When talking to entrepreneurs, we increasingly realized that finding a willing and able successor from the family was often a challenge. Often, the incumbents reported about very capable children who were, however, not willing to take over the business but wanted to start a different career. In other cases the successors showed willingness, but lacked the ability, according to their parents. Thus, we started to wonder whether willingness or ability was more important to the incumbents.
Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?
In the year 2019, succession is generally not considered a “hot topic” – neither in academia nor in the public press. Yet it is of utmost relevance. Each year, tenthousands of small- and medium-sized (family) business are up for succession in Germany and Switzerland only. Those businesses are the backbone of our economy, they provide a large number of job positions and trainee jobs. Hence, keeping them up and alive should be of interest not only for incumbents, but also for politicians and basically everyone interested in the continued prosperity of the economy. As such, I find it particularly important to understand how successor decisions and succession decisions are made. I hope that our study on successor preferences makes it clear that there are many important research gaps left in the field of succession and that they are worth being closed.
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
In this study, we provided a scenario – or case vignette – to the respondents of our study. That is, we describe a specific retirement situation and availability of succession candidates to them and ask them whom they would choose. Such survey based “policy capturing” has several advantages over traditional, questionnaire-based research asking for past successions or asking for intentions. The big advantage is that we can really learn about preferences here, which are undistorted by the specific situation of the entrepreneur. Thus, they help us to build up a better conceptualization and theorizing of how the entrepreneurs make sense and decide.
[We’re pleased to welcome authors Mieke Koeslag-Kreunen of Zuyd Hogeschool, Heerlen, Piet Van den Bossche of the University of Antwerp, Michael Hoven of Maastricht University, Marcel Van der Klink of Zuyd Hogeschool, Heerlen, and Wim Gijselaers of Maastricht University. They recently published an article in “Small Group Research“ entitled “When Leadership Powers Team Learning: A Meta-Analysis,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they discuss some of the findings of this research:]
What motivated you to pursue this research?
We are fascinated why some leaders succeed and others don’t in getting the most out of their teams. Knowing that team processes determine team effectiveness we wanted to know how leadership makes a difference in teams. Keeping in mind that one of the fundamental team processes is sharing knowledge and discussing what is shared to build advanced or new knowledge that enable developing the necessary solutions as a team. We were intrigued by the question how team leaders can facilitate this process of team learning without over-structuring it and leaving no space for team members to exhibit the necessary behaviors themselves. Many different leadership behaviors can be effective, but team leaders simply cannot display all necessary behaviors by themselves. Moreover, what can you do as a team leader when your team faces a task that is unstructured or for which you also do not have the answers? What is the best advice for these team leaders? In answering this question, we wanted to identify when leadership propels teams in building new or advanced knowledge.
In what ways is your research innovative and can it impact the field?
After synthesizing the 2000+ scientific hits on the topic, we showed that encouraging, structuring and sharing team leadership behaviors all support team learning. Interestingly, we also found new evidence that the type of team task determines which leadership behaviors can best be displayed to support teams in building new or advanced knowledge. As a consequence, the advice for team leaders is to vary their behavior depending on the team task and to ascertain the specific team situation in their choice. If pioneering ideas and new products of teams are aimed for, team leaders should mainly invest in building trust, creativity and enthusiasm, and not inhibit teams from learning by putting too much emphasis on the task. If advancing existing knowledge and adaptation of the products is enough to reach team success, team leaders who focus on the task, methods and outcomes are beneficial because such behaviors reinforces using known protocols.
What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
It would be interesting to dig into the reciprocal effect of the team process and leadership behavior, as well as how leadership behavior may shift in style and source over time. We mainly found cross-sectional studies that covered just one or two types of team leadership behavior and examines its influence on team learning behavior. Experimental and longitudinal studies on this topic may bring new perspectives on how team leaders can vary their behavior, what kind of effect that has on team learning, and what team leaders can do to use that information in future team interactions, subsequently.
