Assessing Leader Development From a Historical Review of MBA Outcomes

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Angela M. Passarelli of the College of Charleston, Richard E. Boyatzis of Case Western Reserve University, and Hongguo Wei of the University of Central Oklahoma. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Assessing Leader Development: Lessons From a Historical Review of MBA Outcomes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Passarelli recounts the events that led to the research and the significance it has to the field:]

JME_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

We began collecting outcome data 30 years ago on our MBA students. We were trying to determine what they were learning that was crucial to their success as managers and leaders – namely, the competencies from performance-validated studies. This particular project was born when we hit a major milestone in the ongoing assessment program – 25 years of data collection. The 25-year mark prompted us to reflect on how the data were being used. Each year we examined the data to determine how students in our full-time MBA program developed emotional and social competencies during the course of their 2-year program. This information provided a basis for modifications to the curriculum. For example, a downward trend in teamwork competency development prompted a pedagogical innovation in which project teams remained the same across multiple courses and were given coaching not just on performance outcomes, but also on how they functioned as a group. While these year-to-year adjustments were helpful, we came to the realization that we were missing potentially important trends that would not be evident by looking at just one or two cohorts at a time. This realization became the motivation for examining trends in competency development from a birds-eye view – across the entire 25-year assessment effort, rather than in small pockets at a time.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research

The most challenging aspect of conducting this research was contending with advances in instrumentation. We improve the tests psychometrically about every 7 years, which helps reliability, model fit and validity but creates comparability challenges in longitudinal research. Although these changes improved our confidence in inferences made on an annual basis, they impeded our ability to analyze the data set in its entirety. To deal with this, we chose to focus on a period of time in which the survey instruments were most similar and conducted graphical trend analysis. This allowed us to see trends over time, such as the saw tooth effect. It also helped us figure out what we should contemplate doing to minimize such threats to learning and positive impact.

Relatedly, collecting data of this nature and for this length of time is difficult. Our assessment program faced a variety of obstacles over its history. Personnel changes led to knowledge gaps whereby informed consent was not administered or data were not appropriately retained. Computer crashes resulted in data loss, and funding deficits threatened financial support for the effort. Having a faculty champion whose intellectual curiosity aligned with the assessment program was critical to overcoming these obstacles.

Were there any surprising findings?

The downturn in competency development during times of leadership upheaval was possibly the most striking trend we saw in the data. The idea that toxicity at the most senior levels of leadership was trickling down to the students had been proposed in earlier research. But this study offered confirmation by showing a rebound in competency development once leadership stability was restored. In the paper we postulate that students were affected by this leadership turbulence via declines in faculty climate and satisfaction. Research designed to directly test this interpretation is still needed. Without knowing the exact degree of negative effects, educators would be well advised to try to mitigate the deleterious effects of toxic leadership on student outcomes.


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The Fear Imagery in Collective Leadership

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Joseph A Raelin of Northeastern University. Dr. Raelin recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “What are you afraid of: Collective leadership and its learning implications,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Raelin reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]

mlqb_48_3.coverWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

Why did I entitle my article: What Are You Afraid Of (in reference to the forthcoming article in Management Learning – now available online – called: “What Are You Afraid Of: Collective Leadership and its Learning Implications”)? I had a sense that the title would be controversial and baiting. The manifest reason to give is that the paper was written for the department of the journal called Provocations to Debate. But the substantive reason, which I would like to expound upon briefly in this blog, is that collective leadership, though a straightforward practice, simply has not found much traction in the annals of leadership, whether they be academic or professional.

On the academic front, although collective leadership may receive some lip service not only to itself but to its cousin perspectives, such as shared, distributed, leaderful, relational, as-practice, or plural forms, it finds few presenters or adherents in academic conferences, such as the Academy of Management or the International Leadership Association, or in the mainstream academic journals. One prospective and important ally, shared leadership, need not be collective since the leadership practice in question may be performed by individuals (such as non-managers) individually and sequentially rather than collectively.

A secondary reason for apprehension of collective leadership among academics might be the methodological burden of tracing the complex set of practices and “supplements” (e.g., interwoven discourses) to those practices that produce leadership. This kind of investigation would be sociological, whilst the easier path is to contend that leadership is psychological and can be measured using standard psychometrics.

