After successfully defending my research proposal titled ’The influence of temporality on exogenous growth strategies – Alternative business models in digital ecosystems’ in October 2021 I have been putting my focus on the first chapter of my dissertation.
Since then, under the title ’Dancing to the Rhythm: the Dynamics of Acquisition Motive on Acquisition Programmes’, I have been working on my first paper with Dr. Rick Aalbers (Radboud University) and Dr. Killian J. McCarthy (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen), both from the Centre for Strategic Organizational Restructuring. After 5 months of theoretical build-up, data gathering, learning to work with the statistical software R to crunch numbers, and crunching said numbers I thus was more than happy to present our paper under the umbrella of the strategy underlying corporate development. Zooming in one specific aspect of corporate development, we investigate firms’ acquisitive behaviour, a mean to pair firms of selected high-tech industries with not only incumbent players but also fintechs.
Acquisitions keep being a major governance mode for high-tech organizations despite being both risky (measured by the high rate of failure) as well as resource-consuming over longer periods. However, if successful this strategic activity is a bedrock to evolve the firm’s portfolio or even business model while shaking up digital ecosystems. Therefore, the effect on repetitive acquirers’ financial performance ensures survivability in their fast-paced industries. As our paper unravels the underlying dynamics of serial acquisition programmes it provides a crucial new perspective for strategic management scholarship’s understanding.
Given this thematic embeddedness, it was more than fitting to invite the Strategy Department of the Nijmegen School of Management as well as the Hotspot Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Business Ecosystems of Radboud University as the audience to premiere our work. Jointly, we deep-dived into the paper, investigating the theoretical framework, the concepts, and their interrelated mechanisms as well as their methodological operationalization for the analysis. Finishing up with our results, our work was discussed with a positive prospect as well as focused feedback making the session both a pleasure as well as a helpful perspective on how to further flesh out our piece. We thank all participants who made this lively session a fruitful next step in our development.
As FINDER sets out to Foster Innovation Networks in a Digital Era in a European, this Industrial Doctorate partnership of 4 years between Radboud University and Atos has been on its way now for close to 3 years already. Time thus to report on some of the progression made to date. This portal has outlined various of these initiatives over the past years, including the hosting of various startup initiatives, including a startup weekend with participants from 3 continents and various technology domains, doctoral workshops, student oriented case study initiatives and – last but not least – collaborative research being presented at sone of the major international conference in the field of management. These academic venues include such as the Academy of Management, EGOS (European Group for Organization Studies) and EURAM (the European Academy of Management). All activities are driven by the ambition to prepare a new generation of business and entrepreneurship researchers contributing to the development of innovative ecosystems in a digital era.
On that note below a review of the progression per Early Stage Career (ESR) track:
ESR Track 1’s research on collaborative innovation management addresses gaps in organizational sciences literature concerning the sociopolitical forces behind technological innovation as it occurs between firms and other firms, between firms and regulators, and between firms and society. There are no clear indications that businesses engaged in high-tech ecosystems will divert away from collaborative innovation approaches, which makes this research and the tools it produces timely and useful in elucidating the challenges that practitioners presently face and will face in the future.
ESR Track 3’s research is relatively embryonic, for the ESR only joined the project in November 2020 following a resignation. This ESR has already achieved considerable progress, focusing on how uncertainty in times of crisis triggers organizational transformation. As the world has been rocked by economic, pathologic, and climate-related disasters with no signs of slowdown in the future, understanding how companies survive and adapt to major turbulence is crucial for strategic management scholarship’s understanding.
ESR Track 4 also deals with the social forces at play in interfirm decision-making. The role of positional icons such as CEOs is significant in events such as mergers and acquisitions. This research uses novel methods to examine the signals that CEOs advertently and inadvertently cast when announcing their M&A decisions, which promises to broaden the managerial sciences’ scope on the applicability of investigative machine learning.
ESR Track 5’s focus on venture capital (VC) as a fuel for the entrepreneurship of technological innovation provides a different lens on the social aspect of interorganizational relationships. Quantitative research methods will allow this track to investigate how the VCs’ reputation interplays with their funding targets’ performance. The practical applications of this research will largely be for the parties engaged in this dialogue, but as investing overall becomes more democratized, insights therefrom promise to become more widely applicable as they age.
