Graziadio Faculty Selected Scholarship

Abstracts for published, peer-reviewed scholarship by Graziadio Thought Leadership available by clicking on links.

 

APPLIED BEHAVIORAL SCIENCE

Darren Good

“Contemplating mindfulness: An integrative review,” Journal of Management

Mindfulness research activity is surging within organizational science. Emerging evidence across multiple fields suggests that mindfulness is fundamentally connected to many aspects of workplace functioning, but this knowledge base has not been systematically integrated to date. This review coalesces the burgeoning body of mindfulness scholarship into a framework to guide mainstream management research investigating a broad range of constructs. The framework identifies how mindfulness influences attention, with downstream effects on functional domains of cognition, emotion, behavior, and physiology. Ultimately, these domains impact key workplace outcomes, including performance, relationships, and well-being. Consideration of the evidence on mindfulness at work stimulates important questions and challenges key assumptions within management science, generating an agenda for future research.

Good, D. J., Lyddy, C., Theresa, G., Joyce, B., Brown, K. W., Michelle, D., Ruth, B., Brewer, J., Sara, L. (2015). Contemplating mindfulness: An integrative review. Journal of Management.

Darren Good

“Being while doing: An inductive model of mindfulness at work,” Frontiers In Psychology

Mindfulness at work has drawn growing interest as empirical evidence increasingly supports its positive workplace impacts. Yet theory also suggests that mindfulness is a cognitive mode of ‘Being’ that may be incompatible with the cognitive mode of ‘Doing’ that undergirds workplace functioning. Therefore, mindfulness at work has been theorized as ‘being while doing,’ but little is known regarding how people experience these two modes in combination, nor the influences or outcomes of this interaction. Drawing on a sample of 39 semi-structured interviews, this study explores how professionals experience being mindful at work. The relationship between Being and Doing modes demonstrated changing compatibility across individuals and experience, with two basic types of experiences and three types of transitions. We labeled experiences when informants were unable to activate Being mode while engaging Doing mode as Entanglement, and those when informants reported simultaneous co- activation of Being and Doing modes as Disentanglement. This combination was a valuable resource for offsetting important limitations of the typical reliance on the Doing cognitive mode. Overall our results have yielded an inductive model of mindfulness at work, with the core experience, outcomes, and antecedent factors unified into one system that may inform future research and practice.

Lyddy, C. J., & Good, D. J. (2017). Being while doing: An inductive model of mindfulness at work. Frontiers In Psychology7

Darren Good

“Predicting Real-Time Adaptive Performance in a Dynamic Decision-Making Context,” Journal of Management and Organization.

Individuals in organizations must frequently enact a series of ongoing decisions in real-time dynamic contexts. Despite the increasing need for individuals to manage dynamic decision-making demands, we still understand little about individual differences impacting performance in these environments. This paper proposes a new construct applicable to adaptation in such real-time dynamic environments. Cognitive agility is a formative construct measuring the individual capacity to exhibit cognitive flexibility, cognitive openness and focused attention. This study predicts that cognitive agility will impact adaptive performance in a real-time dynamic decision-making microworld computer game called the Networked Fire Chief; a simulation developed to study and train Australian fire fighters. Cognitive agility, operationalized through three distinct methods (performance measures, self-reports and external-rater reports), explained unique variance beyond measures of general intelligence on the total score of adaptive performance in the microworld.

Good, D. (2014). Predicting Real-Time Adaptive Performance in a Dynamic Decision-Making Context. Journal Of Management And Organization20(6), 715-732.

Zhike Lei

“Team Adaptiveness in Dynamic Contexts,” Group & Organization Management.

Previous research asserts that teams working in routine situations pass through performance episodes characterized by action and transition phases, while other evidence suggests that certain team behaviors significantly influence team effectiveness during nonroutine situations. We integrate these two areas of research—one focusing on the temporal nature of team episodic performance and the other on interaction patterns and planning in teams—to more fully understand how teams working in dynamic settings successfully transition across routine and nonroutine situations. Using behavioral data collected from airline flight crews working in a flight simulator, we find that different interaction pattern characteristics are related to team performance in routine and nonroutine situations, and that teams engage in more contingency, in-process planning behavior during routine versus nonroutine situations. Moreover, we find that the relationship between this in-process planning and subsequent team adaptiveness is curvilinear (inverted U-shaped). That is, team contingency or in-process planning activity may initially increase team adaptiveness, but too much planning has adverse effects on subsequent performance.

Lei, Z., Waller, M. J., Hagen, J., & Kaplan, S. (2016). Team Adaptiveness in Dynamic Contexts. Group & Organization Management41(4), 491-525.

Zhike Lei

“Understanding Positivity Within Dynamic Team Interactions,” Group & Organization Management.

Positivity has been heralded for its individual benefits. However, how positivity dynamically unfolds within the temporal flow of team interactions remains unclear. This is an important oversight, as positivity can be key to team problem solving and performance. In this study, we examine how team micro-processes affect the likelihood of positivity occurring within dynamic team interactions. In doing so, we build on and expand previous work on individual positivity and integrate theory on temporal team processes, interaction rituals, and team problem solving. We analyze 43,139 utterances during the meetings of 43 problem-solving teams in two organizations. First, we find that the observed overall frequency of positivity behavior in a team is positively related to managerial ratings of team performance. Second, using statistical discourse analysis, we show that solution-focused behavior and previous positivity within the team interaction process increase the likelihood of subsequent positivity expressions, whereas positivity is less likely after problem-focused behavior. Dynamic speaker switches moderate these effects, such that interaction instances involving more speakers increase the facilitating effects of solutions and earlier positivity for subsequent positivity within team interactions. We discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of micro-level team positivity and its performance benefits.

