How to Measure Shared Leadership?

[We’re pleased to welcome G. James Lemoine of the University at Buffalo–State University of New York, Gamze Koseoglu of the University of Melbourne, Hamed Ghahremani of the University at Buffalo–State University of New York, and Terry C. Blum of Georgia Institute of Technology. They recently published an article in Organizational Research Methods entitled, “Importance-Weighted Density: A Shared Leadership Illustration of the Case for Moving Beyond Density and Decentralization in Particularistic Resource Networks,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the methodology and significance of this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

This research started its life as a second-year PhD student seminar paper, with a completely different research question and design. I was very interested in shared leadership and how different patterns of leadership within a team might affect its outcomes. Over several iterations of that paper, though, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way shared leadership was measured in the literature. Specifically, I wasn’t convinced that the ways shared leadership had been measured – as an aggregation, or as network density or decentralization – could fully capture it in a way consistent with its conceptual meaning. I shared these concerns with a few co-authors who are far smarter than I am, and we agreed that tackling this measurement issue was potentially more important and interesting than my original research question. Further, over the course of the manuscript’s development and with the help of co-authors and reviewers, I soon realized that these measurement issues aren’t limited to the study of shared leadership. In fact, we feel they’re widespread throughout the organizational literature on team properties with particularistic qualities. There are many other team constructs, like shared mental models and advice networks, where a ‘tie’ from one member to another becomes more valuable when the sender is better connected. For instance, someone receiving lots of advice from others should in turn offer better advice, and if someone views you as a team leader, that’s a more powerful link if that person is him or herself seen as a leader by others (and it’s more consistent with the core idea of ‘sharing’ leadership). When we realized how many streams of research might benefit from a network statistic that specifically accounted for these types of team configurations, we hoped that we might make an impact on the field by proposing a potential solution.

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

In order to build a formula for a network statistic that would solve the issues we encountered, it was necessary to do a ‘deep dive’ into the literature on network methodology: You can’t suggest an additional path forward if you don’t understand where the literature has been. This was at times a difficult challenge for us, as none of us are focused methodologists. Speaking only for myself, many older methods papers can be difficult to decipher for a relative layperson like me (one of the reasons I like ORM is that so many papers are written relatively simply).

We tried to build on that research to generate a new measurement tool that would provide added value, and I can’t tell you how many weeks we spent going over and over our formulae to make sure they were accurate and appropriate. I have a stack of Pizza Hut napkins on my desk right now, covered with scribbled math and algebra (a habit which did not amuse my wife). And finally, after we were confident that we’d got it right, the next challenge was to distill it into a manuscript that everyone, not just network statisticians, could understand. Hopefully we did a good job of this.

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

Don’t be satisfied with the way research is conducted, just because that’s the way research has always been conducted. Just because an assumption has never been seriously questioned does not mean it should not be questioned. Just because an idea or a theory or a method has been printed in an A-journal, doesn’t make it right. Always approach research from the perspective not of how it’s commonly done, but how it should best be done. Along those lines but more specific to our paper, this means carefully examining how a construct of interest is measured. We proposed the importance-weighted density (IWD) statistic for particularistic resource networks, but we acknowledge that what measure you use really depends on your research question. There are some hypotheses for which density or decentralization would be a better fit than our IWD. As always, conceptualization and theory should drive measurement.

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Are Founder-Led Firms Less Susceptible to Managerial Myopia?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Charlotte L. Schuster of Technical University of Dresden, Alexander T. Nicolai of the University of Oldenburg, and
Jeffrey G. Covin of Indiana University. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Are Founder-Led Firms Less Susceptible to Managerial Myopia?,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly write about the motivation and impact of their research.

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

“Over the last two decades, critical concern among academics and practitioners increased that managers act myopically. This criticism refers to managers sacrificing a company’s long-term for its’ short-term goals – often expressed in cutting R&D expenses to meet earnings targets. Among the most cited reasons for managerial myopia in management research are short decision horizons of opportunistic managers. While existing research in different disciplines mainly focused on “professional” managers and CEOs of publicly listed companies, it is not clear whether myopic management practices also apply to founder-CEOs. Founders might differ inherently from salaried managers in terms of passion and intrinsic motivation, incentive structure, and duration in the company. This motivated us to analyze empirically whether founder-CEOs who built up a company and accompanied it from its early stage through and beyond the company’s IPO are, indeed, less susceptible to managerial myopia than nonfounder-CEOs.”

