• Counter-knowledge and realised absorptive capacity          Original Research Article

    Pages 165-176
    Juan-Gabriel Cegarra-Navarro, Stephen Eldridge, Anthony K.P. Wensley
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    Abstract

    In the following paper we investigate the concept of counter-knowledge and how its effects may be mitigated in an organisational context. Counter-knowledge may be acquired unwittingly from unreliable or inaccurate sources such as gossip, lies, exaggeration and partial truths. We consider that if counter-knowledge is present then specific actions are required to stimulate realised absorptive capacity and, hence, provide for the creation and assimilation of new knowledge and new knowledge structures. Thus, in this paper, we focus on intentional unlearning as a method to counteract the problem of counter-knowledge. We have analysed the relationships between an unlearning context and counter-knowledge using an empirical study of 164 Spanish hospitality companies in order to identify whether the impact of unlearning on RACAP can be strength. A model is tested in which counter-knowledge is simultaneously a hindrance and a challenge stressor. Our results confirm that counter-knowledge is a variable that, when controlled, has the effect of strengthening the relationship between unlearning and RACAP. However, when left uncontrolled, the relationship between unlearning and RACAP is weaker than it otherwise would be.

    Exploring the link between human resource practices and turnover in multi-brand companies: The role of brand units’ images    Original Research Article
    Pages 177-189
    Barbara Slavich, Rossella Cappetta, Antonio Giangreco
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    Abstract

    Using exploratory qualitative research undertaken in a multi-brand fashion company, this article investigates the role that brand units’ images play in the link between human resources management (HRM) practices and employee internal and external turnover. Our results suggest that the existence of imbalanced and differently attractive brand units’ images might weaken or remove the effectiveness of corporate HRM practices in keeping internal and external turnover rates low. This because employees may be interested in transferring to the most appealing brand(s) or, if not possible to do so, leaving the company. This article contributes to the debate regarding the use of HRM practices in multi-brand companies, especially in industries where both the brand and the product have a highly-symbolic content. Based on our conclusions, we recommend that brand units with less prestigious images compensate for their lower attractiveness with specific brand unit HRM practices to attract and retain their employees. Theoretical and policy implications of the findings are discussed.

    A specific knowledge culture: Cultural antecedents for knowledge sharing between project teams       Original Research Article
    Pages 190-202
    Julia Mueller
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    Abstract

    Companies focus on knowledge management initiatives to fully derive business value from their employees’ knowledge and foster organizational learning. Many companies organize their processes around projects; therefore, knowledge sharing between project teams becomes vital to organization-wide learning. The aim of this article is to investigate the cultural antecedents of knowledge sharing between project teams. In contrast to previous research that focused on cultural values for knowledge sharing between individuals, this study specifically examines new cultural elements that are important for knowledge sharing between project teams. The results of a quantitative survey indicate that time, structure, output orientation, and openness have positive effects on this specific knowledge process. These outcomes differ from existing studies that mostly focus on a general knowledge culture, leaving the potential for discovering differences for specific knowledge processes.

    The challenge of introducing low-carbon industrial practices: Institutional entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector    Original Research Article
    Pages 203-215
    Herman I. Stål, Karl J. Bonnedahl, Jessica Eriksson
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    Abstract

    Contemporary agriculturalpractices account for a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions. Inspired by the emergent literature on institutional entrepreneurship, we seek to explore mechanisms that affect an actor’s propensity to act in ways that imply suggesting and promoting emission-reducing practice changes. As influences originating outside the organizational field are assumed to constitute such mechanisms, the paper explores their role through a case study of a project run by a public agency. Unlike extant theory, results show that the agency’s propensity to act is not necessarily enhanced by extra-field influences but that such influences also limit the scope for suggesting change that challenges existing industrial practices.

    Assessing the effects of ‘big brother’ in a workplace: The case of WAST       Original Research Article
    Pages 216-222
    Sam Sarpong, Donna Rees
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    Abstract

    The extensive and growing use of electronic performance monitoring in organisations has resulted in considerable debate over the years. This paper focuses on workplace monitoring at the Welsh Ambulance Services Trust (WAST), a provider of emergency services for the people of Wales, in the UK. The key objectives include examining the nature of performance monitoring at its call centres and determining whether employees are micromanaged through the use of workplace surveillance. The findings cover staff (both management and non-management) perceptions, gathered through a questionnaire and interviews as well as observations made in the study areas. The findings revealed that workplace electronic monitoring is not intrinsically all good or all bad. It is value neutral and offers a win–win situation.