Lehmann-Willenbrock, N., Chiu, M. M., Lei, Z., & Kauffeld, S. (2017). Understanding Positivity Within Dynamic Team Interactions. Group & Organization Management42(1), 39-78.

Jaclyn Margolis

“Vertical flow of collectivistic leadership: An examination of the cascade of visionary leadership across levels,” Leadership Quarterly,

This study explores the connection between formal leaders and collective leadership in teams through the examination of how collective strategic vision flows downward in organizations and the function that formal leaders play in the resulting cascade of collective leadership. Building from a sensemaking framework, we propose that a supervisor’s perceptions of the collective navigator role (the establishing and enacting of strategic vision among members of a team) in their immediate supervisor-level work group ultimately links to the collective leadership navigator role in the lower-level team he or she leads thereby illustrating the vertical flow of collective leadership across organizational levels. To understand how this cascading process operates, we propose that two key characteristics of supervisors, their job satisfaction and empowering leadership behaviors, mediate the linkage between collective strategic visions at these different levels. We find support for this connection in our study of teams within a large manufacturing company.

Margolis, J. A., & Ziegert, J. C. (2016). Vertical flow of collectivistic leadership: An examination of the cascade of visionary leadership across levels. Leadership Quarterly27(2), 334-348.

 

 

DECISION SCIENCES

James DiLellio

“Optimal Strategies for Traditional versus Roth IRA/401(k) Consumption During Retirement,” Decision Sciences.

We establish an algorithm that produces an optimal strategy for retirees to withdraw funds between their tax-deferred accounts (TDAs), like traditional IRA/401(k) accounts, and their Roth IRA/401(k) accounts, in the context of a financial model based on American tax law. This optimal strategy follows a geometrically simple, intuitive approach that can be used to maximize the size of a retiree’s bequest to an heir or, alternatively, to maximize a retiree’s portfolio longevity. We give examples where retirees following the approach currently implemented by major investment firms, like Fidelity and Vanguard, will reduce their bequests by approximately 10% or lose 18 months of portfolio longevity compared to our optimal approach. Further, our strategy and algorithm can be extended to many cases where the retiree has additional, known yearly sources of money, such as income from part-time work, taxable investment accounts, and Social Security.

DiLellio, J. A. and Ostrov, D. N. (2017), Optimal Strategies for Traditional versus Roth IRA/401(k) Consumption During Retirement. Decision Sciences, 48: 356–384.

 

 

ECONOMICS

Michael Olabisi

“The Impact of Exporting and Foreign Direct Investment on Product Innovation: Evidence from Chinese Manufacturers,” Contemporary Economic Policy

To understand the drivers of product innovation at the firm level, I compare the effects of foreign direct investment ( FDI) and exporting on product innovation using a rich firm-level database of manufacturing and industrial enterprises. The article focuses on product innovation, as it is vital to economic development. Estimates from linear regressions and propensity score matching tests show that learning-by-exporting is a stronger predictor of product innovation. Firms that receive foreign investment also tend to engage in more product innovation, but not at the same level as the firms that export. Additional tests confirm that as they start and stop exporting, firms change their patterns of investment in the drivers of product innovation-fixed capital and research.

Olabisi, M. (2017). The Impact of Exporting and Foreign Direct Investment on Product Innovation: Evidence from Chinese Manufacturers. Contemporary Economic Policy35(4), 735-750.

 

 

FINANCE

Agus Harjoto

“Legal vs. Normative CSR: Differential Impact on Analyst Dispersion, Stock Return Volatility, Cost of Capital, and Firm Value,” Journal of Business Ethics

This study examines how the sell-side analysts interpret firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. Specifically, we examine the differential impact of overall, legal, and normative CSR on the analysts’ earnings forecast dispersion, stock return volatility, cost of equity capital, and firm value. Employing a sample of U.S. public firms during 1993–2009, we find that overall CSR intensities reduce analyst dispersion of earnings forecast, volatility of stock return and cost of capital (COC), and increase firm value. However, its impact is reduced for firms with better accounting and disclosure quality. When we disaggregate CSR into legal and normative CSR, we find that legal (normative) CSR decreases (increases) analysts’ dispersion, stock return volatility, and COC, while legal (normative) CSR increases (decreases) firm value. The sell-side analysts tend to have less (greater) information asymmetry regarding the net benefits of pursuing CSR that is (not) required by laws. We find, however, that the benefit of having normative CSR realized in 1 year lag such that analyst dispersion, stock return volatility, COC decrease, respectively, and firm value increases. Furthermore, we find that the benefit of normative CSR is offset for firms with higher accounting and disclosure quality.

Harjoto, M. A. (2015). Legal vs. Normative CSR: Differential Impact on Analyst Dispersion, Stock Return Volatility, Cost of Capital, and Firm Value. Journal of Business Ethics, 128(1 (March 2015)), 1-20 (Lead article).

