California Management Review has served as a bridge of communication between academia and management practice for sixty years. The newest issue of CMRis now online to view, and features articles covering various topics such as managing technology through outsourcing, managing customer relations, and analyzing sustainability in big corporations.
The future organizational landscape may change drastically by mid-century as a result of widespread implementation of 3D printing. This article argues that global will turn local; mega (factories, ships, malls) will become mini; long supply chains will shrink; many jobs will be broadened to combine design, consulting, sales, and production roles; and large organizations will make room for smaller ones. “A once-shuttered warehouse is now a state-of-the art lab where new workers are mastering the 3D printing that has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” [President Obama, State of the Union Address, 2013].
With the growing technology advances and integration of new technology into classrooms, professors across the nation have adopted clickers as a means of participation in lectures. Of course, with new engagement strategies comes pros and cons, including how students must remember to bring the clickers, and if lost, will have to pay to replace the unit. The clickers can also prompt students to pay more attention in class, since clickers can be used to take quizzes, and in turn, keep an online record of attendance.
As more and more institutions are integrating new technologies (e.g., audience response systems such as clickers) into their teaching and learning systems, it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a detailed understanding of the underlying mechanisms of these advanced technologies and their outcomes on student learning perceptions. We proposed a conceptual model based on the technology acceptance model to understand students’ use behavior and satisfaction with clickers. The valid response from 138 second-year business students of Digital Marketing module taught in a British university, where clickers are extensively used in the teaching and learning process, made the basis for data analysis. The results provided a strong support for the proposed model with a reasonably adequate variance (i.e., adjusted R2) of 67% on behavioral intentions and sufficiently high variance on use behavior (i.e., 86%) and user satisfaction (i.e., 89%).
What inspired you to be interested in this topic? My co-author and I have been interested in the use of corporate websites as a powerful communication strategy for several years. I was mostly interested in the power of visuality and George interested in questions of greenwashing. We had been following the BP website since 2005, as part of a larger project on the use of green imagery by oil companies. A few weeks before the Deepwater Horizon disaster, we were ready to submit a paper about BP’s website arguing, in fact, that BP’s commitments offered a novel way through which oil exploration and environmental responsibility could co-exist. We even classified various problems that could have “warned” us about BP’s practices as “accidents.” When Deepwater Horizon happened, our ready-to-be-submitted draft became irrelevant. After the shock we underwent both as researchers and as dedicated environmentalists who had clearly misread the greenwashing signs, we decided to reframe our research question vis-à-vis the disaster to study how a company changes its visual story in times of distress. Our realization that even we could be “hijacked” by the corporate story—the corporate agenda had clearly overflown into our own act of research—forced us to refocus our assumptions and questions. It is in this context that corporate power, enabled through website use, became critical to our investigation as our experience highlighted the dangerous potential of becoming “accomplices” to this power.
Were there findings that were surprising to you? The most “surprising” finding was not only the change in the visual story told but the way in which this new story was constructed on the website. In addition, as noted above, we were shocked by how the “liquid organization” had co-opted us in the telling of its story through our own act of navigating the website, making us potential “accomplices” in the telling of its corporate story. We saw this as problematic for many reasons, but mainly because the co-telling of a story through website navigation could result in (paradoxically) solidifying what Zygmunt Bauman calls “liquid power” or “the art of escape from all forms of social responsibility,” especially in cases of corporate hypocrisy.
How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice? Corporate websites are surprisingly under-explored in organization studies, despite the so-called “visual turn.” There are several reasons why website study should feature in our research agenda on management learning: First, websites serve as corporate “storytellers” as they transmit both high-level management messages and the corporate identity to outsiders. Second, , websites differ from other forms of corporate communication since the website user is dynamically involved in the “telling” of the corporate story through his or her navigation act; as such, the user is less a recipient and more a co-constructor of this story. Third, websites, as the most ‘fluid’ of all organizational constructs, may be the most appropriate means through which to study the non-committal, shifting organization of “liquid modernity.” Mobilizing website study in management practice and education can provide a better understanding of “corporate hypocrisy” in a liquid, modern world, especially in times of distress!
We became interested in this topic, partly because our university is keen to increase the use of mobile learning across the curriculum, but also because we know that our students – all young Emirati nationals – are very familiar with all forms of new media. We know that in adopting mobile learning in our business communication classes, we are tapping into their already existing skills, and at the same time, we are providing them with additional practice in multi-tasking, and the multi-media, communication skills that they are likely to need once they enter the workforce. However, in addition to the obvious advantages that are associated with student motivation and mobile learning that we established in our previous research, we also wanted to find out if mobile learning would actually help our students to improve their performance.
Our students’ performance on a particular topic improved, when their time in the classroom included mobile learning and also when it didn’t, as long as the teaching that they received was specifically focused. At the same time, the students that received a mobile learning intervention were more likely to perform better than the students in a control group who were not given any specific teaching, than those students who were taught in a traditional way. This meant that in introducing mobile learning, we could expect our students to be more motivated, we could expect them to further develop a set of useful skills, and we could expect them to potentially improve their performance. In the future we aim to incorporate more mobile learning into our business communication classes, while at the same time, continuing to investigate the effect that mobile learning has.
