Leading Through Innovation

California Management Review Turns 50

California Management Review Turns 50

Management guru Peter Drucker argued that the first social responsibility of business is to earn profits–or no other social responsibilities can be met. Haas Professors Carl Shapiro and Hal Varian developed a "battle guide" for waging a standards war and emerging victorious over competing technologies.

All gave voice to their ideas in the pages of the California Management Review (CMR), the Haas School's peer-reviewed, practitioner-oriented journal, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. In honor of this milestone, CMR has published a special golden anniversary issue on innovation, featuring the research of more than a dozen Haas faculty members.

CMR articles are...grounded in research, but accessible, relevant, and useful for practitioners.The California Management Review publishes quarterly, presenting some half dozen articles in each issue. Faculty from Haas and other major business schools from around the world share research findings on topics ranging from ethics and organizational structure to technology management and startups. The Review has widespread impact through reprinted articles that are used in business schools and executive education classrooms worldwide.

Fifty Years of New Ideas

Haas Professor David Vogel has particular reason to celebrate this anniversary, having led the journal as editor for 25 of its 50 years. As the Solomon P. Lee Distinguished Professorship in Business Ethics, Vogel is particularly proud of CMR's coverage of corporate social responsibility issues, but he observes that the Review has a long history of publishing new ideas on a wide range of topics.

"We've honed a distinctive competence in areas such as knowledge management, strategy and organization, global competition, and high-tech startups and management," says Vogel. And the list of CMR contributors addressing such topics includes many influential thinkers, according to Vogel.

A few of the CMR articles that have been in high demand by executives and management educators through reprints or that have garnered awards include:

  • An assessment of the need for American firms to achieve global platforms rather than competing on a country-by-country basis, by Harvard Professor Michael Porter (Winter 1986)
  • An exploration of corporate culture as a mechanism for social control, by then-Haas Professor Charles O'Reilly (Summer 1989)
  • An assessment by Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins of the culpability that the market and watchdog agencies shared with Enron management and consultants in failing shareholders (Summer 2003)
  • Ideas on how firms can capture value from intangible assets, by Haas Professor David Teece and featured in CMR's 40th anniversary issue on knowledge management (Spring 1998).

Fifty Years of Rigor and Relevance

While the topics covered by CMR have spanned broad territory, the Review's mission has stayed sharply focused since its inception: to serve as a vehicle of communication between those who study management and those who practice it.

"Since CMR's founding 50 years ago, its niche has been that of a scholarly journal with research-based articles that are written and refereed by academics and aimed at managers as the primary audience," says Vogel. It is a niche that CMR has served well, according to Raymond Miles, professor emeritus and former dean of the Haas School. "CMR is clearly one of the top three journals that focus on issues of appeal to managers," says Miles, who points to Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review as the other two.

Carving out this niche has meant that CMR articles draw from a somewhat narrow pool of academic research and of academics, according to Vogel. "We publish professors who are not only conducting research that is relevant to the practice of management, but who are also interested in writing in for managers rather than exclusively for other academics," Vogel says.

"CMR articles span the chasm frequently found between scholarly research and management practice," concurs Jennifer Chatman, the Paul J. Cortese Distinguished Professor of Management. "Articles are typically rigorous and grounded in research, but accessible, relevant, and useful for practitioners," says Chatman, whose 2003 CMR article on leveraging organizational culture* won the Review's Accenture Award. "This combination is rare, indeed," Chatman notes.

Measuring Success

CMR's half-century track record of balancing academic rigor and managerial relevance may be rare, but it confers an advantage to those who read it and to the academics who publish within its pages. Haas Professor John Morgan, the Gary and Sherron Kalbach Chair in Business Administration, is one example.

Morgan's articles have been published more than 40 times in his academic career. But when he appeared in California Management Review, it was an entirely new experience.

Morgan's article, "Reputation in Online Auctions: The Market for Trust,"** uncovered how eBay users were "gaming" eBay's reputation system by buying and selling feedback. When the article ran in the fall 2006 issue of CMR, it attracted attention beyond the usual academic circles. Morgan heard from the Wall Street Journal. He heard from Wired Magazine. And he heard from senior managers at eBay, who were keenly interested to learn more about his findings.

"The CMR article moved me from a player within the economist space of online strategy, auction, and retail, to a player, more broadly in the pundit space," says Morgan, As a result, he now finds corporations and media outlets interested not only in his CMR article, but in his thoughts on other online trends.

For Vogel, this is the true measure of CMR's success–it's impact on the practitioner community. When California Management Review articles live on beyond initial publication, through mainstream media interviews with academics, inclusion of articles in course readers, and reprints for executive and MBA education, Vogel knows CMR is thriving as a link between those who study management and those who practice it.

"CMR succeeds when it is sought out by managers who want practical information," says Vogel, "and by academics who want to talk to managers without sacrificing the rigor or integrity of their research."

* With then-Harvard doctoral student Sandra Eunyoung Cha
** With UC Berkeley Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics doctoral student Jennifer Brown

[Back to top]