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

“Several recent events suggested that managerial myopia is prevalent among very big companies. For instance, the German Automotive Manufacturer Volkswagen gained negative publicity with the systematic manipulation of emission values on the test stand. By risking an immense image loss in the long run and the payment of high conversion and compensation costs to customers in the medium term, the company preferred to save R&D expenses in the short term and, thus, forewent the process of developing a better technology.

In contrast to professional managers, founders often claim to be long-term oriented. They seem to be more interested in demonstrating and pursuing a long-term vision for the company than committing to short-term earnings goals. For example, Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com took losses for years and withstood the capital market pressure to make quick profits in order to realize his vision of building up the company. In a similar vein, Elon Musk, founder and CEO off Tesla Motors and SpaceX, is known for trying to win support for his views – ignoring the earnings expectations of the capital market.
Such contradicting company examples further motivated us to explore the investment behavior of founder- versus nonfounder-led firms in the context of short-term earnings goals.”

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

“Our study is the first to examine the phenomenon of managerial myopia in the context of founder- versus nonfounder-led firms. We leverage insights drawn from agency theory and stewardship theory as bases for explaining both a specific myopic earnings management practice as well as the influence of CEO founder status on the likelihood of this practice occurring. Specifically, our study contributes to knowledge based on corporate governance and entrepreneurship research that employs stewardship theory to explain the behavior of individuals who place their firms’ interests above their own self-interests. While we did not find a negative relationship between stock ownership and myopic R&D cuts as agency theory would suggest, our results document the influence of founder status as a factor associated with CEOs being good stewards of their firms’ assets, congruent with the stewardship theory position regarding founder-CEOs’ behavior. Our empirical results shed light on how firms can benefit from founder management and illuminate the financial conditions under which potentially detrimental earnings management practices may surface. Thus, our study contributes to a growing understanding of how and why founder management can well serve a firm’s long-term interests.”

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Weathering the Storm: The Impact of Cutbacks on Public Employees

[We’re pleased to welcome author Jaclyn S. Piatak of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Dr. Piatak recently published an article in Public Personnel Management entitled “Weathering the Storm: The Impact of Cutbacks on Public Employees,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Piatak reflects on the impact and innovations of this research:

PPM_C1 template_rev.inddWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

I was working as a program analyst at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the U.S. Department of Labor when the Great Recession hit. One of my projects was to conduct a survey of the state OSHA programs to see how each of the state programs were impacted by the recession. I was fascinated by how each of the state governments had to take at least one cutback measure, if not several. These ranged from Utah going to a four-day work week to furloughs to layoffs. This was my first glimpse at the recession having a real influence on government, government employees, and the public services they provide.

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

Fast forwarding to the Trump-era hiring freezes, I became concerned with the government’s ability to continue to do more with less. Between loss of positions due to the economic downturn and a large proportion of federal government employees retiring (or being eligible), the thought of a government-wide hiring freeze was disconcerting to say the least.

Were there any surprising findings?

Government employment has yet to rebound from the Great Recession. Private sector employment is back to pre-recession levels, but not the public sector. When looking across levels of government, the state government (excluding education) is particularly slow to recover.

This raises questions for timely staff recovery, organizational diversity, and the government’s capacity to cope with future crises.

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The Effect of Workplace Inspections on Worker Safety

Ling Li of the University of Wisconsin– Parkside and Perry Singleton of Syracuse University recently published in article in the ILR Review entitled, “The Effect of Workplace Inspections on Worker Safety,” which is free to read for a limited time. The abstract for the article is below:

ilra_71_4_coverThe US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces safety regulations through workplace inspections. The authors estimate the effect of inspections on worker safety by exploiting a feature of OSHA’s Site-Specific Targeting plan. The program targeted establishments for inspection if their baseline case rate exceeded a cutoff. This approach generated a discontinuous increase in inspections, which the authors exploit for identification. Using the fuzzy regression discontinuity model, they find that inspections decrease the rate of cases that involve days away from work, job restrictions, and job transfers in the calendar year immediately after the inspection cycle. They find no effect for other case rates or in subsequent years. Effects are most evident in manufacturing and less evident in health services, the largest two-digit industries represented in the data.

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Japanese Women Managers’ Employee-Oriented Communication Styles

[We’re pleased to welcome author Kiyoko Sueda of Aoyama Gakuin University. Dr. Sueda recently published an article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled “Japanese Women Managers’ Employee-Oriented Communication Styles: An Analysis Using Constructivist Grounded Theory,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Sueda briefly describes the research and its significance.

