Learning Effective Business Communication Through LeBron James’s Career

[We’re pleased to welcome author Alperen Manisaligil of Case Western Reserve University, who recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Taking Your Talents to Business Communications: Analyzing Effective Communication Through LeBron James’s Career Moves,” co-authored by Diana Bilimoria. Below Manisaligil explains the inspiration for the research, and surprising conclusions. From Manisaligil:]

3408889046_b3188df44e_z.jpgI came to Cleveland in 2011 from Turkey to pursue my PhD in Organizational Behavior at Case Western Reserve University, and I observed how sorry most of the Clevelanders were because LeBron James left the Cavs for the Miami Heat and how happy and hopeful most of Clevelanders (including myself) felt after LeBron’s return in the Summer of 2014. In the Fall of 2014, I was asked to prepare and teach a required undergraduate class that covered business communications and all functional areas of business (accounting, finance, human resources management, management information systems, marketing, and operations management). The first class was on August 26, 2014, the summer LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavs).

One of the first principles of effective business communication is to draw the attention of your audience at the beginning of the communication. I wanted to come up with an interesting activity so that I can demonstrate what I teach at the very start. I thought I could transform the communication of LeBron James and the Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert during LeBron’s career moves into an engaging in-class activity by using their publicly available videos and open letters. When I took the idea to one of my teaching mentors, Diana Bilimoria, she thought it was a brilliant idea and that I could even turn this activity into a publication (she later become the co-author of the article).

With the goal of publishing the activity for the benefit of other management educators, I prepared a case study and enriched the activity with media richness and channel expansion theories. I wanted to add academic depth to an event that everybody was talking about and take the conversation to a whole new level, focusing on what we all could learn from it. I designed and taught the activity for the first time, and it was well received by my students—I was even nominated for a university-wide as well as a school-wide teaching award at the end of the semester for teaching the course. Then, we wanted to see test potential modifications for this activity and Dr. Bilimoria used the activity in her elective graduate course on leadership, emphasizing LeBron’s growth as a leader most particularly.

What surprised me about the findings is that gender and nationality did not impact students’ learning from the activity, and students from different backgrounds were similarly engaged during the activity. Maybe we owed it to the fact that we taught the activity in a university in Cleveland, so I would be curious to learn management educators’ experiences using this activity in other geographical locations.

Media choices are increasing rapidly, adding new challenges for managers as they complete business communication tasks. I hope with the help of this activity, we can help practitioners make better-informed decisions in choosing the most appropriate medium to communicate and enrich their use of the chosen medium.

I and my co-author received excellent guidance from the action editor Jen Leigh, as well as two anonymous reviewers. I’m also thankful to Rachel Messina King, Phil Thompson, and Stacey Chung for their comments to earlier drafts.

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest research? Sign up for email alerts here.

LeBron James photo attributed to: Keith Allison (CC)

War, Exploration, and Interference: The Rise of Amateur Broadcasters

[The following post is re-blogged from Organizational Musings. Click here to view the original article. It is a commentary based on a recently published article in Administrative Science Quarterly entitled “Labor of Love: Amateurs and Lay-expertise Legitimation in the Early U.S. Radio Field,” co-authored by Grégoire Croidieu and Phillip H. Kim.  From Henrich Greve via Organizational Musings:] 

 

In daily life we know that professionals rule the roost. Anything remotely important is done by a profession with restricted access to practice and many rules for practitioners — or it is done illegitimately. Did you undergo medical treatment last time you were ill, or did you see a homeopath? Many activities that seem easier and safer also take on profession-like features. Espresso making is done by a high-pressure machine, but there is still a barista profession with formal training and certification. Researchers also have been interested in professions, especially because their effects range from regulating the safety and quality of important service (again, think doctors) to restricting access to work in a way that looks like a power grab (pick your favorite example).

So is there room for non-professionals to get things done? Gregoire Croidieu and Phillip Kim answer that question in a recent article in Administrative Science Quarterly, looking at the key role of amateurs in the development of radio broadcasting in the US. They show that amateurs can get a significant role if the right conditions are in place, even as professionals, companies, and the state seek to push them to the margins. How? Well, that’s where the war, polar exploration, and interference come in.

