Better Knowledge for Better Business Management

The most outstanding research of the 2013/14 academic year

18/08/2014

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If you want to get better at something, doing your research is a must. IESE professors know this only too well and dedicate a large portion of their time to studying topics related to business management. Some of their research is published in books, some appears in academic journals and some is presented at international conferences.

During the 2013/2014 academic year, faculty members published over 65 academic articles and 10 books. The school also organized symposiums and participated in numerous international research projects. The following is a rundown of some of the most significant research of the past year, grouped by topic.


Good governance, transparency and strong relationships between businesses and their stakeholders

The financial and accounting scandals of recent years have been the subject of research for our professors for some time now. Fernando Peñalva, Professor of Accounting and Control at IESE, has studied the impact of such scandals on accounting practices in companies. In his latest article "Information Consequences of Accounting Conservatism", published in the European Accounting Review, he turns to the benefits of recording losses as soon as they are discovered and waiting to record gains until they are verified. Accounting conservatism, he argues, is not only good for debt-holders but good for equity holders, too, because the information on financial statements is more reliable and transparent.

Looking at corporate governance and stakeholder theories, one article worthy of mention is "Maximizing Stakeholders' Interests: An Empirical Analysis of the Stakeholder Approach to Corporate Governance" (see summary) published in Business & Society. Professors Roberto García Castro and Miguel Angel Ariño contributed to the paper, which analyzes two relevant dimensions for corporate governance: the advisory role played by a firm’s corporate and social responsibility (CSR) function and the level of stakeholder participation. Another article, "Proxy Advisory Firms and Stock Option Repricing" (see summary), published in the Journal of Accounting and Economics and written by IESE's Gaizka Ormazabal, together with David Larcker and Allan McCall from Stanford, explores the value of taking advice from voting advisors or proxy advisors alongside the real benefits to shareholders.


New leadership dimensions: global, adaptable and digital

As would be expected, IESE has continued to research leadership requirements in the current business climate. Jordi Canals, Dean of IESE and Professor of Economics and General Management, published an article in the Journal of Management Development entitled "Global Leadership Development, Strategic Alignment and CEOs Commitment." He outlines the problems many companies face when searching for global leaders. The article suggests that training tomorrow’s global leaders should focus on four key competencies: acquiring knowledge, including an understanding of different economic and sociopolitical systems; honing the ability to analyze situations and make complex decisions; developing interpersonal skills; and developing the attitudes or personal traits based on classical virtues such as humility.

One challenge for global leadership is managing cultural differences. In "Multicultural Validation of a Three-Dimensional Framework of Managerial Competencies: A Comparative Analysis of its Application in Asian Versus Non-Asian Countries" (see summary), published in Asian Business and Management, Professor Yih-teen Lee and co-authors offer an opinion on the comparative weight which key management and leadership skills have in different Asiatic and non-Asiatic countries. While Lee's study presents convincing empirical evidence that there are management skills which function well across borders, it also signals cultural differences between regions.

For executives in the modern world, adaptability is also considered a key competency to develop. In "Too Much or Too Little? A Study of the Impact of Career Complexity on Executive Adaptability" (see summary), published in Career International Development journal, Professor Mireia Las Heras analyzes how executives acquire the ability to adapt in their careers.

Looking at technological advances, "Five Skills Every Leader Needs to Succeed in the Digital World" are identified by Professors Evgeny Káganer, Sandra Sieber and Javier Zamora (scientific collaborator). In this article, published in the IESE Insight magazine (see summary), they pick out the most important requirements for those at the helm of their companies’ digital transformations.


Digitalization and customer empowerment

Digital transformation and the empowerment of the consumer via new technologies and social networks have been the subject of a great deal of the research carried out by professors in IESE’s Marketing, Information Systems and Digital Strategy Departments.

In this area, the big news is IESE’s new Indra Chair for Digital Strategy, which will be held by professor Josep Valor. Valor is generating new ideas about the digital transformation at work, taking into account mobility and 24x7 connectivity. Valor also works on innovation and stimulating productivity in businesses by means of digital technology.

To investigate some of the impact of social networks, Professor Massimo Maoret has obtained a Marie Curie grant from the European Union for his project "SocialiseME: Evaluating the impact of socialization tactics, social networks and demographic similarity on newcomers’ organizational socialization and performance in a longitudinal cross-industry data sample."

