Trying to garner insight into the dynamics of power amongst top management, assistant professor Murad Mithani recently received the prestigious “2013 Louis Pondy Best Dissertation Award” by the Academy of Management.
Mithani joins a class of past recipients from Harvard University, Cornell University, Stanford University and Columbia University for the recognition that he won from the Academy’s Organization and Management Theory Division at the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in August.
He won for the work on “The Illusions of Power.” The paper investigates how the absence of an external threat can strengthen the pursuit of self-interest by competing coalitions. Contrary to expectation that high performing firms encourage the concentration of power in the hands of a few executives, the paper shows that success actually leads to the distribution of power amongst a larger number of managers.
Mithani became interested in the topic during a doctoral dissertation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute while trying to understand why successful organizations continue to evolve.
“I found that organizational performance strengthens the concentration of power but this effect diminishes for more successful firms. If organizations continue to improve, the people in power gradually become less effective in making unilateral decisions.”
Mithani says it will take time to determine the full impact. There are still some minor changes that need to be incorporated and it will be a few years before we can determine the impact from the findings.”