When business management rhymes with social context

Photo Dustin M. Lemelin, Wikimedia
Photo Dustin M. Lemelin, Wikimedia

Institutional Communication Service

12 December 2017

Nowadays executives face responsibilities that go beyond the efficient management of production. In modern markets, firms operate not only as profit maximizers creating value for their shareholders but also as engaged members of the social community to which they belong. Holding responsibilities that extend well beyond profit maximization, today firms are called to cope with more and more complex organizational challenges. 

To study the management challenges faced by modern organizations, the USI Faculty of Economics has created the Institute of Management and Organization (IMO), an evolution of the Institute of Management. The new Institute, chaired by Professor Filippo Carlo Wezel, focuses its research on the social context in which organizational behavior takes shape. Research at IMO focuses primarily on the social processes underlying organizational learning, the emergence and evolution of status and organizational identity, the antecedent and consequences of managerial mobility, the dynamics supporting family entrepreneurship, and the tactical and operational decisions that affect humanitarian organisations. 

An example of this approach is provided by the article titled “The Structural Origins of Unearned Status: How Arbitrary Changes in Categories Affect Status Position and Market Impact”, recently published in the Administrative Science Quarterly by Matteo Prato, an assistant professor at IMO. This research emphasizes the central role that the status of economic actors plays in the markets. The article studies in particular the crescent role that third-party rankings play in shaping consumers’ perceptions. The study shows that changing the position in the rankings of economic actors influences consumer behavior, even when these changes are not directly related to the quality of the actors themselves. The findings of Prof. Prato suggest that markets are less rational than we think and that the destiny of market actors can be marked by social dynamics that may transcend their ability to generate profits. (The article is available at http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0001839217727706

The new academic direction taken by the Institute of Management and Organization will lead also to the creation of three streams of specialization within the Master in Management. Starting from the academic year 2018-2019, the study curriculum will include a choice of specializations in the following fields: Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Organization and Human Resource Management, and Managing Socially Responsible Firms. The academic and professional competences of IMO faculty members are also offered within the USI Executive MBA program.