Readiness for Renewal

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Ryan P. Fuller of California State University, Sacramento, Robert R. Ulmer of the University of Nevada, Ashley McNatt of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and Jeanette B. Ruiz of the University of California, Davis. They recently published an article in the Management Communication Quarterly entitled “Extending Discourse of Renewal to Preparedness: Construct and Scale Development of Readiness for Renewal,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivations and innovations of this research.

What motivated you to pursue this research?

For over 20 years, the Discourse of Renewal has offered an alternative to theories focused on avoiding blame and repairing harm to reputations post-crisis. Some of the assumptions of the theory addressed pre-crisis elements through anecdotal evidence. Based on our research, pre-crisis preparedness is an understudied topic in crisis management. Researchers know a lot about how organizations communicate during crises and how they communicate about post-crisis recovery. As well, we knew that organizations should prepare for crises, but often focus on the day-to-day operations of running their businesses and not on what to do when a disaster or emergency strikes. We wanted to make it easier to take stock of communication practices that help the organization produce the type of post-crisis communication that will help them to return from the crisis better off than before. Consequently, we saw a great opportunity to address a gap in the research and to answer a real-world problem.

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

Our research draws on a large body of qualitative evidence that organizations are effective in recovery if they enact certain communication practices. The novelty of our project is the foregrounding of pre-crisis communication to provide the latent potential for a strong recovery. These pre-crisis communication practices have been evidenced anecdotally but not formally tested. The value added to the field of crisis communication covers two main areas. First, we see more applied and naturalistic research opportunities using survey research, including the readiness for renewal scale. Along these lines, with the scale we developed we can see more opportunities for interventions to produce the type of desirable post-crisis communication, and for researchers take a stand about what one should or ought to do rather than after it is too late. Applied researchers could help organizations identify best communication practices, reinforce those, and change poor practices. Second, we may see other scholars use the body of qualitative evidence to create quantitative measures to test discourse- and rhetoric-based theories in crisis communication.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

We have three pieces of advice for new scholars and incoming researchers in crisis communication. First, crisis communication is a growing field, yet one that remains dominated by perspectives focused on threat, image repair, and blame avoidance. We encourage researchers to focus on developing/testing theories that are resiliency generating and identify inherent opportunities in all stages of crisis management. Second, we believe that anticipatory perspectives will continue to be an important line of research, and researchers should draw attention to effective communication practices in the pre-crisis stage. Third, we encourage researchers in crisis communication to test the limits of crisis communication theories. Such testing could occur through different methods, populations, or through applying/expanding the theory to different stages of crisis management.

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Creative Leadership Within the Cyber asset Market: An Interview With Dame Inga Beale

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Amit Mitra and Nicholas O’Regan of the University of the West of England. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Creative Leadership Within the Cyber asset Market: An Interview With Dame Inga Beale” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the motivations and challenges of their research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

As the world is becoming more reliant on digital technologies, the nature of risk is changing. Traditional insurers need new metrics and new ways to assess risk as organisations today are gradually converting their physical assets into their digital equivalents. So, within such a changing scenario, I was encouraged by Inga Beale’s conscious attempt at developing a novel approach to estimating risk. In an industry where technology is pervasive, preserving the social purpose in a technology led organisation like Lloyds of London seemed hitherto unknown. While issues like climate change, urbanisation, and online vulnerabilities seem unconnected yet if leaders like Inga are able to visualise a bigger picture, that factors in some of the abiding anxieties of groups in society that are looking for insurance cover, then Lloyds would be better at catering to these client expectations. My interest has been motivated by this ‘social purpose’ of technology articulated by Inga Beale. Second, an inclusive inter-connected visualisation of contributing factors of risk and its global ramifications is also another facet that has encouraged my interest in this research.

