Seminar Series

Fall 2007 Schedule

Mondays – 4:00-5:30 pm (E52-598)

Date Speaker Affiliation Title and Abstract
10-Sep Abed Chaudhury

Krishan Foundation,  Kambah,  Australia

"Krishan, a socially responsible venture to promote user-led innovation in agriculture"

In recent years user-led innovation in more industrialised production systems has been shown to be of great economic significance by Eric Von Hippel and others.  Similarly I argue that a new paradigm of research and development can be organised in villages of Asia, Africa and Latin America; the great centers of crop domestication and diversity.  Krishan,  suggesting both  tilling and harvest is a new initiative to attain this goal.  During my talk I’ll provide case-studies of  genetic innovation in ancient and modern rural societies of South Asia and indicate how these discoveries can be used as a spring-board to to build socially just, poverty-reducing and innovation-centred  foci of agricultural development all over the developing world.

1-Oct Noam Wasserman& Matt Marx


"Split Decisions: How Assembly, Allocation, and Acceleration Choices Affect Turnover in Top Management Teams" 

Decades of research on turnover in top management teams has focused on characteristics of individuals and teams that affect turnover; however, less attention has been paid to choices made collectively by members of an executive team and how those impact team stability. This paper examines how three social and economic choices influence turnover: whom to include in the assembly of the team, how to allocate expected joint gains among the team, and whether to accelerate organizational progress by involving outside resource providers. Using a unique longitudinal dataset of entrepreneurial founding teams in the information-technology industry, we find that assembling the team from those with purely social prior relationships increases turnover—though allocating the equity equally among themselves may help moderate the effect—and that involving external resource providers to accelerate growth drives turnover.

22-Oct Riitta Katila


"Effects of search timing on product innovation: The value of not being in synch."

29-Oct Mark Mortensen


"Multiple Team Membership: Effects and Issues at Multiple Levels"

A long tradition of work on teams has recognized their value in promoting flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness - critical characteristics for new ventures and those seeking to promote innovation. Despite the widespread use and recognition of teams as the basis for newer, flatter, and more innovative organizations, teams research has largely retained the assumption that people are members of one team at a time, able to focus all of their energies on that team’s task without competing commitments. While a valid assumption in traditional hierarchical organizations, in practice, within today's flatter, more project-based, and more geographically dispersed organizations, people are often members of more than one team at a time.  Consequently, they, their team leaders, and their organizations must balance the challenges and benefits posed by relying on multiple team memberships (MTMs) as a way to structure work. Based on a combination of interview and survey data, we examine the effects of MTM and propose a model of its resultant dynamics at the individual, team, and organizational levels.

5-Nov Toby Stuart


"Communication (and Coordination?) in the Modern, Complex Organization"

This is a descriptive study of the pattern of communications in a modern organization. We analyze a dataset with more than 100 million electronic mail messages, calendar meetings and teleconferences for a sample of more than 30 thousand employees of a single, multidivisional firm during a three-month period in calendar 2006. The most basic question we examine in the paper concerns the role of observable (to us) boundaries between individuals in structuring communications inside the firm. We observe three general types of boundaries: organizational boundaries (strategic business unit and function memberships), spatial boundaries (office locations and inter-office distances), and social categories (gender, tenure within the firm). In dyad-level models of the probability that pairs of individuals communicate, we find very large effects of spatial proximity and formal organization structure on the rate of communication. Homophily effects based on gender, organizational tenure, and salary levels are much weaker. In individual-level regressions of the extent to which actors engage in category-spanning communication patterns, we find that women, upper middle managers, and medium tenured employees are most likely to participate in cross-group communications.

26-Nov Elena Obukhova


3-Dec Paul Carlisle

Boston University

"Learning Not to Fall: Venture Selection Under Novel Circumstances."

10-Dec Jason Davis


"Rotating Leadership and Symbiotic Organization: Relationship Processes in the Context of Collaborative Innovation"

Relationships between firms are at the heart of how industries are organized, and are central to industry innovation.  Despite significant attention focusing on the exchange and endorsement value of these relationships, and how they are formed, very little attention has been given to their capacity to generate innovations.  Using a multi-case, inductive study of eight technology collaborations between ten firms in the computing and communications industries, this paper examines how inter-organizational relationships engender innovation and adaptation in unpredictable and interdependent environments.  Comparisons of successful and unsuccessful collaborations show that generating collaborative innovations depends not only an appropriate design conditions (e.g., governance form, social embeddedness) as suggested by prior literature, but also on using appropriate organizational processes that lead relationships over time.  While less successful collaborations are associated with domineering leadership or consensus leadership processes, successful collaborations use a rotating leadership process that creates transient unilateral leadership opportunities for each partner.  Rotating leadership involves revolving decision control between partners to engender high-quality contributions of technologies and IP, fluctuating cascades of network activation which dynamically modify innovative team composition, and zig-zagging relationship trajectories that broadly search the space of potential innovations.  A broader contribution is to reframe inter-organizational relationships as organizational symbiosis a state of organization that engenders mutually reinforcing adaptive changes to partner’s strategies and structures.  In contrast to other images of relationships as engines of efficient exchange and endorsement, symbiotic relationships focus on engendering technology innovation, organizational adaptation, and industry transformation.

17-Dec Fiona Murray


"The Antecedents and Costs of Scientific Fraud: A Preliminary Assessment"

Researchers in the economics and sociology of science have developed a growing appreciation for the role of institutions in shaping the accumulation of knowledge over time – the process through which scientists build on ideas of others who have come before.  Recent studies have shown how institutions can both facilitate and restrict accumulation.  One aspect of knowledge accumulation which has received little attention from social scientists but which provokes considerable debate among scientists themselves is the role of scientific fraud (and to a lesser extent, scientific errors).  This paper seeks to explore the impact of scientific fraud on follow-on scientific research in an attempt to evaluate the cost of fraud and errors on knowledge accumulation.  Our evidence should provide some insights into whether or not the scientific community is effectively self-regulating or whether institutions to evaluate scientific results should be strengthened.  We then present some preliminary results regarding the organizational antecedents of scientific fraud.  Specifically, whether particular organizational configurations of scientific research - across lab, across organizations and across nations (and the governance associated with these modes of generating scientific knowledge) –are more or less correlated with false results.


Seminar Organizers: Ethan Mollick & Sung Joo Bae

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