Research and the Real World

Columbia Business School’s approach to thought leadership is constantly informed in real time by the global business environment. Columbia Business School is highly regarded for harnessing the powerful partnership between theory and practice. Its groundbreaking research from renowned and award-winning faculty influences business practices and public policy in every sector. For the latest thought leadership at Columbia Business School, please visit CBS Insights.

Some representative examples of the Columbia Business School’s; research and its impact in the real world are outlined in several case studies below:

Generational Differences in the Workplace Research Project

A partnership with SAP Global Marketing, Inc.

Columbia Business School’s Private Equity program has partnered with SAP on a study of generational differences in the workplace. Led by Professor Donna M. Hitscherich, Senior Lecturer in Discipline in Business and director of the Private Equity Program, and Damon Phillips, the James P. Gorman Professor of Business Strategy, the study aims to explore cultural and generational differences among the Baby Boomers, GenX and Millennials in the financial services/finance industry with the objective to look at ways to “bridge the gap” and to utilize and harness each generation’s strengths.

The research specifically seeks answers to the following questions:

  1. Are there measurable (generational) differences beyond age, tenure, and position between senior level practitioners in the financial services/finance industry on the one hand, and their younger counterparts both in the industry and MBA programs on the other?
  2. Are there differences that appear to be generational but are in actually due to other factors? Are any differences that appear to be generational a function of different nationalities, backgrounds, or industry orientation?
  3. Are there differences across generations’ view of work, employers and subordinate-supervisor relationships? Are there differences that are associated with technological engagement? Do any differences between generations occur more often in certain types of organizations compared to others? Are there contexts in which members of different generations share the same values?

The research will inform both students and professionals looking to enter and thrive in the financial industry, as well as senior level practitioners who are looking to find and utilize the best talent. The research also aims to inform discussions on differences in workplace norms (work life balance, motivation, etc.).

Diversity and Inclusion for All: Understanding the Intersection of Multiple Characteristics

A partnership with Credit Suisse

In fall 2012, Katherine W. Phillips, the Paul Calello Professor of Leadership and Ethics, partnered with signature sponsor Credit Suisse to launch a new, interdisciplinary research group focused on theoretical and practical issues diversity and inclusion: “Diversity and Inclusion for All: Understanding the Intersection of Multiple Characteristics.”

Professor Phillips’ working group brings together academic experts from social psychology, sociology, organizational, legal, and network science, as well as industry executives from Credit Suisse, Citi, and Goldman, Sachs & Company, to share recent research developments in the area of diversity, integrate practical implications from corporate experience, and shape future research questions that may help to identify potential policy and diversity practice changes within organizations.

The group has held two major meetings to date on November 30, 2012, and June 21, 2013. Participants included 21 academics from institutions including Columbia University (Business School and School of Law), Harvard Business School, Yale School of Management, UCLA Law, NYU Law, Stanford University, Kellogg School of Management, and numerous others, as well as diversity leadership from Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs.

Cognitive Capabilities, Decision-Making Ability, and Financial Outcomes across the Lifespan

A partnership with the National Endowment for Financial Education

The National Endowment for Financial Education is supporting a research project which aims to better explain both younger and older people's financial situations and aid their financial decisions by understanding how financial behaviors relate to cognitive ability and financial ability. Led by Eric Johnson, the Norman Eig Professor of Business, the project explores three fundamental questions about financial literacy: (1) How does financial competence vary across the lifespan? Older adults outperformed younger adults on laboratory measures of financial decision-making ability, but are they also better in terms of real-world financial performance? (2) Does the increase seen in older adults’ crystalized intelligence compensate for their decreases in fluid intelligence for actual financial behavior? (3) Do these relationships hold when other factors, such as income and education, are controlled for?

This project will produce a better understanding of the relationships between cognitive capabilities, financial decision-making ability, and real-world financial outcomes. Specifically, the research will have three specific outcomes: 1) a statistically-derived financial outcome factor structure (i.e., how components of financial performance are inter-related), 2) a structural equation model measuring and quantifying the aforementioned relationships, and 3) understanding of how these relationships vary with age. This knowledge will allow a determination of how financial decision making ability contributes to a range of real-world financial outcomes above and beyond pure cognitive capability and how these relationships change over the lifespan.

Workforce Transformation Initiative

A partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch

With support from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the Workforce Transformation Initiative at Columbia Business School comprises three important and impactful research initiatives:

  1. A project entitled “The Nature of Work and the Career Paths of Women,” led by Ann Bartel, the Merrill Lynch Professor of Workforce Transformation. The project aims to support Bank of America’s efforts to study the retention of women.
  2. A series of studies on “The State of Women Business Leaders in New York State,” in partnership with the Women’s Executive Circle of New York (WECNY), also led by Professor Bartel. These quantitative research studies evaluate the state of women in executive positions in the top 100 public companies headquartered in NY. The most recent study, the third in a series of annual reports, 2011 New York Census: The State of Women Business Leaders In New York, was made available to the NY business community and state and city legislators and policymakers in fall 2013.
  3. A project entitled “Interpersonal Reading and Relating,” led by Daniel Ames, Professor of Management, and Malia Mason, the Gantcher Associate Professor of Business. This project explores interpersonal reading and relating, including work on the delivery of performance feedback and evaluations, the dynamics of constructive conflict, and judgmental pooling as a process for reading others more effectively.

10,000 Women

A partnership with Goldman Sachs

From 2008 to 2012, Columbia Business School partnered with Goldman Sachs in 10,000 Women, a global effort to provide 10,000 underserved women, predominantly in developing and emerging markets, with business and management education. Led by Murray Low, Director of Entrepreneurship Education at the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center, the School’s participation in the 10,000 Women program focused on building capacity at two African partner schools, the United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya and the University of Dar es Salaam in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Columbia Business School faculty members working on the ground in Africa collaborated with other partner schools to develop high-quality programming that was customized to the local business environment, with a special emphasis on underserved women. The program featured such capacity-building activities as co-teaching and faculty mentoring; curriculum development, including case studies and courses in entrepreneurship, finance and nonprofit management; PhD mentoring and research-methodology seminars; and student consulting projects. Faculty members also consulted in the development of certificate programs in entrepreneurship and business management for women. In this way, the initiative invested in the exponential power of women as entrepreneurs and managers as a means of reducing inequality and ensuring long-term sustainable growth of African economies.