Kathleen Curley: Promoting Emerging Businesses while Achieving Performance Goals

This project has focused on the question of how organizations structure themselves to handle the [...]twin challenges of promoting innovation and the emergence of new products while maintaining the management focus necessary to drive performance in the company's ongoing core business. Our research revealed that the lack of an effective screening process for the effective transplant of new businesses is much more of a challenge for organizations than a lack of attention to emerging opportunities. We found it useful to categorize the firms we studied based on their strategic scope since we found in this characterization some common elements of organizational structure as well as common risks associated with their long term sustainability. For broadly focused firms the immediate challenge is not to over reach but rather focus on integrating products into your core. However the continued focus on short term profitability and integration means that without a specific process new products will not have a chance of making it into the firm's future strategy. For the narrowly focused firms, their organizational structure supports tight focus which can leave them open to failure to move into new markets when their existing one declines. In essence, they need to clone themselves. That is, find an adjacent market with a new group of customers who can benefit from their existing core strengths. Narrowly focused firms are experts in understanding the needs of their existing customers and at least in the sample of companies we studied, extremely adept at meeting those needs even when it requires substantial technological innovation. What they lack is the ability to take their existing competencies and gain new customers. For narrow focus firms, their screening process should be focused on finding new opportunities beyond their existing customers where their core capabilities can be utilized.

Tags: faculty, boston university, research, School of Management, faculty research day

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