Safeguards Employers, Don’t Bring the Wrong Things Back to Work

By Paul Block

Here’s what you should be doing as you plan your office reopening or develop a hybrid workplace if you want to keep your employees happy.

Mixing Business and Pleasure for Competitive Advantage

by Ella Miron-Spektor, INSEAD Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour, and Moran Lazar, PhD candidate at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

A recent study shows how entrepreneurial team formation can be improved by combining two established strategies.

Entrepreneurship is a major driver for economic and technological advancement. However, we also know that about 90 percent of start-ups fail early. If this staggering percentage of initiatives fail before they get off the ground, we may have missed the next Amazon, the next Google or the next Facebook. Many opportunities fail prematurely because the start-up team cannot perform properly. Yet there hasn’t been much research about the initial phase of entrepreneurial development.

Our work focuses on this initial stage when entrepreneurial teams are formed. Existing literature examines teams that already exist and perform, like most teams in organisations that are assembled by either the team leader or the HR business partners. Unlike entrepreneurial teams, they are usually not self-formed.

From our previous research, we know that the team makeup is the magic bullet in entrepreneurship. But why does a particular team formation strategy result in more successful start-ups? Building a team around not only skill sets but also personal affinity creates a special kind of team. Most entrepreneurial teams are either created from an interpersonal attraction based on a dense (and closed) social network or bound by the search for specific resources, i.e. to fill knowledge gaps. Combining these two strategies into a dual strategy is both difficult and rare. Yet we and our co-authors* found in our recent work, forthcoming in the Academy of Management Journal, that applying this dual strategy to an entrepreneurial team formation yields considerable competitive advantage at the initial stages of a firm. Continue reading

Do your DE&I efforts consider age, class, and lived experience?

by Noa Gafni

We are in the midst of a seismic shift when it comes to how companies address diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is, in part, due to the recognition that the strategies organizations have traditionally used to create more space at the table for historically excluded groups haven’t worked for some time. Getting this right has huge upsides, for employees, society, and the economy alike: According to McKinsey, narrowing the gender gap by 2025 would generate an additional $12 trillion in GDP and increasing financial inclusion for Black Americans would create approximately $2 billion in potential revenue.

But in addition to focusing on gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation, leaders need to include a wider range of people their organizations have been ignoring, consciously or subconsciously. By broadening their definition of diversity, leaders can better identify, engage, and integrate individuals into their organizations. And according to a recent initiative I led as the Executive Director at Rutgers Institute for Corporate Social Innovation (RICSI), tomorrow’s employees will increasingly value this approach, too.

At RICSI, we focus on the role of business in society, and specifically educating students to embrace and champion a business world that “practices what it preaches” when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our belief is that corporations have a better chance at achieving positive social impact when they hire leaders who believe in a marriage between profit and purpose — and that these leaders should have a breadth and depth of diverse experiences.

Our work is anchored in a commitment to equity and justice, as Rutgers is one of the country’s most diverse public universities. According to our most recent data, of the 7,975 undergraduate students on the Rutgers Newark campus (where RICSI is located), 28.9% identify as Hispanic, 18.4% as Black/African American, and 17.8% as Asian. The school has been ranked one of the nation’s most diverse campuses since 1997 and a top-three school for most first-generation college students in the U.S. These race and ethnicity statistics continuously make us one of the top three most diverse research institutions in the country.

Through our partnerships — both with students and companies that work with RICSI — we demonstrate how organizations might broaden their view of diversity. For example, in 2020, we surveyed 120 students who are part of our student advisory board following the murder of George Floyd. Through written responses and ongoing conversations, we discussed their thoughts as young, diverse leaders on how DEI efforts are packaged today in organizations.

Feedback ranged from encouraging leaders to hire Black executives for more C-suite roles — beyond a “Chief Diversity Officer” — to combining outreach into communities that are regularly ignored with implementing blind hiring processes. According to one of our students, “While companies are currently working on hiring more people of color as a whole, they are treated as a ‘check in the box.’”

For all they had to say on racial equity, however, their comments made it clear that a focus on traditional markers of diversity are not enough. Similar to developmental psychologist Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences, our students expressed a need to expand the notion of diversity to include a number of additional factors — such as age, socioeconomic status, and lived experience. READ MORE



How to win friends and influence readers

by Daniel Akst

Dale Carnegie’s often-maligned self-help book not only stands the test of time, it demands to be read again.

When I was a young man, I discovered a magic trick. I found that by listening patiently and remaining calm, I could convert angry callers from enemies into friends during a single fraught phone conversation.

Turns out, I had merely reinvented the wheel. One of the 20th century’s greatest psychologists discovered that trick long before I was born. His name was Dale Carnegie.

It’s a name that inspires cynicism. Although his best known work, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has won countless acolytes, from the outset his detractors saw him as little more than a proselytizer for sycophancy. Worse, they blamed him for a supposed shift in the nation’s business culture from Puritan rectitude to shallow likability, and from character to personality. One critic, writing about Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, argued that Carnegie’s book was just the sort of thing that might have influenced Willy Loman in ways that led to his tragic end.

Yet How to Win Friends and Influence People—the title itself has entered the cultural lexicon as the basis for parodies and spin-offs—remains in print 85 years after its initial publication. Translations have carried its message around the world. Revised editions have taken account of changing times. There is even a version called How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age. How could a text so widely reviled retain such enduring appeal? To find out, I decided to read it—and to track down the original, or as close as I could come, the better to grasp what the author was getting at in the first place.

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The Relationships That Create Successful Acquisitions

by Laurence Capron

A study of start-up acquisitions shows important patterns on both sides lead to a successful integration.

With a constant need to grow and innovate, established firms often look outside for novel products by collaborating with and acquiring start-ups. For start-ups, a tried-and-true exit strategy is acquisition, but it’s often a perilous journey as between 70 and 90 percent of M&As fail. In a recent article for California Management Review, Nir N. Brueller and I found that start-ups seeking an incumbent sponsor are more likely to succeed if they keep certain patterns in mind.

We created a multiple-case, inductive study of seven Israeli start-ups that were acquired by two incumbents in the IT industry to uncover the different approaches pursued by the start-up firms and their acquirers to manage pre- and post-acquisition processes. Any start-up working with an incumbent must build a kind of synergy or combined value together. It doesn’t just come about the day that the deal is signed; this combined value can be created well ahead of the acquisition itself.

Competition or collaboration/integration?

When it comes to exit strategies, start-ups have two main routes to consolidate further resources: either an IPO or an alliance/acquisition with a larger firm. An IPO, or even the search for private investors, is a competitive route. The second route is collaborative or integrative, allowing the start-up to scale up more quickly with a form of collaboration with an incumbent.

A collaboration could entail licensing, or an alliance, or an alliance plus equity, to start. An incumbent might consider a minority equity investment and move towards full acquisition. Handled well, it can be a kind of journey in which the start-up and incumbent work well together, upgrading the relationship and moving towards a more  substantial strategic alliance. When there is a synergistic value, it may lead to a full acquisition or integration.

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