Agus Harjoto

Robert Lee

“Board Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility,” Journal of Business Ethics

This study examines the impact of board diversity on firms’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance. Using seven different measures of board diversity across 1,489 U.S. firms from 1999 to 2011, the study finds that board diversity is positively associated with CSR performance. Board diversity is associated with a greater number of areas in which CSR is strong and a fewer number of areas in which CSR is a concern. These findings support the stakeholder theory and are consistent with the view that board diversity enhances firms’ ability to satisfy the needs of their broader groups of stakeholders. We find that gender, tenure, and expertise diversity seems to be the driving factors of firms’ CSR activities. Furthermore, we find that board diversity significantly increases CSR performance by increasing CSR strengths and reducing CSR concerns for firms producing consumer oriented products and firms operating in more competitive industries. Our results remain robust using different measures of CSR performance, different estimation methods, and different samples.

Harjoto, M. A., Lee, R. H. (2014). Board Diversity and Corporate Social Responsibility. Journal of Business Ethics.

 

 

INFORMATION SYSTEMS

Nelson Granados

“Demand and Revenue Impacts of an Opaque Channel: Evidence from the Airline Industry,” Production and Operations Management

Over time, opaque intermediaries, such as Hotwire and Priceline.com, have become an established distribution channel for the travel industry. We use a market response model and a dataset of economy class reservations from a major international airline to empirically examine the demand and cannibalization effects of the opaque channel. We find that: (1) the impact of the opaque channel on total demand is positive and significant in markets with high levels of competition; and (2) overall, the opaque channel cannibalizes the online transparent channel, but not the offline channel nor the full-fare segment. However, we find that cannibalization of the offline channel moderately increases as markets become more concentrated. These results together suggest that airlines can benefit from opaque offerings mainly in markets with high levels of competition. Further, we develop a methodology to assess the revenue impacts of the opaque channel and show how it can be used by managers to develop and implement pricing tactics to increase demand and decrease cannibalization.

Granados, N., Han, K., & Zhang, D. (2017). Demand and Revenue Impacts of an Opaque Channel: Evidence from the Airline Industry. Production and Operations Management, online.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Doreen E. Shanahan, Margaret E. Phillips, Nancy Ellen Dodd

“Skateistan,” Case Research Journal

Skateboarding is a popular recreational and competitive sport in many countries in the world. However, skateboarding was relatively unknown in Afghanistan when Oliver Percovich arrived. An avid skateboarder, “Ollie” soon found that the children on the streets of Kabul were not satisfied with just watching him as in other countries, these children wanted to participate. When a few brave girls began to skateboard, he realized he might have found a loophole into the forbidden world of sports for girls. Using skateboarding as the hook to reach street children and provide opportunities for girls, he developed Skateistan as a non-governmental organization (NGO) with the mission to use skateboarding as a tool to empower youth to create new opportunities and the potential for change. With the success of Skateistan in Kabul, the program expanded to Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and was entering Johannesburg, South Africa. After a strong start in Afghanistan and Cambodia, the founder contemplated—had Skateistan tapped into something universal or was their success simply serendipitous? Ollie sought to: 1) discern the universal lessons from his Skateistan experiences in Afghanistan that could be applied elsewhere; 2) identify the opportunities and challenges that were unique to the Afghan culture; and 3) leverage that knowledge to cultivate a Skateistan social brand that would symbolize the organization’s core values of “quality, ownership, creativity, trust, respect, and equality.”

Shanahan, D., Phillips, M., Rossy, G., Dodd, N., Scott, A. (2017). Skateistan. Case Research Journal, Vol. 32, 1.

 

 

MARKETING

Dave McMahon

“Customer Loyalty Program Management,” Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Loyalty programs have proliferated throughout the hospitality industry, often with little evidence that these programs create behavioral or attitudinal loyalty to the firm that offers the program. Conversations with hotel managers revealed that customers have come to expect some type of reward in exchange for their patronage. Managers are often required to modify aspects of their reward programs to remain both profitable and competitive. Theoretical arguments suggest that consumers become used to a particular type of reward and may respond negatively to any changes in the reward structure. In this brief report, we explore the impact that program changes might have on consumer patronage. Drawing from a larger hospitality survey, 522 consumers completed an online survey indicating their degree of brand loyalty toward a particular hotel chain. We then assessed responses to various potential changes in their program. Results indicated that program changes including increasing reward tier requirements or even discontinuing the program are likely to increase consumer defection from the firm. The implications of these findings for reward program management are considered.

McCall, M., & McMahon, D. (2016). Customer Loyalty Program Management. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly57(1), 111-115.

 

 

STRATEGY

Mark Tribbitt

“A competitive dynamics perspective on firms’ product strategy,” Journal Of Business Research

We build on the awareness-motivation-capability (AMC) framework of competitive dynamics research to examine how a signal of a rival’s innovation, in the form of research and development (R&D) intensity, may influence a focal firm’s product actions. We argue that a rival’s R&D intensity increases a focal firm’s awareness of a competitive threat and thus its motivation to react by increasing its product actions. However, this competitive impact is conditional on the focal firm’s size and performance relative to the rival, as well as the strategic homogeneity of the two. We use the AMC framework to analyze such moderating effects.

Chen, T., Tribbitt, M. A., Yang, Y., & Li, X. (2017). Does rivals’ innovation matter? A competitive dynamics perspective on firms’ product strategy. Journal Of Business Research761-7.