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[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Dr. Lyn M. Van Swol of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Dr. Cassandra L. Carlson-Hill Carolina of Coastal Universit, and Dr. Emily Elizabeth Acosta Lewis of Sonoma State University. They recently published an article in “Small Group Research“ entitled “Integrative Complexity, Participation, and Agreement in Group Discussions,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Van Swol discusses some of the findings of this research:]
Political and religious issues can be difficult to discuss in a group, and it can be especially difficult to convince others who disagree with your viewpoint. This paper examined the role of complexity of arguments in a group discussion of a political/religious issue. Groups discussed whether or not the words “under God” should be in the United States Pledge of Allegiance. We had hypothesized that group members whose opinion were more similar to their fellow group members would increase the complexity of their contributions to the group when they were exposed to group members with more fringe opinions, but this was not supported. However, members with more fringe opinions in the group were more successful in influencing the group towards their opinion when they used more complex arguments. Argument complexity did not matter for group members with more mainstream views in terms of how much they influenced the group decision. Because group members with more fringe and discrepant opinions cannot appeal to their opinion being normative and aligned with the majority in the group, it may be important for them to have complex arguments to be persuasive. Complex arguments tend to be more nuanced and less dogmatic, which may make someone with an opinion more different from others in the group seem more flexible and informed. Finally, arguments used by members in the group discussion were more complex when the group had a longer discussion. This highlights the benefits of extending group discussion to let more nuances of the topic of discussion get expressed.
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On a January morning in 2014, Mr Amit Kapoor, the Managing Director (MD) of Automotive Equipment Manufacturing Limited (AEML)1—a state government enterprise in India—was found in serious discussions with his senior management officials about the deteriorating condition of the company and how to devise a turnaround blueprint while working through many bottlenecks. The team seemed to be unable to reach any concrete decision about the future course of action.
Just the previous day, Kapoor was told in the Board of Directors’ meeting that the state government was unable to continue providing financial support to the sinking company, which had been incurring losses since 2008 (Exhibit 1). It was decided in the meeting that funds for employee salaries for the next six months would be provided by the government only under the condition that a revival plan would be produced to the Board within the next three months. The Board would decide the future course of action after evaluating the proposed plan and the financial condition of the company.
So far, the company had managed to focus only on immediate survival like earning next month’s salaries for the employees. This put the long-term survival of the company in question. The crisis management team had an idea for the revival of the organization, but that would essentially require capital flow for immediate breathing. The organization was already in adverse financial leverage condition. The only option to acquire working capital was government support. The condition of the organization would worsen if no relief fund was allotted to AEML in the next state government budget.
Kapoor and his team were appointed to the organization with the objective of bringing about a turnaround of the company. The financial health of the state government did not allow it to continue financial support to the organization. However, neither the state nor the union government, led by the ruling party of the state, was in favour of divestment due to hidden political agendas. Thus, the crisis team faced a new challenge of redesigning the revival plan under the provision of minimal external financial assistance. The state government did promise Kapoor that it would provide minimum support for the company revival if the turnaround blueprint was realistic.
A host of external and internal factors had led to the decline, and Kapoor and his team understood that some of the root causes required immediate focus. However, if the crisis team focused on these root causes, it would hold back the long-term strategy since finances would get redirected. Therefore, the team was in a dilemma about what to focus on in designing the revival plan—the immediate survival or the long-term growth of the company.
Personality assessment has a long history of application in the workplace. While the field of organization development has historically focused on developmental aspects of personality tools, other disciplines such as industrial-organizational psychology have emphasized its psychometric properties. The importance of data-driven insights for talent management (e.g., the identification of high potentials, succession planning, coaching), however, is placing increasing pressure on all types of applied behavioral scientists to better understand the stability of personality tools for decision-making purposes. The current study presents research conducted with 207 senior leaders in a global consumer products organization on the use of personality assessment data over time and across two different conditions: development only and development to decision making. Results using three different tools (based on the Hogan Assessment Suite) indicate that core personality and personality derailers are generally not affected by the purpose of the assessment, though derailers do tend to moderate over time. The manifestation of values, motives, and preferences were found to change across administrations. Implications for organizational development and talent management applications are discussed.