All ESRs completed or at least entered into their secondments, digitally and now then finally also – on site again, with Jonas Geisen embedded at TQ Frankfurt for the coming half year, as COVID restrictions are eased to a level that accommodates for such field work again.
As for academic training all ESRs had their research proposals accepted by the Radboud Scientific Advisory Committee. All ESRs also partook in the FINDER-led Research Excellence Workshop in February 2020 as well as the Strategic Management Society Berkeley Doctoral Workshop held virtually in November 2020. Currently each candidate is wrapping up – or has already rounded up – the business side of the training .
ESR Track 1 has completed 24 ECTS of doctoral training, ESR Track 3 has not yet completed ECTS, but is currently taking training that will allow for 9 ECTS of doctoral training, ESR Track 4 has completed 17 ECTS of doctoral training, and ESR Track 5 has completed 26 ECTS of doctoral training portfolio on offer via ATOS, experiencing the very same training opportunity as open to the broader ATOS workforce.
In the course of the research methodologically outlined as part of this ITN proposal, some outputs have already come to fruition including manuscript submissions and acceptances to the 2020 and 2021, European Group for Organization Studies Colloquia, 2021 Academy of Management Annual Conference, the 2021 International Process Symposium and the 2021 European Academy of Management Annual Conference., and most recently also the 2022 EURAM conference as first 2022 onsite event to take place in Switzerland this year. With papers targeted at the 2022 AOM, SMS and also the local paper workshop venues (national university level) research exposure is certainnly consolidated on by the ESRs, a job well done!
Then in terms of expected potential impact:
As the FINDER research scope spans industries and job functions, it requires candidates to synthesize complex information and to approach problems nimbly in a manner that can be transferred to both academics and practitioners. FINDER’s integrated curriculum prepares the ESR’s to drive change at the vanguard of business and technology by challenging them to consider multiple perspectives and to create innovative solutions to problems in such a way that they are not only profitable to business but also relevant and responsible towards society at large.
As each of the Marie Curie FINDER PhD Fellows investigates an aspect of innovative collaborative arrangement amongst organizations –such the various configurations possible among grassroots, incumbents and the wider society as they inclusively explore digital technology for new product or market development, impact is diverse also.
the main ambitions are summarized per track in the following general objectives – with associated research questions, as has become evident over the past years of reporting on each of those on this portal:
Managing innovation in the networked organisation RQ: How do digital technologies influence systems, practices and processes for the effective management of innovation within and across organisations?
Seizing the future: fostering collaborative entrepreneurship RQ: What are the characteristics of alternative business models in digital ecosystems? Which factors facilitate their development?
Alternative business models in digital ecosystems RQ: What are the internal and external contingencies that explain the diverse organisational arrangements seen in new ventures? How does the internal organisation of entrepreneurial ventures interact with governance, ownership, industry and geography?
Effective strategies and policies for enhanced social payoff, during and after digital transformation RQ: What are the roles, challenges and opportunities for incumbent firms and newcomers for a sustainable transition to digital technologies? How can organisations overcome struggles over the meaning of sustainability, within and across organisational fields, as the digital ecosystem unfolds?
In the period to come you can expect further policy reflections on each of those questions posted by the ESRs. So stay tuned. Promising future outcomes in this regard per track are:
Track 1 continued ethnographic research will provide insights that non-FINDER academics have commented on as important to the field, with a closeness to data not often seen in this discipline. Insights promise a close fit to both policymakers and practitioners, as ongoing collaboration in the direct Fintech realm is being reflected on from various theoretical angles. In depth case work that makes it into policy advice.
Track 3 has recently consolidated on empirical evidence that unpacks some of the dynamics that back high tech oriented serial acquisitions. With M&A making up for a major governance mode to pair fintech startups with incumbent players, this project is particularly fitting to the FINDER ambition to review the various characteristics of alternative business models in digital ecosystems. For instance, and despite the reoccurrence of failure, high-tech organizations are persistent in their pursuit of their next acquisition, committing significant resources to this strategic activity in the process. In this study, and drawing on organization learning theory, novel theoretical arguments are developed to connect a firm’s repetitive acquisition portfolio decisions to its short and long term market performance.