 

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Graziadio Faculty Books, Blogs, and More

Graziadio Faculty have published and are publishing books, blogs, and other items that make an intellectual contribution. Click on the “Book” link below to learn more.

Books

Aha Moments in Talent Management: A Business Fable With Practical Exercises, (2014). Mark Allen, PhD, Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management

The Corporate University Handbook: Designing, Managing, and Growing a Successful Program, (2002). Mark Allen, PhD, Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management

Crossing Cultures: Insights from Master Teachers, (2004). Nakiye Boyacigiller (Editor), Richard Goodman (Editor), Margaret Phillips (Editor).

Exchange Rates and Prices: The Case of United States Imports: Volume 3, (2017). William R. Smith, PhD, PCM, Professor of Marketing; Academic Director, Presidents and Key Executives MBA Program. (Routledge Library Editions: Exchange Rate Economics), Routledge.

Financial Wisdom V.1: Personal Finance and Career Skills to Guide Teens and Young Adults on Their Journey to Success and Happiness, [Textbook], (2011). Joetta Forsyth, PhD, Associate Professor of Finance

Money Music 101: Essential Finance Skills for Musicians, Artists & Creative Entrepreneurs, (2011). Clemens Kownatzki, PhD, Practitioner Faculty in Finance

The Next Generation of Corporate Universities: Innovative Approaches for Developing People and Expanding Organizational Capabilities, (2007). Mark Allen, PhD, Practitioner Faculty of Organizational Theory and Management

Reviewing Leadership: A Christian Evaluation of Current Approaches, (2016), 2nd Edition, Bernice M. Ledbetter, Robert J. Banks, David C. Greenhalgh

StatCity: Statistical Methods for Business Practitioners, Volume 1 and Volume 2, 2nd Edition, (2014). James DiLellio, PhD, Associate Professor of Decision Sciences, & Owen P. Hall, Jr., PE, PhD, Professor of Decision Sciences

Winning Strategies: Building a Sustainable Leadership Pipeline through Talent Management & Succession Planning, (2017). Kevin S. Groves, PhD, Associate Professor of Organizational Theory and Management

The Wisdom of Ants: 10 Commandments of Trust, (2015). Linnea B. McCord, JD, MBA, Associate Professor of Business Law

The Writer’s Compass: From Story Map to Finished Draft in 7 Stages, (2011). Nancy Ellen Dodd, MPW, MFA, Editor, Graziadio Business Review

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A Framework To Evaluate Consulting Efforts

Consulting efforts and their outcomes are seldom evaluated with evidence-based evaluation research models, designs, and processes. Instead, those engaged in consulting processes often subjectively assess outcomes without utilizing a systematic, measured model before, during, and after the consulting engagement. This article offers an evidence-based evaluation model comprised of five elements and ideas to facilitate effective consulting evaluations. The five elements include the logic type or level of thinking used in an evaluation, a conceptual map, a logic model, the implementation of the logic model, and outcome and impact assessments. Evidence-based evaluation provides a rigorous, valid, and reliable approach for assessing the effectiveness of a consulting engagement. It also provides opportunities to improve consulting and evaluation knowledge and practice, and an alternative to a process that is too often conducted as a casual assessment tainted with possible biases and aberrations.

Introduction

consultants analyzing information 250x150Evaluation research is comprised of a body of knowledge and methodology developed to assess the effectiveness of programs of change. It originated in response to questions about the effectiveness of business and government consulting programs. The field has progressed along to the expansion of international and domestic change programs. However, research on consulting evaluation remains underdeveloped; it is not a focal point of consulting. Questions often arise as to how and what is evaluated, and should be evaluated. Often, the client and consultant may claim success without drawing upon a systematic, data-based approach. Failures may therefore go under-reported and results may be tainted by a bias toward the advocating consultant’s approaches and the client’s sentiments.

Regardless of the drivers for consulting, the commonly used evaluation concepts, processes, and methods tend to be afflicted by local biases and unchecked assumptions, concepts, and methods. Although managers are interested in creating value with consulting resources, the evaluation and measurement of value-added aspects of consulting are often neglected, avoided,[1] or deemed unnecessary.

Evidence-Based Evaluation and Consulting Engagements

In many cases, consulting efforts are led by consultants who sell or advocate their services and pre-packaged products using claims of success. Often, clients rely on remedies offered by consultants for quick results—without proper diagnosis, intervention, and evaluation. To improve consulting practices, the consulting field would benefit from both evaluations[2] [3] and learning about the effectiveness of the services and outcomes of consulting efforts and their impacts. Managers would also benefit by learning the results of the efforts and resources expended on consulting to find better ways to logically plan and justify consulting efforts in their own organizations.

An evidence-based approach to evaluation offers valid and reliable information on the efficacy of consulting efforts and provides opportunities to generate knowledge, learning, improvements, and innovation. This methodology relies on a logical approach to consulting assessments, and includes planning, designing, implementing, and controlling: a disciplined approach to evaluation. Developing and adopting a logical approach that fits the specific drivers of change efforts[4] [5] tends to assure greater validity and reliability in evaluating the effectiveness of the consulting approach, processes, and results, versus using unchecked, idiosyncratic consultant- and client-dominated approaches.

