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Academic Concerns

Agony and ecstasy for young lawyers

For some time, I’ve suggested that law schools provide a cautionary tale for the rest of us.  With many graduates loaded down with big debt and with few prospects for taking jobs that actually require the degree, some schools are beginning to think the unthinkable – should they consider closing?   They may not have a choice – students aren’t stupid, and to go deeply into debt for a degree... read more »

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New Women’s Leadership Course to be Launched in June

Anyone who has been following the coverage of women in the workplace, for example, this series in the Wall Street Journal, knows the general story line.  Professional women enter workplaces in numbers roughly equal to men, but with each rung of the career ladder, there are fewer and fewer, until the number of women representing the very top leadership of large corporations is a tiny fraction of the total.  Explanations for this disparity have... read more »

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The Future of Business Education – Panel at the Thinkers50 Event

Des Dearlove of the Thinkers50 chaired an amazing panel on November 11, 2013 entitled “The Future of Business Education”.  It was sponsored by Dean Santiago Iniguez of the IE business school, and featured as panelists Clark Callahan, the Dean of Executive Education at the Tuck School, Roger Martin of the Rotman School, Noel Tagoe, the Executive Director of Education for CIMA and myself. For the most part, the panelists were... read more »

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Will the legal establishment allow a two-year law school?

CNBC reports that President Obama is quoted as saying that law schools would “probably be wise” to move away from three-year programs to two. Who will fight like crazy to prevent two-year schools from being able to accredit J.D.s?   “Just about everybody in the established order,”  said Columbia Business School professor Rita Gunther McGrath, who has written about the troubles facing law schools.  Under a two-year system, McGrath sees lost... read more »

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Transient Advantage: New article in HBR

In a new article featured in the June Harvard Business Review, I offer a summary of my new book.  Essentially, that strategy is stuck!  We've locked ourselves into a view of strategy that depends on sustainable competitive advantage.  In the new strategy playbook, we'll adopt practices that are suited to environments in which advantages come and go.  For instance, focusing on access to assets, not ownership of assets. And creating... read more »

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The schizophrenic life of an academic

Today’s Wall Street Journal had a fascinating article about the heated competition to become America’s Top College Professor.  Aside from being personally inspiring (as someone who spent a lot of years trying to figure out the right classroom style), the story also points to the fundamental schizophrenia behind the conventional University (and by extension, business school) career track.  Good teaching obviously matters to students—it can make the difference in what... read more »

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Unintended side effects of post-9/11 fear of flying

Garrick Blalock, Vrinda Kadiyali and Daniel H. Simon, writing in the journal Applied Economics (June 2009 – Volume 41, issue 14, pg. 1717) came to a fascinating conclusion.  After the highly dramatic 9/11 attacks, many travelers elected to go by automobile, in preference to taking airplanes (as the airlines know all too well – their business really suffered after 9/11).  One little-known aspect of these decisions, however, is that by... read more »

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Academic language…you have to wonder

My colleague, Ian MacMillan, brought to my attention the abstract for a paper on sleep deprivation and team performance which appeared in the most recent edition of one of our academic journals.  It reads, as follows: We introduce the construct of sleep deprivation to the team-level management literature by integrating theory and research on sleep deprivation and group behavior. We propose that sleep deprivation has a negative monotonic, but nonlinear,... read more »

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Discovery Driven Planning:  Teaching in Non-Degree Executive Education Programs

I’m just here at the Strategic Management Society’s annual conference in Cologne.  It’s a meeting which aspires to bring together academics, consultants and business-people for fruitful dialogue and exchanges, although in fairness the tilt does seem to be more toward academics recently.  I did participate in an interesting session on how to teach in executive education programs.  I focused on issues of style (not too much lecturing, please!) and actually... read more »

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Business School Rankings:  Hungry for Lists?

Anyone who enjoys watching the various business schools get sliced and diced by reviewers will get a kick out of the Financial Times report on business school rankings.  Absolutely no shortage of lists in their story “A League of their Own” Got your own list to add?  Or perhaps a list you would like to see developed?  I’m sure that’s possible. Oh, and while we’re on the subject of rankings,... read more »

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So-called rigorous but meaningless research - From Ian MacMillan

Co-author Ian MacMillan made the following observation, which I thought merited a post here: In his words: Our obsession with research that “rigorous”is driving out relevance.  Here is a beauty:  The author did an exquisitely detailed analysis of all start-ups of firms making components for manufactured products, conducted over a period of decades.  The author then went into a methodological frenzy and eventually tested fourteen regression models.  The conclusions (once... read more »

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The field of management enslaved by theory?

Don Hambrick, one of the management field’s leading academics comments on the way the field relies on theory in a recent Business Week: Viewpoint January 13, 2008, 4:06PM EST The Theory Fetish: Too Much of a Good Thing? Management journals demand contributions to theory. But slavish devotion to theory inhibits other valuable research by Donald C. Hambrick Recently I was at a brown-bag seminar where a pair of faculty colleagues... read more »

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Observations on educational institutions

Two books which challenge the current way educational institutions organize themselves are now out, and they are both a fascinating read.  Rakesh Khurana’s book From Higher Aims to Hired Hands traces the evolution and development of business schools and observes that they have more or less abandoned the professionalization of managers as a goal.  He questions the long run viability of the current model.  The other fascinating read is by... read more »

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Astonishing errors

As I do every year, I’m in the midst of reviewing papers for the upcoming Academy of Management in August. The quality of the writing has always bugged me, but I particularly notice it when I go through a lot of papers. Typos, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and mis-citations galore. What is disturbing is that this material is being sent to an academic conference on the presumption that it represents... read more »

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Academic obviousness

I recently returned from the Academy of Management Meetings in Hawaii (now there’s a sight for you – 7,000 academics running wild on Waikiki beach…). I continue to be struck by the way in which academics are not researching questions that managers are worried about, and by the way in which the answers do not appeal to managers in practice. Or worse, by the way in which academic research discovers... read more »

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