    Effective governance in nonprofit organizations: A literature based multiple stakeholder approach       Original Research Article
    Pages 223-243
    Lore Wellens, Marc Jegers
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    Abstratct

    Nonprofit organizations (NPOs) are increasingly required to become (more) effective. This review summarizes and integrates the results of studies focusing on NPOs’ governance effectiveness. It proposes an extension of stakeholder theory to NPOs concerning governance involving diverse stakeholder groups. What makes this paper innovative is that it aims to identify more than effective board governance, and takes the perspectives of multiple nonprofit key stakeholders into account. This approach is particularly valuable as numerous researchers argue that the likelihood of NPOs being perceived as effective increases when they manage to align the, possibly very diverse, expectations of stakeholders on good governance. We consequently focus on the relationship between (1) the needs and objectives of key stakeholders and (2) (expected) governance (structures) in NPOs. The stakeholders we consider are government, beneficiaries, private donors, board members, management, volunteers, and non-managerial staff members. Results not only show the lack of attention some stakeholders have received in the literature, but also the governance related conflicting needs and objectives between stakeholder groups. In addition, even in the same stakeholder groups it is not rare that opposing findings are reported. Several studies indicate the (unforeseen) negative impact on (being accountability to) other stakeholders when NPOs try to be responsive to the needs and objectives of a particular stakeholder group. The value of this review lies in the fact that it reveals both the complexity of and the need for stakeholder management in NPOs, if they want to be perceived as (more) effective by their numerous stakeholders, and related to that gain insight in how to improve their governance practices. Numerous directions for further research are suggested.

    Measuring intellectual capital with financial figures: Can we predict firm profitability?       Original Research Article
    Pages 244-259
    Renato Sydler, Stefan Haefliger, Robert Pruksa
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    Abstract

    The measurement of intellectual capital (IC) is a highly discussed topic within the field of knowledge management. This paper presents a method for measuring IC to quantitatively assess whether IC supports the knowledge-based view of the firm that explains long-term differences in firm profitability. We systematically examine the landscape of IC valuation methods applied and addressed in the literature, and we extend one model by selecting monetary proxies for human, structural and relational capital. The paper presents a longitudinal panel data regression using 69 publicly traded pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. The observation period of the panel is determined to last from the fiscal year 2002 until 2009. Our results show that IC-creating expenses indeed generate IC assets in a subsequent year and that an increase in IC is associated with a higher return on assets over time. With our results, we can also show not only that all three factors independently lead to the creation of IC but also, more importantly, their interaction. We present implications for knowledge management theory and practice. This paper presents a new way to assess the IC using easy accessible data and to verify its impact on firm performance. Furthermore, it provides a tool for managers to calculate the value of a company’s IC directly and judge its impact on firm performance. This allows managers to allocate resources to knowledge assets critical to IC that may translate into sustained competitive advantage.

    Consummate cooperation in the network-firm: Theoretical insights and empirical findings         Original Research Article
    Pages 260-274
    Virgile Chassagnon
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    Linking corporate social responsibility to firm default risk       Original Research Article
    Pages 275-287
    Wenbin Sun, Kexiu Cui
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    Abstract

    Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is receiving a growing attention from both academic researchers and business managers. Prior research suggests that CSR, by its ability of building strong corporate image and reputation, effectively improves a firm’s performance. However, few studies have explored the relationship between CSR and firm risk factors. In particular, although the ongoing financial crisis spurs scholars to seek new drivers that help a firm regain its well being, an important financial indicator of a firm, default risk, has been largely neglected. This research bridges this gap and empirically examines the relationship through which CSR helps firms reduce the risk of falling into default. In addition, this paper formulates the moderating effects between CSR and firm capability, environmental dynamism/complexity, and describes a more complete pattern of CSR’s function under different internal and external conditions. The results confirm that CSR has a strong effect on default risk reduction, and this relationship is stronger on firms in high dynamism environments than in low dynamism environments.

    Success factors for sourcing teams: How to foster sourcing team effectiveness        Original Research Article
    Pages 288-304
    Boudewijn A. Driedonks, Josette M.P. Gevers, Arjan J. van Weele
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    Abstarct

    Cross-functional sourcing teams have become a popular coordination mechanism to organize company procurement activities. However, many of these teams fail to meet management’s long-term expectations. A lack of sourcing-specific team research obstructs a clear understanding of the factors that drive sourcing team performance. In the present study, we identified three major dimensions of sourcing team success. Apart from general overall team effectiveness and supply base management effectiveness, sourcing teams need to effectively cooperate with other stakeholders within the firm in order to secure purchasing cost savings and supplier contracts. Additionally, we identified factors that underlie sourcing team success, based upon extensive survey data taken from members, leaders, and managers of 59 (cross functional) sourcing teams in twelve large, multinational companies. Our study revealed that different success factors drive different sourcing team effectiveness dimensions. Also, we found a seemingly contradictory need for both autonomy and formalization to ensure sourcing team effectiveness on all three dimensions. The latter seemed particularly important for teams with high levels of functional diversity.

    The mediating role of organizational capabilities in the relationship between middle managers’ involvement and firm performance: A European study  Original Research Article
    Pages 305-318
    Mohamed Laid Ouakouak, Noufou Ouedraogo, Ababacar Mbengue
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    Abstract

    During the recent decades, management research has paid a lot of attention to the importance of middle managers’ involvement and middle managers’ knowledge in the running of innovative organizations. This study is in line with a growing literature on the crucial role of middle managers in developing organizational capabilities and subsequently in improving company performance. It is suggested that the involvement of middle managers adds value not only to the implementation of strategy but also to its formulation. The objective of this study is to examine how the involvement of middle managers in the strategy making process and their autonomy contribute to developing organizational capabilities and, as a result, to improving firm performance. In other words, we tested the mediating role of organizational capabilities on the relationship between middle managers’ involvement, middle managers’ autonomy and company performance. To this end, we conducted a quantitative empirical study among 372 European companies that reveals that organizational capabilities play a mediating role in the relationship between middle managers’ involvement, middle managers’ autonomy and firm performance.

