Online business blogging

Good Management Predicts a Firm’s Success Better Than IT, R&D, or Even Employee Skills
Nicholas Blechman for HBR Ask any sports fan about their favorite team and they will usually spend half the time either cursing or extolling the manager. Apparently, the manager is responsible for every loss, and perhaps even the occasional victory. Enter any pub in England during soccer season and you will find hundreds of angry, red-faced fans shouting insults to the TV, many of them directed at the manager. On the other hand, many people have an ingrained cynicism about the latest management thinking. In this view, management thinking obsesses over the latest fad, and represents [...]
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Prestigious Firms Make Riskier Acquisitions Than Other Firms
High-reputation firms are recognized for consistently meeting and even exceeding stakeholders’ expectations. Prior research suggests that compared to other firms, this elite subset of firms attract more and better job applicants, command higher prices for products and services, and sustain higher financial performance. However, recent research has also found that high-reputation firms face greater pressure to achieve rapid growth. Consider the example of Microsoft, a perennial high-reputation firm. Microsoft has dominant businesses in Windows and Office, tremendous profitability, and is [...]
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Why the U.S. Is Still Richer Than Every Other Large Country
Each year, the United States produces more per person than most other advanced economies. In 2015 real GDP per capita was $56,000 in the United States. The real GDP per capita in that same year was only $47,000 in Germany, $41,000 in France and the United Kingdom, and just $36,000 in Italy, adjusting for purchasing power. In short, the U.S. remains richer than its peers. But why? I can think of 10 features that distinguish America from other industrial economies, which I outline in a recent essay for the National Bureau of Economic Research, from which this article is adapted. An entrepreneuri [...]
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Case Study: Follow Dubious Orders or Speak Up?
At first, Susan Kim wasn’t sure whether she’d heard her new manager correctly. The phone line was relatively clear for a call between San Francisco and Seoul, but she still asked Sukbin Moon to repeat himself. Mr. Moon (as Susan had been told to call him by her half-Korean father, Don) was the Seoul office manager of Zantech, a technology security firm with headquarters in Amsterdam. Susan was just starting her summer internship with the company, and she was supposed to be in Seoul working with Mr. Moon’s team, but there had been complications with her visa. Emma Visser, the [...]
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There’s a Leadership Vacuum on Climate Change. Business Should Fill It
NASA/JSC This Earth Day is different. The world’s largest economy is governed by a president who has called global warming an “expensive hoax” on multiple occasions. He has threatened to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement, and appointed a head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, who as recently as last month has reported not believing that human activity or carbon dioxide are primary contributors to climate change, contradicting 150 years of basic physics and decades of scientific consensus. The Trump administration has propose [...]
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When One Person’s High Performance Creates Resentment in Your Team
Organizations face a dilemma in their hunt for talent. They pursue the proverbial “best and brightest” who can outsell, outthink, and outproduce their peers. So they spend sizable resources to attract and retain high performers who stand out. But often these organizations also want teams that function in solidarity. So they place their prized recruits in collaborative groups and tell them to fit in. Many managers miss or underestimate the potential harm to high performers from their teams. Often with good intentions, managers set up high performers as targets for sabotage, aggressi [...]
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How France’s Brand of Populism Differs from What Drove Brexit and Trump
On Sunday, April 23, French voters will go to the polls to choose from 11 candidates in the first round of an extraordinary presidential election. The candidates from the two chief political parties have been trailing political newcomers and fringe party candidates. The top two vote-getters are expected to face each other in a runoff election on May 7. For insight into this unusual race and to what extent it reflects a larger shift toward economic and political populism, I spoke with Vincent Pons, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School. He cofounded a startup involved in electoral c [...]
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Thinking Through How Automation Will Affect Your Workforce
Today, executives have to cut through a lot of hype around automation. Leaders need a clear-eyed way to think about how these technologies will specifically affect their organizations. The right question isn’t which jobs are going to be replaced, but rather, what work will be redefined, and how? Based on our work with a number of organizations grappling with these issues, we’ve found that the following four-step approach can help. 1. Start with the work, not the “job” or the technology. Much work will continue to exist as traditional & [...]
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What to Do About Mediocrity on Your Team
The toughest test of a manager is not how they deal with poor performance — it’s how they address mediocrity. I’ve been struck over the years watching executives opine in public about the need for “accountability” and “high performance,” then complain helplessly in private about one or two middling members of their own team. You have no moral authority to ask other managers to hold people accountable if you’re not doing so yourself. Are you sure you’re doing enough to push for high performance? What do you do when someone’s work [...]
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How Multinationals Can Grow in the Middle East and Africa
Jennifer Maravillas for HBR Despite President Donald Trump’s “America first” approach to dealing with U.S. businesses investing abroad, and despite his administration’s rhetoric about the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region (e.g., strong opposition to the Iran nuclear deal; a ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries), many companies are still looking to invest in the region. Since Trump was elected, Dunkin Donuts has opened its first outlet in South Africa; U.S. oil services provider McDermott International plans to build a fabrication yard at a Saudi [...]
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Trust Your Employees, Not Your Rule Book
Here’s the good news: The big airlines are revising their rules for booking and boarding flights — rules that led to one of the great business fiascos in recent history, United Express Flight 3411. Here’s the bad news: If the long-term lesson that leaders of the airline business (or any other business) take away from this episode is that it’s time to rewrite policies and practices, to fine-tune bureaucratic procedures, then they will have missed a huge, perhaps even historic, learning opportunity. The truly important lesson is one that applies to companies in all s [...]
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Our Delusions About Talent
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London, dispels some of the myths that have persisted in the 20 years since McKinsey coined the phrase “war for talent.” He argues the science of talent acquisition and retention is still in its early stages. Chamorro-Premuzic is the CEO of Hogan Assessments and the author of the book The Talent Delusion: Why Data, Not Intuition, is the Key to Unlocking Human Potential. Download this podcast [...]
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