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

Frequency of cyber-attacks and how such attacks impact on populations that are reliant on digital assets is a key driver that encouraged my overall curiosity to pursue this research. Inga Beale mentioned the consequences of severe attacks such that 12.4million people could lose their jobs in the United States alone if cloud assets were attacked. So, the cost of risk that is embedded in loss of digital assets far exceeds physical assets like building infrastructure. Given the frequency of cyber-attacks on digital assets held by organisations that has led to the compromise of customer confidence and damaging financial losses, I was not sure that traditional ways of using technology to deal with technology risk could lead to an abiding solution.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

The focus of the research being creative leadership in the cyber asset market it was difficult to find parallels of similar leadership styles within extant literature. In many ways the type of leadership of Dame Inga Beale was unique in context, process and content. Contextually the insurance market is different from traditional businesses being fraught with risk and a surfeit of different kinds of estimation. Processes are also unique as the asset structure of companies have been changing significantly from physical to knowledge or digital assets. Content of this leadership style was punctuated by an inclusive paradigm of locating risk as enunciated in society’s existential anxieties. So, evaluating this peerless nature of the leadership style was a challenging undertaking.

Creative and innovative leadership has traditionally focused on man management, financial nous, implementation of new technology, and the like. Finding a social purpose of implementing technology as propounded by Dame Inga Beale was indeed a surprising finding. h

As part of a larger project in which we have been examining a range of issues around age and work, we were keen to explore a particular label (the Weary) that we observed in our data (online media texts). Weary was an acronym standing for ‘Working Entrepreneurial and Active Retirees’. It appeared in an insurance company report and was said to refer to those too old to get paid jobs, too poor to retire and therefore needing to earn money through entrepreneurial activity.

The label was immediately intriguing to us because of the inherent tensions it represented. The acronym has negative connotations in a way that the full title arguably does not. Also the title juxtaposes two traditionally mutually exclusive identities: working and retired, and introduces a third, the potentially problematic neoliberal identity of entrepreneur.

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How Managers Perceive Real-Time Management

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Pernille Rydén of the Technical University of Denmark and Omar A. El Sawy of the University of Southern California. They recently published an article in the California Management Review entitled “How Managers Perceive Real-Time Management: thinking fast & flow,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the inspirations and challenges of this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

We first met in 2014 when Professor El Sawy was giving a talk as part of the Renowned Scholars Seminar Series at the Department of Digitalization at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Here, we connected and discovered a common research interest in studies of the impacts of digitalization on management. In February 2015, at the University of Southern California, our second conversation ended up as a philosophical brainstorming session lasting several hours. The research idea was born.

Our motivation was sparked by a general curiosity on time as a resource and the many assumptions that relate to real time management strengthened by Professor El Sawy’s profound knowledge on Time Issues, gained from his PhD dissertation, teachings of MBA class on fast response management for almost a decade, plus a new course on real-time management. We then embarked on answering the open question of “what is real-time in the minds of managers?”

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

The profound societal changes triggered by technological disruption also influence our relation to time. We noticed how real time becomes increasingly important for the value proposition of enterprises and their ability to develop and innovate technology-driven products and services. At the same time, we see how people and societies are challenged by this acceleration of time demands. The “faster is better” seems to have severe consequences for people and societies in general and apparently sometimes for the worse, not the better. Many people cannot cope with the accelerating pace of technology and risk suffering from stress and burnout, which eventually slows down business productivity. Thus, there seems to be a need for critically considering how we approach time and the value assessment of real time.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

Since this took of as an explorative study we did not know in advance what direction the study would take. Instead of defining hypotheses and using them as constraining light posts we decided to let the data speak to us, hoping that surprising findings would appear from the data. We tapped into the knowledge potential there is in the “go with the flow” of inductively conducting this type of research. Luckily we were rewarded with surprising empirical as well as theoretical findings. The results indicate that faster is not always better, and that flow is an alternative way to go.

This study embraces the product focus as well as the customer focus to address this paradox (expressed by the famous Henry Ford quote) “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” even though the faster horses eventually will kick them off. The quote is meant to highlight that real-time management is about understanding the underlying drivers of accelerating time and be able to navigate managerial practices accordingly. Those who are able to harness that may stand a better chance of creating lasting value with digital technologies for customers and business.