Resource expenditures for consulting engagements are justified based on views, hopes, and aspirations that consultants can draw upon to help their clients deal with the realities of their situations—whether implicit or explicit. The evidence-based evaluation approach emphasizes a logical approach[6] that underpins the evaluation of the consultation process from start to finish, or at any phase of the consulting activity. This approach can help[7] reveal the level of thought, scope, and usefulness of the engagement and associated interventions. A logical approach[8] can guide the design and selection of the appropriate type of thinking, concepts, methodologies, and processes to be used in evaluations. This approach can also provide key elements and play a critical role in facilitating a valid and reliable evaluation. Evidence-based evaluation can incorporate features and attributes that offer the best assessments of the unique situational conditions and driving forces of the consulting engagement.

An effective consulting evaluation requires adopting the appropriate type of thinking, concepts, methodologies, design, and implementation. To ensure valid and reliable evidence-based evaluation outcomes, evaluation methodologies should reflect the rationale of the consulting engagement. When the purpose and drivers of the consulting engagement are not considered, the evaluation concepts, methodology, and subsequent results will most likely be confused and unreliable. It is important to configure the explicit and implicit unique, subtle, and special conditions of the consulting effort. An evidence-based evaluation approach guides the type and level of thinking, applicable concepts, process design, and implementation, and provides a framework for the valid and reliable evaluation of consulting engagements.

Ideally, evidence-based evaluation is incorporated into consulting engagements from beginning to end, with resources and support for the evaluation effort integrated into the consulting engagement. Furthermore, key stakeholders are identified and, if appropriate, included in the process of consulting evaluation planning and implementation efforts, according to the circumstances and drivers of the consulting engagement.

Drivers of Consulting Engagements

The call for consulting services is driven by the client’s need to add value to his or her organization and activities. Effective consulting enhances and enables the client’s system to create value and achieve its goals effectively and efficiently. Three common drivers for those seeking consulting services include: (1) external conditions, (2) internal factors, or (3) a strategic need to respond to combined external (opportunities and threats) and internal (strengths and weaknesses) situations. These three thematic modalities of consulting should be recognized from the outset. For example, external and internal impetuses for change should be clearly understood and diagnosed, with cause-and-effect relations analyzed. Errors in determining the correct impetuses for consulting engagements and evaluations can become costly and self-defeating.

External Drivers

External drivers, such as global, macro trends, industry dynamics, disruptions, transorganizational dynamics, institutional requirements, competition, market shifts, technological changes, regulations, laws, and similar forces, are beyond an organization’s domain of direct control and influence. Requirements for success are often illusive and changing. Adroit consultants provide insights and resources to help the client learn and understand the new and emerging realities, plan, and take appropriate actions to succeed. The overall success of externally driven consulting engagements is best evaluated with externally based success criteria and measures. Self-assessment and internal measures[9] are necessary, but not sufficient. Consulting evaluations address the requisite factors that lead to eventual success in the external environment. The primary measures and metrics utilized for consulting processes focus from beginning to end on the requisite external success requirements, as well.

Internal Drivers

Second, internal drivers are focused on improving efficiencies within the firm. Consulting resources are directed at the departmental, sectional, team, or individual levels. The changes required may be behavioral, technological, structural, or procedural, and the focus may be on a department or subset of the organization. The rationale and measure of successful consulting outcomes are bound within internal core processes, resources, expectations, or even stylistic managerial and cultural preferences. For example, members of a department and their supervisor may aim to improve teamwork to improve their productivity and morale. Other interventions may include structural, technical, personnel, and procedural changes. Evaluations of internal consulting engagements have a local flavor, too. Rousseau offers an example of internally driven consulting, as demonstrated by a health care case:

… with input from clinic staff and feedback from clinic staff, a redesigned feedback system takes shape. The new system uses three performance categories—care quality, cost, and employee satisfaction—and provide a summary measure for each of the three. Over the next year, through provision of feedback in a more interpretable form, the performance of the health system improves across the board, with low performing units showing the greatest improvement.

This example illustrates internal drivers for improvements and their subsequent internal evaluation.

Strategy Drivers

research reports titled strategy 200x150Third, strategy drivers for change and consulting facilitate rethinking, renewing, building, maintaining, and rebalancing to achieve an effective equilibrium between the client’s vision, mission, and capabilities, and dynamic external environment conditions. According to de Kluyver and Pearce,[10] strategic thinking drives decisions regarding what resources are employed to plan and implement firm-level strategies, as well as how those resources are employed. Value migration[11] [12] creates conditions that require firms to make adjustments—leap forward to maintain or rebuild their strategic advantage by mitigating external and internal requirements.

Strategic consulting engagements may include initiatives to diversify, acquire and merge businesses, harvest cash cows, and spin off or abandon non-core businesses. A client’s system for value-creating activities is renewed, developed, modified, and used to enhance the firm’s competitive and strategic advantages. Strategy-consulting drivers make use of internal resources to assess market opportunities and risks, develop new product lines and services, build and adopt new technologies, competencies, and capabilities, and fashion and implement strategic change initiatives. Their success may be evaluated by assessing the level of revitalization reflected by the interactive balancing of the firm’s internal needs, capabilities, and strengths, and the related external opportunities and risks.

