Two McIntire School of Commerce Professors Win Prestigious MIT Award


The editors of Sloan Management Review at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently announced that Rob Cross and Peter Gray, professors at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, and industry coauthors Robert Thomas, Shirley Cunningham and Mark Showers are the winners of the 2012 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize.

In their award-winning 2010 article, titled "The Collaborative Organization: How to Make Employee Networks Really Work," the authors present ways in which the most effective organizations use employee networks to "reduce costs, improve efficiency and spur innovation."

The leading question of the research, as summarized by the journal, asks how companies can build more collaborative and innovative organizations. The research response: Executives should analyze employee collaboration networks to discover how high-performing individuals and teams connect; networks should be designed to optimize the flow of good ideas across function, distance and technical specialty; and organizations should use network analysis to show where too much connectivity slows decision-making and execution.

"The article is a product of McIntire's efforts to span academia and practice through sponsorship of consortia and other interactions with corporations," Cross said. "These efforts not only benefit the students here, but also produce case examples and data sets that are impacting both scholarly and applied work for a number of faculty efforts at McIntire. The collaboration between industry and academia is a real testament to McIntire's leadership in valuing and creating space for this kind of research."

Gray said he appreciates the working interaction with faculty and external coauthors. "McIntire has a great tradition of working closely with thought leaders in industry; it's a real honor when the product of this kind of collaboration is recognized and celebrated," he said.

The Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize is awarded annually to the authors of the most outstanding MIT Sloan Management Review article on planned change and organizational development from the previous academic year. The late Beckhard, a former member of the Sloan School of Management faculty, was a founder and architect of this field. The prize will be announced in the journal's fall 2012 issue and was featured in its fall preview newsletter,  as well as in Improvisations, a journal blog.

This is the second research award received by Cross and Gray this summer. A paper coauthored by Cross, Gray, McIntire professor Gary Ballinger and Accenture's Elizabeth Craig, titled "A Stitch in Time Saves Nine: Leveraging Networks to Reduce the Costs of Turnover," won the Academy of Management Organizational Behavior Division's 2012 Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication Award for the best paper published during 2011. This annual award recognizes the paper making the most significant contribution to the practice of management in the field of organizational behavior.

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Beth Schmid

Senior Writer McIntire School of Commerce