follower Motivation
Nancy Rothbard and Sigal Barsade examined the question of whether positive or negative emotions of a leader are more effective in motivating team performance. What happens when a leader displays irritation and anger, or, conversely, offers praise and encouragement? Prior research shows that when individuals experience positive emotions in the workplace, they become more creative, cooperative, and engaged. Yet other research shows that performance can sometimes also be improved when they experience controlled anger from above. Both emotional styles may work for leaders, and to understand why and how, the researchers studied a set of teams whose leaders employed both styles.
Board Structure Across Countries
Mauro F. Guillén and doctoral student William Schneper investigated the determinants of national variations in governing board size, fraction of board seats held by outsiders, and separation of the roles of chief executive and board chair. Among the determinants examined were national differences in the primary functions of the board and the relative power of investors, executives, labor, and the public.
John Paul MacDuffie, Daniel Raff, Jitendra Singh, and several MBA students conducted case studies of three organizations that are undergoing exemplary change and restructuring initiatives.
Continuous Organizational Change
Karen Jehn and Ph.D. student Alex Michel examined the process of organizational change in an international software firm, focusing on employee cognitions and their impact on a firm’s ability to engage in continuous change.
Employees on Boards
Chip Hunter and doctoral student David Hess examined the conditions under which union- and employee-nominated directors are effective in representing the interests of their constituencies, or, conversely, the interests of investors – or both.
Stephanie Wilk worked with several undergraduates and a doctoral student to investigate changes in the career opportunities facing executives and their mobility among jobs and companies in the U.S. and Europe.
Constance Helfat and several students identified whether external CEO successors are more successful than internal successors, and which of their background experiences make for the difference.
Robert House investigated which leadership capabilities are universally emphasized across industries and cultures, and which are relatively unique to specific sectors and countries.
Governance of Public Pension Funds
Michael Useem and Ph.D. student David Hess studied the governance of public pension funds and the impact of governance on their financial performance.
Mauro F. Guillén and Ph.D. student William Schneper examined the effects of regulative, normative, and cognitive institutions on the frequency of hostile takeovers in 59 countries over an eleven year time period.
International Strategies of e-Commerce v. Bricks & Mortar Companies
Jeffrey H. Dyer examined the international strategies – including the international experience of the head of international operations – of e-commerce firms and their “clicks and mortar” competitors to identify the factors, including leadership, most predictive of international success.
Lateral Leadership in Outsourcing Organizations
Joseph Harder and Michael Useem analyzed the changes in leadership styles in the wake of company decisions to outsource significant components of their operations.
Leadership and Boards Across Countries
Mauro F. Guillén and Ph.D. student William Schneper examined the impact of equity shareholder concentration, the level of labor force unionization, whether various stakeholder groups have gained major political party representation, commercial banking concentration, and the extent to which a national culture upholds individualistic versus communitarian values on 1) corporate leadership, specifically executive turnover rates and their functional and educational backgrounds, and 2) board structure, specifically stakeholder representation on boards of directors and average board tenure.
Leading Team Conflict
Karen Jehn and Anne Cummings evaluated the role of team leadership in the constructive use of conflict for creativity and change.
Michael Useem prepared a book on how managers can effectively lead their boss, board, and investors when leadership is not coming from above.
Leadership Challenges in Higher Education
John Kimberly and doctoral student Elizabeth Craig evaluated the challenges that top college and university administrators are facing and the implications for the skills they will need for leadership and change.
Documentary producer David Stone developed a possible five-part television series on the leadership lessons for business from the Wharton Leadership Ventures, including a program with the U.S. Marine Corps, trek to Mt. Everest, and walk of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg.
Organizational Leaders Become Inter-Organizational Leaders
Mauro F. Guillén and Ph.D. student William Schneper studied predictors of when and with whom general managers in Major League Baseball trade players with other teams. They anticipated that the general managers’ career, contacts, and image affected their trading: those with good communication networks and reputations for trustworthiness were more likely to become preferred trading partners.
Physical Health and Total Leadership
Stewart Friedman worked with Debbie Hufnagel to create teaching materials for fostering better health through physical activity and proper nutrition as part of one’s “total leadership.”
Research on Organizational Behavior
Nancy Rothbard organized the annual Wharton “OB Mini-Conference” for young scholars to present their research on organizational change and a range of related issues.
Gabriel Szulanski and a group of MBA students developed a depth study of one company’s leadership, staffing, and timing in the renewal of its strategic planning and strategy making.