Faculty Research

Management Department Research Activity

The management department is multi-disciplinary, including researchers who come from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, such as: economics, strategy, entrepreneurship, operations management, innovation management, organizational behavior, psychology, sociology, project management. ethics and corporate social responsibility, and gender/diversity studies.  The research in the department has an applied management focus which includes a wide spectrum of approaches, ranging from prescriptive/normative to more critical/theoretical.  This diversity is also reflected in the research methodologies ranging from qualitative and interpretivist to quantitative and positivist.  In this area of our website you can find details of some of the exciting projects that are currently being undertaken by faculty in the department. 

In terms of content areas, management research at Bentley covers the following 6 broad areas:

Strategy/Entrepreneurship
Innovation/Project Management
Ethics/Corporate Social Responsibility
Education/Pedagogical Research
Operations/Service Management
Diversity/Gender Studies

Strategy/Entrepreneurship 

A number of researchers in the department are focused on the strategic development and orientation of new ventures, including consideration of how such entrepreneurial activity is undertaken in different countries across the world, including in the developing world. Most of this research is undertaken from a quantitative perspective, and examines how new ventures are financed through the early stages of developing a business. Given the widely different institutional contexts across countries, examining and theorizing how entrepreneurship can be promoted (for example, in Saudi Arabia) in specific countries provides a fruitful avenue for theorizing entrepreneurship in general.

Linda Edelman’s paper with H. Yli Renko (2010) The impact of environment and entrepreneurial perceptions on venture creation efforts: Bridging the discovery and creation views of entrepreneurship uses an opportunity creation and discovery lens (Alvarez & Barney, 2007; Sarasvathy, 2001) to empirically examine the link between the objective and subjective environment and venture start-up.   Utilizing longitudinal data on nascent entrepreneurs, we find that, as hypothesized, entrepreneurs’ opportunity perceptions mediate between objective characteristics of the environment and the entrepreneurs’ efforts to start a new venture. Contrary to our expectations, we do not find a similar mediating effect for perceived resource availability.

This paper opens the door to both additional theory building and empirical testing of the opportunity creation and discovery paradigms.   This is an avenue for my future research.  Since this work was written, I have been working with an angel investment group, looking at the early stage ventures that present their firms for funding, to the group.  From that work we have one paper published, six conference presentations and two papers under review.  Now, I am cycling back to the opportunity logic, but instead of looking at nascent firms and the genesis of opportunities, I am pursuing a line of inquiry that examines strategic change in young new ventures; a process which we call opportunity shaping. 

Tatiana Manolova’s paper forthcoming in the Journal of Business Economics and Management (Entrepreneurial motivations among female Saudi university youth), co-authored with Wafa N. Almobaireek (King Saud University and Princess Norah University, Saudi Arabia) uses economic, human development, and social learning perspectives in order to explore the entrepreneurial motivations among Saudi university students and the gender differences in these motivations. A survey conducted among undergraduate students at King Saud University (the oldest and largest university in Saudi Arabia) provides the sample for the study. The three hypotheses are tested using analysis of variance (chi-square tests and t-tests). Consistent with research on female entrepreneurs around the world, the results indicate that female university youth in Saudi Arabia are more likely than men to start an entrepreneurial venture out of necessity, whereas men are more likely to have a financial success motivation. At the same time, and in contrast to findings from studies on entrepreneurial motivations in the context of Western Europe and the USA, young Saudi university women report a narrower range of entrepreneurial motivations, compared to men. The implications of this exploratory study point to the need for initiatives specifically focused at young women in order to increase their confidence that entrepreneurship is a viable route to achieve self-realization and accomplish a broad range of career objectives.

This paper is part of a stream of research on the state of entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia (women’s entrepreneurship, in particular), initiated in 2010, when Tatiana was offered a one-year research appointment as a Visiting Professor at King Saud University. In related projects, Tatiana and her coauthors examined the differences in the entrepreneurial intentions of young Saudi men and women, as well as the opportunities and challenges to entrepreneurship in the Islamic world. In January 2011, Tatiana presented some of the research findings and their practitioner implications to young professional women at the Saudi Human Resource Development Fund.

