[report] Aalto University Executive Education – Aalto EE

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    Money Matters - Essays on Sustainable Finance and the Institutionalization of ESG
    (Aalto University, 2023) Honkaniemi, Jukka; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    This thesis investigates the role of sustainable finance in supporting the institutionalization of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices and, consequently, sustainable development. The relationship between ESG performance and corporate financial performance has been researched extensively. This thesis aims to fill a research gap by investigating ESG integration into single-company financial analyses and extending the purview to small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). The thesis is organized around three standalone essays under a common theme. Essay 1, "What's valued by investors gets valued by analysts: Institutional motives of ESG integration into sell-side research", investigates the status of ESG analysis practices among sell-side analysts and equity investors. This research combines a review of equity research reports integrating ESG into the valuation of shares of OMXS-30 businesses by a Swedish bank with interviews of the bank's analysts as well as institutional investors from Sweden and Finland. Single-company financial analysis is the basis of capital pricing decisions and should incorporate financially material ESG factors. Our findings, however, suggest that few of the future effects of financially material ESG issues have been considered by sell-side analysts thus far when transparently assessing businesses. This research shows that investors fail to compensate sell-side research for ESG assessments or systematic examination of the non-financial factors that affect long-term value. This absence of crucial compensation input, together with homogeneous normative ESG evaluation techniques, seems to be the main obstacle to more rapid development in integrated ESG equity research. We suggest that asset owners are in a unique position to drive market development to new levels, and asset managers and intermediaries (brokers) would be able to answer this call, given the right incentives. Essay 2, "Sustainable finance and SMEs: A systematic literature review," contributes to the field of study of sustainable finance by shifting the focus from large corporates to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ESG-corporate financial performance relationship has been extensively researched in the context of large corporates. SMEs, on the other hand, have received less attention. Cumulatively, SMEs make up the majority of corporations, and account for most of the GDP, employment, and environmental impact in the European Union. The green and sustainable transition cannot be achieved without having SMEs on board. Using the Scopus database, we conducted a systematic literature search and found 36 scientific articles exploring the relationship between ESG performance and financial performance of SMEs. The results were coded and divided into nine clusters, highlighting the main ESG driver impacting financial performance. Existing research shows that ESG impacts both the financial performance and access to capital of SMEs. A corollary of essay two is that financially material ESG factors are more country- and culture-bound in SMEs than in large corporates, and as such, needs to be considered in future studies. Furthermore, SMEs financial success is also supported by their ability to dynamically respond to changed circumstances and adopt their ESG strategies accordingly. Essay 3, "Sustainable finance and institutionalization of ESG: A case study of a Finnish SME," examines how and why sustainable financial considerations impact the case company’s adoption of ESG, and how institutional drivers manifest in the case company’s adoption of ESG. The analysis draws on interviews and company materials and is carried out and drawn against the ESG framework derived from essay two. This research finds out that though some of the case company’s clients have sent sustainability questions to the case company, this is yet to impact the actual business negotiations. Furthermore, most clients, banks, and suppliers had not started engagement on ESG. However, the case company rationalizes institutionalizing ESG into its strategy and operations to retain legitimacy with its key stakeholders in anticipation of increased demands. Financial returns, access to capital, and the cost of capital are implicit key considerations in deciding which ESG factors to invest in while maintaining a focus on key stakeholders. By investigating fresh and novel business situations through case studies, institutional theory, and sustainable finance perspectives, this thesis adds to the understanding of business management as well as the body of research on sustainable finance. We identify and suggest how banks and investors could accelerate the institutionalization of ESG practices and identify financially material ESG areas for SME owners and managers to explore. We, furthermore, expand the field of study on sustainable finance to the institutionalization of single-company financial analyses and ESG integration in SMEs and suggest several areas for further exploration.Keywords:
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    Essays on Retail Buyer Behavior Vis-à-Vis Contemporary Retail Market Phenomena: Field Experiments among Professional Retail Buyers and Individual Consumers
    (Aalto University, 2023) Isojärvi, Jyrki; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    In recent years, the market position of retail companies has strengthened substantially in many countries, vis-à-vis product manufacturers and brands. This development has led to the fact that the power of professional retail buyers or purchase managers has grown considerably relative to brand manufacturers and marketers. At the same time, individual, non-professional consumers have also been increasingly rendered into direct customers for brand manufacturers, as the latter has engaged in “encroachment,” launching their own retail channels and stores, both offline and online. Moreover, recent years have also witnessed the emergence and proliferation of many other trending phenomena in consumer retail markets. To name but a few, e-commerce and online retailing have seized a considerable part of the overall retail market, more and more consumers prefer environmentally friendly, green, and organic choices, and a growing amount of business operations of both retailers and brand manufacturers are being automated, robotized, or augmented by artificial intelligence (AI). My primary target with this doctoral dissertation is to investigate the contemporary behaviors of professional retail buyers in 2020s. Secondarily, I also aim to investigate the behaviors of individual consumers, insofar as they act in their new role of being direct customers to brand manufacturers, buying fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) through manufacturers’ own retail stores online. Specifically, the goal of article (1) is to examine whether retail buyers’ behavior vis-à-vis brand manufacturers’ marketing efforts—especially price promotions—resembles the behavior of lay consumers or that of professional industrial buyers. Article (1) also addresses one of the aforementioned contemporary phenomena: the role of organic product features and advertising claims in retail buyer behavior. In turn, article (2) aims to investigate how professional retail buyers behave towards products produced by automation vs. handcraft. Finally, article (3) shifts the focus from professional retail buyers to the behavior of consumers, and their role as direct buyers of FMCGs from brand manufacturers. In addition, article (3) also addresses the contemporary retail market phenomenon of organic marketing of FMCGs.In order to get practical, real-market data for my research, I chose field experiments as my primary research method in all the three articles. Conducting field experiments on retail buyer behavior is a noteworthy methodological contribution for the literature as well, as prior research has mostly been limited to surveys and laboratory experiments. To complement the field experiments, I also utilized qualitative pre-studies in articles (1) and (3), in order to inductively develop hypotheses for the main field experiment to test. In article (1), a qualitative survey was conducted among professional retail buyers, while in article (3), we employed a qualitative researcher-introspection method. As to the findings of the studies reported in this dissertation, the field experiment in article (1) revealed that a price promotion, especially for a new FMCG product, had a negative effect on professional retail buyers’ demand for the product. We interpret this effect to be a manifestation of the fact that retail buyers’ purchasing behavior resembles rather that of rational industrial buyers than that of naive lay consumers. The negative effect may also be explained by the fact that retail buyers may have grown increasingly skeptical against continuous new product launches by brand manufacturers, particularly if the new products are promoted with discounts at the very beginning. In article (2) our field experiment, showed that among professional retail buyers, attraction towards products produced with automation vs. handcraft may essentially depend on the type of retailer. Specifically, buyers of independent, non-chain drugstores, as well as buyers of stores that also operated an online store, favored products produced with automation, whereas buyers of chain stores and buyers of stores without online operations favored products produced with handcraft. We interpret this to be potentially due to the fact that the buyers of the latter type of retail stores have grown sceptic and/or tired of the automation/AI hype prominent in markets and media currently. In other words, these buyers may find advertisements that mention the automated production technology behind a given product as some kind of ”robot-washing.” Finally, article (3) reported on a field experiment among non-professional consumers who may also increasingly act as direct customers for brand manufacturers, in manufacturers’ own online stores. While prior research on organic products’ price promotions had questioned the effectiveness of price discounts for organic products, our field experiment in article (3) yielded contrasting results. In our field experiment, a price promotion with an organic advertising claim actually led to greater attraction of consumers to the product than a price promotion of the same product without explicit or implicit organic claims, or the same ad without the price promotion.