Let’s start with interference. Technically that is what happens when radio transmitters are near each other in signal spectrum and physical space, and distort each other’s transmissions. It was a major reason that many sought to limit access to the airwaves of amateurs, especially those building their own transmitters and behaving independently from the profession. Socially the limitation of access was also a form of interference – trying to make it hard to be an amateur. But radio amateurs were enthusiastically building up their lay expertise and using it, legally or not. Except for the WWI years, they could be given access as registered radio operators.

That brings us to the war. WWI was when radio amateurs were blocked from the airwaves, with security given as the reason, but it did not mean that they stopped broadcasting. They signed up for military service instead, and fully half of the military radio operators were originally amateurs. This was when the state recognized the value of the lay experts, and took advantage of their skills. After the war, they were supposed to return to their old status as marginal actors, more than before (rising to 20,000 in 1922), but still regulated and limited. Professional radio operators still campaigned against amateurs, seeing them as having little value.

This is where the polar explorations come into play. The amateurs were many, highly skilled, and willing to experiment, and they soon registered a series of technical accomplishments – including shortwave communications with the North Pole, which had been thought impossible. The amateurs, through their lay expertise, became leaders in radio. This role soon turned into the start of radio as an industry and as lay culture, because the establishment of radio stations for communicating to many – instead of point-to-point – happened in parallel. Radio ownership and interest in radio listening rose also, and the radio broadcasting industry eventually grew to as many radio stations as there were licensed radio operators in 1921.

War, exploration, and interference were three of the elements that brought amateurs to the forefront of radio, against the resistance of professionals, companies, and the state. Clearly it was not an easy process, and it took a lot of interest to gather the necessary momentum. Does this show that amateurs have a clear role in society, or that they can overcome the odds under special circumstances? We clearly need to learn more about this so we can understand when activities become professionalized, and when they are open to amateurs.

Click here to follow Administrative Science Quarterly on Twitter.

Why some Boomers are Feeling Forced to Retire

[We’re pleased to welcome Matthew S. Rutledge, a Research Economist at the Center for Retirement Research, Boston College. Rutledge recently published an article in the ILR Review entitled “How do Financial Resources Affect the Timing of Retirement after a Job Separation?” From Rutledge:]6355844351_9ac538c7e6_z.jpg

This paper came out of an effort to grasp the plight of older workers in the Great Recession (as part of a grant funded by the Social Security Administration).  Older workers really faced a much different labor market in 2008-2011 than they had even in other recessions – the decline of long-tenured jobs and the move away from structures like defined benefit pensions that encouraged workers and employers to stay together for a long time helped make these workers much more vulnerable than they ever had been.  Their unemployment rate soared to unprecedented heights.  Remember that the unemployment rate only includes workers who are actively looking for a job, and part of the reason that it never got that high for older workers in the past is that they would bail on the labor market when times got tough.  This time, though, we were seeing them holding out hope for a new job, which made the unemployment rate skyrocket.  So I, along with my colleagues at the Center for Retirement Research, were looking to understand what factors would encourage them to keep looking, and what factors would enable them to stop looking and just retire.

Basically, this paper finds that all of the resources that could help sustain a long job search – pension wealth, Social Security (which doesn’t imply retirement), other financial wealth – instead were more likely to enable faster retirement, and the people that held out simply lacked these resources (or were still receiving unemployment benefits, which essentially requires them to keep looking).  This result isn’t all that surprising; once workers reach their 50s, it’s much easier to retire than try to find a job, especially when previous studies emphasize that older workers have much more trouble finding a new job for a variety of reasons.  What *was* surprising was that this decision has little to do with labor market conditions.  I expected that when the unemployment rate was high, people would leave the labor force sooner, especially if they had these resources.  But that was never the case, no matter how I cut the data; in some cases, it actually went the other way – a higher unemployment rate was associated with *slower* retirement, and I don’t have a good story for why that would occur (but it only seems to happen with some cuts of the data, so it might just be statistical noise).

I hope this paper helps us understand a bit more what motivates jobless older individuals to keep looking for work, and come to grips with how disheartening the experience of losing your job just before retirement can be.  I worry that with Social Security and pension wealth both helping people less due to financial concerns, and with a stagnant labor market for many workers, that job searches are only going to get longer – not because people are hopeful of recovering, but because their finances give them no choice.