When it comes to professional usage, the fear imagery among practitioners suggests that collective leadership is a remote, unstable, and inefficient practice that would leave institutions in chaos. More germane to the Management Learning journal, this form of leadership would expose leadership development practitioners to the unknown. Collective leadership finds a more compatible pedagogical home in collective learning, but the latter requires removing the learner from the classroom where it is thought that most learning occurs. Collective learning would occur far more frequently within the workplace itself as practitioners prospectively engage with one another on real problems, reflect together on their plans and improvisations, and reconstruct their practices according to their own interests. But this kind of learning can be messy and seemingly not as concentrated or efficient as conventional training. Indeed, it can be unpredictable requiring use of such collective activities as on-the-spot reframing, reevaluation of accepted practices, and spontaneous testing of available knowledge.

In a world seemingly obsessed with individual achievement and even bombast, cooler heads may one day prevail as we learn to welcome multiple and contradictory voices through critical dialogue, thus involving everyone in the leadership enterprise. We have little alternative.

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Dominance in the Organizational Learning Process

mark-516277_1920[We’re pleased to welcome author Isabel Collien of Freie Universität Berlin. Collien recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Critical–reflexive–political: Dismantling the reproduction of dominance in organisational learning processes,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Collien reveals the motivation and challenges for her research:]

mlqb_48_3.cover

What motivated you to pursue this research?

I am both a researcher and a practitioner in the field of diversity and equal opportunities in organizations with a great interest in bridging theory and practice. In particular, I seek to understand how societal power relations influence micro-level practices, such that equal opportunities programs and other organizational practices sometimes fail to cater to the needs of those we seek to empower, motivate or sensitize.

Looking into power-sensitive organizational learning studies for theoretical and practical inspiration, I discovered that the research field provided nuanced discussions on the effect of micro-level power structures and dynamics or macro-level discourses on learning in organizations. What I was missing, was a theoretical framework for understanding the effect of societal power relations (related to persisting structures of dominance) on micro-level learning processes. My paper addresses this research gap. Based on Bourdieu’s theory of practice, I lay a theoretical foundation to explain the reproduction of dominance structures in micro-level learning processes.

What was the most challenging aspect of conducting your research?

The most challenging aspect in the process of writing the manuscript was the editor’s and reviewers’ advice to decide between a theoretical and an empirical paper. The final manuscript is a theoretical paper, which draws on a case study by Heinemann (2014) on advanced training participation in Germany to illustrate its key points. The study shows how a multi-level, historically grown system of othering leads to feelings of not-belonging and demotivates female migrants from participating in advanced training programs. Building on these insights, I suggest that researchers need to take three steps to understand and potentially counter the effect of societal power relations on learning processes: being critical, being reflexive and being political.

How will your research impact the field?

The answer to this question can only be speculative or wishful thinking. Yet, I hope that my proposed triad of being critical, being reflexive and being political inspires future research on power and organizational learning. Hopefully, researchers will agree that questioning taken-for-granted practices and structures requires a multi-level and historically informed perspective to dismantle the reproduction of dominance structures in learning processes (being critical). Furthermore, I argue for a broader notion of reflexivity in relation to societal power relations, encompassing questioning the researcher’s social position, the research field and ultimately, the scholastic point of view (being reflexive). Finally, I wish for researchers to understand the importance of making their particular perspective, their research motivations and their subsequent choices more transparent to a) make ethically informed judgements about the nature of organizational learning and b) allow for an in-depth, controversial discussion of their findings in the context of unequal power relations (being political).

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Diagram photo attributed to geralt. (CC)

Pedagogical Innovation and Paradigm Shift in the Introduction to Management Curriculum

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Elizabeth Christopher of Macquarie University, Joe Roberts of Webster University, and Oliver Laasch of the University of Nottingham, China. They recently published a paper in the Journal of Management Education entitled, “Pedagogical Innovation and Paradigm Shift in the Introduction to Management Curriculum,” which is free to read for a limited time. Below, Christopher and Roberts reflect on the motivation for pursuing this research:]

JME_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

E- Identifying a need for improved introduction to management education, emerging from a complex global business environment of socio- economic challenges for managers.

J- Identifying innovative pedagogical approaches to teaching Intro to Management concepts across campus as interdisciplinary courses.

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

E- The 20th century was characterized by a resurgence of 19th-century concepts of management associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism that persists to this day. Managerialism is the organizational form of neo-liberalism that implicitly endorses the concept of educating managers to be market-led. Education along these lines is defined in terms of human capital acquisition, skilled for the economy.

If the principles of neoliberal, market led, introduction to management education are not examined, educators run the risk of overlooking contemporary demands for managerial social ethics and responsibility for the environment. This Special Issue is an attempt to respond to this challenge on behalf of university faculties and students and on behalf of curriculum designs.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

E- It is innovative in its recognition that contemporary western management thought, all too often, is based on outdated assumptions of what ‘good’ management should be, but that have become profoundly inadequate to address pressing challenges of managerial sustainability, responsibility and ethics.  The research reveals the extent of the need for new approaches to introduction to management courses. The JME is a widely read and highly regarded journal, therefore the research findings should have an impact on the field.