The digital transformation of the health industry has been analyzed this year by Stefan Stremersch, resulting in his article "The Effect of Customer Empowerment and Adherence to Expert Advice" (see summary). The piece, which was published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing, was co-authored by Nuno Camacho and Martijn G. De Jong.

In the urban planning arena, and specifically in relation to the creation of "smart cities", the latest IESE Cities in Motion (ICIM) index cannot go without mention. The initiative was run by the IESE Center for Globalization and Strategy, led by professors Joan Enric Ricart and Pascual Berrone.


Ethical rearmament and the social impact of managers and companies

Since its creation in 1958, IESE professors have studied the impact of managerial decisions on companies and on society. In recent years, following the financial crisis, ethical questions in business have gained prominence.

The 18th annual Symposium on Ethics, Business and Society brought together high-caliber international speakers who discussed the need for an ethical rearmament of banking, as well as transparent accounting practices and responsible investing (read article).

Research carried out by Miguel Angel Ariño and David Pastoriza in this field merits special mention. They found empirical evidence that ethical leadership builds up the social capital of a company. In their article "Does the Ethical Leadership of Supervisors Generate Internal Social Capital?" (see summary), published in the Journal of Business Ethics, the authors demonstrate that supervisors’ concern for the well-being of employees increases their identification with the firm while ethical leadership also increases levels of trust and the willingness to share at work.

Professor Josep María Rosanas and Natalia Cugueró-Escofet examined how to introduce justice into management control systems in their article "The Just Design and Use of Management Control Systems as Requirements for Goal Congruence", published in Management Accounting Research.

Finally, this year the IESE Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Platform was unveiled. It is a platform designed for research but also to help publicize work on social entrepreneurship conducted inside and outside of IESE.


Innovation: management models and relations

A major event in the academic year 2013/2014 was the publication of the book "The Innovation Paradox: Why Good Businesses Kill Breakthroughs and How They Can Change" (see summary), co-authored by IESE's professor Antonio Dávila and Marc J. Epstein from Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. The authors identify management models for companies looking for breakthrough innovations while also identifying obstacles that well-run corporations may face along the way. The book offers tools and frameworks to build what the authors call "start-up corporations."

Interpersonal networks matter to innovation, research at IESE found. In his article "The Social Underpinnings of Absorptive Capacity" (see summary), published in the Strategic Management Journal, Professor Marco Tortoriello finds that people with wider social networks at work were more likely to come up with innovative ideas.


Sectors under change

As well as researching management concepts, IESE professors are also analyzing those business sectors undergoing rapid change. Three key sectors have caught professors’ attention during this academic year: banking and finance, trade and distribution, and health care.

  • Banking and the financial sector

The global effects of the financial crisis and the wave of reforms which have ensued have triggered research and academic debate. One such example is "Good for One, Bad for All: Determinants of Individual Versus Systemic Risk" (see summary) published in the Journal of Financial Stability. In this work, Miguel Antón and Christopher Polk investigate how measures which might strengthen an individual bank could actually weaken the financial system as a whole. In "Connected Stocks" (see summary), published in the Journal of Finance, the same authors study the correlations between stocks with shared ownership by mutual funds.

Professor Xavier Vives has written an article entitled "Strategic Complementarity, Fragility, and Regulation", which is to be published in the Review of Financial Studies. It is the fruit of his research on the fragility of the financial system and the various options for using regulation as a way to avoid another crisis.

  • Distribution and trade

Professor of marketing José Luís Nueno published a book and a study in the academic year; both describe changes in the retail industry, the surge in multichannel distribution and the beginnings of a recovery in retail sales. His book is entitled "The Return of the Consumer" (see summary), published by AECOC. Nueno's study "The Decline of Main Street, the Rise of Multichannel Retail" (see summary) outlines the direction in which he sees the retail business heading.

  • Healthcare sector

As the 2013/2014 year ended, two important initiatives were underway in health care. First is the Jaime Grego Chair in Health Care Management, which is to be held by Professor Núria Mas. Her focus is on health economics and health care systems. The chair will look to creating new frameworks for innovation within the health sector.

Second is IESE’s participation in the ALFRED program, an ambitious project financed by the European Union. Its main goal is to develop an "interactive personal assistant to help independent and active living for the elderly." The academic heads of IESE’s Center for Research into Managing Innovation in the Healthcare Sector (CRHIM), Magda Rosenmoller and Jaume Ribera, are instrumental in this collaboration.