John’s broad research interests relate to the challenges incumbent firms face when attempting to implement their strategies. These challenges can result from within the firm driven by factors such as organizational design or outside the firm resulting from, for example, investor pressures.
John started life as a research scientist with an MA (Chemistry) and D.Phil.(Physical Chemistry) from the University of Oxford. His research revolved around the domains of photo- and sono-electrochemistry. Following an MBA at the University of Notre Dame and prior to his Wharton PhD studies, John worked as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney, Strategy& (formerly Booz & Co.) and PwC.
Proposed PhD Dissertation: Great Idea, Now What? Three Essays Examining the Relationship between Organizational Design and Commercialization Of Knowledge
My proposed doctoral dissertation revolves around the challenges firms face in being able to successfully commercialize their knowledge have formed a central theme of the strategy literature. Prior work suggests that firms may struggle to effectively align their organizational design to the specific knowledge being generated and commercialized. However, an additional challenge that firms face is that different stages of the commercialization process may require quite different organizational designs. In this proposed dissertation, I unpack the knowledge commercialization process into a series of three distinct steps from the initial creation of inventions, to their commercialization into innovations through to market response to these innovations. I focus on each specific step in isolation in order to understand how commercialization of knowledge can be impacted by various facets of organizational design. In the context of the global pharmaceutical industry, I will examine how creation of inventions and their subsequent commercialization are impacted by different aspects of organizational centralization and whether an invention is developed internally or sourced externally. In the context of the US electric utility industry, I will examine how investors’ responses to firms’ innovations are conditioned upon design elements such as firms’ existing asset configurations and whether innovations are developed in-house or through alliances.
Cunning or Just Confused? Market Reactions to Sweeping Visions of Strategic Priorities – Project with Mike Mannor (University of Notre Dame)
With an increasing focus on transparency in corporate governance, in recent years firm stakeholders have had a growing number of opportunities to hear CEOs describe their vision and priorities for their firms. However, executives vary widely in the degree to which such articulated visions express focused strategic priorities or sweeping visions with many priorities for creating value. In this research we examine this issue in two ways. We begin by applying a cognitive attention-based lens to the question to examine the overall effect of articulated strategic scope on stock market reactions. Recognizing that a situated view may provide additional insight, we then assess the degree to which the reactions of stock market participants vary depending on a firm’s historical and behavioral context.
John C. Eklund (Work In Progress), Looking in the Mirror or out of the Window: the Role of Capabilities and Competition in Strategic Choice.
Abstract: Managers often have to select between strategies with differing risk profiles. An organization’s capabilities associated with execution of each strategy and competitors’ capabilities in responding to each strategy are likely to adjust the relative risk profile of these strategies. I argue that when making choices between strategies, stronger capabilities associated with a specific strategy decrease its perceived risk, thereby increasing its relative usage. Further, weaker competitors’ capabilities in responding to a specific strategy decrease the strategy’s perceived risk, thereby increasing its relative usage. However, market leaders who have less to gain through considering their competitors’ capabilities are less likely to consider them when making their strategic choices. I find support for these arguments in the context of US college football.
Abstract: An emerging literature stream explores how incumbents’ strategies in the face of industry change are evaluated by stock market participants, underscoring how institutional pressures may constrain incumbents’ adaptation. An important insight offered so far is that securities analysts are embedded in existing industry-level categories which results in them being less attentive and optimistic when firms pursue strategies that embrace new emerging technologies and business models, resulting in an effect sometimes referred to as the “incumbent discount.” In this study, we offer an alternative perspective on the incumbent discount, one that is explicitly rooted in the rationale employed by stock market investors to value firms. We suggest that this rationale can add to the explanation of the incumbent discount. More importantly, it allows us to consider differences among incumbents in terms of their internal asset configurations and their external competitive environment. Evidence from the US electric utility industry, which is undergoing a change from a centralized to a decentralized model of electricity generation, offers strong support for our arguments. Ironically, the discount associated with incumbents’ pursuit of the decentralized model is exacerbated for those incumbents who have the greatest need to change – those who have accumulated higher stocks of assets that cannot be deployed in the decentralized model, and those operating in more competitive environments. However, incumbents’ pursuit of the decentralized model through alliances with partners from outside the industry mitigates the discount, suggesting that alliances can help to buffer these institutional pressures.
We all spend much of our lives in organizations. Most of us are born in organizations, educated in organizations, and work in organizations. Organizations emerge because individuals can't (or don't want to) accomplish their goals alone. Management is the art and science of helping individuals achieve their goals together. Managers in an organization determine where their organization is going and how it gets there. More formally, managers formulate strategies and implement those strategies. This course provides a framework for understanding the opportunities and challenges involved in formulating and implementing strategies by taking a "system" view of organizations,which means that we examine multiple aspects of how managers address their environments, strategy, structure, culture, tasks, people, and outputs, and how managerial decisions made in these various domains interrelate. The course will help you to understand and analyze how managers can formulate and implement strategies effectively. It will be particularly valuable if you are interested in management consulting, investment analysis, or entrepreneurship - but it will help you to better understand and be a more effective contributor to any organizations you join, whether they are large, established firms or startups.