Overcoming the Problem With Solving Business Problems

[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Todd Bridgman of the Victoria University of Wellington, Colm McLaughlin of the University College Dublin, and Stephen Cummings of the Victoria University of Wellington. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled “Overcoming the Problem With Solving Business Problems: Using Theory Differently to Rejuvenate the Case Method for Turbulent Times,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Bridgman recounts the motivations and innovations of this research:]

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What motivated you to pursue this research?

Our interest came from our experiences as case writers and teachers. Early cases we developed were well received, so we attended case writing and teaching workshops to further our skills. This led to two realizations. First, we came to see that analysis of the cases largely took place in a theoretical vacuum. This seemed limiting, because we had always found theory useful for seeing situations from multiple perspectives. Second, theory, when it was applied to cases, was only given a narrow active role. It was only seen as useful if it was a ‘tool ’applied to fix or solve real-life ‘business problems’ which were generally seen in immediate financial profit and loss terms. This struck us as too narrow. Wasn’t there more to studying management than solving business problems? And doesn’t theory have more useful purposes than being a profit-maximization tool? These experiences got us interested in delving deeper into the history of the case method and the role of theory in utilizing cases in teaching.

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

We’ve watched closely the global political-economy since the financial crisis hit a decade ago, and we see parallels with what happened in the United States following the financial crises of the 1920s and 1930s. Both periods of turbulence were followed by a deep questioning of the prevailing free-market capitalist model. We see today in Brexit, American politics, the rise of nationalism in Europe and elsewhere a fundamental challenge to a 30-year consensus around neoliberalism. This has implications for management education, because business schools that have been strongly aligned to the neoliberal worldview now risk being seen as out of step with this new political landscape. We were interested in looking back to the 1920s and 1930s to see how business schools like Harvard responded to the crisis, to give us insight on how schools might respond today. In HBS’ past we found the seeds of a critical, reflexive management education, which encourages students to question dominant assumptions and ideologies. The aim of the paper is to think about how we could adapt the case method to incorporate this kind of approach.

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

It is widely accepted that we should learn from history, but what is less understood is how we are limited by the histories that we have. Our paper is innovative by exploring the case method’s forgotten past at HBS. In response to the crises of the 1920s and 1930s HBS’ leaders understood the need for a business education that didn’t just blindly support capitalism but seriously questioned its development for the good of humanity. But these events have been largely airbrushed from the school’s history because they challenge the neoliberal worldview that the modern HBS wished to promote in the last half of the 20th century. HBS has a more diverse and interesting past that is conveniently forgotten by supporters, and therefore unseen by the critics. Our paper will have impact if it stimulates new research on the case method and if it provides greater legitimacy for case writing and teaching that does more than train students to solve immediate ‘business problems’. We want to inspire a rejuvenated role for theory and a more reflective and thought-provoking case method that is a better fit for today’s challenging, multi-faceted times.

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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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New Podcast! Protecting Student Intellectual Property in the Entrepreneurial Classroom

Podcast MicrophoneIn the latest podcast from Journal of Management Education, Jane Murray speaks with Jerome Katz and Sarah Wright about their article, “Protecting Student Intellectual Property in the Entrepreneurial Classroom.” The podcast delves into the inspiration for Sarah to interview Jerome about student entrepreneurship, as well as what future research and projects this paper has sparked for Sarah and Jerome.

The abstract for the paper:

While universities are intensely protective of revenue streams related to intellectual property interests for the institution and professors, the financial and legal interests of students in the entrepreneurial process have largely been overlooked. This lack of attention, both in universities and in the literature, is intriguing given the mushrooming growth in entrepreneurial education courses in almost every U.S.
university. This article builds and reflects on an original article by Katz, Harshman, and Lund Dean where the JMEauthors advocate for establishing classroom norms for promoting and protecting student intellectual property. We present research, insights, and reflections from Professor Katz regarding the controversial ethical and legal issues related to student intellectual property in university settings and provide suggested resources for faculty traversing these issues.

