Dimensionering en ommer

Denne uge skrev jeg følgende debatindlæg til Dagbladet, som blev bragt 20. marts 2019:

“For nyligt udtalte uddannelses- og forskningsminister Tommy Ahlers meget sympatisk til Dagbladet at studerende skal vælge uddannelse med ”passion”, og ”ikke ud fra jobstatistik eller andre menneskers forventninger” (9. marts 2019). Jeg er rørende enig med Ministeren, men det tror jeg hverken hans eget embedsværk, eller hans politiske forgængere fra rød og blå blok er.

De har nemlig de sidste år bygget et system på antagelser om hvad samfundet har brug for, fremfor hvad individet har lyst til. Et system som bruger (gammel) jobstatistik til at tvinge studerende ud i den ene frem for den anden uddannelse. Dette blev hamret fast med syvtommerssøm da den ledighedsbaserede dimensionering af videregående uddannelser blev iværksat i efteråret 2015.

Ideen med dimensionering var at sætte loft på optagelsen til en lang række uddannelser, baseret på historiske ledighedstal. Som i det gamle Sovjet, fik universiteter kvoter fra ministeriet som skulle overholdes. Men grundlæggende baserer hele dimensioneringstanken sig på to helt banale fejlagtige antagelser.

Den første fejl er at man i ministeriet antager at en studerende ender med at benytte sin uddannelse, direkte, i både sit første job, og resten af arbejdslivet. Dette er sjældent tilfældet. For det første ender dimittender i alle mulige forskellige jobs rundt omkring i det private og det offentlige, som nogle gange relaterer sig direkte, andre gange kun indirekte, eller ikke i det hele taget, til den uddannelse de har valgt. Sådan er det i et frit og åbent arbejdsmarked. For det andet vil den gennemsnitlige dimittend i dag blive på arbejdsmarkedet i 45-55 år. I den tid vil det være helt normalt at skifte både arbejdsgiver og funktion mange gange. Høj eller lav efterspørgsel efter ens uddannelse lige præcis i dag behøver man derfor ikke gå så meget op i.

Den anden fejl er at man antager at kunne forudse hvad arbejdsmarkedet har brug for i fremtiden, ud fra jobstatistik fra fortiden. Det luget lidt for meget af planlægningsøkonomi. Optagelseskvoter på bachelor i dag, og dermed hvilke dimittender skal udklækkes som kandidater tidligst i 2024, baseres på arbejdsløshedstal fra 2005 til 2014. Man benytter altså op til 15 år gamle tal til at detailplanlægge ”dimittendproduktionen” mindst 5 år frem i tiden. En 20-25 års planlægningshorisont. Sandheden er at hverken politikkere, embedsmænd, eller universitetsledelser, har en jordisk chance for at forudse hvordan samfund, teknologi, og det danske arbejdsmarked ser ud mange år ud i fremtiden.

Dimensioneringen er en ommer…”

Resource Orchestration and Integration

What happens if you hire great people, invest in great technology, secure proper finances, yet there is poor integration between all these resources? The recently developed resource orchestration theory studies the processes by which managers handle resources to create competitive advantages. According to this theory, it is the way that resources interact with each other that results in advantage. In our brand new study, together with colleagues Stuart Barnes and Jan Mattsson, we discuss and develop a scale and methodology for measuring resource integration, i.e. the alignment, or fit between resources. We see the approach introduced in this paper both in the context of further research on integration and its consequences and as a practical tool for companies. Best of all, this paper was published as open access – so anyone can read and download it for free.

Read it online here: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/IJOA-05-2018-1427

Or download it here: Sund Barnes Mattsson 2018 IJOA-05-2018-1427

Interview in Pamplona

I was recently interviewed by prof. Sandra Cavero at the Universidad Publica de Navarra, where I was a visiting professor this fall.



Where are the Students?

Student absenteeism represents a growing problem in higher education, yet one that many academics and university administrations refuse to face. Some use the excuse of Humboldtian ideals of academic freedom to maintain that students should be allowed to choose whether or not to attend classes. Yet, mounting evidence suggests a) that absenteeism is rampant, and b) that students benefit from attending. This last finding should not be surprising, as it simply demonstrates that the learning activities that take place in university actually result in superior learning than staying home to read a book. This is as it should be. In our recent paper on this issue we bring further evidence for the positive attendance effect, and argue that universities should consider adopting relevant attendance policies where this makes sense.

Read the full paper here: Sund & Bignoux 2018 Final

Has Higher Education Policy become too One-Sided?

In a recent paper co-authored with a group of former students, we use critical discourse analysis to trace the development of higher education policy discourse in Denmark from the late 1970s until today. We find that the discourse has moved from a pluralistic one embracing not only the economic benefits of education, but also emphasizing on democracy, citizenship, and equality, towards a predominantly economic one, focused squarely on notions of globalization and competitiveness in a knowledge society. Are politicians neglecting all the wider benefits of education in their quest to satisfy the job market?

