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.

For more from the journal click here!

Read the September Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly!

asqa_63_3_coverWe are pleased to announce that the September Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now available to read for a limited time.

Check out the editorial which discusses the ASQ Scholarly Award for Scholarly Contribution which was awarded to  Adam M. Kleinbaum for his article, “Organizational Misfits and the Origins of Brokerage in Intrafirm Networks.”


In the research article, “The Structural Origins of Unearned Status: How Arbitrary Changes in Categories Affect Status Position and Market Impact,” included in this issue, the relationship among status, actors’ quality, and market outcomes are discussed. You can find the abstract below.

customer-experience-3024488__340.jpgFocusing on the categorical nature of many status orderings, we examine the relationship among status, actors’ quality, and market outcomes. As markets evolve, the number of categories that structure them can increase, creating opportunities for new actors to be bestowed status, or it can decrease, dethroning certain actors from their superior standing. In both cases, gains and losses of status may occur without changes in actors’ quality. Because audiences rely on status signals to infer the value of market actors, these exogenously generated status shifts can translate into changes in how audiences perceive actors, resulting in benefits for unearned status gains and costs for unearned status losses. We find support for our hypotheses in a sample of equity analysts at U.S. brokerage firms. Using data on the coveted Institutional Investor magazine All-Star award, we find that analysts whose status increases because of a category addition see corresponding increases in the stock market’s response to their earnings estimates, while those who lose status see corresponding reductions. Our results suggest that the greater weight accorded to high-status actors may be misguided if that status occurs for structural reasons such as category changes rather than because of an actor’s own quality.


This intriguing study, “Anchored Personalization in Managing Goal Conflict between Professional Groups: The Case of U.S. Army Mental Health Care” delves into conflict between groups that pursue different goals. You can find the abstract below:

Mental-health-2313426_640Organizational life is rife with conflict between groups that pursue different goals, particularly when groups have strong commitments to professional identities developed outside the organization. I use data from a 30-month comparative ethnographic field study of four U.S. Army combat brigades to examine conflict between commanders who had a goal of fielding a mission-ready force and mental health providers who had a goal of providing rehabilitative mental health care to soldiers. All commanders and providers faced goal and identity conflict and had access to similar integrative mechanisms. Yet only those associated with two brigades addressed these conflicts in ways that accomplished the army’s superordinate goal of having both mission-ready and mentally healthy soldiers. Both successful brigades used what I call “anchored personalization” practices, which included developing personalized relations across groups, anchoring members in their home group identity, and co-constructing integrative solutions to conflict. These practices were supported by an organizational structure in which professionals were assigned to work with specific members of the other group, while remaining embedded within their home group. In contrast, an organizational structure promoting only anchoring in one’s home group identity led to failure when each group pursued its own goals at the expense of the other group’s goals. A structure promoting only personalization across groups without anchoring in one’s home group identity led to failure from cooptation by the dominant group. This study contributes to our understanding of how groups with strong professional identities can work together in service of their organization’s superordinate goals when traditional mechanisms fail.


To listen to the latest ASQ podcast click here.


Ranking photo attributed to Free Photos.

Mental Health photo attributed to Free Photos.

Gareth Morgan On Re-Imagining Images of Organization

Images of OrganizationAs part of the newly published July 2016 issue of Journal of Management Inquiry, in the article entitled “Re-Imagining Images of Organization: A Conversation with Gareth Morgan,” authors Cliff Oswick of City University London and David Grant of UNSW Business School converse with Gareth Morgan about the metaphors he presented in his popular book, Images of Organization (1986). Gareth talks about how the metaphors have changed and how they continue to be relevant to  our understanding organizations.  

The abstract for the paper:

In this article, we review the metaphors presented by Morgan in Images of Organizationand highlight how they simultaneously act as “relatively static reflections” (i.e., they provide a history of organization theory) and “relatively dynamic projections” (i.e., stimulating the formulation of further organizational Current Issue Coverimages). We also discuss the potential for new organizational metaphors and consider two specific metaphors (i.e., the “global brain” and “organization as media”). We also challenge the established punctuated metaphorical process (i.e., a transfer from a metaphorical source domain to an organizational target domain), propose a dynamic perspective of interchange (i.e., source domain to target domain to source domain and so on), and develop the notion of multidirectionality (i.e., two-way projections between target and source domains).