Interested in hearing the interview? You can listen to the full podcast by clicking here. You can also read the article, “Protecting Student Intellectual Property in the Entrepreneurial Classroom” from Journal of Management Education free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

Want to hear more podcasts from Journal of Management Education? Click here to view the journal’s podcast archive! You can also stay current on all of the latest research published by Journal of Management Education by clicking here to sign up for e-alerts!

Read the New Issue of Journal of Management Education!

10740098824_efe1d316b7_zThe October 2016 issue of Journal of Management Education is now available online, and can be accessed free for the next 30 days. The October issue features a new provocative conversation for the article “Isn’t It Time We Did Something About the Lack of Teaching Preparation in Business Doctoral Programs?” by authors Robert D. Marx, Joseph E. Garcia, D. Anthony Butterfield, Jeffrey A. Kappen, and Timothy T. Baldwin. The rejoinders for the article include rejoinders from Roy J. Lewicki, James Bailey, Graham Gibbs, Dianne Minh Le, and Denise M. Rousseau.

In the rejoinder “A Deeper Dig,” Roy J. Lewicki and James Current Issue CoverBailey delve into the supply side, demand side, and throughput process of management doctoral programs to fully understand the lack of teaching preparation. Their rejoinder suggests that institutions would be resistant to the suggested changes, but a shift in the supply and demand for skilled teachers could potentially force the hand of institutions to address this issue.

In the rejoinder “On the Call for Action,” Dianne Le discusses the role of AACSB and hiring institutions in addressing the lack of teaching preparation. Her rejoinder raises the question of when and where teacher training should begin, considering teaching expectations differ quite a bit from one institution to the next.

You can read all of the rejoinders and more from the October 2016 issue of Journal of Management Education free for the next 30 days–click here to view the table of contents! You can also read through past provocative conversations published on the Journal of Management Education website here.

Want to stay current on all of the latest research and rejoinders published by Journal of Management Education? Click here to sign up for e-alerts! 

*Lecture image attributed to University of Liverpool (CC)

Read the August 2016 Issue of Journal of Management Education!

4537055943_82352d7853_zThe August 2016 issue of Journal of Management Education is now available online and can be accessed free for the next 30 days. The August issue features a provocative article from authors J. Michael Cavanaugh, Catherine C. Giapponi, and Timothy D. Golden, entitled “Digital Technology and Student Cognitive Development: The Neuroscience of the University Classroom,” which delves into how digital technology is changing the way students learn on a neurological level, and how management educators should reevaluate their approach to teaching as a result. In particular, the article highlights the negative impact digital technology has on students “deep thinking” capabilities. The authors argue that management education should help students develop multiple literacies across contexts, teaching students reading, comprehension, and complex thinking that may be lost if teachers focus wholly on technology and digital media. The abstract for the article:

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Digital technology has proven a beguiling, some even venture addictive, presence in the lives of our 21st century (millennial) students. And while screen technology may offer select cognitive benefits, there is mounting evidence in the cognitive neuroscience literature that digital technology is restructuring the way our students read and think, and not necessarily for the better. Rather, emerging research regarding intensive use of digital devices suggests something more closely resembling a Faustian quandary: Certain cognitive skills are gained while other “deep thinking” capabilities atrophy as a result of alterations in the neural circuitry of millennial brains. This has potentially profound implications for management teaching and practice. In response, some advocate that we “meet students where we find them.” We too acknowledge the need to address student needs, but with the proviso that the academy’s trademark commitment to penetrating, analytical thinking not be compromised given the unprecedented array of existential challenges awaiting this generation of students. These and rising faculty suspicions of a new “digital divide” cropping up in the management classroom represents a timely opportunity for management educators to reflect not only on how today’s students read and learn, but equally, on what and how we teach.

