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Investing In U.S. Innovation, and More – Boston News

american industry

Let’s explore some of the most interesting stories that have emerged from Boston business schools this week.


The 1 Thing Your Company Should Add To Its Retirement Benefits MIT Sloan Newsroom

MIT Sloan Professor Lotte Bailyn took part in a three-year research study under HBS Professor of Business Administration Teresa Amabile to understand the “organizational, social, and psychological forces that can affect people’s retirement experiences.”

Bailyn outlined two strategies to help “pre- and early-retirement individuals manage their transition out of the workforce”:

  • The “Phase-down” strategy enables a “retiring employee to work less while receiving a percentage of their pay, plus benefits. At the end of the phase-down — which can range from months to a handful of years —the person retires.”
  • The “Contracted rehire” strategy allows companies to hire back employees on a contractual basis, which Bailyn explains, “allowed the company to get the specific niche knowledge that that person has, and by working with other people, employees in the organization could pass on that knowledge.”

Questrom School of Business Professor of Management Tim Hall, one of the researchers on the study, adds, “It’s surprising how little employing organizations are doing to help them [transition]— even though at the same time they’re interested in maybe helping people move on and opening up opportunities for younger people, they’re not. I think there’s a great opportunity cost they’re suffering by not doing that.”

You can find more information on the study here.

How the U.S. Can Rebuild Its Capacity to InnovateHarvard Business Review

There is a growing trend of companies across all industries choosing to “invent and manufacture abroad” in what Harvard Business School’s Willy Shih describes as a loss of “industrial commons.” According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, “nearly half of the foreign R&D centers established in China now belong to U.S.-based companies.”

Cut-off Saw Cutting Metal With Sparks

“Over recent decades, VCs have overwhelmingly focused on software and biotech investments over ‘hardware’ investments, closing additional doors to manufacturing innovations. It’s no wonder that so many promising manufacturing enterprises have to look abroad to simply get off the ground—let alone soar,” writes Sridhar Kota, Justin Talbot-Zorn, and Tom Mahoney.

The article recently outlines four principles the U.S. could use to reinvigorate its industrial ecosystems.

  1. Don’t Fear Picking Winners: “Rather than allowing promising R&D results to languish in labs or even be commercialized by foreign competitors, the U.S. should launch a National Innovation Foundation to invest in engineering and manufacturing R&D to mature emerging technologies and anchor their production onshore.”
  2. Invest in Hardware Startups and Scale-Ups: “U.S. policymakers can … build on existing resources to help innovative hardware startups and scale-ups succeed—particularly through domestic government procurement [the way] China has employed government procurement, strategic technology transfer, and domestic technology development to build its respected high-speed rail industry.”
  3. Mind the Mittelstand: Small and medium enterprises (SMMs) “amount to about 250,000 firms, or 98 percent of all manufacturing firms. By strengthening and supporting these firms, the U.S. could rebuild the backbone of its manufacturing sector.”
  4. Power to the People: “While American high schools typically require students to dissect a frog, few require students to disassemble a power tool. Exposure to real-world engineering is a crucial and cost-effective way to build interest in manufacturing careers—through either four-year engineering degrees or vocational training.”

You can find the entire HBR article on re-investing in American industry here.

Legacies Catching OnCarroll School News

BC Carroll School of Management Professor of Information Systems Gerald Kane recently put together a new research report as part of a gig guest editing the MIT Sloan Management Review’s Digital Business Initiative. The report, Coming of Age Digitally: Learning, Leadership, and Legacy, emphasizes the need for companies to foreground experimentation in their “digitally maturation” processes.

According to the Carroll School News, “Nimble businesses create the conditions for employees to take risks and try new things. The key to [prepare] for more digital disruption is to not simply hire but develop digital leaders.”

“Part of developing leaders means giving employees the time and space to acquire new skills, an area where many companies need to improve. Ninety percent of survey respondents said they need to update their digital skills at least yearly—and 44 percent said they need to do so ‘continually.’ Yet at ‘early-stage’ companies (which are paradoxically often the older companies), nearly 30 percent indicated that their employers offered little to no support to do so.”

You can read more about Kane’s research here.

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About the Author

Jonathan Pfeffer
Jonathan Pfeffer

Jonathan Pfeffer joined the Clear Admit and MetroMBA teams in 2015 after spending several years as an arts/culture writer, editor, and radio producer. In addition to his role as contributing writer at MetroMBA and contributing editor at Clear Admit, he is co-founder and lead producer of the Clear Admit MBA Admissions Podcast. He holds a BA in Film/Video, Ethnomusicology, and Media Studies from Oberlin College.

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