What if it is a machine that provides an organization’s vision for the future instead of a visionary human? Are you willing to accept a machine as your boss? What might happen if your next promotion is decided by a robot?
Intelligent machines, from automobiles to dishwashers, are increasingly making forays into every conceivable dimension of human life with a promise of making things better but perhaps not always quite delivering on that promise. Machine intelligence has permeated various levels of organizational decision-making ranging from robotic technology on production shop-floors to intelligent decision support systems for top management.
In their recent article published in Group & Organization Management, authors Ken Parry, Michael Cohen and Sukanto Bhattacharya hypothesize a scenario where it is possible for an intelligent machine to assume the role of an organizational leader and carry out the decision-making tasks. Without engaging in a debate as to the likelihood of such a scenario, the authors present an overview of the current state of the art in artificial intelligence research, allowing readers to form their own opinion on the plausibility of such a scenario. Assuming the eventuation of such a scenario, the authors then proceed to critically consider some of the potential outcomes, both positive as well as negative, from automated organizational leadership. They posit a design framework for developing an intelligent leadership decision-making system with the objective of ensuring the positive outcomes while thwarting some of the negative (and in some cases, outright dangerous) ones. Their article aims to open up a new line of intellectual deliberations, involving organizational and management sciences on one hand and artificial intelligence as well as systems development on the other, in addressing a number of important moral/ethical issues that they identified.
The abstract for the paper:
Machines are increasingly becoming a substitute for human skills and intelligence in a number of fields where decisions that are crucial to group performance have to be taken under stringent constraints—for example, when an army contingent has to devise battlefield tactics or when a medical team has to diagnose and treat a life-threatening condition or illness. We hypothesize a scenario where similar machine-based intelligent technology is available to support, and even substitute human decision making in an organizational leadership context. We do not engage in any metaphysical debate on the plausibility of such a scenario. Rather, we contend that given what we observe in several other fields of human decision making, such a scenario may very well eventuate in the near future. We argue a number of “positives” that can be expected to emerge out of automated group and organizational leadership decision making. We also posit several anti-theses—“negatives” that can also potentially emerge from the hypothesized scenario and critically consider their implications. We aim to bring leadership and organization theorists, as well as researchers in machine intelligence, together at the discussion table for the first time and postulate that while leadership decision making in a group/organizational context could be effectively delegated to an artificial-intelligence (AI)-based decision system, this would need to be subject to the devising of crucial safeguarding conditions.
This special issue addresses the subject of issues and decisions in international management, primarily in emerging markets and in some cases developed markets. It does so from a number of perspectives, and from three levels of analysis including the individual manager or employee, the firm, and the national economy.
…One particular insight emerges from having multiplearticles, many of which focus on a particular level of analysis. It is that regardless of the level of focus, all levels clearly become involved in the issues and decisions being considered. This is especially evident in the articles involving Russia, but on closer analysis can be seen in all seven of the articles in the special issue. Whatever level is the central focus, all issues and decisions affect firm policies and strategies, individual productivity and satisfaction, and the overall prosperity of the national economies involved.
Adding to the richness of this special issue, and contributing to the overall topic of issues and decisions in emerging markets, is the range of countries covered. The breadth stems from a single country view of Chinese firms’ market entry strategies to coverage of the broader internationalization strategies of firms from Russia, India, and China.
Firms struggle to be ambidextrous in the sense of being able to successfully manage both new and incremental innovation activities simultaneously. Applying the knowledge-based view, we examine the important moderating influences of supplier involvement and foreignness on the relationship between innovation ambidexterity and performance. We test our hypotheses at the business-unit level of analysis in the emerging market of Brazil. We examine two types of innovation ambidexterity: the balanced dimension and the combined dimension. We found that firms possessing greater supplier involvement reap higher performance benefits from the combined dimension of innovation ambidexterity. Last, foreign subsidiaries also achieved higher levels of performance than domestic firms from the combined dimension of innovation ambidexterity.