Rotman Management

Winter 2022

Published in January, May and September by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, Rotman Management explores themes of interest to leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs. Each issue features thought-provoking insights and problem-solving tools from leading global researchers and management practitioners. The magazine reflects Rotman’s role as a catalyst for transformative thinking that creates value for business and society.

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
3 Issues

in this issue

2 min
the disrupted issue

IN THE PAST 18 MONTHS, we have all been disrupted to some degree by the COVID-19 pandemic. But disruption is a shape-shifter that can take many forms. It can mean changing the face of an organization to reflect the society it serves; creating a product that has minimal impact on the environment; or switching your mindset by 180 degrees from where it started out. It can also involve long-awaited changes to the status quo or courageously declaring one’s true self in an environment that looks and thinks very differently. In this issue of Rotman Management, we dig deeper into all of the above in an effort to share the skills, tools and mindsets that will be required to thrive in the post-pandemic world. Mission and vision statements are great, but they are…

15 min
the imagination machine: how surprise triggers imagination

EVERY IMAGINATIVE EFFORT BEGINS with a mental spark. Financial pioneer Omar Selim’s spark came from an unexpected source: his teenage children. Selim, who was Barclays head of global markets for institutional clients at the time, was preparing for a trip the following day to Johannesburg. At dinner, he and his children talked about work and life, what matters and what doesn’t. “Okay, so you’re going to fly there tomorrow, stay in a five-star hotel, give a speech, which probably nobody really cares about,” they said. “And this is the path you’ve chosen to dedicate your life to?” As Selim told us, this blunt exchange with his children actually triggered his imagination, throwing everything into question. And this trigger coincided with a situation at work that gave him a lot of time…

12 min
thought leader interview: gillian hadfield

As director of the Schwartz Reisman Institute (SRI) for Technology and Society at the University of Toronto, your goal is to ensure that technology produces outcomes that align with society’s values. Can you unpack this mission statement for us? The key thing to know about artificial intelligence (AI) is that in many cases, it automates human judgment and decision-making — which means it is making decisions that impact the world. You could even say we’ve begun to delegate many decisions to machines: Who should get a loan; who should get into an educational program; how a car should steer when a human appears in front of it. We need to make sure that these machines are making decisions that are aligned with what communities and societies want. This is known as…

14 min
the purpose paradigm: towards a common understanding of corporate purpose

PURPOSE IS A CONCEPT often used in managerial communities to signal and define a firm’s benevolent and pluralistic approach to its stakeholders beyond its focus on shareholders. While mounting evidence links purpose to positive organizational outcomes such as growth, employee satisfaction, innovation and superior stock market performance, the definition and application of purpose in management research has been varied and frequently ambiguous. In a recent paper with my colleagues Gerard George (Georgetown University), Martine Haas (University of Pennsylvania), Simon Schillebeeckx (Singapore Management University) and Paul Tracey (University of Cambridge), we present a framework for understanding and implementing purpose in organizations. My co-authors and I view purpose as directed towards a higher-order goal that the firm engages with in an authentic way and that employees find compelling. This is consistent with the World…

14 min
life, reimagined: how covid-19 has changed consumers

OVER THE PAST 18 MONTHS, a majority of consumers — across backgrounds, demographics and geographies — have reimagined their values and purpose. They have made a consequential shift to focusing on what matters most for them in life — and their motivations for what and how they buy are, accordingly, meaningfully different. Our research into these changes reveals an enormous new ‘white space’ in which brands must differentiate themselves anew to survive and discover new paths to growth. Consumers will leave brands that don’t recognize their new priorities—and they will pay more for those that do. It’s time to ask: What will motivate consumers to stay? What will motivate them to pay? The pandemic compelled consumers — en masse — to shift their expectations more rapidly and completely than we’ve seen at…

17 min
disrupting the disruptor: an equity lens on artificial intelligence

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) describes machines that can simulate some forms of human intelligence. Some conceptualizations of AI refer to machines that act indistinguishably from humans, while others focus more on ‘machine learning’ that can identify patterns, achieve an optimized outcome to a given problem, and/or make predictions and decisions based on prior information. To achieve these goals, AI uses algorithms that ‘learn’ from large data sets and adjust and improve over time based on new data. While not a new concept, AI is increasingly embedded in people’s lives and will only become more pervasive. Organizations across many sectors use AI for a variety of purposes: hiring employees, performing surgeries, tutoring school subjects, making decisions about criminal sentencing, making lending decisions, automating driving, and predicting where crime will occur, to name a few.…