Track 4, particular to the employed methodology, is amassing a dataset of CEO M&A announcements which will provide a baseline for further analysis in this track for future academic and white paper submissions. Policy advice will advocate the need to pay attention to behavioral effects when orchestrating collaboration – as via mergers or acquisitions – in the technology domain.
Track 5 experienced pandemic-specific delays that necessitated a shift in data collection; nonetheless, this track currently consolidates on rich data on the collaboration between Venture Capitalists, startups and incumbents as they try to team up towards a successful tech – as well as non tech oriented service offering. What configuration works best? What is the role of partner diversity, timing and innovation at large as these mini-consortia team up in pursuit of the next IPO or acquisition? Policy advice will be backed by quantitative evidence to reflect on these questions in the near future.
All tracks will reflect on the societally responsible aspects of their advice, thus considering employment next to profit, long term societal aspirations next to short term financial gain, applying a multiple stakeholder approach to their conclusions.
Scenario: your large, multinational firm has just completed a costly acquisition, yet one that promises to increase your global revenues by a considerable margin. Yet, your share prices keep steadily declining, and your investors are starting to show negative sentiment towards your stock. If you don’t act quickly with some sort of whizbang, strategic solution, lucrative opportunities elsewhere in the space might decay your investor base, triggering a sell-off and catastrophes of unknown number and magnitude thereafter. What do you do?
Luckily – or hopefully – you’re not actually in that scenario. Someone probably is, somewhere in the world, and we’d love to help. But in the meantime, we here at the FINDER project are more concerned with building a corps of strategists who can not only solve these problems in situ, but see them coming from a mile/kilometer away and make prescient moves to help their firms avoid these rough waters.
Recently, SAGE Business Cases, a premier-if-not-the-premiere business and teaching case publisher, accepted a teaching case for publication that the FINDER team submitted last year. Typically, academic researchers dedicate most or all of their research efforts to publishing their work in strictly academic journals – in the scope of FINDER, this might mean theoretical work intended to (slightly) shift a discipline’s collective way of thinking. A tall order, to say the least, and this shows in the many years that it often takes for such a work to go from first draft to accepted publication. However, this is not universal law: an exemplary exception is the recent PLOS ONE article that Dr. Rick Aalbers, Jonas Röttger, and colleagues published which examines market reactions to certain strategic orientations in the wakes of firm acquisitions.
With teaching cases, though, the motivation is different. Rather than shifting academic thought, these articles are meant to provide educators with tools to build academic thought. Thinking in the scope of business schools and business cases: corporate strategy is concerned with teaching students to examine complex matrices of phenomena from a central headquarters’ point of view, prescribe solutions for the firm, and measure the effects of those decisions and deployments to achieve certain prescriptions. Short form: consulting by any other name. In all seriousness, though, these skills are useful for careers well beyond consulting. Strategic thinking of the kind I just described finds a home in political sciences, small business founding, tech development, and many more arenas.
It is our hope that the teaching case will find use in classrooms around the world and wherever educators and students alike are concerned with ideating strategic solutions to organizational problems. The case, as well as many others, can be found at https://sk.sagepub.com/cases/discipline. If you’d like to use the case, feel free to go through the above link or to contact us through this website or LinkedIn.
– S. James Ellis
Please cite the case as:
Aalbers, R., Ellis, S., Khanagha, S., Luijendijk, I., Neuteboom, R., & Röttger, J., (2022). To build, buy, or ally: Envisioning growth amidst the fintech revolution. In SAGE Business Cases. SAGE Publications, Ltd., https://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781529793840
We are proud to announce that members of the FINDER project team reached the semi-finals in the Mercator Innovation Competition with their idea of improving Fintech scouting for banks.
Mercator Launch is a pre-incubator for early phase entrepreneurship. The Mercator Innovation Competition comprises of an evaluation committee installed with representatives of Radboud Innovation / Valorisation Radboudumc.
This evaluation committee will select 6 finalists, who get to pitch their idea in front of an independent jury and their peers. The winner will receive a cash prize of €10.000 to spend on further development of their innovation, business coaching, and a free working space at Mercator Launch for one year.