You can read “Re-Imagining Images of Organization: A Conversation with Gareth Morgan” from the Journal of Management Inquiry free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

Environmental Proactivity: An Economic Booster for Firms?

[We’re pleased to welcome Jesús Valero-Gil of University of Zaragoza. Professor O&E_Mar_2012_vol26_no1_Cover_Final.inddValero-Gil co-authored an article with Pilar River-Torres, Concepcion Garces-Ayerbe, and Sabina Scarpellini of University of Zaragoza in the September 2015 issue of Organization & Environment entitled “Pro-Environmental Change and Short- to Mid-Term Economic Performance: The Mediating Effect of Organisational Design Change” .]

 The relationship between environmental proactivity and financial results in firms has been widely studied, and different conclusions have been obtained. Both from a theoretical and an empirical perspective, numerous authors have come to different and opposite results. This phenomenon inspired a new work in the topic. Given this lack of consensus, the idea that the relationship between environmental and financial performance is not as obvious as it might seem arises. The complexity of the relationship between pro-environmental measures and performance, suggesting that there are certain moderating and mediating variables in this relationship.

The abstract:

The aim of this study is to contribute empirically to the understanding of the economic effects of pro-environmental change in firms. First, we analyse whether pro-environmental changes performed in different sections of firms’ value chain (products, processes and supply and distribution channels) generate positive economic returns in the short- to mid-term. Second, we analyse whether measures implemented by firms to improve environmental performance (pro-environmental change) have been complemented with changes in organisational design, and whether these changes help increase short- to mid-term economic performance. Through an analysis of a sample of 303 firms, we have collected empirical evidence that confirms that pro-environmental change improves short- to mid-term business performance both directly and indirectly, through the mediating effect of improvements in organisational design that often go hand in hand with these processes.

You can read “Pro-Environmental Change and Short- to Mid-Term Economic Performance: The Mediating Effect of Organisational Design Change” from Organization & Environment free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research from Organization & Environment? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

An Interview With Gareth Morgan on Metaphors in Organization Theory

Well-known for his work in organization theory, Gareth Morgan explored the use of metaphors to help examine organization problems in his 1986 book “Images of Organization.” Cliff Oswick of City University London and Davis Grant of UNSW Business School in Australia recently interviewed Dr. Morgan about his perspective on metaphors in Journal of Management Inquiry.

The abstract:

In this article, we review the metaphors presented by Morgan in Images of Organization and highlight how they JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointsimultaneously act as “relatively static reflections” (i.e., they provide a history of organization theory) and “relatively dynamic projections” (i.e., stimulating the formulation of further organizational images). We also discuss the potential for new organizational metaphors and consider two specific metaphors (i.e., the “global brain” and “organization as media”). We also challenge the established punctuated metaphorical process (i.e., a transfer from a metaphorical source domain to an organizational target domain), propose a dynamic perspective of interchange (i.e., source domain to target domain to source domain and so on), and develop the notion of multidirectionality (i.e., two-way projections between target and source domains).

You can read “Re-Imagining Images of Organization: A Conversation With Gareth Morgan” from Journal of Management Inquiry for free by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest news, research, and interviews like this from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

A New Vision for Business Schools

In a new article published in the Journal of Management Inquiry, Sonal Minocha of the University of Bedfordshire Business School and Martin Reynolds of the Centre for Leadership and Management Practice write:

For at least a good decade, the volume from our critics has been turned up—it has been a pretty straight arrow at that too—the value and relevance of what business schools do is seriously questioned by those looking into our sector. Whether it is businesses, government, special review bodies and even distinguished management scholars, the message being articulated doesn’t seem to be getting through in terms of changing the business school model in practice.

Recognizing the need for a new approach to business education, the authors explain:

[We] present our case study of the application of wall art as an alternative and novel mode for the embodiment and expression of new and different ideas. We illustrate our wall art applications, and how they communicated the story of our business school’s vision and the various projects and initiatives the school was undertaking to implement the vision. Finally, we reflect on the effectiveness and impact of our approach to wall art, and the lessons that can be drawn for further application and use within other business school contexts.

Click here to read the article, “The Artistry of Practice or the Practice of Artistry: Embodying Art and Practice in a Business School Context,” and follow this link to learn more about the Journal of Management Inquiry.

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