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Previous Seminars in 2014-15

EI Seminar - 11 June 2015

Speaker: Melaine Richards, University of St Gallen, Switzerland and Visiting Scholar at Cass Business School, City University London

Title: Maintaining legitimacy in morally challenged industries: The role or communication for firm investment in sustainability labels

Firms operating in industries characterised by ethical and environmental challenges are often exposed to institutional pressure to invest in sustainability labels to maintain their moral legitimacy, i.e., their positive normative evaluation by stakeholders. However, decades after the foundation of those sustainability labels, firms’ investments still vary significantly. Our paper seeks to shed light on this variance by exploring how firms in the coffee, tea, and chocolate industries legitimise themselves on moral grounds, assessed through archival website content. Our theorising suggests that firms primarily rely on vocabulary associated with two distinct sets of legitimacy principles when seeking to maintain their moral legitimacy vis-à-vis consumers: civic/green principles and domestic principles. Our results specifically show that frequent referral to domestic principles is negatively related to firms’ investment in sustainability labels. Our findings also suggest that the strength of the relationship between these distinct ways of moral legitimising and labelling varies with family or founder control, respectively. 

Biography: Melanie Richards is a post-doctoral researcher at the Center for Family Business of the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. Currently, Melanie is a visiting scholar at Cass Business School, City University London. Her research focuses on how goals and legitimacy principles that derive from the institution of the family affect managerial attention, sense- and decision-making in a large variety of contexts including entrepreneurship, innovation and corporate social responsibility. Her research has been published in Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, the Journal of Product Innovation Management and the Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings. In the past, Melanie worked as a management consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

EI & SIB Seminar - 11 March 2015

Speaker: Dr Vangelis Souitaris, Cass Business School, City University, London

Title: Escalation of Commitment: A Study of Hope and Fear

Abstract: We examine the role of group hope versus fear understanding why teams engage in escalation of commitment in an entrepreneurial context. We employed a longitudinal behavioral simulation design where teams underwent multiple rounds of feedback and investment choices (including with their own money) to test whether when faced with continuous negative feedback in an unfavorable situation, group hope and group fear will influence the escalation of commitment process, and which of the two emotions, and offer a competing hypothesis as to whether group hope versus group fear will have the strongest relationship to team level escalation (or desolation) of commitment. Based on data from 66 teams and 635 rounds of decision making, the negative influence of hope on teams’ likelihood of quitting the simulation was found to be significant. The positive effect of fear was marginally significant. And, in a competing test, hope is found to “trump” fear, with the influence of group fear becoming insignificant in the presence of group hope on team escalation processes. In addition we find, using video-coded team engagement behaviors, that team engagement mediates the relationship between group hope and the likelihood of teams’ escalating their commitment. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Biography: Vangelis Souitaris is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Cass Business School in London. He joined in 2004 and became Cass’s youngest full professor in 2006 (age 34). Before Cass, Vangelis spent 6 years at Imperial College London. Vangelis also held visiting appointments at Wharton (2008-09), Bologna (2007-08), and Vlerick (2005). In 2011, he was recognized as one of the top 40 business school professors under 40 years old, by the online business education magazine “Poets and Quants”. He is the subject leader for Entrepreneurship at Cass and the PhD director for the Management pathway. Vangelis specialises in behavioural and social aspects of technology entrepreneurship. His behavioural portfolio includes studies on entrepreneurial inspiration, polychronicity, analysis versus intuition, halo effects, and escalation of commitment. His sociologically-driven work includes studies on institutional and network influences on technology enterprise. He has studied several aspects of the phenomenon, namely the creation, financing, innovation, and strategy of new technology ventures. Currently he focuses on 3 specific areas: 1) Decision making in new technology ventures, 2) Corporate Venture Capital and 3) Academic entrepreneurship.

Vangelis published work in prestigious field journals (such as Research Policy, Journal of Business Venturing, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, R&D Management, Technovation) and also general journals (such as the Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Management Journal, Harvard Business Review, British Journal of Management, and Long Range Planning). Vangelis brings his expertise to practice by advising large Technology Businesses (such as IBM and Telenor) and also small technology startups that spin-out from engineering universities. He has supervised/currently supervising 5 PhD students. If you are interested in a PhD in Entrepreneurship (and/or more specifically in technology entrepreneurship) please download Vangelis's instructions for a research proposal.

EI Seminar - 4 February 2015

Speaker: Dr Alex Coad, SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit), University of Sussex

Title: Too Fast to live? Effects of growth on survival across the growth distribution

Abstract: There are several theoretical reasons to suppose that excessive fast growth may harm survival: ‘Penrose effects’ operating through limits to managerial attention, cash flow problems, ‘time compression diseconomies’ and convex adjustment costs that make costs exceed revenues, and difficulties in quickly finding good matches on labour markets. We explore survival across the growth rate distribution using a rich dataset of a cohort of 6247 new ventures, using customer records data from a major UK bank. We measure non-survival through termination of the business account (as opposed to continuation or switching the account to a rival bank). Although growth enhances survival on average, the highest decile of the growth distribution never has the highest survival, and there are significant non-linearities (specification tests prefer a seventh-order polynomial). Our findings have implications for the current policy interest in high growth firms.

Biography: Alex Coad is Senior Research Fellow at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit) at the University of Sussex, and Associate Editor at Research Policy. Alex has published over 40 articles in international peer-reviewed journals, such as Journal of Business Venturing, Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Economic Behaviour and Organization, Research Policy, Social Science & Medicine, Industrial and Corporate Change, and Small Business Economics. According to google-scholar. Alex has over 1800 citations and an H-index of 21. Alex's research interests are mainly focused on firm performance, entrepreneurship, business strategy, industrial dynamics, and happiness economics.