We are very proud to announce that PLOS ONE published a research article by members of the FINDER team: Rick Aalbers and Jonas Röttger, who joined forces with Killian McCarthy and Menno Huisman, resulting into:
“Moving motives: How past and present strategy influence the market”
In the article the authors discuss how research often only considers the performance of a single acquisition, or the effects of a single acquisition on the performance of the acquiring firm, showing that acquisition motive matters. However, firms often make multiple acquisitions and research recognizes that firms must both explore and exploit to sustain their competitiveness. There is evidence too to suggest that firms use some acquisitions to explore and others to exploit.
This raises a number of interesting questions. For example, do investors take the ’portfolio’ of acquisitions into account when reacting to an announcement of an acquisition? Does the market react to the switch in strategy from exploration to exploitation? And if it does, does the market prefer a switch to exploration or exploitation?
Read the full article in which Rick, Kilian, Jonas and Menno investigate the market’s reactions to serial acquirers that switch strategy here.
In the FINDER project, with a broader scope, we investigate how the continuously increasing pace of digitalization shapes the collaborative innovation of firms. Such innovative trajectories do not necessarily pan out in a linear fashion. In fact, they can even hold the potential to induce strategic reorganization of firms’ organizational form (The Centre for Organization Restructuring hosted by Radbouds’ Institute for Management Research bundles expertise on this field). Such change can have different antecedents either originating in an approach of long-range planning or a firm’s threat of survival. In all cases, however, one needs to acknowledge that such a strategic reorganization holds advanced interdependencies to their collaborative networks.
FINDER, as a project by Radboud University & Atos, therefore hosted a two-day symposium to examine the influence of Atos’ strategic reorganization of its vertical Financial Services & Insurances (FS&I) on its innovative collaboration network.
In order to make full use of the intersection between academia and practice, the symposium was divided into two days to provide the necessary space to explore both perspectives. The first day provided various intra-organizational angles onto Atos transformation to transmit a holistic picture. Connecting the inputs of the first day with the ESRs focal points of research on the second day delivered new perspectives rooted in research on said transformation.
Together with members of the Atos Scientific Community, the Atos Scaler program, and the FS&I leadership team we fruitfully discussed how digital technologies necessitate an intra- and entrepreneurial handling of digital technologies. The focus was on the combination of large (corporates) and small (FinTechs) organizations in the Financial Services Industry and upper management’s role as policy-makers to facilitate new ventures. More specifically there were four different topics discussed on the second day:
Jonas Röttger: Firms communication in M&As and its effect on the stock market
Jonas Geisen: Dancing to the rhythm: the dynamics of acquisition motive on serial acquisition
S. James Ellis: Ecosystem dominance – three approaches to emerge on top
Ami X. Wang: Incumbents and Entrepreneurial ventures In The Digital Era
Highlighted by the interest of the participants in the insights it becomes apparent that there is a demand for diffusion and direct application of scientific knowledge. This symposium and FINDER, due to its unique feature of intersecting academia and industry, serve this purpose through research that provides meaningful insights to understand and foster innovation for and applicable by practitioners. We are happy to share that this symposium, with its collaborative format and fruitful discussions with Atos, successfully delivered on FINDERs purpose of an ambilateral diffusion of knowledge achieving an incremental impact for both academia and practice. This becomes more visible in its outcome as the practitioners provided the ESRs with hands-on input for their research while the ESRs presented new perspectives derived from research for Atos practitioners.
It is not uncommon for organizations that endure restructuring to experience trust decay amongst the work force. How does responsible restructuring come about? What are the antecedents that drive an organization forward in a responsible manner, also when trust is hampered and uncertainty arises within the boundaries of the firm?
This month, FINDER friend and Member of the Radboud Centre for Organization Restructuring, Jinhan Jiao will defend her dissertation related to this behavioral theme at Radboud University, titled “Dynamics of Interpersonal Trust: A Social Network Perspective”.