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    Asiakasarvon rakentuminen digitaalisen markkinoinnin avulla asiakaspolun eri vaiheissa päivittäistavarakaupassa
    (Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE, 2022) Hoikkaniemi, Marko; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    The grocery sector is constantly changing, driven by customer values, digitalization, and environmental changes caused by competition. Value is increasingly created through digital channels, and the value creation process is being redefined. This management of customer value in digital channels creates a competitive advantage. One of the objectives of this work is to demonstrate the role of digital marketing in creating customer value at different stages of the customer journey in grocery retailing. At the moment, the grocery trade is undergoing a major shift towards an ever greater role for online shopping. Many consumers are increasingly shopping in what is known as a hybrid model, buying a lot online and supplementing in the grocery store at one time, and occasionally shopping for experiences. Self-service checkouts have become increasingly common, and the role of digital marketing has grown to include an ever-wider range of users and different digital tools and platforms. The target phenomenon of my research is the grocery trade and the problem of how digital marketing can influence customer value at different stages of the customer journey. I solve this through the perspective of atheoretical framework. The methodology is a quantitative survey. T-test and analysis of variance will be used as data analysis methods. The sample of the survey consists of 1052 consumers from the Uusimaa region. The conclusions drawn through the analyses, combined with the theory and research themes, together solve the research problem. Through this research, I want to deepen my understanding, especially of deepening customer value, and also theoretically relate it to this work. In line with this aim, this paper will explore customer value, digital marketing, and the customer journey through two research questions: 1) What factors create and erode customer value in the grocery trade? 2) How can digital marketing influence customer value and what is its role at different stages of the customer journey in grocery retailing? The work aims to develop applicable conclusions that could be useful in digital marketing. The intent is to create a customer value-based mindset that supports retailers in building and managing value in the grocery sector. The customer journey here refers to the shopping process experienced by the customer, which starts when they enter the yard area of a grocery store and ends when they leave the yard. The different points of contact in between are also taken into account, both in terms of store selection and digital tools. However, from a digital perspective, the customer journey covers everything that comes before, during, and after the shopping experience in the store. It thus covers the entire field of the customer journey, both physical and digital. I studied the theory of customer value, customer journey, and digital marketing. The research data is based on a survey, which was conducted in Uusimaa as an online survey during April-May 2021 to 1052 consumers. I familiarised myself with previous theoretical material and research data to be able to create a research questionnaire and analyse the results. The research themes emerging from the theory and their reflection also played a key role. Building on the previous research and on the basis of previous research, I developed eight research themes through which I explored the role of digital marketing in creating customer value at different stages of the customer journey. My research topics are: 1. Customer value is made up of several different elements. 2. Hybrid thinking best describes the customer value of retail. 3. Engaging customers is the most important task of trade marketing. 4. The marketing of a shop influences where you shop. 5. Digital marketing improves the customer experience. 6. There is no link between the customer journey and marketing. 7. Structuring the customer journey helps to develop customer satisfaction. 8. Mobile apps for commerce are not relevant for in-store transactions. Based on the survey responses, it appears that digital marketing done in the retailer’s own social media hardly speaks to or touches customers. Customers are most interested in offers and price information. The results of the survey show that the main pleasures of shopping in a shop are the good quality of the products, the good selection and the ease of shopping. The importance of staff is reflected in the perceptions of the consumers who visit the K-Group stores. The most annoying things in the store are long checkout lines, high prices, congestion, and difficulty in finding products. The conclusion is that differentiation in the grocery trade is important in any case. Traditional methods such as free distribution, yard advertising, print and television advertising still work best. The best marketing today is hybrid marketing. It means combining traditional and digital marketing. It is wise to emphasize values and focus on the future, and it includes offers and price levels, as well as good display. Building customer value is a very complex issue. As a management conclusion, the most important thing is to form an overall view and always make decisions according to the moment and the situation, and to determine your own position vis-à-vis your competitors. You have to assess your resources and competitive factors. Weaknesses should also be considered. Understand the role and importance of individual issues in relation to the whole. It is also good to understand that paid social media can achieve both visibility and impact. In practice, this means putting marketing money into different social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram. I have a lot of experience and success with this in my own retail business. The most surprising thing to emerge from the survey was that the retailer’s own social media marketing is of little relevance to customers. The long-established fact that the product and the price are the most important information for consumers was also confirmed in this study. However, digital marketing can influence customer value at different stages of the customer journey. The main thing to remember here is that you can’t do everything for everyone. The research shows that digital works best for people under 30 and traditional marketing, including print, works best for older people. To get the best results, you need to narrow down and segment. For paid social media, this can be done by limiting age and region with different marketing messages. This is important to achieve the desired results. Knowledge management and analytical skills, combined with insight, are clearly emerging in today’s competitive environment. The level of sophistication of the various marketing tools is constantly increasing, and there is a need to share responsibility. In marketing, you cannot do everything for everyone if you want results in a cost-effective way. A very good way to get the right action is to commission different surveys on needs and target groups. It is also useful to observe the operations models of successful operators and apply them to one’s own operation. There must also be room for trial and error. With an exploratory attitude, the best model can be found. For example, investing in values can be the start of new success. In this study, values emerged clearly for women, and this knowledge should be exploited. The fact that young people are active in the digital world and are quick to adopt new tools is also worth noting. It is not worth doing everything yourself, and a good model here could be for a company to hire a young person to take care of this aspect. In this way, he or she speaks the same language and understands the target group’s ideas, activities and needs.
