Research Seminars

“Structure-Scope Matching: A Study of the Interrelationship between Organization Structure and Innovation in the Communications Industry

Speaker: Mr Puay Khoon TOH
University of Michigan, Stephen Ross School of Business,

19 December 2006 - From 14h30 to 16h00

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"Work-life balance, management practices and productivity"

Speaker: Tobias Kretschmer
University of Munich and CEP

27 September 2006 - From 16h30 to 18h00

Many critics of free-market liberalism argue that higher product-market competition and the "Anglo-Saxon" management practices it stimulates increases productivity only at the expense of employees' work-life balance (WLB). The empirical basis of these claims is unclear. To address this issue we use an innovative survey tool to collect the first international data on management practices and work-life balance practices, surveying 732 medium sized manufacturing firms in the US, France, Germany and the UK. We find that WLB outcomes are significantly associated with better management, so that well run firms are both more productive and better for their employees. After controlling for management practices, however, we find no additional relationship between WLB and productivity. WLB practices are also not reduced by tougher competition, suggesting no deleterious effect of competition on employees' working environment. Finally, looking at multinationals we find that US subsidiaries in Europe adopt the superior management practices of their US parent firms but the local WLB practices of their European competitors.

"Buyer-Supplier and Supplier-Supplier Alliances: Do They Reinforce or Undermine One Another?"

Speaker: Sergio Giovanetti-Lazzarini
Ibmec São Paulo

22 May 2006 - From 11h10 to 12h40

Research has emphasized the emergence of buyer-supplier (vertical) and supplier-supplier (horizontal) alliances as a way to foster inter-organizational learning and cooperative efforts in production systems. There is some controversy, however, regarding how those distinct alliances interact with each other. Some propose that supplier-supplier alliances reinforce the development of buyer-supplier alliances, or vice-versa. For instance, the inter-organizational learning that occurs at the horizontal level generates positive spillovers to the vertical alliance. Others propose instead a negative interplay: when crafting vertical alliances, for instance, buyers may inhibit the formation of horizontal alliances as a way to preserve their bargaining power vis-à-vis suppliers. We empirically test those competing views using survey data from the Brazilian auto-parts industry. In an attempt at reconciliation, we additionally propose that the interaction between buyer-supplier and supplier-supplier alliances will be positive or negative depending on a particular contingency: the extent to which supply components are subject to uncertain technological change. Our data reveal that the existence of vertical alliances inhibits the development of horizontal alliances, but only when technological uncertainty is relatively low. When components are subject to higher technological change, those two types of alliances do not seem to significantly affect one another. We discuss implications for theory and practice.

"Beyond Gaussian Averages: redirecting Organization Science Toward Extreme Events and Power Laws"

Speaker: Bill Mc Kelvey
UCLA Anderson School of Management - Los Angeles

10 May 2006 - From 16h00 to 17h00

In power law functions the exponent stays constant whereas in other functions the exponent varies. They seem ubiquitous; we list 80 kinds of them half each among natural and social phenomena (including organizations). Three fundamental consequences are worth noting:
1. Power laws occur because of causes explained by scale-free theories. We now have ~20 of these stemming from various sciences. Each theory identifies a cause that occurs in the same "self-similar" way at multiple levels of a complex system. We argue that all can apply to organizations. Various
consequences obtain.
2. Power laws are indicators of Paretian "extreme" rather than Gaussian "normal" distributions. This means that managers live in world of potential extremes and organizational researchers need to presume that a significant portion of the phenomena they study are outside the statistical world of Gaussian bell curves.
It follows that the current statistical practice of creating what are really artificial normal distributions by the use of various "robustness" techniques--all of which underly quantative-research articles in journals produces misleading, if not wrong and irrelevant research findings. In California, ~16,000 "average" earthquakes occur every year. Studying these "average" quakes is mostly meaningless. Nothing is learned that could prevent damage and death when "the big one" hits. This same idea applies to studying organizations.
3. So, if "normal" statistics frequently could be misleading, how should research practice differ in a world dominated by Pareto distributions? We begin the task of delineating "how to do good science" in a world of actual or potential extreme events where means are meaningless and statistical confidence intervals change each time an extreme event occurs. Several options are discussed.

"Reasoning in Organization Science"

Speaker: Mikko Ketokivi & Saku Mantere
University of Technology - Helsinki

10 May 2006 - From 17h00 to 18h00

Our everyday reasoning and logics-in-use as practicing scientists differs radically from the
logical reconstructions or idealizations of the corresponding research designs. There is, for
instance, little formal deduction involved in the actual applications of hypothetico-deductive
research approaches, and the “inductive case study approach” relies in fact heavily on reasoning
other than induction. The goal of this paper is to examine how these logics-in-use differ from the
reconstructed logics. We demonstrate that researchers in different paradigms and research
designs all make use of the same three elementary forms of reasoning: deduction, induction, and abduction. We also demonstrate that researcher subjectivity is always present in the reasoning
process.


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