5 Elements of Engagement Evaluations

Consulting engagement evaluations involve five separate and interactive elements (Table 1): the level of thinking or logic type adopted for the evaluation, a conceptual map of the relevant and interactive concepts and knowledge to be applied in the evaluation, the logic model, implementation and outcome assessments, and their impacts. These five elements and their interactive sequential dynamics are discussed below.

 

Table 1
Table 1. Elements of Evidence-Based Consulting Evaluations

 

1. Logic Type

The first element addresses the level of thinking or logic type used to clarify a consulting engagement for the purpose of analyzing and evaluating it. The logic type, whether implicit or explicit, is a precursor to the evaluation effort. It reflects the level and nature of thinking and, in turn, determines the concepts and measures that will be used in the evaluation. The theory of logic types advanced by Bateson[13] is relevant to the understanding, application, and level of thinking adopted in a given situation. An effective logic type elevates thinking to an appropriately high level, enabling participants to understand and grasp seminal and pivotal issues that extend beyond the point where problems present themselves.

When an evidence-based evaluation utilizes logic types that are at the same level where problems arise, the evaluation efforts will become short-sighted, suboptimal, and risky, leading to faulty results. It is a human tendency to reduce various situations to simpler forms and, ultimately, to escape uncertainty and complexity. This tendency becomes stronger when the consultant and clients are faced with added responsibility for high-stakes situations, as well as uncertain and complex consulting engagements, decisions, and outcomes.

The common phrase “The medicine cured the disease but killed the patient” is an example of an evidence-based evaluation developed at the same faulty level of logic as where the problem resides. The disease was targeted and cured successfully, but the intervention mortally damaged and killed the patient. The effort failed to consider a higher level of reality and logic for total patient care, focusing instead on the disease level. To effectively evaluate the outcome of a prescribed medicine, the level of thought should include not only the disease, but higher levels of logic that would assess side effects and the patient’s overall well-being and health over both the short and long term. Thus, the logic type to be used in the evaluation of a solution to an epidemic disease may require a broader view and a higher level of thought about the disease, specifically at a public health policy level, rather than focusing solely at the lower levels of patient treatment or personal action, which are important but not sufficient for resolving the health problem at its core. A robust evaluation effort uses an appropriate logic type that is specific to the client and the related conditions.

2. Conceptual Map

The second element of evidence-based evaluation is the conceptual map. Conceptual maps[14] play a useful role in surfacing theories, concepts, and research in use and to be used. They outline the relevant concepts specific to a consulting engagement and portray the logic type and level of thinking as the cognitive driving forces of the evaluation. The conceptual map integrates seminal concepts to guide the evaluation and, subsequently, guide the design of the evaluation logic model. For example, to treat many forms of cancer, the choices are to radiate, cut, or chemically treat the patient. Not only the diagnosis but the treatment utilizes a variety of concepts and research approaches which, at times, are used carefully for successful collective treatment, while on other occasions, when inappropriate concepts are used, the treatment results in failure.

3. Logic Model

The third element of evaluation is the logic model. The logic type delineates the level of thinking employed for the consulting evaluation, while the conceptual map outlines the key concepts that provide the conceptual framework for the evaluation effort. The logic model is derived from the conceptual map and the logic type. It focuses on planning, designing, and sequencing the implementation of evaluation activities alongside consulting engagement efforts. The logic model embodies the methods, techniques, and processes of evaluation and measurement. It requires appropriate evaluation methodologies, processes, and measures. The logic model also delineates the need for and use of pre- and post-assessments of conditions related to the consulting engagement, objective and subjective measures, surveys of stakeholders’ sentiments and satisfaction, and financial measures of key success factors. The logic type outlines a disciplined approach to data collection, analysis, and diagnosis.

4. Implementation

Implementation is the fourth element of evidence-based evaluation. Implementation follows the detailed plans and action items of the logic model. It may use responsibility charts and performance metrics and measures and collect data and evidence on conditions and issues before, after, and during the consultation engagement, according to the logic model, conceptual map, and logic type incorporated in the evaluation effort. Implementation embodies the assessment of phases, which are the milestones of consulting engagements.

5. Outcomes Assessment

The fifth and final element of an evidence-based evaluation is outcomes assessment of the overall consulting engagement’s efficacy, impacts, cross impacts and intended and unintended consequences, and benefits and costs. It would also be helpful for it to include a post-mortem evaluation to capture the lessons learned and knowledge gained from the consulting engagement. The outcomes assessment is built on and incorporates all elements of the evidence-based evaluation. It considers the drivers of change, whether external, internal, or strategic, and provides valuable knowledge about the consulting engagement’s efficacy, pre- and post- consultation conditions, and possible causalities and linkages to events, whether intended or not. The fifth element of evaluation provides a great opportunity to generate new knowledge, learning, education, and client and consultant training.

Support for Consulting Engagement Evaluation

Evaluations of consulting engagements require support, openness to inquiry, and a willingness to learn on the part of sponsors and stakeholders. They require the allocation of appropriate and sufficient resources for the related activities. Knowledge and competencies[15] in evaluation research and their applications are critical to conducting a robust, valid, and reliable evaluation program. It may be necessary to educate and train both the clients and consultants in the use of the five elements of evidence-based evaluation: logic types, a conceptual map, a logic model, implementation, and outcomes assessment. Individual, team, organizational, and institutional collaboration would offer a broader set of knowledge and views for building an effective evidence-based evaluation effort, and enable timely feedback, feedforward, and continuous improvements. These potential benefits provide a compelling argument to support and advance consulting evaluation research, knowledge, and practice (see Appendix A: “Guidelines for Evidence-Based Evaluation of Consulting”).