Did you enjoy the reading? Sign up for email alerts here so you never miss the newest research from ILR Review.
Retirement photo attributed to 401kcalculator.org. (CC)

Do the Changing Characteristics of Jobs Impact Job Satisfaction?

15400504982_0b3fa842d1_zThe characteristics of jobs have evolved over the last handful of decades, but has the change in the nature of work impacted employee job satisfaction? A recent article published in Journal of Management, entitled “Placing Characteristics in Context: Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of Changes in Job Characteristics Since 1975,” seeks to answer this question. Authors Lauren A. Wegman, Brian J. Hoffman, Nathan T. Carter, Jean M. Twenge, and Nigel Guenole studied changes in task identity, task significance, skill variety, autonomy, and feedback from the job to begin looking into the matter. The abstract for the paper:

Despite frequent references to “the changing nature of work,” little empirical research has investigated proposed changes in work context perceptions. To address this gap, this study uses a cross-temporal meta-analysis to examine changes in five core job characteristics (e.g., task identity, task significance, skill variety, autonomy, Current Issue Coverand feedback from the job) as well as changes in the relationship between job characteristics and job satisfaction. An additional analysis of primary data is used to examine changes in two items related to interdependence. On average, workers perceived greater levels of skill variety and autonomy since 1975 and interdependence since 1985. In contrast, the results of a supplemental meta-analysis did not support significant changes in the association between the five core job characteristics and satisfaction over time. Thus, although there is some evidence for change in job characteristics, the findings do not support a change in the value placed on enriched work. Implications for researchers and organizations navigating the modern world of work are highlighted.

You can read “Placing Characteristics in Context: Cross-Temporal Meta-Analysis of Changes in Job Characteristics Since 1975” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research from Journal of ManagementClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Working image attributed to Boris Baldinger (CC)

Indian Entrepreneurship and Its Varied Manifestations: A Historical Perspective

5003583610_0eb2f34028_zStories have always captured the imagination of man. Be it timeless epics, like the Mahabharata and Ramayana, or more recent books, like JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Steve Jobs’ biography, well-told stories have the ability to capture their audience’s imagination. And while fictional stories engage readers’ imaginations, true stories can inspire readers to act. As a result, looking back at true stories and history specifically relevant to entrepreneurship can be a valuable perspective to take in the study of entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, the historical lens has been has been neglected in the past.

A recent article from Journal of Entrepreneurship entitled, “Indian Entrepreneurship through a Historical Lens: A Dialogue with Dwijendra Tripathi ,”  highlights themes of relevance to the study  of Indian entrepreneurship. The author of the article Raj K Shankar has identified five themes from a review of academic literature. The five themes are: business history and entrepreneurship, context and entrepreneurship, caste and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in emerging economies, and entrepreneurship research using historical methods. The author argues that research in these areas can benefit immensely when looked at through a historical lens. The article also includes views from a dialogue with noted business historian, Dwijendra Tripathi, which help bolster the arguments.

Current Issue CoverWith growing entrepreneurial accomplishments, India has gained the notice of many nations and companies around the world as a country with high entrepreneurial potential. As a result, it is important to understand and catalyze entrepreneurship, not only as a discipline of academic curiosity, but also as a field of pragmatic importance.

The abstract for the paper:

History arguably is most suited to inform entrepreneurship and its varied manifestations. It is equally well placed to address entrepreneurship’s primary challenge—longitudinal work in context. Despite repeated calls for this, it has remained a plea. Extant literature review provided five themes, which researchers can use to begin to look at entrepreneurship through a historical lens. These are: business history and entrepreneurship, context and entrepreneurship, caste and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in emerging economies and entrepreneurship research using historical methods. A dialogue with India’s pre-eminent business historian Dwijendra Tripathi adds perspective to the considerable potential these themes present for entrepreneurship research through a historical lens. Indian entrepreneurship provides context to this perspective and reinforces this need. Furthermore, the five themes provide research gateways for scholars in both business history and entrepreneurship.

Click here to read Indian Entrepreneurship through a Historical Lens: A Dialogue with Dwijendra Tripathi free for the next two weeks from the Journal of Entrepreneurship.

Make sure to sign up for e-alerts and be notified of all the latest research from Journal of Entrepreneurship.

