Working Papers

Research and Insights from the Center for Effective Organizations

The Practitioner-Academic Gap: A View from the Middle

The practitioner-academic gap has been widely discussed for decades along with recommendations for increasing the practical application of management research. We review some of the reasons for this disconnect and argue this has been the norm going back to the beginnings of the field. At the same time contemporary management practice has obviously been greatly […]

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Ratingless Performance Reviews: A Quasi-Experiment

We conducted a study of ratingless reviews in an organization that had an innovative and effective performance management process prior to adopting ratingless reviews. We collected data from the pilot and comparison units before and after the change to ratingless reviews. Results indicated some positive changes and no clear negative changes in the pilot units compared to the comparison units. Analysis suggests that positive results are primarily the result of more frequent feedback that is more oriented toward employee
development rather than the ratingless reviews, per se.

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New CEO-WorldatWork (WaW) Monograph on Cutting Edge Performance Management

Cutting-Edge Performance Management: 244 Organizations Report on Ongoing Feedback, Ratingless Reviews and Crowd-Sourced Feedback
Published by WorldatWork, September 2016

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Socio-Technical Action Research Lab Design Lab Description and Process

The STARLab acronym “Socio-technical Action Research Lab” points to a specific type of lab which is designed to create socio-technical action research. This paper outlines the distinctive features of the socio-technical action research lab. First, it outlines the ideas that provide a foundation for STARLab, along with the essential concepts of tacit knowledge and design thinking. Next, it provides a brief background of the origin of the design lab methodology. Last is a description of how the lab works – planning, environment, and process.

STARLab Consortium

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Designing a Digitally Enabled Prototype—Jointly-optimized Social and Technical Work System

A core concern of the STARLab work has been the “technological lead, social lag” problem. Technological advance is hurtling forward; our social technologies have not kept up. New work systems are being configured around a network of digital platforms into which are built algorithms and routines for coordination, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and advanced analytic capabilities. They provide much integration and guide decision making, as well as enable efficient execution. Organizations are proceeding with the adoption of these systems because the technology exists and because they fear that not doing so will disadvantage them competitively. There is inadequate concern for creating the optimal combination of social/human and technological factors.

STARLab Consortium

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Designing a Digitally Enabled Prototype— The “Changing Face” of Innovation Design

Digitalization both demands and provides a medium for different kinds of innovation. An innovation capability will no longer be an option in the future, and it will likely look very different. The “changing face of innovation” will be driven by new technologies that enable orchestrated approaches, often among an ecosystem of partners, to develop process and product innovation, organizational/managerial innovation, and business model/ecosystem innovation. An innovation capability needs to address incremental product and service extensions, changes in the business (i.e., how value is created and delivered) and revenue model, work system innovations to support new business models, and enable greater connectivity, learning and resource efficiency across boundaries.

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Designing from the Future: Building Prototypes for Digitalized Organizations

The STARLab (Socio-Technical Action Research Laboratory) addresses the gap between the rapid advances in digital technology and the slower evolution of the social systems that are being impacted. Technology advances carry the potential to fundamentally change the nature of work, of the employment relationship, of organizations, and of societies. STARLab’s goal is to accelerate the generation of knowledge about how to design socio-technically integrated organizations to simultaneously address economic and human needs.

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Designing a Digitally Enabled Prototype— a Customer-Centric Design

In the past, growth in the population, markets, customer segments, and customer preferences as well as relatively linear technological advancement meant that a product-centric organization could be successful. Digital technologies allow us to quickly generate insights into customer/consumer behavior, expectations, and valued outcomes, and to build the customer facing part of the organization quite differently than we have in the past.

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Digital Organization Design Challenges: Prototype Solutions and Integration

This document summarizes eight specific organization design challenges facing companies attempting a digital transformation, and describes prototype solutions and responses to seven3 of these challenges. It also presents an integrated reflection on these solutions and an induced design scenario.

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Fast Scaling— A Practitioner’s Guide

The STARLab “Scaling” Community of Practice met virtually (Zoom video conferencing) on three separate occasions during the first quarter of 2018. During these discussions, company examples and research findings were shared. A documented case was presented representing a successful “fast scale” approach to enterprise-wide adoption of a new business model and organization design. Community of Practice members found the case interesting and relevant but requested the journal article be leveraged into a fast scale methodology guide for the practitioner. This paper first discusses key points made in the scale community of practice, and then follows with a practitioner-based methodology for fast scale based on the case study. The appendix describes the initial STARLab research finding from members companies identifying scale as a key organizational challenge in driving digital transformation. A brief perspective is provided to the challenge.

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Rigor, Relevance, and Resilience in Management Research

Nandini Rajagopalan
I believe there is increasingly a shared understanding among management scholars that research needs to be both rigorous and relevant. The challenge lies in how to conduct such research. Research that is rigorous, accessible, relevant, and enlightening may be rare, but we must conduct such research.

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