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MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review Winter 2016

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

2 min.
how transparency changes business

At first glance, Bo Muller-Moore doesn’t look like much of a threat to the corporate world. Muller-Moore is a Vermont-based artist who has a small business selling T-shirts adorned with the slogan “Eat More Kale.” But when Atlanta-based fast-food chain Chick-fil-A Inc. sent Muller-Moore a cease-and-desist letter in 2011 — arguing that the “Eat More Kale” phrase infringed on Chick-fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” slogan — Muller-Moore fought back. Taking his plight to social media (and posting a copy of Chick-fil-A’s letter to him on Facebook), Muller-Moore ended up launching “a sophisticated … battle that brought [him] free legal representation, increased sales, strong public support, and media coverage in publications such as Time and The New York Times,” notes David Orozco in his article “Using Social Media in Business Disputes.” In the end,…

10 min.
what email reveals about your organization

What if — far enough in advance that you could do something about it — you could gauge the likelihood that some of your company’s top performers were thinking about leaving? Or if you could see from the email interactions between your best salespeople and customers which communication behaviors had the most chance of generating successful results? It so happens that by sifting through data from such sources as email archives, Twitter feeds, and Facebook group pages, managers can in fact learn a lot about how to manage these and other areas of their organizations. They can then use this information to generate better results. Over the last 15 years, I have worked with researchers at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, Wayne State University, the University of Cologne, and the…

9 min.
getting workplace safety right

Worker safety is a persistent and expensive problem, even in countries with well-developed regulation and enforcement. For example, 2.8 million nonfatal occupational injuries and more than 4,600 workplace fatalities occurred in the United States in 2014. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that, in addition to the incalculable human cost, occupational illness and injuries cost businesses in the United States about $170 billion each year. The management of employee safety is hardly a new concept. Yet, in manufacturing, many companies are missing out on the cost efficiencies and synergistic boost to productivity that would come from investing in safety systems and capabilities. The reason? They don’t take safety seriously enough. In fact, a sense that rules need to be broken to get work done was evident in the…

8 min.
how workplace fairness affects employee commitment

What makes workers feel engaged? The quest to answer this riddle is becoming increasingly important for organizations, because employee engagement is linked to work performance: Engaged employees tend to be more productive. Moreover, workplace engagement is an important determinant for the level of commitment and loyalty that employees show toward their respective organizations. Executives must understand what motivates employees to excel in their jobs to reduce the risk of “brain drain” and, ultimately, to create sustainable organizational success. One of the crucial prerequisites for workforce well-being is that employees feel they can trust their line managers. Trust in decision-making authorities fundamentally shapes employees’ expectations about how they will be treated in the future — in terms of both what the authorities are likely to do and how they will execute their…

3 min.
has your office become a lonely place?

Pity the 21st century office worker. With increasing amounts of work getting done outside the traditional corporate office — for example, through employees working at home — those left in the office may face a lonelier — and even less productive — office environment. In fact, working remotely may be contagious, because if too many of the people on a team aren’t in the office much, coming into the office has less benefit for the remaining employees, who may then also choose to work remotely. That’s the implication of a fascinating study described in the paper, “Contagious Offsite Work and the Lonely Office: The Unintended Consequences of Distributed Work,” published in the December 2015 issue of the journal Academy of Management Discoveries. (See “Related Research.”) The paper’s authors, Kevin W. Rockmann,…

10 min.
a new vision for personal transportation

Image courtesy of Bridj Transportation is one of the largest sectors of the global economy. It is also one that is changing rapidly. Smartphones and Internet-based technologies have helped launch and enable new business models like Uber, Lyft, and car2go. Even self-driving cars are no longer science fiction. But the future of transportation — what we call mobility — will go far beyond these developments. This article is based on our research and experience in mobility and customization. One of the authors (Gruel) initiated and led the development of new mobility services as part of Daimler AG’s business innovation team. In that role, he helped grow these services and was head of product management for the car-sharing service car2go and the route-planning tool moovel. The other author (Piller) has investigated the success…