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Center for the Future of Management

Managing Organizations in Times of Crisis

Research Briefs

In response to the ongoing and developing COVID-19 public health crisis, our department's faculty have written briefs on managing organizations through crisis.

Discrimination in Access to Credit During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Robert Seamans and Rachel Atkins - August 6, 2020

Key Takeaways: The U.S. federal government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resulted in Type I and Type II errors. Type II errors, in which those eligible for loans did not get them, has been particularly challenging for black-owned businesses. These challenges should have been anticipated, given historical evidence on discrimination in access to credit. To remedy these issues, we suggest policy makers collect more data on loan applicants and recipients, and consider how program design may have differential impact on black and underrepresented minority business owners.

Why Learning from a Pandemic Can Be Illusive

Christina Fang - July 7, 2020

Key Takeaways: Sixteen years ago, the US had a near miss with SARS when the virus shut down many of the Western Pacific countries. Would we have managed the current COVID 19 crisis better, had we been less lucky earlier? Data suggests yes; countries which had experienced the smaller scale epidemic 16 years ago have notably fewer casualties. How do decision makers learn from a rare event and prepare for the future? A few ideas from organizational learning may help: attend to near misses, learn vicariously, watch out for competency traps and downplay theory.

Seizing Opportunity from an Environmental Shock: New Trajectories for Innovation

Melissa Schilling - June 2, 2020

Key Takeaways: An environmental shock can help overcome the inertia that holds old processes and norms in place. This disruption creates a window of opportunity during which breakthrough innovation may be more successfully introduced, and in which some technology trajectories will suddenly accelerate. Examples from remote work, telemedicine and online education are provided, followed by strategic implications for managers.

Covid-19: Lessons from Hurricanes about Reopening the Economy

J.P. Eggers and Zur Shapira - May 13, 2020

Key Takeaways: Considering when to reopen a regional economy comes down to how the decision maker(s) worries about the tradeoff between the costs of opening too early and staying closed too long, which are due to the difficulty in predicting behavior of the virus. Since different stakeholders differentially bear those costs, the influence of those stakeholders can affect which mistake the decision maker views as less costly. In addition, we recommend that the decisions to reopen be made by experts, scientists or by mayors and governors who seek the advice of scientists.

Overcoming the Challenges of Physical Distance on Global Teams

Steven A. Altman and Frances J. Milliken - May 7, 2020

Key Takeaways: Covid-19 has halted business travel in much of the world, depriving global teams of the benefits of in-person contact during a period of elevated organizational stress. Under such conditions, cooperation and trust are more likely to break down. Leaders can work in various ways to foster common ground across physical, cultural, and social distance.

Covid-19 and the Abrupt Change in the Nature of Work Lives: Implications for Identification and Communication

Frances J. Milliken and Beth A. Bechky - April 28, 2020

Key Takeaways: The coronavirus pandemic was an “environmental jolt” that altered work lives for workers around the world. We focus on how the abrupt transition to remote work for many organizational employees may have implications for organizational identification and communication processes within the organization. Managers need to understand these effects in order to keep employees engaged and cultivate resilient organizations.

Crisis and the Direction of Innovation

Robert Seamans and Manav Raj - April 30, 2020

Key Takeaways: The coronavirus pandemic has slowed the worldwide economy and imposed significant market frictions that may hinder future innovation. However, previous crises have shown that such black swan events can serve as a catalyst for some forms of invention and alter the direction of future innovation.

Internet Access is Not Enough: First-Generation & Low Income Students Need Social Connections Too

L. Taylor Phillips - April 28, 2020

Key Takeaways: While remote learning is a necessity during the current crisis, it offers unique challenges for first-generation students. These students are less likely to feel that they belong in college, which in turn harms their performance and increases their drop-out rates. Universities need to sustain connection to first-generation students, not only through remote coursework, but through virtual social and cultural engagement as well.

Broadband Availability Affects Working from Home

Robert Seamans and Derrick Choe - April 24, 2020

Key Takeaways: The shift to working from home places a spotlight on Americans’ unequal access to broadband. During the crisis, managers should respond with inclusive policies such as “low tech” options to access meetings and subsidies to help employees pay for broadband at home. Given broadband’s demonstrated economic benefits, policymakers should expand broadband access via measures that address both demand-side and supply-side issues.

Making Sense During a Pandemic: A Novel Virus Can Be A Managerial Hall of Mirrors

Joe Porac - April 21, 2020

Key Takeaways: New York City’s experience with the West Nile Virus in 1999 provides lessons for managers dealing with the current pandemic. Managers should make an effort to communicate beyond their usual network, should keep an open mind and update their beliefs about what is happening frequently, and remember to uphold basic human values such as compassion, fairness, conscientiousness, honesty, integrity, and courage.