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    Managerial Sensemaking and Sensegiving in a Merger and Acquisitions Process: The Case of Konecranes, 2015–2019
    (Aalto University, 2022) Routila, Panu; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    The dissertation is a historical and personal account of how I lead Konecranes in its merger and acquisition (M&A) and post-merger integration process between 2015 to 2019. In this case study, my study assists leaders to reflect their own managerial challenges and assess the transferability and repeatability from my study. The general aim is to provide a rich account and deep understanding of the M&A process as viewed from the CEO perspective, something that is often missing in extant literature.Leaders who face M&A and post-merger integration need to excel in managing organizational ambiguity, provide adequate fact-based legitimation for stakeholders and be able to modify and transform existing corporate cultures into integrated one. I have drawn on autoethnography using retrospection. My own personal diaries have been particularly useful in the process of writing the case description and the vignettes as well as analysing them in order to find discovered knowledge.
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    Evolution of Marketing Thought and Practice - History of the Finnish Marketing Industry 1883–2020
    (Aalto University, 2021) Haavisto, Sari; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    This study gives a rich description and an historical analysis of how the Finnish marketing industry evolved, with a specific focus on advertising and media agencies. It comprises seven narratives that trace its development from the first advertising agency, which was established in 1883, to the complex marketing industry it had become by 2020. The rich descriptions in the seven narratives constitute first main contribution of the study to the history of marketing thought and practice. The qualitative analysis of empirical data produced multi-layers of practice and praxis among key practitioners in Finnish marketing and various stakeholders. Meticulous longitudinal assessment and the triangulation of sources from archived material were synthesized to show how the industry was organized, and to identify the key ideas that underpinned the collaboration among agencies, their customers and other relevant actors. The second main contribution is the novel, practice-based periodization in the evolution of the Finnish marketing industry that the seven narratives, respectively, demonstrate: 1) 1883–1919 (Courageous Convincing); 2) 1920–1938 (Glory and Reasoning); 3) 1939–1944 (Defending Finland During the War Years); 4) 1945–1970 (United and Torn); 5) 1971–1990 (Capturing the Media and Liberating Creativity); 6) 1991–2006 (Old Giants Fail and Newcomers Win); and 7) 2007–2020 (Technology Overwhelms). The periodization reflects the unique socio-political and cultural context in which the multiple players affected how the agency business changed. It also incorporates aspects such as changing consumer behaviour, media consumption habits, developments in market research and technical communication, as well as the pivotal events that affected the marketing industry. The narratives, together with the respective analyses, the conclusions, the general and overarching findings, provide answers to the five research questions set for the study. In terms of theoretical application, the marketing-as-practice (MAP) approach served to identify the central elements of this evolution, together with three key concepts (practitioner, practice and praxis) from strategy-as-practice (SAP) research. The constructed framework, with its comprehensive research questions, evolved from several levels and units of analysis. It provides an historical account of the practices and praxis of marketing practitioners in the Finnish context, adding a longitudinal dimension to MAP research. The period-specific narratives and analyses provide rich insights into what marketing work is, how it has remained the same and how it has changed. The chosen interpretative approach suited the researcher’s interpretivist epistemological stance. Interpretations of the actions of key practitioners in the marketing industry were based on an understanding of their historically embedded social interaction. The seven chronological narratives trace the development of the Finnish marketing industry. They also highlight the key practitioners, both individual and institutional, particularly in the analyses of each era. They describe the work carried out by the practitioners – the practices, and what constituted “doing marketing” in terms of social practice. Furthermore, light is shed on the essence of agency work in marketing. These aspects are scrutinized further from a longitudinal perspective in the overarching findings related to the five research questions. The findings of the study are multidimensional. The terminology used and perceptions of what comprised marketing changed during the period under investigation. European, British, and American marketing practices, research and education influenced the Finnish pioneer admen. The early adopters acquired valuable marketing knowledge and were keen to promote further academic research and education relevant to the Finnish context. Reclamare (marketing) was a catalyst for building Finnish society through strengthening the economy. The first marketing practitioners acknowledged the need for a market orientation, market research and customer satisfaction as a tool for repeat business and to enhance societal welfare. The study findings reveal the reciprocal relationship among multiple key marketing practitioners and institutions. They also show how external marketing practitioners affected agency business: they were as important as the internal practitioners, although the clients were the most relevant actors. The results further illustrate how an industry can, with reciprocal effort, ensure the growth of the economy and of society. Overall, marketing is a business area that has had tremendous successes as well as dismal failures. As the analysis revealed, practices that are believed to be globally applied may differ depending on the location. Legal restrictions vary and may strongly affect marketing creativity, as well as media selection. The narratives trace the emergence of media agencies in Finland, and how this restructured the marketing industry. Marketing practitioners in media agencies with analytical and mathematical expertise, tools and data repositories became crucial contributors to ensuring the efficient and effective use of media among marketers: as partners they have, in some cases, become more valuable than the advertising agencies. The later narratives reveal the effect of developments in the international marketing industry and its arrival in Finland. They illustrate the complexity of the agency business, and show how the ownership structures and naming policies of the agencies are in a similar state of constant flux as the marketing business. All in all, this study depicts the intertwining of agencies with their key clients. In addition, associations, the media and the different institutions have had an impact on how the agencies developed their business.The contribution of this study to practical marketing management lies in the potential competitive advantages that would allow agencies to succeed; in the six clear and consistent proposals for personnel management; and in suggesting ways in which marketers could build on their capabilities when choosing an agency as a partner in marketing activities.
