Yesterday Mark and I attended an interesting luncheon held for the winner of this year’s International Award for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Research, Professor Kathleen M. Eisenhardt from Stanford University.
Professor Eisenhardt was celebrated for her prescient and extensive research in corporate entrepreneurship, primarily identifying factors that keep entrepreneurial ventures innovative and successful in varying and rapidly changing markets.
In her fascinating keynote speech, Professor Eisenhardt determined that swift decision-making based on an analysis of 3-4 alternatives and an ability to be nimble and adapt to change quickly are critical for a thriving entrepreneurial enterprise. Another interesting point she made was that the best businesses learn to operate on the “edge of chaos”— incorporating a solid structure of rules but not being too rigid— a concept she compared to “being the parent of a teenager” who has to be closely watched but not overly regulated.
According to Eisenhardt, the most effective management teams are very diverse, with a mix of genders, ages and ethnic backgrounds. This is very much in line with Secretary Clinton’s focus on promoting more women in business leadership.
Studies done by the World Bank and United Nations report that strong market growth among European companies is most likely to occur where there is a higher proportion of women on senior management teams. According to research by Forbes Magazine, firms with more women on their boards outperform their rivals with a 42% higher return on sales, 66% higher return on invested capital and 53% higher return on equity.
In addition to the luncheon, Professor Eisenhardt has spent the past several days discussing her findings with students, policymakers and government officials in order to promote goals of innovation and enterprise within Sweden.
The award is sponsored by the Swedish Foundation for Small Business Research (FSF) and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Nutek). In 2008 the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) joined FSF and Nutek to become the third partner in awarding the Prize.
We were so proud that an American woman won the prize this year, and it was such a privilege meeting her. Congratulations Professor Kathleen Eisenhardt! Go Stanford!