A Reinvent Fellow completes her PhD

Aldis Sigurdardottir, who was seconded at i3D in Gliwice and Stormsalen in Horsens as part of the Reinvent project, has successfully defended her PhD thesis at Reykjavik University. Her thesis is entitled “Tactics in B2B Negotiations in SMEs”. Her empirical work is in part based on data collected as part of the Reinvent project.

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Aldis Sigurdardottir, at the center of the photo, along with her Thesis Committee and External Examiners.

 

Thesis Abstract:

This thesis deals with negotiation tactics in business-to-business (B2B) settings.  The term negotiation tactics refers to negotiator behavior, both verbal and non-verbal, throughout the negotiation process.  The aim of this thesis is to examine the negotiation tactics used in actual, real-life B2B settings, and to explore what drives and influences negotiation behavior.  The term negotiation tactics is well established in the negotiation literature, but the study of negotiation tactics has mainly focused on distinguishing among different types of tactics (e.g. ethical vs. non-ethical, aggressive vs. non-aggressive, competitive vs. cooperative).  Actual, real-life use of negotiation tactics in B2B negotiations has been less studied.  Because of the scarcity of research in this area, a research strategy combining qualitative and quantitative research methods was adopted for this project, which is built around three academic papers.  Empirical data were collected from B2B small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in four European countries: Iceland, Poland, Denmark, and Germany.  The subject material is viewed through various theoretical lenses, including Social Network Theory, B2B Marketing Theory, Expectancy Theory, Principal-Agent Theory, and Hofstede’s cultural dimensions.  This thesis summarizes the papers’ main findings and resulting contributions to theory and practice.  The findings of the first paper, which focuses on B2B negotiations in creative sectors and employs a case research methodology, indicate that negotiators in creative sectors use negotiation tactics whose underlying aim is to prioritize negotiators’ ability to create rather than securing economic gain.  A category of negotiation tactics not anticipated by the existing literature—referred to as closure seeking tactics—was identified in the creative sector firms study.  The findings of the second paper, which are based on observations of live, real-time negotiations, indicate that there are differences between buyers’ and sellers’ uses of negotiation tactics and that usage varies depending on a negotiator’s selected negotiation strategy.  The findings further indicate that variable pay influences the negotiation behavior of both buyers and sellers and is associated with the use of competitive negotiation strategies, including distributive negotiation tactics, which could jeopardize firms’ long-term business relationships.  Finally, the findings of the third paper, which reports on quantitative survey-based research, suggest that the use of integrative negotiation tactics is positively related to market performance and that this relationship is strengthened when combined with the use of distributive negotiation tactics.  Based on a comparison between data collected in a risk-averse culture (Poland) and a risk-taking culture (Denmark), the findings indicate that in the risk-taking culture the use of integrative negotiation tactics is not related to market performance and the use of distributive negotiation tactics is negatively related to market performance.  In the risk-averse culture, the use of both integrative and distributive tactics is positively related to market performance.  Together, these findings suggest that in a culture where integrative negotiation tactics are expected, their use might not constitute a competitive advantage, which could explain the lack of a statistically significant relationship with market performance.  Meanwhile, in a culture where distributive negotiation tactics might be the norm, the use of integrative tactics might constitute a competitive advantage.  Overall, the findings of this research confirm the importance of better understanding negotiation tactics in B2B settings.

What are you looking for (in life)?

For reinvention any excuse will do – even, or especially, a holiday season. The beginning of the New Year may be a very effective way of motivating yourself to do some reinventing.

A new and already very popular advertising mini-movie produced by the biggest Polish online selling platform Allegro, emphasizes what is the most important for Christmas, in this case, but not only, because it refers to the most important human needs and values. The story is simple, authentic, funny and touching. It breaks stereotypes associated with cultural and language barriers. It shows also a reinvented way of overcoming age-related barriers. Its main message is that if you want something badly enough, you will achieve it – regardless of age.

The advertisement refers to the problem of emigration and separation from the loved ones. In this context, it encourages reinventing the attitude of the older generation to some real life problems, such as language barriers. The story shows an older man who ordered a course “English for beginners” and learns it with adorable resourcefulness and perseverance. The ad also touches a very delicate sphere of human feelings in a charming and non pushy manner, without any ideological overtones. For the Polish audience it is a very real and emotional story and probably not only for the Poles, because the issue of longing for the loved ones and building family ties despite the geographic distance is likely very important to all of us. There are no words to express it precisely.  See for yourself!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tU5Rnd-HM6A

On a more practical note, here are some fun ideas for reinventing decorations for the holiday season from pupils and teachers from the “Splot” School in Nowy Sącz, Poland, who gave new life to used plastic water bottles and cast library books in new roles.