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    Understanding Organizational Orientations Towards Digitalization: A Sensemaking Approach
    (Aalto University, 2021) Takkunen, Susanna; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    The focus of this dissertation is on exploring how organizations in the consumer goods industry interpret the impacts of digitalization, more specifically, how they respond to the question ‘what does digitalization mean for us as an organization’. And, subsequently, this study examines how this interpretation is reflected in the organizations’ orientation towards digitalization. Through this I attempt to shed light on the cognitive microfoundations of digital transformation. I position my dissertation within multi-disciplinary discourses on digitalization and draw on sensemaking theory to construct my research framework, motivate my research questions, and depict my findings. This dissertation is based on a qualitative case-study in the consumer goods industry. The study includes a data set of eight consumer goods companies and evidence from six sources: e.g., 39 in-depth interviews, one-to-one meetings, attendance in company workshops, strategy documents, and direct participant observation. My 20-years’ experience as a practitioner in the field and serving as a digital transformation adviser for two of the case companies during the entire duration of the research period, further enhanced my ability to interpret the findings. The study took place over an 18-month period during years 2019-2020. My dissertation depicts consumer centricity as an aspect of an organization’s identity that may promote an organization’s ability to grasp the transformative nature of digitalization and act as an accelerator to business model transformation. This finding is relevant for any leader attempting to drive a digital transformation and business model change. It implies that an organization’s identity can act as a barrier to change, and unless considered, a digital transformation process can, at worse, slow down or fail. As such, this dissertation contributes to strategic management literature, and multidisciplinary discourses on digitalization. I contribute to sensemaking theory by advancing understanding of the role of identity in the sensemaking process, and by extending the sensemaking process framework to include experimentation as a new phase in the process. I contribute to digital transformation literature by delineating three distinctive organizational orientations, which describe how organizations within an industry interpret digitalization, and by identifying a gap in the digitalization literature cross-fertilizing the information systems and strategic management views with marketing perspectives. Finally, my study advances discourses on demand-side strategy and business model innovation literature by identifying consumer-centricity as a key construct impacting the ability of an organization to grasp digitalization as a transformative change force.
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    Global Integration and Local Flexibility: Managing Contradictions in a Global Company - A Case Study of a Multi-National Service-Oriented Manufacturing Company
    (Aalto University, 2019) Suurnäkki, Margit; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes; Tikkanen, Henrikki, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Management, Finland
    This dissertation addresses strategic change from the viewpoint of managing strategic dualities in the growth and internationalization of a company. The theoretical framework builds on theories of international business, organizational capabilities, and managing contradictions in organizations. The overarching theme of this research is the management of strategic dualities. Based on a cross-theory review, I frame a qualitative single case study, which produces a research narrative of a long-term strategic change, introducing various perspectives to provide a description of the research phenomenon in its context: a multinational service-oriented manufacturing company going through a strategic change. The data for the single case study were drawn primarily from a set of documentary data. The documentary data consisted of in-house employee magazines, company internal presentations and memos, annual reports, and articles and books on the company. This monograph starts with a review of existing literature. The literature review draws a line from traditional internationalization theories and managing the liability of foreignness to globalization and the needs to balance between global integration and local flexibility. A historical single case study follows the Finland-based multinational service-oriented manufacturing company and its growth and change. The research interest lies in the company’s attempts to harmonize its ways of working globally across the company. The results describe the various harmonization efforts and their impact on the growth and productivity of the company. The results shed light on how the company has managed tensions arising from the conflicting demands between global integration and local flexibility, between productivity and innovation, and between company internal and external views. These contradictions are addressed from three different aspects: structures and processes and adaptation thereof: technologies and products and innovation thereof: and short-term and long-term view and renewal thereof. The findings of this study explicate how the case company has developed its global operating model, the “company way” and what choices the company has made in managing tensions it has faced in the integration efforts. The key findings of this case study are the following. First, involving geographical business areas in global decision making has been helping the prioritization and allocation of scarce global resources across the network of local companies. Involving these businesses has also supported the global strategy – and the global mindset – of the company. Second, technological innovations have had a key role in developing global products and have thus supported the renewal from local to global business, differentiating the case company from many of its competitors. Third, harmonized ways of working are seen as key for agility and renewal, because the harmonized baseline enables