J- As the managerial function has become more entrepreneurial in nature the question of ethics has become extremely important and should be integrated with pedagogical approaches to teaching Intro to Management concepts.

 

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Discover the Hidden or Not-So-Hidden Implications of ‘Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Knowledge Management’ That Facilitate Management of ‘Organizational Change’

BMC coverChange is constant in a business environment. Survival of the fittest is all about adaptability to a changing environment and adjusting to new competitive realities, in short ‘agility’.

We live in volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity world, which is an era of risk and instability. Globalization, new technologies, greater transparency and social responsibility have combined to increase the complexity of the business environment to give many CEOs a deep sense of unease. On the other hand, enterprising CEOs sense great opportunities in this uncertainty and change.

Industry competition has always been a fact of life, but in current business environment, the chasm between ‘relevance’ and ‘obsolescence’ threatens to grow wider every day. To avoid obsolescence, firms must be agile and be able to pre-empt the move embracing innovation. Global competition has become an entirely new game, with a more crowded playing field, with networked economies and a faster clock. In the past, executives could quickly size up their competitors and could anticipate their tactical moves. But now, firms in all sectors have to be on constant alert to face new technology-enabled challengers that are sprouting with surprising speed from unsuspected corners of the globe. Firms need to anticipate geopolitics, globally emerging trends and markets, and be proactive to these new demands with knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship. They also need to be equipped on ‘How to evolve a strategy for coping with unanticipated events, challenges and crises? How does leadership create a work-environment and work-life that not only survives a crisis but capitalizes on today’s frequent and disruptive accelerating changes?’

Knowledge is a strategic resource in knowledge-intensive world, its effective management by the organizations is critical for competitiveness. The culture of innovation which enables continuous pumping of new technologies would have a strong impact on firm’s competitiveness, working life and expected behaviour.

To read in detail about Change Management Drivers and its relationship with Entrepreneurship and Knowledge Management, subscribe to the recent issue from South Asian Journal of Business Management.

Click here to read Change Management Drivers: Entrepreneurship and Knowledge Management for free from South Asian Journal of Business Management.

Is Play the Future of Office Space?

Sage Interiors
8th August 2017[We’re pleased to welcome authors Anna Alexandersson and  Viktorija Kalonaityte of Linnaeus University. Alexandersson and Kalonaityte recently published an article in Organization Studies entitled “Playing to Dissent: The Aesthetics and Politics of Playful Office Design,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they speak about the inspiration for conducting this research:]

OSSWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

The idea that play at work is a way to tap into employee creativity and boost their motivation has been growing in popularity over the recent years, particularly within industries that prize fast-paced innovation. Playful office design appears to be an extension of this idea, characterized by colorful open-plan office architecture alluding to non-work spaces such as nature, personal homes, clubs, fairs and amusement parks. Typically, images of playful offices are displayed online by the companies themselves, and re-posted by various office design communities, making them widely available to many different audiences. But what exactly is it that makes these spaces playful? What kind of play do they encourage? And, more importantly, are there limits to play even in the context of playful office design? With these overarching questions guiding our inquiry, our paper builds on a study of playful office images that are some of the most shared online, as these images provide a persuasive visual representation on how play at work can be understood.

Our analysis suggests that playful office design removes many of the traditional boundaries of the working life. For example, it builds in leisurely and private spaces into the office, makes it difficult to discern organizational hierarchies, and promotes collective forms of play and creativity. However, these office spaces cannot resolve a fundamental tension between play and work: even in the most playful work life settings, play needs to be aligned with corporate goals, meanwhile, free creative play disrupts and transcends all social divisions, including those of based on profitability and utility.

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Office photo attributed to James Robinson. (CC)

Call for Papers: Management Teaching Review

MTR_cover.inddMake an impact on management teaching and submit to the Management Teaching Review!

Management Teaching Review (MTR) is currently seeking manuscript submissions. MTR is committed to serving the management education community by publishing short, topically-targeted, and immediately useful resources for teaching and learning practice. The published articles and interactive platform provide a rich, collaborative space for active learning resources that foster deep student engagement and instructor excellence.

For more details click here.

Manuscripts should be submitted electronically to http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/mtr.

You will need to create an account in order to submit your manuscript. The system will notify you once we receive the manuscript and have sent it out for review.

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