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Category Archives: Research

Heeding contagion—preventing another economic crisis

The U.S. is unflinching in its optimism and ability to move forward after a crisis, such as the 2008 recession. And yet the drawback to this reflex is the ability to quickly forget what landed us in the situation to begin with. As our economy recovers, we potentially risk a growing complacency and inadequate financial oversight.

Just months ago, the country of Cyprus made global headlines as their banks’ ballooning assets grew far beyond what the country could support. Losing over 4.5 billion euros, the Cyprian banks tried to repair the damage by confiscating secure deposits, affecting the assets and the trust of investors throughout Europe and Russia and causing a ripple effect of investment withdrawals. The contagious effects of this crisis are a warning of how interconnected we are, and how one failed system could halt economic recovery elsewhere.

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Mobile money on the rise

While the developed world continues trudging through a slow economic recovery, parts of the developing world’s economy are being rapidly transformed by a new form of disruptive technology: mobile money.

Mobile money—a cash management service available on mobile phones or the internet—is having more than a moment; it’s making a profound impact, powerful enough to shift economies across country borders. Studying the impact of mobile money in its most successful beta launch to date in Kenya can teach us a lot about the impact and adoption of disruptive innovations within a country and beyond its borders.

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The new competitive advantage: not leaning in, but leaning forward

Microsoft recently announced a significant restructuring in hopes of reclaiming its lost market share and the trust of its customers. In response, many are asking, “Is restructuring the answer? What changes will Microsoft need to make to regain its competitive edge?”

The Lean Forward Approach

According to Steven Spear, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan and recognized expert on high velocity organizations, the most successful organizations are the ones creating high value with their products, in less time, using less effort. These organizations, says Spear, use the lean forward approach: they consistently seek immediate clarification and amplification of their customer’s voice by leaning into their users’ domain to discover the problems as well as delights of their experience.

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Studies show gender gap still exists on scientific advisory boards

While the number of women holding positions on scientific advisory boards (SAB) is increasing, it may come as a surprise that those numbers are still low.

According to the U.S. National Science Foundation, although the proportion of women in industrial and academic science is on the rise—women make up 25 percent of tenured academics in science and engineering and more than 25 percent of industry scientists in research and development—when it comes to women serving on SABs, the numbers aren’t as positive. And, women are losing out because of it: membership on these boards is not without its advantages, including access to promising research, consulting opportunities, and monetary rewards.

A paper published last October by MIT Sloan Professor Fiona Murray, along with Toby Stuart at the University of California, Berkeley, and Waverly Ding at the University of Maryland in College Park, examined the gender gap in corporate SABs. As part of the study, they reviewed a national sample of 6,000 life scientists whose careers span more than 30 years. In addition, the group looked at all publicly available lists of U.S. biotech SABs, including about 500 companies.

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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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