Guidelines for Evidence-Based Consulting Evaluations

Based on the above, we propose the following preliminary set of procedures to facilitate the design and development of evidence-based evaluations of consulting efforts for consulting engagements. The evaluation design would include the participation of clients, consultants, and key stakeholders.

  1. Involve the key stakeholders in a dialogue regarding the need, scope, and level of the consulting engagement and its desired process and outcomes.
  2. Educate, learn, and collaboratively designate the key elements of evidence-based evaluations of consulting engagements and apply them throughout the consulting engagement.
  3. Recognize the appropriate level of evaluation thinking and the logic type that fit a specific consulting engagement.
  4. Develop the conceptual model and integrate the concepts to be used in the evaluation effort, based on the selected logic type.
  5. Design the logic model for the purpose of applying the logic type and conceptual map to a given consulting engagement. Build outcomes and performance methodologies, processes, and measurement metrics for implementation. Construct a decision support system to promote and support evidence-based practices to be implemented effectively.
  6. Implement the logic model to collect the relevant situation-specific, valid, and reliable evaluation data accurately and in a timely manner throughout the consulting engagement phases and processes, end to end.
  7. Analyze the data and evidence-based data, assessing outcomes, their impacts and anticipated and unanticipated consequences, and possible drivers of change in the consulting engagement.
  8. Hold post-mortem sessions to examine, surface, diagnose, discuss, and dialogue the cause-and-effect links and assumptions regarding the consulting engagement process, outcomes, and intended and unintended consequences and impacts.
  9. Plan, organize, and allocate resources for total evidence-based evaluation of the consulting engagement effort.
  10. Manage timely and targeted information-sharing processes among stakeholders, clients, and consultants to avoid redundancies, overuse, and misuse of information and resources.
  11. Incorporate a repository of lessons learned to be incorporated into future consulting engagements.
  12. Build evidence-based evaluation processes into the consulting engagement from start to finish.

Summary and Conclusions

Organization practitioners and researchers and the field of management consulting as a whole will benefit from evidence-based evaluations of consulting efforts. Similar to other applied fields, such as medicine, there is a growing need to generate valid, reliable, and timely data to assess and objectively evaluate the processes, outcomes, and efficacy of consulting engagements. Scholars and practitioners have an important role in educating managers, consultants, and organization actors, elevating their awareness of the need for, and benefits of, rigorous evidence-based evaluations. The five elements of evidence-based evaluation for consulting engagements are intended to provide a framework to advance consulting knowledge and practices. In addition, there is great opportunity to generate and use the reliable, valid knowledge derived from consulting engagement evaluations to advance organizational and consulting research and practice.

 

[1] Bledsoe, K. L., and Graham, J. A. (2005). “The use of multiple evaluation approaches in program evaluation,” American Journal of Evaluation, 26, no. 3, pp. 302–319.

[2] McClintock, C. (2003). “American commentary: The evaluator scholar/practitioner/ change agent,” Journal of Evaluation, 24, 91.

[3] Torres, R. T., and Preskill, H. (2001). “Evaluation and organizational learning: Past, present, and future,” American Journal of Evaluation, 22, 387.

[4] Davidson, P., Motamedi, K., & Raia, T. (2009). “Using evaluation research to improve consulting practice,” ING Emerging Trends and Issues in Management Consulting: Consulting as a Janus-Faced Reality, editor Anthony F. Buono. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, pp. 61–74

[5] Nicholas, J. N. (1979). “Evaluation research in organizational change interventions: Considerations and some suggestions,” Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 15, 23.

[6] Chen, W. W., Cato, B. M., and Rainford, N. (1998–99). “Using a logic model to plan and evaluate a community intervention program: A case study,” International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 18, no. 4, pp. 449–458.

[7] McLaughlin, J. A., and Jordan, G. B. (1999). “Logic models: A tool for telling your program’s performance story,” Evaluation and Program Planning, 22, pp. 65–72.

[8] Dwyer, J. (1997). “Using a program logic model that focuses on performance measurement to develop a program,” Canadian Journal of Public Health, 88 no. 6, pp. 421–425.

[9] Renger, R., Carver, J., Custer, A. and Grogan, K. (2002). “How to engage multiple stakeholders in developing a meaningful and manageable evaluation plan: A case study.” Manuscript submitted for publication.

[10] De Kluyver, Cornelius A., and Pearce, John A. (2010). Strategy: A View from the Top. New York: Prentice Hall.

[11] Slywotzky A. J. (1995). Value Migration. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

[12] Slywotzky A. J., and Morrison, D. (1997). Profit Zone. New York: Crown Books.

[13] Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution, and Epistemology. New York: Chandler Publishing. Co.

[14] Rosas, S. (2005). “Concept mapping as a technique for program theory development: An illustration using family support programs,” American Journal of Evaluation 26, 389–401.

[15] Stevahn, L. (2005). “Establishing essential competencies for program evaluators,” American Journal of Evaluation, 26, 1, pp. 43–59.