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

I was motivated to pursue this research for mainly two reasons. First, although the number of women managers in Japan is relatively small, they are generally thought to be good communicators at work. However, with the exception of a few quantitative studies, little empirical research exists on how they communicate with their colleagues. Thus, this study should complement the current limited quantitative study by exploring women managers’ communication styles qualitatively. Second, as most of the existing research was conducted in Western cultural contexts, many of their discoveries about female communication styles may not be transferrable to Japanese managers and executives.

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

Some of the traditional characteristics of Japanese employment system, such as permanent employment and internal promotion systems, have become unstable in recent years, and an external labor market is growing. Thus, various schemes of employment exist within the same organizations. Moreover, shortages in the Japanese labor market are increasing to serious levels. Thus, organizations in Japan inevitably need to diversify their employees at all levels.

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

As the number of female managers is still small, recruiting participants of the study was very challenging.

Although the existing literature has generally contrasted the “relationship-oriented” communication styles of women managers with the “task-oriented” approaches of their male counterparts, this study extends beyond the question of whether Japanese women managers are relationship or task oriented. The research found Japanese women managers engage in employee-oriented communication by making their work environment open and friendly, flexibly changing their communication styles depending on with whom they are talking, and using multiple channels of communication to achieve their professional goals.

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Business Perceptions of Biodiversity as Social Learning

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Thomas Smith, Dr. George Holmes, and Dr. Jouni Paavola of the University of Leeds. They recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Social Underpinnings of Ecological Knowledge: Business Perceptions of Biodiversity as Social Learning,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they reflect on the methods, and contribution of their research:]

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Despite mounting concerns regarding the degradation and loss of species, habitats and ecosystems occurring worldwide, biodiversity remains an underexplored issue in corporate sustainability. Increasingly, conservationists, policymakers and organisations such as the WBCSD are focussing on business contributions to tackling biodiversity loss. Yet we know little of how different institutional contexts influence efforts to reduce operational impacts on biodiversity, for instance. It is also unclear how different stakeholders can help – or hinder – reform.

This paper integrates social learning and institutional theory to understand business approaches to controlling impacts on biodiversity. Social learning is often used to examine processes of knowledge transfer and reform in natural resource management, but tends to focus on local communities and public bodies rather than businesses. Combined with institutional theory, social learning demonstrates how social systems shape responses to ecological contexts.

This paper adds to ONE research by demonstrating that to understand business responses to biodiversity, it is vital to focus on interactions between social and ecological systems, rather than each system in isolation. Biodiversity is complex, varying across contexts: successfully conserving it means integrating multiple forms of knowledge and values. Business responses to biodiversity need to be examined across multiple contexts, developed to developing country, tropical to temperate, terrestrial to marine, etc.

Although corporate sustainability scholars must be mindful of social and ecological factors specific to one or another context, this should not prevent us from seeking to identify universal principles underlying best practice. Work on stakeholder engagement and institutional views of the firm applied to other issues in corporate sustainability might be used to inform best practices. There is much left to consider and to research regarding business and biodiversity.

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Family Firms and the Choice Between Wholly Owned Subsidiaries and Joint Ventures

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Maria Cristina Sestu of the University of Pavia and Antonio Majocchi of the University of Pavia. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “Family Firms and the Choice Between Wholly Owned Subsidiaries and Joint Ventures: A Transaction Costs Perspective,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, They briefly describe the motivation and impact of their research.

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

Recent entry mode research has largely ignored the ownership characteristics of the MNCs. We investigate the entry mode decisions of family and non-family firms and explore the role of family involvement on both the MNC side and the local partner side. We contend that the mixed results produced to date are a consequence of a lack of attention to family or non-family involvement on both sides in general and on the local firm side in particular. In the paper, we address why and how family involvement affects entry strategy.

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

Recent official data show that the value of cross border M&A and partial acquisitions deals in Italy reached a new high making the Italian companies the most targeted by foreign acquisitions in the EU along with France and just after the UK. A number of these acquisitions by family and non-family MNCs targeted iconic brands owned by family firms such as Loro Piana, Valentino, Pomellato and Krizia. Commenting the acquisitions on the news the managers involved on the deals often highlight the relevance of being a family firm. This suggests us that the family nature of both the target and the investing companies were still an underdeveloped issue in the management literature and convince us to further investigate the topic.

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

The intuition that studying the differences between the entry mode policies of family and non-family firms was a promising field of research proved right. We show that whether the investor and target are a family firm or not has an impact on the entry mode choice as family control is relevant on both sides of the transaction. We prove that future research in the field would be more fruitful if corporate governance characteristics were taken into account. We also show that family involvement generates some firm specific asset that affects family firm policies. In this way we contribute to the development of the theory of family firms.

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