faster changes. Fourth, the case company have chosen different approaches to manage the conflicting demands between global and local requirements. In many cases, the question has been about choices between global and local, and therefore about accepting possible trade-offs. However, in the case of an exceptional market situation in the emerging China market, local demands and pressure led to conflicts that in turn led to transformation and creation of even better ways of working by combining the global and local views. Finally, the results indicate how the drivers for harmonization have changed over time. The focus appears to have shifted from ensuring operational efficiency and economies of scale, towards making it possible for the company to integrate with external networks, especially as technological development has accelerated, and the locus of innovation has been moving outside companies. The main theoretical contribution of this dissertation is to examine international management theories with a historical long-term case study, where the need for harmonization remains but the drivers for a global strategy change. Through an empirical case study, this dissertation demonstrates the role of harmonization in a global company. It applies the existing theories to practice and illustrates how the case company has been managing the tensions that it has faced during the harmonization programs. This research complements existing international business research with a real-life case study on the global integration process of one company operating in a traditional industry.
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    Learning to Resolve Interpersonal Conflicts more Efficiently through Transformational Leadership: A Study on Coaching
    (Aalto University, 2018) Airaksinen-Aminoff, Pauliina; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes; Tikkanen, Henrikki, Prof., Aalto University, Department of Management, Finland
    “It is in your hands, to make a better world for all who live in it.”- Nelson Mandela - All leaders must deal with interpersonal conflicts and know how to resolve them (Kets De Vries 2017; Bass & Riggio 2006). It has also been argued that ever more interpersonal conflicts will inevitably occur due to the transformation of business models, mergers and acquisitions, organizational turnarounds, and digitalization and robotics (De Wit & Meyer 2010; Todnem By 2005). These changes have already impacted leadership, making it more complex than ever before (Avolio, Sosik, Kahai& Baker 2014; Uhl-Bien, Riggio, Lowe & Carsten 2014). Scholars generally agree that it is critical to resolve interpersonal conflicts as they arise as such conflicts lower group cohesion and decrease followers’ effectiveness, motivation and well-being (Tekleab, Quigley & Tesluk 2009; Di Carlo & Ranalli 2008; De Dreu & Weingart 2003). However, leaders often seem to avoid intervening in and resolving interpersonal conflicts because they find them unpleasant and intervention time consuming (Saeed, Almas, Anis-ul-Haq & Niazi 2014; Jehn 1997; Wall & Callister 1995). This study builds on Bass’s (1990; 1999) theory of transformational leadership and the previous literature on interpersonal conflicts (e.g. Deutsch 1990; Jehn 1997). The study investigates how leaders orient themselves when they encounter interpersonal conflicts, asking how leaders negotiate engagement and avoidance when called upon to resolve and manage interpersonal conflicts and how they can be supported in their conflict-management efforts through coaching. In order to better understand the complexity of intervening in interpersonal conflicts, and the effects of coaching, this study investigates three leaders, focusing on their leadership styles, their current approaches to solving interpersonal conflicts and the impacts of coaching on these approaches. These three leaders, who the author of this study observed and coached for 8 lengths of time varying from three months to two years, greatly differ in terms of their leadership styles, their approaches to resolving interpersonal conflicts and the industries in which they work in (new technology, energyand media). Methodologically, this empirical study represents action research. This has allowed the author to assume the roles of both coach and researcher; in action research, the researcher is actively engaged in solving problems and developing the business or organization and in producing beneficial information for daily operations, which can also lead to the researcher’s own profound transformation (Brydon-Miller, Greenwood & Maguire 2003). The empirical data collected during this study consist of 1) notes of observations of meetings, events, workshops and seminars in the organizations over a period of two three years, 2) recorded personal interviews (audio and video), 3) emails with the three leaders, and 4) notes of the coaching sessions, which totalled over 1 000 hours. Based on the research findings, the study argues that transformational leadership, as delineated by Bass (1990; 1999), is an unattainable goal for most leaders. Nonetheless, a transformational leadership style can be taught and learned. However, to change one’s behaviour, for instance in order to perform a more transformational style or to resolve interpersonal conflicts, requires more time than the ten weeks mentioned by some scholars (Grant 2016; Kets De Vries & Korotov 2007). The findings of this dissertation have various implications for leadership education and support. 1) Leaders would benefit from peer support, as it facilitates the development of their skills and self-esteem, thereby allowing them to better intervene in and resolve interpersonal conflicts. 2) Leadershipeducation should focus more on interpersonal conflict resolution and intervention. 3) Teaching should be pragmatic in nature, including concrete advice on verbal communication and other specific techniques.Companies would benefit highly from leaders who understand the reasons behind interpersonal conflicts because such understanding can prevent these conflicts from occurring. Moreover, the ability to notice conflicts as soon as they arise is also helpful in resolving them. In addition, companies would benefit from leaders with positive self-esteem, as such leaders possess the courage to confront such challenging situations as interpersonal conflicts.