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Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers by Bridget Brennan

Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World’s Most Powerful Consumers

By Bridget Brennan
Crown Business, 2009

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3 stars: Valuable information and a good readOn seeing Why She Buys on the list of GBR books, I was quick to offer a review. Understanding purchasing motivation is absolutely imperative to ensuring a positive ROI on marketing expenditures and a topic that I enjoy.

The author contends that gender is the most powerful determinant in a person’s view of the world more than race, age, income, creed, or ethnicity. She informs us about women’s overwhelming influence on almost every purchasing decision of note in today’s economy; the word used by the author is “dominate.”

Female purchasing drivers must be studied with the same intensity as a new industry or foreign market, Brennan admonishes, an argument that I believe should be given serious consideration by both sales and marketing professionals. Even when the female is not the primary household decision maker, she almost certainly still has veto power something I am learning first hand as I prepare to purchase a new automobile.

Why She Buys offers the marketer a great deal of useful case discussions ranging from Proctor and Gamble’s Swiffer cleaning products line to Callaway Golf Clubs. Another area of valued content is the lifestyle analyses of modern women as young single working professionals, working mothers, divorces, and widows, followed by helpful suggestions for offering services to fill the needs of each.

One feature of the book that I did not find of great value was what Brennan termed the “mencyclopedia,” a dubious list of vernacular or catchphrases used by modern women. Although cute it may have been better placed in a witty blog than a marketing “how-to” book.

Why She Buys would appear to provide the most value to a male professional intent on selling to women as most of the demographic and psychographic profiles, I imagine, would be naturally understood by women (I tread lightly here). That said, if the book was in fact written for male marketers, the target audience may find that the author has a tone that can be somewhat shrill and off-putting. At the beginning of the book, when the case is being made for the undeniable importance of the feminine consumer, one senses an indignant tone from the author. Yes, many members of the male gender have incorrectly stereotyped female consumers, but surely, the reader does not want to be made to feel guilty for the past transgressions of his gender?

Nevertheless and in spite of this initial tone, I found Why She Buys to be a worthwhile and valuable read for marketers.

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How to Become an Expert on Anything in 2 Hours by Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch

How to Become an Expert on Anything in 2 Hours

By Gregory Hartley and Maryann Karinch
AMACOM, 2008

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2 stars: Read this book if and when you have the timeAccording to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, an expert is “one with a special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.” Frequent co-authors, Gregory Hartley, a decorated military interrogator, and Maryann Karinch, a public speaking expert, have taken the liberal view that “representing mastery” is tied less to in-depth knowledge or experience on a subject than to how well you read your audience and communicate a proficiency of the subject.  As a consequence, the title sets an ambitious expectation that the book fails to meet.

How to Become an Expert claims that its “proven” methods will give the reader credibility and command of nearly any situation involving face-to-face communication, but the book has less to do with the gaining of expertise on a subject than with the dynamics of interacting with others on the subjects of your targeted research. In addition, I found the many references to military interrogation methods are somewhat distracting; they may validate Hartley’s interrogation credentials, but they would have been better balanced with more insight into Karinch’s public speaking experience.

The authors attempt to tie body language, research, and communications into a systematic approach to achieving expertise. The 246-page book consists of 10 chapters divided into three parts:

  1. “The Role of Human Nature” tries to define the role of experts and how we view them;
  2. “Planning and Preparation” gives a quick guide to reading body language, understanding your audience, and performing targeted research; and
  3. “Execution and Rescue” outlines a “tried-and-true” game plan of message delivery and knowing when to stop.

The authors recognize that readers, who follow the methods, will find themselves in situations that require a rescue plan. This is discussed in the final chapter.

While the book does an adequate job of explaining the importance of preparation and your audience, it falls short of charting a path to becoming “an expert on anything in just two hours.”

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The Leadership Code by Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman

The Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By

By Dave Ulrich, Norm Smallwood, and Kate Sweetman
HBS Press, 2009

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5 stars: Stop what you're doing and read this book!Is there a The Da Vinci Code for leaders? Ulrich, Smallwood, and Sweetman of The RBL Group purport to have found one. The authors write: “This leadership code, like any other code, provides both structure and guidance, and helps you know not only what to do to be a better individual leader, but also how to build better leadership capability.” Since there are already countless books on leaders and leadership, the authors turned to “recognized experts in the field who had . . . already spent years sifting through the evidence and developing their own theories.” I was honored to be included in their acknowledgements, so my review may be somewhat biased. (But if they appreciate my work on leadership skills and development, they are clearly brilliant people, right?)

From their literature review and interviews, the authors concluded that 60 to 70 percent of leadership effectiveness is contained in the “leadership code.” Their analysis and synthesis result in a framework that they believe is accurate, logical, and useful. While many academics may turn up their noses at the lack of elegance in the authors’ research design, the book is likely to pass a more important test perceived value and relevance to leaders on the firing line.

The “leadership code” breaks down into five deceptively simple rules:

  1. Shape the Future
  2. Make Things Happen
  3. Engage Today’s Talent
  4. Build the Next Generation
  5. Invest in Yourself

The authors have included both self-assessment and 360-degree feedback exercises to help readers assess how well they exemplify the “leadership code.” In addition, they may visit www.leadershipcodebook.com to view Ulrich’s short video lesson on analyzing the results of the self-assessment.

The book is well-written, engaging, and pragmatic. Cracking the “leadership code” might help you take your leadership skills to a higher level and you don’t have to worry about crazed monks trying to stop you from sharing your insights.

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