Innovation/Project Management 

A number of researchers in the department are focused on understanding how innovation is organized and managed, including when innovation relies on individual and organizational involvement that is globally distributed. In examining this new form of more open innovation, networking and knowledge sharing become central but also problematic, since various types of boundary must be negotiated in order to leverage the potential of global sourcing of human and non-human resources. Understanding how these boundaries are negotiated in practice and the role of project management are key areas of research under this theme, which adopt mostly qualitative approaches.

Sue Newell’s forthcoming paper in MIS Quarterly (Theorization and translation in Information Technology Institutionalization: Evidence from Danish Home Care) with colleagues Jeppe Agger Nielsen (from Aalborg University, Denmark) and Lars Mathiassen (From Georgia State University, USA) examines how ideas related to innovations travel across an organizational field as theories about how some new technology can provide benefit (or not), while simultaneously these ideas are translated into specific instances of innovation adopted in particular organizations, leading to attempts to introduce practice changes among users, that are more or less accepted or resisted. In-turn, these instances of innovation adoption, feedback and influence the theories that circulate about the innovation (positively or negatively). The case described in this paper - a study of the spread and adoption of mobile technology across home care organizations in Denmark - helps to illustrate how innovation is not best described as a linear process that moves from invention, through development and diffusion, to adoption and use; rather invention, development, diffusion and use occur simultaneously and interactively in the back and forth that happens as organizations in a particular context try to make sense of and theorize new technological opportunities and adopt and routinize them in actual practices. The interactive nature of innovation processes helps to account for the paradoxical observation that organizations look very similar to each other (isomorphism) while at the same time feeling very different in the detail and contributes to the literature on institutional stability and change. 

This particular paper is illustrative of the focal area of research that Sue has developed over the years – examining innovation processes from a knowledge and organizational networking perspective that allows her to theorize the messy and emergent nature of the creation, development, diffusion and use of new technologies, whether these are new pharmaceutical products, new IT systems or new modes of organization. Practically, the research stream highlights the importance of managing for emergence and unpredictability, especially in innovation contexts, which will often involve project-based forms of organizing. Ironically, Sue’s research stream demonstrates how formal project management approaches (as exemplified by the use of Gantt Charts and other project management planning tools) can sometimes undermine the success of introducing an innovation because they assume a degree of planning and control is possible that is not matched by the reality.

Hans Thamhain’s recently completed field study of multinational project management is published in two journal articles (1) “Managing risks in complex projects,” Project Management Journal (PMJ), 44.2(2013): 20-36 and (2) "Commitment as a critical success factor for managing complex multinational projects, International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management, 10.4(2013).

With increased globalization of our enterprises, the role of project management has become more challenging in dealing with risks and cross-functional integration, areas that have gained considerable management attention.

The first paper examines risk management practices in 35 major product developments of 17 multinational technology companies, identifying the type of risks encountered, and the difficulties of dealing with these risks proactively. Uncertainty is both a reality and great challenge for multinational projects, creating surprises throughout the project lifecycle, affecting everything from deliverables to cost, market timing, financial performance, and strategic objectives.  Almost one-half of the contingencies that occur are not being detected before they impact project performance. Yet, the risk-impact model presented in this paper shows that risk does not affect all projects equally, but depends on the effectiveness of collective managerial actions dealing with specific contingencies.  The results of this study discuss why some organizations are more successful in detecting risks early in the project lifecycle, and in decupling risk factors from work processes before they impact project performance. The field data suggest that effective project risk management involves an intricately linked set of variables, related to work process, organizational environment, and people.  Therefore, dealing effectively with risks in complex projects requires management interventions that go beyond simple analytical approaches. Some of the best success scenarios point at the critical importance of recognizing and dealing with risks early in their development. This requires broad involvement and collaboration across all segments of the project team and its environment, and sophisticated methods for assessing feasibilities and usability early and frequently during the project lifecycle. Specific managerial actions, organizational conditions, and work processes are suggested for fostering a project environment most conducive to effective cross-functional communication and collaboration among all stakeholders, a condition important to early risk detection and effective risk management in complex project situations.

