Knowledge at Wharton started out 10 years ago today in the middle of the dot.com boom. Since then, the world has experienced the dot.com bust; the rise of India and China as economic powers; significant developments in technology, including Napster, the iPhone and Facebook; the reshuffling of industries and companies, such as Toyota’s rise over GM as the world’s largest automaker; the changeover in leadership in both developed and developing countries, including the election of the first African-American president in the U.S.; and, most recently, the global financial crisis that many observers predict will reshape how the world conducts business.
This special section includes links to the most-read story from each of the site’s first 10 years. Reflecting their times, the articles cover topics ranging from the technology boom and leadership trends to online marketing and the sweep of globalization. Here’s to many more anniversaries and whatever the next decade brings.
Each week, the web-based, early-stage venture financing firm Garage.com receives hundreds of proposals from prospective high-tech startup companies looking for mentoring and investors. Only a few make it to “Heaven”—the section of the firm’s web site dedicated to showcasing promising startups for its venture capital members and individual investor “angels.” On September 27, Garage.com CEO and author of Rules for Revolutionaries Guy Kawasaki spoke at Wharton about Garage.com’s operations and the criteria for successful fundraising in today’s high-tech world. Witty, irreverent, and enlightening, Kawasaki discussed the makings of a good proposal, the need to swallow pride, and why all money is not created equal.
As the speculative froth around the dot-com boom subsides, companies are starting to realize that the Internet is serious business. For companies that want to approach entrepreneurial opportunities on the Internet seriously—and with a view to turning profits—a new research paper by Sendil Ethiraj, Isin Guler and Harbir Singh offers useful insights. The researchers provide a conceptual framework to analyze Internet strategies, and they also look at business models and examine their components. In addition, Ethiraj, Guler and Singh explore what makes some business models more effective than others.
Given recent increases in the use of stock options by both “new economy” and “old economy” companies, one might reasonably expect that employees – the beneficiaries of this perk – understand how options work. But according to recent research by Wharton professors David Larcker and Richard Lambert, employees tend to be relatively uninformed as to the basic economics of stock options, a finding that has important implications for employers, boards of directors and management consultants.
Ever since the Internet emerged as a sales channel in the 1990s, it has been thought that one of the chief advantages of e-commerce would be its ability to facilitate the customization of goods and services for consumers. That promise, however, is not yet close to being realized, according to experts at Wharton and an e-commerce research firm.
The recording industry has a pricing problem. People do not want to pay $15-20 for a compact disc when they can download the same music for free over the Internet. The industry’s solution appears as novel as the technology that is giving it such headaches: launch hundreds of lawsuits against otherwise law-abiding consumers who download music. As G. Richard Shell, a legal studies professor and author of a forthcoming book on competitive legal strategy, notes, this same tactic was tried 100 years ago against Henry Ford. It didn’t work then, and it won’t work today.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Nightly Business Report, the most watched daily business program on U.S. television, Wharton and NBR this month announced their list of the 25 most influential business leaders of the past 25 years. Andy Grove, co-founder of Intel, won the No. 1 position, but the list also included Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, John Bogle, Jeff Bezos, Jack Welch and Oprah Winfrey, among others. Can these leaders’ attributes help you become a better business leader in your own organization?
Marcus Buckingham knows enough about good management to know he’s not a good manager. The author of First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently and The One Thing You Need to Know, Buckingham says the best managers share one talent — the ability to find, and then capitalize upon, their employees’ unique traits. "The guiding principle is, ‘How can I take this person’s talent and turn it into performance?’" he asked during a presentation at the Wharton Leadership Conference on June 9. Buckingham talked about good vs. poor managers, and the need for leaders to display optimism, clarity, and an ego big enough that they can "build a future for their companies."
Popular social network sites, including MySpace and Facebook, are changing the human fabric of the Internet and have the potential to pay off big for investors, but — given their youthful user base — they are unusually vulnerable to the next new fad. As quickly as users flock to one trendy Internet site, they can just as quickly move on to another with no advance warning, according to Wharton faculty and Internet analysts, who offer some ideas on how these new sites can both increase user loyalty and generate revenues.
You know the type: coworkers who never have anything positive to say, whether at the weekly staff meeting or in the cafeteria line. They can suck the energy from a brainstorming session with a few choice comments. Their negativity can contaminate even good news. "We engage in emotional contagion," says Wharton management professor Sigal Barsade. "Emotions travel from person to person like a virus." Barsade is the co-author of a new paper that looks at the impact of employees’ moods, emotions, and overall dispositions on job performance.
At the beginning of 2008, crude prices are at record highs, creating immense wealth for oil-exporting nations in the Middle East. Yet the Arab economies also face what economists call "a demographic bulge of a fast-growing labor force" — and the challenge of creating enough jobs for the population. This is happening at a time when the arrival of China and India is raising the competitive stakes for other emerging economies that want to make their mark on the global economic stage. How are the Arab economies dealing with these challenges? Howard Pack, a professor of business and public policy at Wharton, and Marcus Noland, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, address these issues in a book titled, The Arab Economies in a Changing World. Knowledge at Wharton recently spoke with Pack about his book.