The Cost of Capital: If Not the CAPM, Then What?

Twenty years ago, it would have been considered heresy to doubt the usefulness of the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) in assessing the cost of capital. Ivo Welch argues that, today, the CAPM should not just be doubted—it should be discarded.

Jan-Benedict Steenkamp

In order to disrupt your own frame of reference, you have to be willing to treat your accumulated experience as sunk cost, to be discarded as circumstances require. It’s a psychologically difficult thing to do. Moreover, ordinary daily pressures make it difficult to find the time to really think about, and thoroughly analyze, environmental trends. Many people, managers among them, suffer from cognitive myopia, the … [ Read more ]

Reimagining Capitalism

What is capitalism? Is it the greatest source of prosperity and freedom the world has ever seen or a menace on the verge of destroying the planet and our society? Rebecca Henderson argues that capitalism is the only solution to the massive problems that we face and explores the ways in which the private sector can help to reimagine capitalism so that it works for … [ Read more ]

Rebecca Henderson

Scholars came to distinguish between “inclusive” and “extractive” societies. Extractive regimes concentrate both political and economic power in the hands of an elite few. Healthy inclusive societies, by contrast, rest on three foundations: a free market; a strong civil society; and a democratically elected, transparent, capable, and responsive government. Together these three institutions hold each other accountable, balancing the power of the free market with … [ Read more ]

Rebecca Henderson

Markets require adult supervision. Markets only lead to prosperity and freedom when they are genuinely free and fair. Intuitively, if firms can dump toxic waste into rivers, lie to their consumers, and form alliances to fix prices, there is no guarantee that maximizing profits will increase either aggregate wealth or individual freedom.

Rebecca Henderson

The rule of law, well-designed corporate governance, anti-corruption safeguards, democratic government, a free media, and appropriate financial regulations are critical to enabling free markets to stimulate high quality development.

Rebecca Henderson

The deepest moral commitments of capitalism require that they help to sustain the health of the institutions on which the free market relies. If firms exist to maximize prosperity and social welfare, they have a moral duty to act as if there were a price for carbon, for example, even when there is no price in place. If firms exist to maximize freedom of opportunity, … [ Read more ]

Pay for Performance: When Does It Fail?

The consensus in social psychology is that monetary incentives for performance have a detrimental impact on individual performance. Yes, under certain specific and limited conditions, rewards can reduce performance. Yet pay for performance schemes are ubiquitous. How can we resolve this divergence between theoretical recommendations and observed practices? Nirmalya Kumar and Madan Pillutla recommend solving the problem by designing smarter incentives that avoid these detrimental … [ Read more ]

Nirmalya Kumar, Madan Pillutla

In order to understand the undermining effects of rewards, we must consider how the recipients are likely to interpret them. Specifically, the effects of a reward depend on how it affects the recipient’s perceptions of autonomy and competence. When monetary incentives interfere with an individual’s sense of autonomy or competence, they tend to decrease intrinsic motivation.

Digital Operations: Autonomous Automation and the Smart Execution of Work

By digitizing operations, companies may replace manual work with increased automation, but they may also augment human work through smarter execution. Robert Boute and Jan Van Mieghem present a conceptual framework that distinguishes the different levels of digitization, automation, and intelligence. This framework can serve as an audit, helping companies to assess where they are now and where they could be in the future.

Andrew Campbell, Mikel Gutierrez

Strategies rarely say much about specific operations. In fact, when a strategy is complete, there are usually many questions left to be answered: what do you want me to do? by when? how much will this cost? do we have the budget? do I have clearance to hire extra people? what IT changes are needed? what can be outsourced? what new skills will we need? … [ Read more ]

Climate Change: The Real Inconvenient Truth

Consumers choose economic development over serious climate initiatives. Corporations don’t invest in meaningful change because consumers won’t pay for it. And governments cannot lead if citizens won’t follow. The battle to prevent climate change through behavior modification, regulation, or personal deprivation has already been lost. Yossi Sheffi explains why the solution is collaborative investment in developing technologies that can reverse climate change.

Adaptive Space: Shifting from Structural to Social Design

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is the need to be agile. To achieve this goal, leaders must seek a deeper understanding of the power of social interaction in furthering the flow of ideas, information, and insight. Michael Arena explains how building relational structures that foster 4D connections, discovery, development, diffusion, and disruption, can usher in the new, innovative ideas and concepts necessary … [ Read more ]

A Manager’s Dilemma: Sow or Harvest

Vijay Govindarajan, Ashish Sood, Anup Srivastava, Luminita Enache, and Barry Mishra have found that companies must focus relentlessly on building long-term competencies, even if doing so reduces immediate profits. Nonetheless, it is vital to shift focus when your product or idea becomes unexpectedly successful, so that you can milk that opportunity’s profits before it vanishes in the face of competition and technological progress.

Designing Omni-Channel Retailing to Align Financial Performance with Strategy

Sunil Chopra describes how looking at combinations of product and channel through the lens of return on invested capital (ROIC) allows retailers to design omni-channel portfolios that align their products, service offerings, and pricing. By using each channel to improve invested capital turns or broaden profit margin, these portfolios increase the company’s value. 

Michael J. Arena

Most organizations don’t suffer from a deficit of ideas or human potential. What they lack is open and deliberate connections. Organizational leaders must learn to encourage the flow of these ideas by attending to the social interactions in the company. They need to build relational structures that encourage the 4D connections of adaptive space: discovery, development, diffusion, and disruption. Together, these 4D connections generate the … [ Read more ]

Michael J. Arena

Human capital consists of the talent, experiences, and capabilities of individuals within an organization. Social capital is the competitive advantage created by the connections between those individuals. It consists of the relationships and interactions within the organization. So, while human capital is about what people know, social capital is about how people are positioned to make best use of their knowledge. Both are essential, yet … [ Read more ]

Michael J. Arena

Agility turns out to be more social than structural. When open debates are stifled, the company’s agility is too. In this era of disruption, it is social capital that allows organizations to adapt in real time. Leaders must therefore nurture an environment of trust and engagement, and within that environment, understand the power of social interactions over the flow of ideas, information, and insights.

Can Blockchain Manage Trust in Organizations

David De Cremer and Yan Pang illuminate both the limitations and the potential of blockchain technology as the new currency of trust in organizational life. They have found that building trust within organizations requires leaving room for vulnerability, which makes blockchain unsuitable. For building trust between organizations, however, blockchain technology shows more promise because it acts as a regulatory middleman.

Nobel Laureate, Herbert A Simon: Pioneer of Artificial Intelligence and Trailblazer in Decision Making

Artificial intelligence is rapidly transforming the world we know. Suresh Sethi describes the fascinating career of Herbert A. Simon, a father of artificial intelligence, renaissance man, and true polymath who made pioneering contributions to fields ranging from economics to psychology and from management to the philosophy of science.