The second paper examines the challenges of building and sustaining commitment and collaboration in diverse global project teams.  The field study of 35 multinational product development teams uses a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to identify the drivers and barriers for obtaining and sustaining commitment to established project plans.  The results show that building commitment requires a leadership style that must rely, to a large degree, on shared power and earned authority.  That is, the effective project leader is a social architect who understands the interaction of organizational and behavioral variables and can foster a climate of active and desired participation, high on intrinsic rewards and probability of success, but low on anxieties and dysfunctional conflict.  This requires carefully developed skills in leadership, administration, organization, and technical expertise. It further requires the project leader’s ability to work with top management and other stakeholders across the enterprise to ensure organizational visibility, resource availability and overall project support throughout its life cycle. The findings provide an insight into the factors which influence team behavior and performance in complex multinational work environments, and a framework for assessing project leadership and managerial effectiveness.

Ethics/Corporate Social Responsibility 

In line with the long University history in the area of ethics and CSR, the management department continues the tradition, with a number of researchers investigating the reasons why organizations behave more or less responsibly as they seek to make profit. In this context, examining how conflicts of interest have distorted the operation of markets, even when they are heavily regulated, is helping to shed light on changes might be necessary at both the organizational and institutional levels in order to better encourage sustainable business into the future through governance structures that enable more responsible management. 

Cynthia Clark’s articles over the past year include a set of papers designed to contribute to the understanding of the rights and responsibilities of the firm and how various practices and procedures can compromise these.  Her setting for this inquiry is the governance of the firm and the capital markets in general, especially given the timeliness of these topics.

In an article that appeared in Business Ethics Quarterly in January of 2013, written with another member of the Management faculty, her research focuses on the capital market and the institutional work of professional service firms that provide ratings on corporations, initially in a bid to repair the capital market system that suffered when those involved relied solely on information from the corporate issuers themselves. Analysis shows how this repair work can become decoupled overtime to the point where it undermines the capital market even while giving the appearance of maintaining it.

In a related article, Cynthia’s research considers whether firms are abdicating their fiduciary duty by using, in overwhelming numbers, the service of proxy voting advisors who do not have a fiduciary duty to investors. The article analyzes the current proxy advisory network as an example of how current notions of conflicts of interest fall short when explaining the behavior of an interconnected set of market players whose remit is to act in the best interests of their investors. The article also discusses what participants in this system should do to bring transparency and accuracy to the proxy advice industry. This article is on-line and will be published by the Journal of Business Ethics. 

Lastly, given that firms face a great deal of pressure to engage in the heightened debate about social and environmental issues, Cynthia and a Bentley PhD student researched firms’ climate change policies and practices. Together they evaluated how firms choose to influence those policies when faced with pressure from shareholders and activists. The analysis shows that firms in the S&P 500 use a form of constituency-building (CB) more often than a financial-incentive (FI) tactic and that environmental performance moderates this choice. To date, there is little research connecting corporate political activity and climate change policies and performance. This research is intended to contribute to this literature gap. This paper appeared in Business & Society in 2012. In this way, Cynthia’s research stream taps into the debate about the firm’s responsibilities, especially in terms of whether the firm’s purpose should center around stakeholders or stockholders, or both, and how firms manage any conflicts.