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From Advocacy to Accountability in Experiential Learning Practices

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Sarah Wright of the University of Canterbury, Jeanie M. Forray of Western New England University, and Kathy Lund Dean of Gustavus Adolphus College. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “From advocacy to accountability in experiential learning practices,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly discuss the motivations for and challenges of this research:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

The motivation for our research emerged from our observations of student reactions to mismanaged facilitation of experiential exercises in the classroom. We have witnessed our students have quite adverse reactions to classroom exercises that we were not prepared for, nor trained to manage. We started to look for ethical guidance and were surprised by the lack of information for educators on best practices for experiential educators. Unlike research where methods are vetted before data is collected, educators can employ any teaching method with students based on the understanding that educators are competent in that learning environment. We were also perplexed how business schools are increasingly advocating for experiential education, but don’t seem to be balancing this advocacy with training opportunities for educators. So our motivation was borne out of curiosity and concern for student welfare.

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

A single event sparked this research paper. I was sitting in my office, when I became aware that a large number of students were congregating in the corridor looking for information. They were first year students on a scavenger hunt to find information about university procedures. I heard a student become audibly upset; she was concerned that she could not find “the right answers” and would be penalised on her course grade. Other students rallied around her to help and they went back to class. At the end of the scavenger hunt the faculty deemed the scavenger hunt a success, yet the students were never given the opportunity to debrief nor voice their concerns over the experience. At the time of the incident we (the 3 authors) discussed the ethics of having students do exercises/experiences and not being fully debriefed, which expanded into conversations about what types of experiences are low/high-risk and what level of competence do we need to facilitate these experiences.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

We were really surprised that this issue hasn’t been addressed before now. The layers of assumptions behind educator competence really surprises us each time we discuss our research – we are expected to be competent at experiential education when no formal system exists to vet our competence.

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Socioemotional Wealth, Family Control, and the Choice of Business Exit

We’re pleased to welcome authors Francesco Chirico of Jönköping University and Tecnológico de Monterrey, Luis R. Gómez-Mejia of Arizona State University, Karin Hellerstedt of Jönköping University, Michael Withers of Texas A&M University, and Mattias Nordqvist of Jönköping University. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “To Merge, Sell, or Liquidate? Socioemotional Wealth, Family Control, and the Choice of Business Exit,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly discuss the significance of this research.]

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Our study provides evidence that family firms exit less than nonfamily firms and tend to endure increased financial distress to avoid losses in the affect-related value embedded in the family firm. Furthermore, when forced to exit, family firms prefer to do so via mergers, liquidation and sale (in that order) while nonfamily firms prefer to exit via sale, liquidation and mergers (in that order). We argue that these different exit behaviors are attributed to family owners’ desire to maintain some of the family legacy (as in mergers) while avoiding losses of family identity (as in a sale). Especially in distressed situations, considering business exit as a way to free up resources for the strategic regeneration of a firm is fundamental. Business exit, for instance in terms of a merger, should be viewed as a way to identify and evaluate new opportunities for owners. Firms—especially family firms—need to balance socioemotional and economic perspectives; otherwise, even when the need for exit is recognized, it may not occur.

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Read the Latest Issue of the Project Management Journal!

Read the first issue of the 50th volume of the Project Management Journal!

Project Management Journal® is the academic and research journal of the Project Management Institute® and features state-of-the-art research, techniques, theories, and applications in project management. The Project Management Journal®’s mission is to address the broad interests of the project management profession and maintain an editorial balance of content about research, technique, theory, and practice.

The newest issue features topics ranging from anti-corruption measures in construction to improving project budget estimations. Below are the abstracts of a few of these articles:

Contemporary Review of Anti-Corruption Measures in Construction Project Management

This study reviews the anti-corruption measures (ACMs) developed to mitigate the pervasiveness of corruption in construction project management (CPM). Using a two-stage methodological process to identify the relevant publications needed, 39 unique ACMs were identified in 38 selected publications. The leading ACMs identified are ethical codes, transparency mechanism, training, and development initiatives. A conceptual framework constituting six thematic constructs was developed to facilitate easy identification of ACMs and categorization of future developments of ACMs. They are regulatory, managerial, probing, compliance, promotional, and reactive measures. The findings contribute in-depth understanding of ACMs in CPM and are useful for further empirical research.