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    Talent Management in the Humanitarian Aid Context
    (Aalto University, 2017) Lumme-Tuomala, Riitta; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Muut ja erillisyksiköt; Other units and institutes
    Talent management is currently seen as a high-priority issue in organizations worldwide, and a critical determinant of organizational success. Organizations spend a great deal of resources on identifying and developing talent necessary for strategy implementation and to achieve strategic targets. When looking at critical factors for competitive advantage and business success, ‘talent’ is gaining status as an important element, almost equal to financial resources. Furthermore, both management researchers and practitioners have found the identification and development of high potential employees to be one of the major challenges of the current human resource function. Even if talent management has in recent years received much attention in academia, research on different contexts, such as that of non-profit organizations, is limited. This dissertation explores talent management in the context of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), and more precisely in humanitarian aid organizations. The focal organization of this study is the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The main question of my study is: “Do the managerial or business approaches to talent management and the principal assumption of organizations as money-making entities make talent management frameworks and theories non-applicable in the context of e.g. non-profit organizations?” I studied this question by beginning with the pivotal matter of ‘what is talent’, and how it is defined both in academia and by practitioners. The notion of potential is of essence in talent definition, and is thus included in the way I advocate that ‘talent’ should be defined: it is a formula multiplying competence by commitment and contribution. Furthermore, each of these components is divided into two distinctive time dimensions: the present and future. Particularly the future dimension of ‘contribution’ involves factors that epitomize potential; insight, curiosity, and determination, to name a few. Talent management, i.e. attracting, identifying, recruiting, developing, and retaining people, is a strategic process that should contribute to competitive advantage by first identifying the strategically pivotal positions in the organization and then making sure that these positions are filled with talent: right people at the right time in the right job. Talent management at its most mature stage should both inform the overall strategy of the organization and be informed by it. Overall, the results indicated that talent management frameworks and related activities are applicable to non-profit organizations, and can contribute to better attraction, identification, and retention of talent in humanitarian aid organizations. Traditionally, particularly in humanitarian aid organizations, the determining factors in recruitment and retention have been experience in similar organizations and a significant number of required competencies. The results suggest that these so-called competency frameworks are not ideal in the current VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world, since they do not take e.g. meta-competencies into account, and tend to be rather mechanical in their approach. Furthermore, the development approach of humanitarian aid organizations can arguably be beneficial for corporations as well. This is particularly the case when developing high potentials or talent at the early stages of their careers. Namely, the way these organizations use mentoring – equaling to strong involvement of one’s supervisor in the corporate world – and deployments to emergency operations – i.e. not simulations or experiments in ‘safe’ environments – are among development activities corporations could benefit from. The ability to identify potential remains to be one of the priorities of any manager, be it in non- or for-profit organizations. The competencies that guaranteed success in the past will most probably not be adequate, and managers need to learn to detect potential, with its components of curiosity and learning agility seeming crucial.