Jill Brown's recently published article in the Journal of Business Ethics (2013, v. 112: 301-312) helps to address the question as to how companies should morally prioritize corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and stakeholder claims. Leveraging insights from the body of Adam Smith's lesser known manuscripts--the Theory of Moral Sentiments and Lectures in Jurisprudence--the article discusses the philosophical distinctions between justice and beneficence and perfect and imperfect rights, and uses these distinctions to address how far a company should be expected to go in pursuit of CSR initiatives. Smith's moral insights help to frame a practical approach to analyzing the legitimacy of stakeholder claims, while also reconciling CSR and stakeholder theories under a post-positivist approach that emphasizes the normative, moral grounding for CSR. In essence, this manuscript provides a practical way for businesses to assess multiple stakeholder claims, given limited resources and competing interests.

This manuscript is indicative of Jill's research in corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and ethics, which can be clustered under the research area of strategic leadership. Strategic leadership focuses on executives and their relationships and responsibilities that define their latitude of action across societal, institutional, organizational and individual levels.  The scope of strategic leadership consists of decision makers from senior management to boards of directors, with the assumption that executives do indeed have an important effect on organizational outcomes through managerial discretion. Therefore, Jill's other published work examines relationships between CEOs, boards of directors and institutional investors, who collectively provide monitoring and incentive systems to control for agency issues at the firm level, and incentivize organizations to perform well.  Collectively, Jill's research establishes the importance of strategic leaders, who provide an optimal mix of monitoring and incentives in organizations to work with multiple stakeholders for financial and social performance.

Education/Pedagogical Research 

In line with the strong teaching traditions at Bentley, a number of researchers in the department focus their investigations on ways to improve the teaching and so educational/learning experience of students at different levels. For example, linked to the focus on ethics and CSR, research is being undertaken to examine how to improve the teaching of ethics education. Research is also being undertaken on ways to encourage students to become reflective learners through investigating how different approaches to teaching and learning in different countries can make this more or less likely to happen.

Reflecting on his work with the UN Global Compact’s Principles of Responsible Management (PRME) Initiative, Tony Buono published a piece in the June 2012 Financial Times as a challenge to business schools in preparation for the Rio+20 Global Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His follow-up piece, “Moving on from Rio” is scheduled to appear in the October 2013 issue of the European Foundation for Management Development’s (EFMD) Global Focus. The two essays, coauthored with Matthew Gitsham (Astridge Business School, UK) and Jean-Christophe Carteron (Kedge Business School, France) focus on the challenge of developing a generation of business leaders who are motivated and equipped to put global challenges at the heart of how they create value.  At the first Rio summit in 1992, business leaders were at the margins and business schools were nowhere to be seen. Fast forward 20 years and business schools opened the summit, a significant change as business leaders are increasingly playing a central role in creating the future we want alongside political and civil society leaders. Looking back at what has transpired over the past year, the Global Focus piece looks at one particular outcome of the 2012 summit – the agreement to develop a set of global Sustainable Development Goals to guide policy and strategy among governments, the private sector and civil society over the next two decades, which over time may come to be seen as an important milestone.  These goals bring much-needed co-ordination to coalitions of the willing, enabling unconventional partnerships of governments, NGOs and businesses to sidestep those who want to prevent change – and raise a number of challenges for management education.

Operations/Service Management 

Here research examines more traditional operations/ logistics issues such as stock handling and supply chain management but also now includes a strong orientation towards understanding the importance of managing service, even in traditional manufacturing types of environment. This service orientated research examines how the boundary between the provider and the customer is no longer straight-forward and so studies how integrating the customer into the value chain through approaches to co-creation can provide potentially large competitive opportunities for all types of business.