Organizational Justice, Project Performance, and the Mediating Effects of Key Success Factors

Projects are under constant pressure to improve performance, and research is needed to understand the characteristics of high-performing projects. Using the concept of organizational justice as a characteristic, we propose that the performance of projects in meeting success criteria is enhanced when there are procedures in place for the fair treatment of project team members; when resources are allocated fairly; and when the individuals interact in a way that is characterized by respect, propriety, and dignity. Structural equation analysis supports our proposition that the presence of organizational justice enhances project performance and valuable nuances in these relationships are discovered.

Improving Project Budget Estimation Accuracy and Precision by Analyzing Reserves for Both Identified and Unidentified Risks

Project risk is a critical factor in estimating project budget. Previous studies on this topic have only addressed estimation methods that consider project budget reserves against identified risks. As a result, project managers still face the challenge of completing projects within given budgets but without the relevant tools to deal with unidentified risks. This study proposes an approach for estimating reserves for both identified and unidentified risks separately. The study also suggests using the three-point estimation technique and R-value determination for estimating risk costs, which can improve budget accuracy and precision. The construction of residential building projects in South Korea demonstrates the advantages of the proposed approach compared with previous methods.

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Writing as ‘skin’: Negotiating the body in(to) learning about the managed self

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Deborah N. Brewis of the University of Bath and Eley Williams of the University of London. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Writing as skin: Negotiating the body in(to) learning about the managed self,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the inspiration for this research:]

One makes a braille of our hide, and attempt to interpret its textures and scry it haptic mimicry and pantomime of feeling…

Eley and I met and became friends by chance four years ago at the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association conference as I overheard her talking about the town that I had recently moved to, and that she grew up in. Serendipity plays a large part in interdisciplinary collaborations, even when moments of connection are helped along by seeking out such spaces.

We were inspired to explore together how research writing can be challenged, stretched, and reshaped to do more; specifically to struggle with bringing the body into scholarly writing. I had been fascinated with ‘haptic visuality’ and the communication of embodiment in film (Marks 2000, Sobchak 2004). I had also read Eley’s creative writing and had been affected by its rich, sometimes overwhelming, exploration of relationality: her playfulness with words show the frustration and delight involved as we wrestle with language to communicate our inner worlds to others.

We started to explore the notion that writing could be skin-like: a negotiating surface that is inscribed on, scarred, by the world around it, but also expressive of an inner reality; resistant and fleshy. In the process of conducting and writing research, we are pulled in different directions that draw us away and toward our bodies: we seek to abstract concepts, norms and patterns from our data, and yet many of us also seek to communicate nuance, and contradictions within them that are often tied into deeply personal realities. As we talked and wrote and elicited feedback from others, the qualities of human skin, both physical and the meanings attached to it culturally and historically, provided a metaphor almost too rich for our purposes that we (suitably for a project on skin) needed to contain. So, we focused on three properties of skin as tools to facilitate thinking through how the text can be allowed to be more experiential, without being consumed by the body:

– Porosity: to explore ways in which the scientific academic text can be pierced at different moments to let experiences, sensations, and subjectivity permeate.

– Sense-ability: to craft the texture of the writing to communicate at both cognitive and embodied levels with the reader; eliciting physical response and memories.

– Palimpsest: to make visible the layers that form the text including the work of others, collaboration, and academic institutions and processes; but also our own half-thoughts.

We engaged in a critical-creative experiment by working together across disciplines and by including both art and research by others in discussing how skin has offered critique and insight. In another gift of serendipity, we received some evocative photographs from Anni Skilton at Medical Illustration at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, inspired by the piece and that now accompany it, enhancing what we call its ‘aeffectiveness’. In this piece, we wanted to show and not just describe how skin-writing can enrich research in management and organisation studies. We hope that others will find skinfulness useful in findings ways in which scholarly writing can stretch and touch and show its vulnerability.

Marks, L. U. (2000). The skin of the film: Intercultural cinema, embodiment, and the senses. Duke University Press.

Sobchack, V. (2004). Carnal thoughts: Embodiment and moving image culture. Univ of California Press.

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