Magdalena Rzeznik writing from the Center for Innovatics, Nowy Sacz Business School – National-Louis University, Poland

 

Reinvention in spite of trade-offs

Constraints have always been a basic fact of life for managers and engineers. Managerial constraints are of financial, legal, administrative, ethical or biological nature and they limit what the manager can set out to accomplish. Some constraints exist simply due to our biological limitations or imperfections. However, here I would like to discuss a more devious type of constraints, namely those involving trade-offs.

Trade-offs are situations in which one cannot have it both ways: either a choice or a compromise must result. Unless of course, we can find an innovative solution that makes the entire dilemma obsolete. Developing new products is inevitably connected with creating new, previously unknown, technological dilemmas, e. g. battery life limiting the clock speed of computer processors. The constraints encountered in product development involve the properties of the materials used (their cost, availability, elasticity, malleability, conductivity, energy use), conditions in which the product will be used (density of the medium, temperature, humidity, toxicity), or the types of users (teenagers, graphic artists, scientists).

How to make a product that is both thin and rigid, or large and light, or delicate and durable? One of the approaches is comprehensive, sophisticated experimentation. Genrikh Altshuller undertook an alternative path. He analyzed hundreds of thousands of patents, searching for patterns of innovative thinking in the ways in which inventors claimed to have solved these dilemmas (or, what he called, technical antinomies). His “invention algorithm” was a codification of all the tricks of the trade used by inventors in getting around the trade-offs*.

Similar dilemmas exist in the world of management. How to make a firm’s organizational structure both flat and specialized and reduce the span of control? How to reconcile empowering employees with an autocratic style of leadership? One of the most ubiquitous and vexing trade-offs are the simultaneous dilemmas of short- vs long-term managerial decisions. The manager must decide between short-term financial needs and long-term investment in research & development. It is the daily expenditures that keep the company alive, but long-term, visionary allocations of funds into innovations may keep the company from becoming extinct. Unfortunately, one cannot allocate more funds both to research & development and to all other functions combined, since the financial pie is finite.

But wait! The pie is finite, but it itself may grow! This can allow all needs and functions to be supported, just as a growing demand for a product allows all competitors to enjoy win-win situations. And how to maximize quality of a product, and minimize its cost? A modern view no longer sees it as a traditional trade-off, but rather an optimistic “trade-on” produced by total quality management and a revolutionary, niche-creating, innovative thinking.

A simple-minded pro-innovation attitude is not enough, though. A vital trade-off is responsible for Clayton Christensen’s “innovator’s dilemma” of allocating resources to, what he calls, sustaining vs. disruptive technologies. They are both innovations, but the former are too conservative and may not guarantee survival. So, reinvention requires guts!

 
Michal Jasienski (jasienski@post.harvard.edu), writing from the Center for Innovatics, Nowy Sacz Business School – National-Louis University, Poland

*This issue is discussed in a paper written by myself and Magdalena Rzeźnik (supported by the REINVENT project and available from our ResearchGate profiles): “Business models rethought: applying the heuristic methods of Altshuller and Osborn to improve an organization’s fitness in a variable environment.” In: “Organization in changing environment. Conditions, methods and management practices” (B. Domańska-Szaruga, T. Stefaniuk, eds.), pp. 100-109. Wydawnictwo Studio Emka, Warsaw, 2014. ISBN 978-83-64437-19-9.

The relentless generation of digital content

We can’t stop the creation of digital content. The Internet is full of content – and garbage. People do not read; they scan pictures. People are busy, pretending to consume more and more information. Along these lines, this post is short and includes a picture.

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Image: Erik Fitzpatrick licensed CC BY 2.0

By creating good stories we can make our voice stronger and publish more content. Good storytelling has always been a valuable skill. Storytelling applies to everyone who interacts with other people: in business, research, education and in family life.

Digital storytelling brings together digital content, including images, sound and video, to create a short movie, including a strong emotional component.

Today, everyone is a storyteller. Everyone can create content using a smartphone or tablet. The vast number of non-professionals armed with their mobile devices, sharing pictures with friends; these people are not trying to make money.

In “the content noise” era, there is a significant growth in demand for high quality content.  For professionals it is  important to  provide  the  right  content,  to  the  right  people  in  the  right moment. And it is important to support users who are at the same time content creators and content consumers. We can’t stop the creation of digital content, but we can manage it. Undoubtedly content management is becoming a lucrative business opportunity.

Joanna Bubala, writing from i3D, inspired by NEM SUMMIT 2016

NEM (New European Media) nem-initiative.org is an initiative to support Europe’s activities on the Future Internet and Future Media Internet as major innovation area.