Effie Stavrulaki’s paper published in the International Journal of Production Economics (Inventory Decisions for Substitutable Products with Stock-Dependent Demand) examines a retailer’s inventory policy for two products that are substitutable and have inventory-dependent demand.  Using a traditional inventory model that considers demand uncertainty in a single period setting, the optimal order quantity for a single product balances the costs of overage and underage:  too much stock implies excessive inventory costs, and too little implies too high of an opportunity costs due to lost sales.  This basic tradeoff becomes more challenging once two products are considered that can be substitutes of each other and each have demand stimulated by inventory; consider for example different super heroes toys, a category known as an impulse purchase that has both high substitutability and high demand stimulation sensitivity.  Because higher inventories can increase revenue for such products significantly, inventory costs need to be carefully weighed against the demand stimulation benefits.  At the same time, because substitution between the two products is possible, stores may not need to carry as much inventory (as when considering each product separately) because they can count on “a certain portion of unmet demand being satisfied by the other item’s stock”.  The paper analyzes this challenge and shows that the optimal inventory policy, by appropriately using sales information that quantifies substitution and demand stimulation, can produce significantly higher profits.  The implication for retail managers is that they need to carefully measure both the level of substitution and level of demand stimulation for their products and use the appropriate inventory policy to maximize profits; more traditional inventory policies that ignore substitution can have detrimental effects on profits.  This paper expands on an established research stream that Effie and co-authors Anant Balakrishnan (University of Texas at Austin) and Michael Pangburn (University of Oregon) have developed to examine the effect of demand stimulation for a single product under various scenarios of deterministic and uncertain demand.

Diversity/Gender Studies 

Researchers in the Management department are involved in Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business and are engaged in studies that focus on retaining, supporting and promoting women in business so that companies more fully utilize their talent for organizational success. In this regard, research has shown that it is not that women lack career ambition but rather that many organizations do not provide the corporate culture that supports women on leadership trajectories. This research highlights practical ways in which organizations can provide the supportive climate that will facilitate women moving into more senior positions. Alongside this focus on women and business, there is also a line of research that considers barriers to and ways to support and promote immigrant workers and so overcome discrimination.  

Susan Adams and Bentley Management Dept. colleague, Joe Weiss, examined different career strategies employed by men and women who aspire to be leaders in the broadly defined field of technology. The topic of women in the STEM fields has been a concern for years. Most studies, however, investigate ways to recruit and retain more women while we looked at underlying issues affecting women’s prospects for promotion to senior leadership.  Using interviews and a survey of aspiring technology leaders, results indicate that women, more than men, are heeding expert advice by assuming roles that focus less on technology and more on business and change management. In short, women are playing the advancement game by focusing on expected images of technology leaders. And, the stereotype that women are better at working with people may be working in their favor in preparing them for advancement.

This study contributes to Joe’s leadership and technology research and to Susan’s body of work at the intersection of leadership careers and organizational effectiveness, most recently related to women’s careers.

In a manuscript in Cross Cultural Management (Comparing Immigrant and U.S born Hispanic Business Professionals), Donna Blancero and her colleagues (Robert DelCampo, Kathryn Jacobson and Harry Van Buren, all from the University of New Mexico) examined differences between U.S born Latinos and Latino immigrants with regard several areas, most notably discrimination and identity.  They found that both groups reported issues of discrimination, yet there were no statistical differences between the two groups.  The sample consisted of more than 1500 Latino business professionals, holding at least an undergraduate degree.  It was disheartening to discover that this highly educated white collar sample was experiencing discrimination.  As expected, immigrants held higher levels of Hispanic identity, as they were closer to the culture and language  

Latinos are currently the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, as well as the largest minority group.  The Latino population grew over 48% from 35 million in 2000 to 52 million in 2011.  It is expected to reach 70 million in 2025 and 111 million in 2050.  Currently, Latinos make up 16.7% of the total U.S. population, but 23.2% of the population under age 25, indicating that the future pipeline of American workers will be increasingly Latino.  By 2050, Latinos will make up over 27% of the total population. These statistics suggest that Latinos are both a key group to study yet there is still very little published research using Latino samples  

This research is part of a stream of work that Donna has pursued for more than ten years.  Her work focuses on the challenges and successes of Latino business professionals with the goal of helping organizations recruit, retain and effectively reward their Hispanic talent as well as assisting Latino business professionals better understand the national landscape.  To that end, Donna is currently the guest editor for a special a special issue on Latinos at work for the Journal of Managerial Psychology, due to be published in 2014.

 

 Note: Names of Bentley faculty in the Management Department are in bold.   
                  
            
                 

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