Read the full paper here: Political discourse on higher education in Denmark from enlightened citizen to homo economicus

Business Model Innovation in the Media Industry

Together with PhD student and former media business executive Henrik Jensen I have been studying how business models are changed by incumbent firms. Some of the results have now been published in an article in Journal of Media Business Studies. Digital entrants have changed the competitive landscape for advertisers and media. Over the past decade, media agencies have grown more rapidly than the media market as a whole, securing a larger share of the value generated in the advertising industry. We develop a process model describing how these agencies have altered their business models over a decade. We discuss three separate stages in this innovation process, labelled business model innovation (BMI) awareness, business model exploration, and business model exploitation. We find and document how different building blocks of the business model are a focal point of innovation in each stage of the BMI process. Our findings offer a way for the media industry to understand the transformation of media agencies. The full text can be found here: Jensen & Sund 2017 Final.

Symposium on Methods in Cognition Research

At the 2018 Academy of Management Meeting in Chicago, I will be organizing a panel symposium on “Methodological Challenges and Advances in  Managerial and Organizational Cognition”. The symposium is sponsored by both the Managerial and Organizational Cognition and Research Methods divisions of the Academy, and I am already looking forward to great discussions with my fellow organizers and panelists: Gerard Hodgkinson, Mark Healey, Karen Nokes, Daniella Laureiro Martinez, and Robert Galavan. The panel follows in the heels of the recently published book of the same name. The book and its various chapters can be found at this link: https://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/book/10.1108/S2397-52102017


Book Series Available as Free Download

Eight years ago, I met for lunch with Derek Osborn, a postal expert with decades of experience, to discuss an idea: Could we engage postal experts and thought leaders in a meaningful dialogue about the future of this important industry, in the face of digitalization and other radical changes?

Out of this simple idea came a book series, a number of seminars and many talks to and with managers from numerous countries and continents. We rediscovered the many faces of postal strategy, transformation and innovation, richly illustrated through the unique perspectives of people working for, with, and around this fascinating industry, in Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa.

Now out of print, this collection of essays on the future of the post remains unique, and in agreement with the original publisher, Libri Publishing, I am proud to make the three volumes, as well as the later published collected essays, available as a free download.

The Future is in the Post volume 1

The Future is in the Post volume 2

The Future is in the Post volume 3

The 2013 published anthology, a sort of “best of” the first three volumes, can be found here: https://www.academia.edu/36090297/The_Future_is_in_the_Post_an_Anthology_of_Perspectives

Please feel free to read, share, and cite this work. To cite these publications:

Sund, K. J. & Osborn, D. (2010). The future is in the post: perspectives on strategy in the postal industry. Faringdon: Libri Publishing

Osborn, D., & Sund, K. J. (2011). The future is in the post II: perspectives on transformation in the postal industry. Faringdon: Libri Publishing

Sund, K. J. & Osborn, D. (2012). The future is in the post III: perspectives on innovation in the postal industry. Faringdon: Libri Publishing

Sund, K. J. & Osborn, D. (2014). The future is in the post: an anthology of perspectives. Faringdon: Libri Publishing

The Emperor’s New Clothes: why Old Firms Fail

A quick search online reveals that half of the Fortune 500 firms of the year 2000, have by now ceased to exist, either because they have been merged with other firms, or because they have gone bankrupt. Look at the really long term, say 60 years back, and only one in ten firms are still on that list. What’s going on?

If big businesses are those that benefit from advantages like economies of scale, strong capabilities, high R&D capacity, and advantaged access to investors, politicians, and other actors, then why do so many big businesses fail to survive over the long term? A lot has been written about this theme, and one explanation may be that such firms find it difficult to innovate – not in the sense of coming up with new products, but in the sense of coming up with the next “big thing”.

Managing New Business Models in Old Companies
In our recent MIT Sloan Management Review article we discuss some of the things managers need to look out for when trying to launch new business models in old companies. Our research points to three key areas of tension almost any existing business will face if it attempts to discover entirely new business models. Whether management succeeds in handling those tensions will determine their success in identifying and implementing new business models.

1.  Don’t settle too quickly on structure. Experimenting with the right structure to accomodate both old and new business models is an important dimension of business model innovation.

2. Balance top management support and experimentation. On the one hand, developing new business models will only be successful if the initiative is supported by top management. For example, such new business models may take time to become profitable. On the other hand, top management need to let people involved engage with the necessary experimentation, and not try to control or limit creativity.

3. Expect a power struggle for resources. A tension is bound to emerge concerning how many resources to devote to the old core business, and to the new emerging one.

As we note in the article: “The tensions we highlight imply that the design of an organizational structure that accommodates both new and older business models needs to be considered an intricate part of business model innovation. Organizational design has to be questioned and experimented with as part of the exploration. A top management team that is prepared for such exploration and aware of the organizational dimension of business model exploration may well be more likely to succeed at business model innovation.

To cite: 

Sund, K. J., Bogers, M., Villarroel, J. A., & Foss, N. (2016). Managing tensions between new and existing business models. MIT Sloan Management Review, 57(4), 8.