The project supervised by Prof. Dr. Allard van Riel of Hasselt University, Dr. Zuzana Sasovova of VU and Dr. Rick Aalbers of Radboud University, pivots around the interesting behavioral concept of trust repair as a mechanism that may help organizations to stay afloat also as trust get hampered in the course of managerial action. Building on previous research, two issues remain on the research agenda of Jinhan’s dissertation work. One is the dynamics of trust, and the other is the social nature of trust. To address these issues, this thesis investigates interpersonal trust dynamics, including trust formation and trust repair, from a social network perspective. The various projects reported on in this work aim to answer the main research question: How do social networks influence the dynamics of interpersonal trust? Best of luck with the defence Jinhan – great to see this line of social-behavioral work being carried forwards. Details on the defense venue and date can be found here: https://www.ru.nl/nsm/imr/@1324056/dynamics-interpersonal-trust-social-network/
The workshop for idea-stage entrepreneurs happened this weekend with 5 start-ups and 7 panelists in attendance. The start-ups were:
Sajilopay Payment Services: a payment service provider servicing rural Nepalese communities and facilitating, among other things, the sending of remittances from diasporic communities;
Kobopay: a digital bank providing financial services and infrastructure to rural communities in Nigeria and the intention to expand services to broader sub-Saharan Africa;
Hato: a start-up in development that improves the house-hunting experience for first-time movers in geographies with advanced public infrastructure;
PureValidation: a market data validation service enabled by AI and blockchain technology, bringing modern technologies to the out-of-date data management space within the financial services industry; and
Data Origins: a big- and alternative-data-powered platform that provides restauranteurs with near- and mid-term insights based on environmental factors to save on administration costs.
The workshop’s first day was primarily a pitching session, where founders relayed the general functions, marketable intents, and progress of their ideas. During the second day, each founder had her or his own breakout room, through which each panelist rotated in 20-minute increments.
Due to fluctuations and unpredictability regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this event was held virtually. Despite that, attendees were enthusiastic about the opportunity and energetic in sharing ideas as well as advice, challenges, and networking information. According to one attendee:
There is a great demand for events like this, especially for idea-stage startups. Idea-stage startups desperately need an outside and unbiased view of their business ideas to help them gain the confidence of their business
Leona Chen, Founder, PureValidation
Participants discussed this market gap – coaching events catering specifically to idea- and early-stage start-ups – during one of the summary and reflection sessions. For such start-ups, the decisions their founders make this early can be intensely consequential for the futures of their ventures. As a particular example of the challenges bundled in this, founders need to set their scope when starting out to something that is both promising yet realistic, and these two qualities can conflict – especially when appeasing stakeholders such as investors.
However, the nature of the business itself can shift dramatically during this embryonic stage, as constraints and goals are fluid in this stage. While this might frustrate some founders for feeling like the ground beneath them is constantly shifting, it also allows them to quickly and (relatively) easily shift direction in the wake of new information.
From the perspective of an idea-stage entrepreneur, I got valuable feedback on.. how the product I brought to the workshop could bring more value to customers (improvements)… [The workshop also] helped me to realize that there could be more customers than the ones I was thinking of. This increases our market size.
Franco Sanchez Torres, Founder, Hato
Alongside increasing public awareness of the business formation process (facilitated by the inclusion of two non-participating spectators for Friday’s session), the above quote brings forth the type of impact the FINDER Start-Up Weekend was intended to have for the entrepreneurs. In early 2022, the project researchers will reach out to attendees to poll the progress they’ve made as a direct result of the weekend. We’ll write an update around the aggregated results of this inquiry shortly thereafter – stay tuned.
– S. James Ellis, ESR
Neither FINDER, its funding agency, nor their affiliates endorse, sponsor, nor take any responsibility for any present or future actions taken by entities referenced herein nor their agents.
This Fall, the FINDER Project team, in collaboration with Radboud Centre for Organization Restructuring and Atos will host a Start-Up Weekend on digital entrepreneurship, which will be of interest to both entrepreneurs and academics. Sign up here.
This Start-Up Weekend is a public event to help individuals with creative ideas for digital entrepreneurship start their innovation journey. This event intends to surround entrepreneurs with smart and passionate people, with the best tools and approaches that will help move towards creating their own business and connecting with the right people and resources. A wonderful opportunity for idea-stage start-ups with an eye towards a partnered, invested, or acquired future to workshop their ideas opposite a panel of industry experts and a group of the general public. Equally a great opening to provide for an academic perspective on the theme of collaboration for responsible innovation.
We foresee inspiring sessions and lively discussions with panelists/speakers from amongst others Philips, ING, TechQuartier Frankfurt and Atos.
