MIT Sloan School of Management News Briefs

This is the first of a series of news briefs from the MIT Sloan School of Management, where the breakthrough ideas of our world-renowned faculty shape all of our innovative teaching programs. This newsletter offers you timely leads about research and other work by MIT Sloan faculty that can help you with stories you are developing now — or might be developing in the future. Please contact us if you'd like further information about either a topic or its author.

July 2005

S.P. Kothari
Kothari's research shows that the tendency of managers to avoid releasing “bad” news has clear and negative implications for corporate boards, such as what CEOs are and are not disclosing. He concludes that boards need to seek more independent assessment and should serve as the company watchdog.

Shane Frederick
Frederick has used a simple, three-item aptitude test to show that people who tend to resist their first instincts tend to be more patient in their decisions and are willing to accept smaller, more immediate rewards than ones that are larger and later. The simple test has important managerial implications, says Frederick. “Do you want someone running your company who doesn't think beyond their first impulse, or do you want someone who is willing to ask herself, ‘Does this response really make any sense?’” he asks.

Tom Malone
Malone sees the decline of “the imperial CEO” as an early sign of increased human freedom. The author of The Future of Work, Malone notes that the Internet and lower costs of communication make it possible for masses of people to have information they need to make judgments on their own. This is leading to a new way of organizing work within a looser hierarchy that is less “command and control” and more “coordinate and cultivate,” in which employees enjoy a greater sense of ownership.

Otto Scharmer
Scharmer looks to Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies to help understand how leaders develop and act on innovative ideas. His eight years of research with 150 “thought leaders” found that those who were able to act upon large amounts of information practiced the “art of presencing,” creating a mental environment that was conducive to creativity and profound insight.

Deborah Ancona
Director of the MIT Leadership Center, Ancona has studied the success and increasing importance of what she calls “X-Teams,” which promote an external focus and use strong communication to develop relationships with other groups. X-Teams work best in an adaptive, externally-oriented system that allows them to pull in the resources they need but are unable to function in organizations that limit their ability to talk to people at different levels.

John Hauser
Hauser has developed a new way to determine consumer preferences by observing a set of “rule of thumb” choices and actions by consumers. This improved method better represents the way consumers actually evaluate products, says Hauser, enabling researchers to infer consumer preferences much more efficiently.

Frank Douglas
A leader in biomedical innovation, Douglas, MD, Phd, directs the new MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation, which will bring together representatives from government, academia, and the biopharmaceutical industry to the “safe harbor” atmosphere of a university to explore and recommend ways to improve the pace of innovation in health care. Dr. Douglas was previously executive vice president of Aventis.