The issue also features a rejoinder from author Caroline Williams-Pierce, who offers an interesting counterargument to Cavanaugh, Giapponi, and Golden’s article, arguing that given their autonomy, students can engage in deep interest-driven learning through digital media.

You can read the August 2016 issue of Journal of Management Education free for the next 30 days by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research from Journal of Management EducationClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Ipad image attributed to Gustav Holmström (CC)

Award-Winning Journal of Management Education Article on Business Studios

2016 Roethlisberger Award WinnerWe are pleased to congratulate Stefan Meisiek of University of Sydney and Daved Barry of Jönköping International Business School , who received the Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award for 2016 with their article, “Discovering the Business Studio,” published in the February 2015 issue of Journal of Management Education. 

The Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award commemorates Fritz Roethlisberger’s devotion to inquiry and learning. Fritz Roethlisberger helped pioneer the Human Relations School of Management as a human-centric alternative to Taylorist management. The Human Relations School has strongly informed the recent global push towards business humanities education. The Fritz Roethlisberger Memorial Award is granted to authors judged to have contributed the best paper on teaching and learning in organizational and management sciences published in the Journal of Management Education during the previous year.

The abstract for the paper:

Over the past decade, numerous business schools have begun experimenting with studio-based inquiry, often drawing inspiration from professional studios used within art and design schools and from business and governmental studios used for problem-solving and innovation. Business school studios vary considerably in form, ranging from temporary “pop up” studios to dedicated facilities with full-time JMEstaff, with the primary purpose of educating managers in craft, art, and design-based approaches to business problems. The jury on the studio phenomenon is out—can they deliver on their educational promise? To address this question, we pull together 25 years of studio experimentation in multiple settings, visits, and observations of studios around the world and interviews with studio makers from various disciplines. We consider the question of “what is a business studio?” in some detail, conjecture about the value that studios might have for management education, provide examples of four different business studio orientations and how these might translate into practice, and highlight what we believe to be some essentials when starting and running a business studio.

You can read the award-winning article “Discovering the Business Studio” free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management EducationClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

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Award-Winning Journal of Management Education Article on Learning-Inhibitory Introductory Textbooks

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Robert A. Snyder of Northern Kentucky University recently won the first Ruane National Prize for Innovation in Business Education for his article, “Let’s Burn Them All: Reflections on the Learning-Inhibitory Nature of Introduction to Management and Introduction to Organizational Behavior Textbooks,” which was published in the October 2014 issue of Journal of Management Education. Dr. Snyder also has a forthcoming book, The Social Cognitive Neuroscience of Leading Organizational Change, which will be released on March 12, 2016 by Taylor & Francis/Routledge.

The abstract for the award-winning article:

This essay provides evidence from the neurosciences that standard Introduction to Management and Introduction to Organizational Behavior textbooks may inhibit, rather than facilitate, learning of the basic concepts and the rudimentary knowledge-basis that underlie the complex skills business students should learn in subsequent coursework and that they must hone in practice as future managers. Specific introductory textbook limitations that are addressed include the following: (a) the nearly total absence of neuroscience findings that have important relevance and application to management and organizational behavior; (b) the ineffective manner in which theories are presented; (c) the use of idiosyncratic, academically derived, or simply spot-invented language; (d) the nonengaging manner in which information (generally speaking) is presented; and (e) the question of whether such textbooks are being read, much less studied. Based on my recent, joyous experience in not using such textbooks, I propose, for readers’ possible consideration, an alternative (hyperlink) practice that is (a) fully compatible with recent neuroscience research on management, learning, and information retention/retrieval and (b) likely to dramatically increase student engagement with assigned readings in Introduction to Management and Introduction to Organizational Behavior courses and their ability to retrieve content and apply it during class discussions.

You can read “Let’s Burn Them All: Reflections on the Learning-Inhibitory Nature of Introduction to Management and Introduction to Organizational Behavior Textbooks” from Journal of Management Education free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management Education? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!