MIT team finds that the ratio of component atoms is vital to performance.
MIT's 40-year-old Sloan Management Review has just been relaunched with a new look and revamped content, including expanded coverage of critical management topics.
"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," said 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."
The launch of the quarterly journal's updated look and content is the culmination of 18 months of work. "As the fourth most widely cited journal, according to the Social Science Index, SMR is uniquely positioned as a research-based journal," said Michael Cusumano, Distinguished Sloan Professor, executive editor in chief, and chair of SMR's board. "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."
The publication has also been renamed MIT Sloan Management Review. "By adding MIT to the publication's name, we've emphasized our academic roots and made the most of the MIT connection," Ms. Petrie said.
The new design offers full color for the first time, as well as a layout that 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," Ms. Petrie said. "We've used the design to help managers grasp ideas quickly."
Part of the new content is an "Intelligence" department at the front, which 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. The addition of these two new areas gives SMR more room to cover all strategic management areas, including strategy, leadership, e-business, globalization and entrepreneurship.
"One of the important things we did over the past year was to triple the size of our editorial advisory board," Professor Cusumano said. "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," Ms. Petrie said. "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."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on January 24, 2001.