Monday, July 27, 2015

July: Sabbatical Officially Over, But It's Still Summer!

OK, so I said the last entry would be my final sabbatical post. However, I find myself still in sabbatical mode: working from home (updating my data base, twitter feed, and blog) and trying to get a long walk in each day. So far I've received two rejections for my book. Still waiting to hear from Michigan State, but expect that to be a rejection also since they didn't really have an editor for business books to send it to. Trying to decide whether to send out another round.

The Peniche campus of Leiria University, where the GBATA conference was held
This month I also presented a paper at the Global Business and Technology Association's 17th annual conference - this year in Portugal.  The conference was held in a beautiful, but rather out-of-the way place (Peniche) on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. We spent a good portion of each of the four days of the conference traveling in a bus to and from the university where the actual presentations were made and to some great venues for dinner at night. Before and after the conference, John and I spent some time in Lisbon and also visited a few of the old hill towns, Sintra and Obidos. We loved Portugal and would recommend it to anyone! The conference itself was a mixed bag: I heard a few very interesting presentations (one on the new "blue economy" was particularly interesting) and made some good contacts (it seems like a quarter of the conference attendees were from South Africa; also had an interesting dinner conversation with a Greek couple).
View of the Atlantic coastline from the Peniche University campus.
The closing dinner for the conference was held at the amazing Batalha Monastery

Received some great news over the weekend that my research is having an effect in the "real" world. A few months ago I had been discussing my research with a Hope grad who seemed quite interested in it. I saw her again over the weekend and she reported that the firm she works for is over 50 years old and going through the transition to the next generation of leaders. She mentioned my research to her boss (the CFO and second generation), particularly the point about long-lived firms being active members of their local community. Since their firm was not involved with their community in any way, she suggested that if they want to succeed for another 50 years this might be something for them to consider. At the next executive team meeting the CFO brought this up and it was enthusiastically reinforced by the HR manager as a great way to involve employees. They have started a Friday afternoon food bank activity that many employees immediately volunteered to take part in -- she said the excitement about this initiative among employees is evident. Can't wait to hear more updates! This has always been my hope for the research - that young companies wanting to "live" a long life will employ the management practices of the old companies. Whether one calls them survival practices, shared value, stakeholder theory, or the "next" evolution of capitalism, it seems clear to me that all constituents benefit when a firm manages along the lines of these old companies.