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    Interactions between non-profit finance, governance and investment style
    (Aalto University, 2016) Ahdekivi, Eeva; Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education - Aalto EE; Kauppakorkeakoulu; School of Business
    This book studies the economic and investment behavior of foundations, as well as the general environment of non-profit governance and of equity investments by non-profit foundations. The book is structured as follows. The Introduction presents the rationale for non-profits, some basic characteristics of non-profits and especially of foundations, and compares the economic motivation of non-profit foundations with that of for-profit companies. Essay 1 examines the root causes of governance choices in foundations, and the consequences of such governance choices. Essay 2 empirically investigates the equity portfolios of foundation investors and confirms typical characteristics of foundations as investors. The governance in foundations, a wealth-endowed subset of nonprofits, differs fundamentally from the governance principles of for-profit corporates on three dimensions: (1) foundations do not have legal owners who could exert external control over the foundation; (2) without universal measures, such as profitability or stock market valuation, the efficient economic behavior of foundations is difficult to assess; and (3) most foundations are established to exist in perpetuity and are not subjected to any market for control. Thus, Essay 1 focuses on the following questions. Firstly, (1) which foundation-specific characteristics explain the accumulation of power at the board level in the governance of foundations? A sample of 891 foundations in Finland is empirically investigated using data on the foundations’ detailed rules, financials, and other characteristics. A new index measure for the concentration of control in foundations is constructed. Secondly, (2), the first Essay examines whether governance choices may have any consequences on foundations’ grant-making or other charitable spending. One of the possible drivers for governance choices include a foundation’s financiers. In absence of owners, the regular financiers such as donors, customers or the public sector may exert power over how the foundation is administered. In order to investigate the effect of financing, Essay 1 classifies sample foundations into four categories, based on their main source of finance. The empirical results suggest that a foundation’s source of finance is associated with the concentration of decision powers. Foundations that have to regularly approach outside sources of finance–donors, public sector or customers– show less concentration of power on the board level than foundations that can finance their missions with capital income from an endowment. We also find that foundations with a less concentrated governance model spend more on charitable operations than foundations with concentrated governance. However, in grantmaking foundations this association does not emerge: governance is not related to the level of grantmaking. In our second Essay, we argue for the need to understand the investment behaviour of various investor types, and present empirical evidence of non-profits’ equity investment style, based on data on portfolios of listed equity owned by 530 foundations during the years 2000-2013. Overall, foundations are active risk-takers: they can carry concentrated equity risk by not diversifying their portfolios towards the industry breakdown of the general market index. Foundations are shown to be infrequent traders, with relatively low equity portfolio turnover. If they decide to own a stock for longer than one year, they remain owner for 3.6 years on average (in the 13-year sample period). In addition, the majority of their single shareholdings stay intact from year to year. Foundations do not adjust their positions frequently. Foundation age and size are related to the equity allocation of foundations’ portfolios: older and larger foundations diversify more along the lines of the market index breakdown. We also find that older foundations trade less frequently than younger ones. Essays in this book present new insights into non-profit economic behavior. Concerning governance, Essay 1 suggests a measure (Foundation Governance Index) and a determinant (the source of finance of a foundation) for governance in non-profits. Concerning investments, Essay 2 confirms empirically that non-profits have a distinct equity investment style.
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    Gaining more Value of Customer Relationships in the Digital Business Environment
    (Aalto University Executive Education (Aalto EE), 2016) Kukkonen, Elina; Salo, Jari, Professor, Oulu Business School, Finland; Aalto EE; Aalto University Executive Education; Kauppakorkeakoulu; School of Business; Tikkanen, Henrikki, Professor, Aalto University, Finland
    Digital business environment has amble of unexplored opportunities to engage with customers and to enhance future business. However, today customers are ever more networked online, and hold the power over consumption decisions not only on themselves but on many others. Existing customers can be valuable for the company from various perspectives. Thus, the thesis explores the value formation and management of customer relationships in online environment, from the perspective of the customer and the firm. The focus of the study is on exploiting research, data and analytics for customer value enhancement of the existing customer base. The thesis investigates the principles of Customer Value Management (CVM) in the online environment as means of gaining more value for the company from existing customer relationships. The focus is on exploring the value creation of customer relationships primarily from the perspective of the firm, but in terms of customer experience management, the study acknowledges also the value perceived by the customer in online relationships. As its primary contribution, the research deepens understanding of the key components of an appealing customer experience in the online news channel context that builds loyalty. Second, the study broadens the customer management perspective from the value of transactions for the company to recognizing other value outcomes of enhanced customer engagement. Third, the study presents an applicable value measurement model for customer relationship management in the online news channel context. The thesis comprises of three separate studies, Essays 1, 2 and 3 targeted to academic journals. Through a case study on essay 1, critical attributes for superior online customer experience in news channel context are identified. Essay 2 probes into identifying the components of customer engagement value and the associated metrics for measuring customer engagement. The third essay investigates how an online news channel can measure and manage customer value. The case company of the thesis is an online news channel publishing business news with a business focus on subscription sales as well as on advertising sales. The data for the thesis was gathered through face-to-face interviews (n=10) in the primary target group of the case company, through two web surveys (n=212 and n= 180) and through visiting data of 44 414 registered customers.