    Udinese Calcio soccer club as a talents factory: Strategic agility, diverging objectives, and resource constraints   Original Research Article
    Pages 319-336
    Alberto Di Minin, Federico Frattini, Mattia Bianchi, Guido Bortoluzzi, Andrea Piccaluga
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    Abstract

    Strategic agility can be defined as a firm-level ability to continuously adjust and adapt decisions to the changing circumstances of the external environment and thus nurture value creation (Doz & Kosonen, 2008a). At its very heart, agility allows integrating diverging strategic objectives, i.e. focus and adaptability, commitment and flexibility. This paper aims at providing new empirical evidence that supports the strategic agility model and focuses on a case which fits the various dimensions described by Doz and Kosonen. Specifically, our study refers to the context of soccer, where professional teams struggle to balance divergent strategic objectives, i.e. to achieve both good sports and financial performances. We argue indeed that these objectives can be successfully balanced over time through strategic agility. The case we use to support this hypothesis is that of Udinese Calcio S.p.A., an Italian soccer team which in the last twenty years has adopted a business model based on strong investments and quick turnaround of young and promising players, which has turned it into a factory of talents. Udinese Calcio has been able to do so keeping its books in order and at the same time managing to obtain excellent results in a very competitive national soccer tournament such as the Italian Serie A. Udinese is a small organization based in a medium-sized city in the North-East of Italy, an area which is indeed peripheral from a geopolitical and business perspective. The team can count on limited resources, it is not owned by wealthy individuals with low spending constraints and an emotional attitude, and it is a quite unique case for both its sports and financial performances. These results have been achieved, despite the unique business model which relies on young talents more than on well-known, experienced players, through excellent management practices that have made Udinese Calcio a strategically agile organization. We argue that the case of Udinese Calcio strengthens the validity of the strategic agility concept and can be extended to other situations where the need to strike a balance between divergent objectives with limited resources is quintessential. Examples are to be found outside soccer or sport clubs, in contexts such as health management, education, political lobbying.

    Alliance dynamics through real options: The case of an alliance between competing pharmaceutical companies        Original Research Article
    Pages 337-349
    Céline Bérard, Marie Perez
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    Abstract

    This paper aims to better understand the dynamic aspects of strategic alliances between competitors, by relying on both the real options approach and the system dynamics approach. It raises the following question: what are the behavioral dynamics of real options in alliances? The systemic qualitative model we built from the study of an alliance formed by two competing firms around an R&D project revealed three sets of feedback structures (the “expected flexibility”, “uncertainty” and “collaborative skills and knowledge” dynamics), in which are embedded three types of real growth options (that is, unexpected discovery, relational reputation and interactive options). While previous studies have often focused on how partners unilaterally manage real options to reduce uncertainty, our study allowed us to identify the real options created by the alliance, which can be exploited collectively, independently by each partner or not at all, and to capture their dynamic aspects.

    Impediments to customer integration into the innovation process: A case study in the telecommunications industry    Original Research Article
    Pages 350-361
    Mario Schaarschmidt, Thomas Kilian
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    Abstract

    Customer integration is an integral element of the innovation process today. Yet, despite the potential for integrating external knowledge into new product development (NPD) processes, companies often fail to benefit sufficiently from customer integration. Research attributes this failure to restricted absorptive capacity, intellectual property concerns, or the “not-invented-here” syndrome but has not yet shown in which different phases of NPD which barriers dominate. To contribute to the discussion on impediments and barriers to customer integration, this authors presents a case study that examines customer integration into different stages of the NPD on the basis on three complementary learning strategies, namely explorative learning, transformative learning, and exploitative learning. The results of the case study can help to sensitise managers for impediments to customer integration throughout their NPD and innovation processes and to overcome typical various types of barriers.

    Lending decision making in banks: A critical incident study of loan officers     Original Research Article
    Pages 362-372
    Carl-Christian Trönnberg, Sven Hemlin
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    Abstract

    Using the critical incident technique, we investigated how 88 loan officers at four Swedish banks perceived their decision making in evaluations of commercial loan applications. First, we found that our sample of loan officers primarily used deliberation and less intuition when making decisions. Second, that the loan officers had greater difficulty in making decisions that involved soft information (e.g., client relationships) than decisions that involved hard information (e.g., financial information). Third, most decision making situations involved existing rather than new clients and low rather than high risk levels. Finally, we found a potential effect of organizational factors such as lending practices on lending decisions. Our findings have general implications for research on decision making processes. For the banking industry, this research identifies and elucidates the difficulties loan officers face in decision making of commercial loans.