*Meeting image attributed to Michael Cannon (CC)

 

The Trajectory of Success in Hollywood: The Roller Coaster Careers of Film Directors

Hollywood Sign[We’re pleased to welcome Babis Mainemelis of The American College of Greece. Dr. Mainemelis recently published an article in Journal of Management Inquiry, entitled “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014” with co-authors Sevasti-Melissa Nolas of University of Sussex and Stavroula Tsirogianni of Canterbury Christ Church University.]

For the general public, individuals like Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Peter Bogdanovich, Francis Ford Coppola, Milos Forman, Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols, Alan Parker, Roman Polanski, Sydney Pollack, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg are among the most successful directors of Hollywood. In this paper we present the results of a biographical study which suggests that these filmmakers are not only successful, not only directors, and not only Hollywood. Despite the great variability in their stories, throughout their careers they all experienced iterative cycles of success
and failure, be it in critical acclaim and/or at the box office; they all enacted various roles other than of the director; and they all worked in contexts and media other than Hollywood and feature films.

We found that many of those transitions were JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointrecursive, rather than linear, which suggests that directorial careers are not fixed in any single organization, short-term project, professional role, or medium. We also found that mobility to other professional roles or/and media is linked to and has implications for maintaining career alternatives; acquiring insider domain knowledge; calibrating social networks; renewing one’s creative energy; and protecting one’s creative freedom; without any of these drivers alone reliably increasing chances of success.

While past research has focused sharply on success as a career outcome, our paper offers a more balanced perspective and conceptualizes success and failure not as endings but as beginnings, as critical moments that influence the unfolding of boundaryless careers. An Oscar-winning blockbuster or a financial flop denigrated by the critics can exert such a great influence on careers that we may as well conceptualize success and failure as boundaries that mark the evolution of careers. While in the extant literature the dominant metaphors of boundaryless careers are those of “paths,” “ladders,” “trajectories,” and “plateaus,” our findings suggest a new metaphor: the roller coaster.

We believe that the findings of our study and the questions that we discuss above would potentially be interesting for researchers working in the fields of boundaryless careers and creative industries, but also for film students as well as industry practitioners struggling to make their way to film industry.

The abstract:

Previous research has examined how mobility and career competencies influence success in boundaryless careers. In this study, we flip the direction of those relationships and we explore how the interplay between success and failure relates to subsequent mobility, career competencies, and career evolution through the life span. Using a biographical design, we conceptualize success and failure as critical moments that influence the unfolding of the boundaryless careers of Oscar-nominated film directors. While the dominant metaphors of boundaryless careers are those of “paths,” “ladders,” “trajectories,” and “plateaus,” our findings suggest a new metaphor: the roller coaster.

You can read “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014” from Journal of Management Inquiry free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Pushing the Boundaries: Studying the Boundaryless Creative Careers of Film Directors

Oscars Awards

Creative careers can differ quite a bit from the average 9-to-5 desk job, but only some go so far as to defy boundaries in the way that boundaryless careers do. Individuals in boundaryless careers enjoy organizational mobility, geographical mobility, occupational mobility, the ability to work outside of organizational boundaries based on preference, and the ability to reject career opportunities for personal reasons. But how do these factors impact the path of a boundaryless career? In their article, “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014,” published in Journal of Management Inquiry, authors Charalampos Mainemelis of The American College of Greece, Sevasti-Melissa Nolas of University of Sussex, and Stavroula Tsirogianni of Canterbury Christ Church University studied the success and failures of Oscar-nominated film directors over their careers to determine how a boundaryless career might look in comparison with traditional office jobs.

The abstract from their paper:

Previous research has examined how mobility and career competencies influence JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointsuccess in boundaryless careers. In this study, we flip the direction of those relationships and we explore how the interplay between success and failure relates to subsequent mobility, career competencies, and career evolution through the life span. Using a biographical design, we conceptualize success and failure as critical moments that influence the unfolding of the boundaryless careers of Oscar-nominated film directors. While the dominant metaphors of boundaryless careers are those of “paths,” “ladders,” “trajectories,” and “plateaus,” our findings suggest a new metaphor: the roller coaster.

You can read  “Surviving a Boundaryless Creative Career: The Case of Oscar-Nominated Film Directors, 1967-2014” from Journal of Management Inquiry by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Oscars award picture credited to Global Panorama (CC)