Scheduled for the Fall, this Start-Up Weekend is especially geared towards those with a keen interest in entrepreneurship in the (fin)tech domain, and is organized with the intent to lower the hurdle to early career entrepreneurial activity. As part of a series of events to further tie in academia and business practice, the Start-Up Weekend will be another exciting opportunity to exchange ideas between practice and academia. Cementing for future collaborations in the domain of responsible innovation. In this series the FINDER Project Team and the Radboud Centre for Organization Restructuring prior hosted the Inclusive Digital Innovation Week in FS&I together with our project partner Atos.
Designed as an event that builds an innovative collaborative arrangement among established tech firms and start up enthusiasts, we highly encourage startups, university faculty members and students to sign on if interested.
We are currently looking into the possibility of hosting the Start-Up Weekend on site. However, pending further developments of the coronavirus pandemic, the workshop might be virtually hosted.
The panel of 5 general public members will have a unique opportunity to peer into the process of business creation, and this may be of scholarly interest for Master’s level students. Especially students who have it in mind to focus on entrepreneurial themes or business innovation as a topic in their thesis, this could be a valuable networking opportunity and a research flashpoint.
Interested applicants will need to stay keyed in to the group dialogues for the duration of the workshop and pitch in when they have ideas or when things don’t make sense to them, as their primary function is to keep the workshop grounded and from getting disconnected from consumer reality. Akin to product testing research, no specific expertise is required, and it’s not in the interest of the workshop for the general public members to emulate being professionals at something: just be your regular self.
Solving an MBA business case requires creating a balanced analysis of the situation and developing suitable strategic recommendations. However, in real life, analysts present their data and conclusions to managers with individual preferences. Having students consider these preferences might make them more successful.
Strategy development: top-down and bottom-up
Strategy can be developed top-down and bottom-up. For instance, a new CEO can set out a vision that implies strategic change (top-down). However, the vision could have also been strongly inspired by employees that achieved to bring their preferred topics to the management’s attention (bottom-up). The latter often involves a phenomenon known as issue selling: the process by which individuals within an organization bring ideas or concerns, solutions, and opportunities together in ways that focus others’ attention and invite action.
Issue selling at different levels within a company
Issue selling can take place at many levels within a company. Employees can try to build compelling cases to change the routines and processes within their team. Presenting these cases to their respective leader can support getting the so-called managerial buy-in and following a mandate for change. Even more so, at higher levels of a company, issue selling plays a crucial role. To convince top management of the importance of strategic considerations needs to be backed up by solid arguments. However, while there are widely shared interpretations of arguments, managers also hold idiosyncratic preferences for specific information.
Different strategic preferences of different managerial personalities
Since the development of the upper echelons theory by Hambrick and Mason, strategic scholars have investigated which role executive characteristics play in processing information and influencing the firm’s strategic actions. Researchers have paid attention to demographic characteristics like age and tenure, but also to more psychologically sound constructs like narcissism, overconfidence, and temporal and regulatory focus.
The example of CEO regulatory focus
Regulatory focus theory describes that decision-making can either occur through a promotion focus (a sensitivity to gains) or through a prevention focus (a sensitivity to losses). Managerial scholars have found that the regulatory foci of CEOs influence their preferences for strategic actions. Knowing whether a CEO is more likely to consider the opportunities or risks of choices that are presented to him or her can help analysts to structure their arguments to make their case more compelling.
How to implement managerial personalities in MBA business cases?
Oftentimes, MBA students implicitly incorporate their audience’s personality in their case solutions by thinking about the professor’s preferences. However, students first need to learn to separate between a solution supported by the case’s data and the audience’s preferences. Hence, the task is not to present the assumed best-liked solution but to present the solution they consider the best in a way that the audience likes. Therefore, adding a hypothetical manager’s personality to an MBA case as the target audience sharpens the students’ view of the need for issue selling and will help them empathically draw on managers’ characteristics when presenting their arguments.
 Hambrick, D. C., & Mason, P. A. (1984). Upper echelons: The organization as a reflection of its top managers. Academy of management review, 9(2), 193-206.
 Gamache, D. L., McNamara, G., Mannor, M. J., & Johnson, R. E. (2015). Motivated to acquire? The impact of CEO regulatory focus on firm acquisitions. Academy of Management Journal, 58(4), 1261-1282.