AMR recognizes Duke Professor for a second time

Sim Sitkin, director of the Behavioral Science & Policy Center, has received the 2012 Academy of Management (AMR) Best Paper award for the second time in five years.

The mission of the AMR is to publish new theoretical insights that advance our understanding of management and organization. According to the AMR website, it publishes novel, insightful and carefully crafted conceptual work that challenges conventional wisdom concerning all aspects of organizations and their roles in society.

“It is an honor to have our work recognized by The Academy of Management Review, which is the top theory journal in the field of management and organizational science. My colleagues and I worked very hard on this paper to try to take a popular (but poorly understood) feature of current organizations, since prior research has the potential to help organizational leaders and policymakers pursue innovation in more systematic and effective ways – taking more risks when appropriate and avoiding them when pursuing them would be unwise,” Sitkin said. “To win such a prestigious award twice is humbling, but speaks to how lucky I have been over the years to work with great colleagues and have wonderful Ph.D. students. “

Only one other person has won the award twice, Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford Professor, who was one of Sitkin’s advisors. Sitkin describes Pfeffer as a big influence in his field and someone he greatly admires. He said he is “honored to have followed in his footsteps.”

In Paradox of Stretch Goals: Organizations in Pursuit of the Seemingly Impossible, Sitkin set out to research if setting stretch goals or very ambitious objectives can make companies more innovative. Researchers involved with the study reviewed case studies, such as Southwest Airline’s campaign to turn around flights in 10 minutes, and studies what compels some companies to reach for overly ambitious goals.

Sitkin and his team discovered an intriguing find in ambitious goals at companies with strong financial resources tend to free up employee creativity, but those resources also lessen the urgency to make big changes.

Read the paper

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