I was trying to rest in between sessions and I found a comfortable seat in one of the hallways of the resort to relax. A group of young graduate learners were having an active discussion a few feet way from me talking little bit loud. I tried to relax and tried to shut out the conversation by meditating. It was fine until one of the learners made a comment that who cares about “Capitalism in Question?” I am attending a management conference and I like to focus on the management issues. After listening to them for a few minutes I realized that they think that the study of capitalism is appropriate in the economics conferences and not in the management conference. I believe their thinking was the results of the educational experience at the graduate school. In the graduate business school when there is a functional division among the faculty, the chances are learners are not aware of how each of the functional areas of business are interrelated to each other. This may happen when the courses are taught without emphasizing to learners that every course in the MBA program is interrelated and it will help in managing a business.
I would like to share with all the learners that I do care because capitalism is an economic system and when the economic system is in question it will impact economic forces and in turn may impact economic opportunities and threats for the industry and the firm. Management is constantly evaluating the external and internal environment to formulate a corporate or functional strategy, evaluate entrepreneurial opportunities, and to create a competitive advantage at the marketplace and wealth for the shareholders. To formulate a strategy, the management has to analyze the environment to determine the opportunities and the threats. If the economic system (capitalism) is in question it means that management has to formulate the strategy or make decisions in a highly uncertain economic environment. The high uncertainty in the economic system leads to high uncertainty in management decisions, product and service market, and the capital markets. In short, when capitalism is in question in capitalistic market, the management is in question in the stock market where the value of the firm is determined.
Learners don’t care about “Capitalism in Question” But I do I do!
It truly takes thousands of volunteers to make the Academy of Management Annual Meeting happen. Part of this is to acknowledge those people who have stood out for outstanding achievements. With congratulations, below is the listing of recipients for awards presented during the Academy of Management Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony on Sunday, August 11, 2013 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Led by Award Committee Chair Karen Golden-Biddle, the Career Achievement Awards Committee, including: Robin Ely, Christine Oliver, Nandini Rajagopolan, and Karl Weick, evaluated candidates for the Distinguished Educator Award, Distinguished Service Award, Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award, and the Award for Scholarly Contributions to the field of Management.
Distinguished Scholarly Contributions to Management
The award for scholarly contributions to management is granted on an annual basis for significant contributions that have advanced the field of management and organizational knowledge and practice. Significant scholarly contributions may take the form of conceptual, theoretical, or empirical developments having significant impact upon management knowledge and practice.
The 2013 recipient is Michael L. Tushman.
Distinguished Educator Award
The distinguished educator award is presented annually to an outstanding individual who has excelled in developing doctoral students, effective teaching in the classroom, fostering pedagogical innovations, and/or disseminating new and effective teaching methods and designs.
The 2013 recipient is R. Edward Freeman.
Distinguished Service Award
The Distinguished Service Award is an all-Academy award presented annually to a candidate who has demonstrated excellence in developing or enhancing a field of study, founding or creatively editing a journal, or helping to build institutions through creative or unusually effective service.
The 2013 recipient is James P. Walsh.
Distinguished Scholar Practitioner
The Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award recognizes excellence in successful application of theory or research in practice; contribution to knowledge through extraction of learning from practice; authorship of scholarly works which have substantively affected the practice of management; and the overall integration of their work in research and practice.
Historically, the recipient of this award may have been executives, authors, academics, or consultants, but the emphasis in this award is on the practitioner-scholar whose sense of inquiry and pursuit of knowledge have risen above just doing to use practice-based learning to influence theory and research-based theory to influence practice.
The 2013 recipient is Philip H. Mirvis.
GEORGE R. TERRY BOOK AWARD
The George R. Terry Book Award is granted annually to the book judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the advancement of management knowledge.
Led by Award Committee Chair Anne Marie Knott, the 2013 Terry Book Award Committee, including: Christine Beckman, Emilio Castilla, David Kirsch and Gerry McDermott , aims to recognize books published during the past two years that contribute to the advancement of management theory, conceptualization, research, or practice.
The Institutional Logics Perspective: A New Approach to Culture, Structure and Process
Patricia H. Thornton, William Ocasio, Michael Lounsbury
Capitalism from Below: Markets and Institutional Change in China
Victor Nee, Sonja Opper
Special recognition to these finalists:
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup
Normal Organizational Wrongdoing: A Critical Analysis of Theories of Misconduct in and by Organizations
The Wide Lens
The scholarly paper session included four interesting papers on opportunity development and exploitations. The researchers have done an excellent job of formulating hypotheses, presenting a literature review, building a theoretical frame work, analysis, and presenting the results. The research papers include both qualitative and quantitative methodology. The questions raised during the presentation were whether the Inter-Organizational Project (IOP) is the result of scarcity of resources or it is result of the changing industry composition. The industries are changing and it is difficult for a manufacturer to produce a product because we sub assemble products rather than manufacture. We depend on innovation and growth from suppliers, customers, and competition. The cell manufacturing and software industry is a good example of the sub-assembly industry.
There were several questions raised during the presentation about the learning opportunity and the development process. The learning opportunity development process is key to the innovative and creative activity of the organization. It also helps the organization in formulating strategies for research and development, and creating a competitive advantage at the market place. The researchers provided a good theoretical foundation and formulated the hypothesis, and presented analysis and results in a clear fashion. The question of interest was whether the learning opportunity and development process will differ based on the type of firms such as technology, service, manufacturing, or others. In a traditional industry it is possible to use prior knowledge for future forecast, whereas in the fast changing technology industry, it may be difficult to forecast because of the changing environment. The question was how to define opportunity, and whether it could be studied in context of whether the demand exists or is created. Also, when we study opportunity creation, the question is where the opportunity is created. The opportunity is created based on change in external environment and by gaining additional knowledge internally to solve a customer problem. Also, there was a discussion on what type of framework and typology we should develop to define and understand the word opportunity.
So, this year’s theme is “capitalism in question.” There are certainly a lot of relevant questions about capitalism that our professional expertise could help answer; I hope that we can have some fruitful discussions about them. Here is my first and foremost one:
One key feature of capitalism (according to anyone’s definition, from Karl Marx to Ayn Rand) is that residual returns do flow to capital’s owners. Returns to capital are the reward for providing capital to an enterprise; this capital is accumulated by deferring consumption. Some of that deferral of immediate gratification is a good thing to have in the economy; returns to capital encourage such investment. [I don’t think any of this is controversial; let me know if it is.]
My question: Is there a way to ensure that these “honest” returns can still accrue to their rightful owners, while still addressing some of the thorny issues of disenfranchisement, corruption, cronyism, and income inequality that arise when capitalism is NOT questioned?
If you’d like to embrace, extend, complain about, offer alternatives to, or otherwise engage with this question, feel free to find me or Tweet to @ProfDC using #AOM2013. (I’m mostly at sessions at the Swan.)
The opinions expressed above are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer.