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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review Fall 2014

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice, particularly those shaped by technology,  that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

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United States
MIT Sloan Management Review
4 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
strategy in the midst of change

Martha E. Mangelsdorf, editorial director MIT Sloan Management Review How do you develop strategy in a business environment characterized by rapid change and considerable uncertainty about the future? That’s a question that many executives in fast-changing industries face. In their article “Beyond Forecasting: Creating New Strategic Narratives,” Sarah Kaplan of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and Wanda Orlikowski of the MIT Sloan School of Management offer a fascinating answer to the question, and it’s one that involves creating a story that links a company’s past, present and future. Kaplan and Orlikowski painstakingly followed the process of strategy development at a high-tech company whose industry was experiencing great turmoil. Managers knew their industry was changing, but it was very hard to discern the future. The researchers discovered that,…

2 min.
the 2014 richard beckhard memorial prize

This year’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize goes to the fall 2012 MIT SMR article by Hamid Bouchikhi and John R. Kimberly entitled “Making Mergers Work.” The authors examine why mergers and acquisitions so often fail to achieve the results and synergies they promise. The article argues that much of the difficulty lies in the failure of executives of the acquiring company to seriously consider the quite different ways that not only operational but also psychological integration between previously separate corporate entities can be achieved. In the view of the judges, this article offers a pragmatic but novel perspective on the familiar and vexing problems managers face in merging organizations successfully. Bouchikhi and Kimberly point out that there is no single “one best way” in this domain and that integration can take different forms.…

7 min.
the upside to large competitors

Image courtesy of Flickr user Mike Vadala Image courtesy of Flickr user Mike Vadala Large competitors are often viewed as a major threat for startups and small companies; big companies have more financial resources and greater scale, market power and brand awareness than smaller ones. However, our research finds that a smaller brand can actually benefit if consumers can see the competitive threat it faces from a larger organization. When Cold Stone Creamery, a U.S.-based ice cream chain with about 1,400 stores, moved within 50 steps of a J.P. Licks ice cream store in Newton, Massachusetts, some people expected that J.P. Licks, a small, locally owned company, would be beaten out of the Newton market. But consumers rallied around J.P. Licks, and Cold Stone later closed its nearby location. When the owner…

10 min.
a new perspective on enterprise resource management

Image courtesy of Flickr user Whitneyinchicago. Consumers today are concerned with more than just quality and price. Increasingly, they also care about the social and environmental impacts of products. Indeed, many ask questions like: Does this toy contain toxic substances? Where do the materials in this garment come from? Do manufacturers take occupational safety practices in their factories seriously enough? And are the production processes environmentally friendly? Being able to answer questions about the safety and environmental effects of products we use is critical. However, without the right information, even seemingly easy questions are difficult to answer. We send spacecrafts to Mars, but we know embarrassingly little about everyday products we use. Although we produce huge quantities of data every second, we frequently lack the relevant and actionable data points to respond…

9 min.
getting value from your data scientists

Data scientists are enjoying a heyday. No longer languishing at the periphery of organizations, these quantitative analysts today are recognized as highly skilled specialists trained to take on the most significant (and often the most complex) business challenges. They are the latest examples of “numbers people,” whose direct lineage goes back to the 1940s, when Ford Motor Co. recruited a team of statistical “whiz kids” (including Robert S. McNamara) from the U.S. military. The recent emergence of the digital enterprise has created a seemingly insatiable management appetite to amass and analyze data. This demand coincides with the rapidly decreasing cost of storing those data and preparing them for analysis, along with the growth in computing power to support the application of increasingly sophisticated techniques for extracting meaning from complex data. How…

10 min.
do-it-yourself leadership training in china

Lin, an executive at the Chinese unit of a luxury carmaker, has a problem. During the last decade, the luxury car market in China has grown by 36% a year — and still has plenty of room to grow. But as Lin’s organization grows, he needs more managers capable of leading his fast-growing staff. Unfortunately, he can barely fill the leadership roles within his organization already. His managers often wear multiple hats while they wait for additional managers to be hired. And when Lin can find qualified candidates for managerial jobs, the new hires tend to have good technical skills but weak people skills, decision-making skills and strategic judgment. Lin has considered formal leadership training, but few training programs in China suit his needs. Available programs are costly and seem mostly…