Michael Cusumano and Susan Petrie, Sloan Management Review

January 2001, MIT Sloan home page

For 40 years MIT's Sloan Management Review has been the acknowledged leader among peer-reviewed general management journals. SMR, published at the MIT Sloan School of Management, raises the bar even higher this month, introducing revamped content and a colorful new look. The better-than-ever SMR offers expanded coverage of critical management topics in a format that lets readers quickly access, absorb, and apply ideas.

“Our challenge in updating SMR is to assure that we keep the research-based, objective, authoritative nature of our articles while delivering information in a way that's easier for today's time-pressed readers to get into and comprehend,” says publisher and executive editor Susan Petrie. “The ideas and concepts we present are more complex and far-reaching than what's in other general business publications, but we compete with those publications for readers' time, so we're making our content more accessible without losing what makes us different.”

According to Michael Cusumano, Distinguished Sloan Professor, executive editor in chief, and chairman of SMR's board, the launch of the quarterly journal's updated look and content is the culmination of 18 months' effort to make the most of the valuable asset that SMR represents. “As the fourth most widely cited journal according to the Social Science Index, SMR is uniquely positioned as a research-based journal,” says Cusumano. “We wanted to increase circulation, which had not been growing, and make changes that would dramatically improve readability as well as give us room to cover new areas. We've already increased circulation from 20,000 a year ago to about 55,000 with this latest issue, so the investments that have been made in increasing the editorial staff and other improvements are already paying off.”

New content, snazzier look

Everything about SMR now has a new feel, including the name. “By adding MIT to the publication's name, we've emphasized our academic roots and make the most of the MIT connection,” says Petrie.

The vibrant new design, developed by Ken Silvia Design Group of Orleans, MA, brings four-color printing to the journal for the first time. Also, the new layout allows room for more graphics and useful reader tools like summaries of key ideas. “Our desire to make our information more readable drove the design process,” says Petrie. “We've used the design to help managers grasp ideas quickly.”

Part of the new content is an “Intelligence” department at the front of the journal. This section provides concise reports and analyses of recent research with potentially significant business implications from academia, consulting firms, and industry. At the back of the journal are essays, roundtables, interviews, and opinion columns. While shorter and perhaps less research-intensive than traditional SMR pieces, these articles provide stimulating, thoughtful ideas. The addition of these two new areas gives SMR more room to cover all strategic management areas, including strategy, leadership, eBusiness, globalization, and entrepreneurship.

Filling an important niche

“One of the important things we did over the past year was to triple the size of our editorial advisory board,” says Cusumano. “It previously only contained Sloan faculty members, but now one-third of the members are Sloan faculty, one-third are faculty from other universities and one-third are people from industry. This gives us broader input of ideas than we've ever had before and brings a new richness to our thinking.”

“We're trying to make sure the academic voice still comes through in our publication,” says Petrie. “The changes we've made have been extremely well received by our senior executive readers as well as the academic community, which feels there is an untapped niche for information that is clearly much deeper and research-based. We are now better positioned than ever to play our key role of being a place for academics to communicate to a management audience.”

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