MIT Sloan Executive Education

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Monthly Archives: May 2013

MIT Sloan faculty earn esteemed awards

Four MIT Sloan faculty were recently honored for their outstanding teaching accomplishments and presented with prestigious awards at special ceremonies held on campus this month.

“At MIT Sloan, we are fortunate that the ‘best of the best’ MBA faculty also teach in our executive education program, which is not necessarily the case at other schools,” said Peter Hirst, Executive Director of MIT Sloan Executive Education.

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Cutting staff is not a good operations strategy for retail

Retailers often resort to making HR changes in order to lower costs. They simply cut staff, which is only a temporary fix. As Zeynep Ton, Adjunct Associate Professor of Operations Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, commented to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “retailers who cut staff to cut costs are succumbing to a vicious cycle, where the staff reductions result in lower customer satisfaction,” which then negates the financial gains from the initial staff cuts.

The issue of retail staff reductions and its impact on consumers has come to the forefront of consumers’ minds due to recent issues at Walmart. The New York Times detailed the issue in “Walmart Strains to Keep Aisles Stocked Fresh,” April 3, 2013, and states that some employees and industry analysts feel that Walmart “no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly.”

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Revenue management lessons learned from J.C. Penney

The science behind revenue management is vital to many industries, not just retail. How to set the price of a product or service and extract as much profit as possible applies to many industries, including hospitality, airline, transportation, oil and gas, and advertising. It’s the pricing strategy of the retail industry, however, that has made news recently.

In November 2011, J.C. Penney brought in a new CEO—former Apple executive Ron Johnson—to make changes to the brand and its operations. Laura Heller, a contributor to Forbes even called her story on the changes, “Why J.C. Penney Will Be the Most Interesting Retailer of 2012.

Under Johnson’s leadership, the retailer implemented a simplified, three-tiered pricing strategy that slashed the prices of popular merchandise by at least 40 percent, offered “Month-Long Value” discounts on select items, and promoted clearance deals during the first and the third Friday of every month (when many shoppers get paid).

The idea was “to keep prices low on the basics shoppers look for frequently and introduce new merchandise on a routine schedule.” Forbes referred to this strategy as “a shocking move for any retailer, let alone a department store where hi-low pricing and promotions have long been the norm.”

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Gender stereotypes in negotiation—does Sheryl Sandberg have it right?

How do you negotiate when you need to make a positive impression? The answer may depend on your gender.

lean-in-book-coverIn Sheryl Sandberg’s much discussed Lean In, the author describes research findings that women perceived as hard-charging types are liked less. She advises women to smile profusely during a negotiation, use the word “we” instead of “I,” and express appreciation to your bosses. Of course, Sandberg is aware of the contradictions implicit in these instructions, given the tenet of the book itself and adds, “No wonder women don’t negotiate.”

Her point is not lost on negotiation theorists who understand that for both genders there exists a tension between claiming value for oneself and being likeable in a conversation or negotiation. Women are assumed to be warm and relational, which might represent a barrier to advocating for themselves, whereas men are assumed to be competitive and thus less empathic in a conflict.

In “Making a Positive Impression in Negotiation: Gender Difference in Response to Impression Motivation” (Negotiation and Conflict Management Research), MIT Sloan Professor Jared Curhan and Jennifer R. Overbeck, of the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, examined the ways in which impression motivation—the attempt to regulate other people’s impressions of oneself—affects a negotiator’s ability to claim value and to actually make a positive impression on his or her counterparts.

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