As technology allows more employees to have a “mobile” workplace, what happens to effective business communication overall? Should more businesses adopt an open-concept floor-plan to foster better collaboration?
I’m inspired a lot by things, by objects and spaces and what they can make happen. For years, too, I have focused my research and teaching on business communication. So when my university started talking about the new “integrated science and engineering” laboratory it was building to fosterinnovation and creativity through collaboration, I wondered: can a building do this? Curious, I looked at some other campuses and, sure enough, many such buildings were being constructed and promoted with similar rhetoric. Because it’s essentially a matter of communication, I was particularly interested in the many occurrences of collaboration in these statements about how the building would deliver on its promise. I saw that term invoked as well in real estate columns, the marketing reports of design consultancies, and popular business articles about new offices being created, for example, by Google, Facebook, and Amazon. I knew then that I had an enticing research project: matching the rhetoric of these new laboratories and offices to results on the ground.
It’s becoming a commonplace of material culture studies that objects create subjects, the things we live with make us the people we are, maybe even more than the other way around. But I’ve been surprised about the extent to which academic administrators, corporate CEOs, and entrepreneurs believe that the right arrangement of plan and furnishings in an office can foster the achievement of organizational goals.
Examining that fit between the rhetoric of the office or lab as a transformative space and results on the ground is an inviting area for communications research. As one anthropologist notes, we often overlook the things in our environment because they are “blindingly obvious.” We take them for granted. My International Journal of Business Communication article aims to encourage researchers to take another look at the physical environment of a 21st Century workplace as it relates to the communication needed to get work done there. We know that the environment shapes us. But can it shape us in desired ways? And how can we tell?
As a neuroscientist who studies child brain development, I strongly support the promotion of public policies that will help edify the minds and brains of our youngest citizens. So I’m quite interested in the recent widespread use of digital media by children and adolescents and the possible cognitive effects this phenomenon might be having on them. Scientifically, it’s a difficult question to pin down, but with our widely available new noninvasive brain imaging and recording tools (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging— fMRI, electroencephalography— EEG, magnetoencephalography— MEG) it should be possible.
Were there findings that were surprising to you?
One of the most surprising aspects of this topic to me is how very little peer-reviewed neuroscientific evidence there is (if any!) for this “digital daze” phenomenon. This is somewhat surprising in light of the fact that the phenomenon has been well documented behaviorally and because there seems to be a general consensus that the amount of time youngsters spend being “techno-tethered” is worrisome from a psychological health standpoint. It seems that some are taking for granted the idea that these brains are actually being “re-wired” to be shallower processors of information without the scientific evidence required to make this inference.
How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?
I think the issue is certainly an important one and I hope that some of the points I have chosen to emphasize will lead to more and better research on the possible brain effects of purported “screen addiction”. At the same time, as I suggest in the article, I also believe that brain measures are simply neither necessary nor sufficient for making informed decisions about many such public policy issues. Cognitive, behavioral, and academic measures should remain the stalwarts for assessing potential problems like this and for measuring the success of solutions that we put into practice.
An excerpt from the rejoinder:
Given what we know about how brains work, activities performed at such lengths must have some effects on the young brains involved. At all phases of human development and aging, our brains reflect within their structural and functional organization aspects of the activities, both mental and physical, in which we are engaged (Poldrack, Desmond, Glover, & Gabrieli, 1998; Ungerleider, Doyona, & Karnic, 2002). But as Cavanaugh and colleagues articulate, the concern is precisely that these youngsters’ brains are not really engaged during many of these tasks. And one principle that has emerged from developmental cognitive neuroscience research is that the growing brain shows a progressive commitment of resources with increasing age and decreasing plasticity overall (Stiles, Brown, Haist, & Jernigan, 2015; Stiles, Reilly, Levine, Trauner, & Nass, 2012). So in addition to fears that these protracted digital activities might be bad for students, we can also certainly imagine that some of this time might be better spent devoted to any number of activities that we know or suspect are good for developing minds and brains.
There is a wealth of information in studies categorized as Comparative Institutionalism that can provide important insights into current questions about the collective organizing of work. In the latest virtual Perspectives issue of Organization Studies, authors Jasper Hotho and Ayse Saka-Helmhout provide an overview of the literature on comparative institutionalism and show how key themes within this body of research can make important contributions to current debates in organization theory. For example, by paying more attention to the institutional differences across societies, researchers can respond to calls for a more contextualized and holistic understanding of organizations. Because institutional scholars have recently been focused on the organizational field level, they have almost ignored previous studies showing how organizations and society tend to reflect each other structurally. Hotho and Saka-Helmhout explain how established knowledge about the connections between societal institutions and organizations can facilitate new organizational insights.
More specifically, Hotho and Saka-Helmhout identify three themes in the comparative institutionalism literature that can inform our understanding of organizational behavior. Theme 1: Societal differences in modes of organizing have consequences for organizational work practices. Theme 2: Relationships between societal institutions impact economic organization and the market structure within which organizations pursue multiple paths to performance. Theme 3: Different societal institutions hold significant implications for multinational enterprises because they must straddle the variety.
These themes are elaborated on with particular attention to eight previously published articles that have contributed to the development of key ideas and turning points within comparative institutionalism. These articles are available to access for free online in the Comparative Institutionalism Perspectives issue, which you can access here.