Author: Jill Young Miller

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About Jill Young Miller

As research translator for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to highlight professors’ research by “translating” their work into stories. Before coming to Olin, I was a communications specialist at WashU’s Brown School. My background is mostly in newspapers including as a journalist for Missouri Lawyers Media, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida. Also, I am the reigning Olin Cornhole Champion.


Combatting cybersecurity threats. Guiding space exploration. Developing novel healthcare management systems. Major business and government innovations often rely on multiteam systems, or teams of teams.

But when people work within such systems, known as MTSs, they face challenges. An MTS is a nebulous organization of component teams of specialists that link together to accomplish a broad and overarching objective. That objective exceeds the capacity of any one person or team.

Andrew Knight, Olin professor of organizational behavior, researched the challenges people face when working within team of teams. Specifically, he delved into how the component teams can best coordinate their activities—both within and between teams—to achieve the overarching goals of the whole system.

In the past, scholarship had advanced a perspective that informal modes of coordination—such as informal, interpersonal interactions between MTS members—undermine MTS effectiveness because of their complexity.

A channel for the flow of information

But that view is pessimistic and flawed, Knight and his coauthors argue. Drawing from theory and their research, they derived important implications for those who must lead an MTS.

“Informal interpersonal interactions actually can enable coordination by serving as a channel for the flow of information and a means by which MTS members can mutually adjust their work,” Knight said.

But whether informal coordination helps or hinders MTS functioning depends on how much time team members spend interacting with other members of their own component team, relative to the time that they spend interacting with the members of other teams.

“Members must balance their informal interactions,” Knight said.

Knight discussed his research at a virtual event September 29 as part of Olin’s Business Research Series.

“Our analysis underscores that leaders must carefully manage MTS members’ informal coordination efforts,” he said. Too much time spent focused internally—on coordinating with the members of one’s own component team— detracts from system performance. But too much time spent focused externally—toward other component teams in the system—breeds intrateam conflict that disrupts team performance.

It’s about balance

“To maximize system performance, which is ultimately the most important objective, leaders must ensure that team members balance their allocation of time between the local team and the more global system,” he said.

Knight and his coauthors present their findings in “Performance tensions in multiteam systems: Balancing informal mechanisms of coordination within and between teams,” in press at the Academy of Management Journal. Coauthors are Jonathan C. Ziegert and Christian J. Resickof Drexel University and Katrina A. Graham of Suffolk University.

In addition to his position as a professor, Knight is associate dean of WashU at Brookings and academic director of Olin Lifelong Learning. His areas of expertise are entrepreneurship, leadership, team development and diversity, and his research interests include virtual work, people analytics, collaboration and relationships.

See Knight’s presentation here.




Garwitz and Richard

The St. Louis organization Arch Grants has awarded $1.9 million in grants to its 2021 cohort, comprised of 35 new startups and early-stage businesses. Each winner receives $50,000 and must run the company from St. Louis for a year. At least three of the recipients are connected to Olin:

Halo + Cleaver, a St. Louis/Denver company, makes low-sugar sauces using naturally sweet ingredients like apples, pineapples and bananas instead of sugar or corn syrup. Co-owners Rob Garwitz, MBA ’18, and Matt Richard, PMBA ’19, recently relaunched the company’s three signature sauces with new recipes and branding. All are available at the company’s website, Amazon and grocery stores Fresh Thyme and Schnucks.

“The $50,000 is vital to fueling our early growth,” Garwitz said. The startup plans to hire a part-time marketing director and to launch a new line of low-sugar sauces in early 2022.

“While the money is great, we believe joining the Arch Grants network will have an even greater impact on our business as it connects us to some of the brightest minds in St. Louis and beyond,” Garwitz said.

Honeymoon Chocolates. Cam Loyet, PMBA ’21, co-founded the St. Louis-based company with his now wife, Dr. Haley Loyet. The company makes organic bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with raw honey. “This was the sixth time I applied,” Loyet said. “If you want something enough, keep trying!”

The Loyets plan to use the money to aid in production output and to help with sales outreach to stores including Whole Foods, Erewhon and Schnucks.

“The support from the network and the Arch Grants team is also going to be an incredible help,” he said. “We are fortunate enough to be able to share our business with like-minded individuals in our cohort. To be able to share our progress and pitfalls with those who are also experiencing them in real-time could potentially afford us with the most upside from the Arch Grants program.”

Margraf

Total Orbit, based in St. Louis, has created an education and training platform that hospitals use to make patients’ healthcare journeys more understandable. “We are on a mission to end the scourge of the ‘data dump’ once and for all,” according to Total Orbit’s website. Michael Margraf, BBA ’87, is a co-founder and CEO.

He said Total Orbit plans to use the Arch Grants funding to expand marketing for its Care Orbit product line and for additional technical development.

On November 17, Arch Grants will host the 2021 Arch Grants Virtual Gala to welcome the 2021 cohort.

Each year, Arch Grants welcomes innovative, scalable and job-creating startups from around the world to participate in the nonprofit’s annual Startup Competition for a chance to be awarded $50,000 in non-dilutive grants and $10,000 for relocation if they are located outside of Missouri and at least 150 miles from St. Louis. (Non-dilutive funding means the companies get the money without giving up any equity.) 

Read more about this year’s Arch Grants awards.

Pictured at top are Cam and Haley Loyet. Photo courtesy of Honeymoon Chocolates.




Matthews

Justin Matthews, Olin MBA ’23 candidate, has loved game nights since he was a child. Now he has created a guessing game called Utter that draws from friends’ tweets. Already, people have played nearly 500 games nationwide. Said Matthews, “Our goal is to make social media actually ‘social.’”

“I’ve always been a fan of game nights. I can remember vividly beating my parents at Scrabble for the first time or playing Heads Up with college friends. Games are a great way to bond, and I saw an opportunity to make game nights more meaningful if we added our personal stories to it by using Twitter.

“Twitter is basically someone’s diary, and every tweet has a story. I learned I could pull tweets with Twitter’s APIs and thought it would be fun to guess which of my friends tweeted it. So far, the response has been very positive. Almost 500 games have been played nationwide, and I’ve hosted over a dozen games that had a lot of laughs, great stories and more connecting in this virtual new world.”   

What are the next steps?

“Our goal is to make social media actually “social,” so we want to give you more game modes that fit your interests and allow more players to get in on the action. Currently we have two versions of the game.

“‘Team’ mode allows you to enter in your own Twitter account, and ‘Categories’ mode is preset with Twitter accounts that match the theme. We have themes like Sports and Movies, but I plan to have a whole library of additional categories in the future.

Click here to play Utter

“Right now, you can only play on one device, but we are hoping to expand so that each player can use their own device. Once we have that multiplayer functionality, the sky is the limit. Can you imagine Utter on the jumbotron at St. Louis Cardinals game and guessing which player tweeted what for a free hot dog at the game?”

Does this game dovetail with your career goals?  

“Absolutely. The goal is to become a product manager at a business to consumer-focused tech company. This project is helping me hone my craft of collecting customer feedback, working with developers and marketing my product. I like to think it has helped me in a couple of interviews already because I can speak about how I’m growing my skill set in my free time.”   

Is this a side hustle, or do you have more in mind for Utter?  

“I would consider this a hobby right now because I haven’t monetized it yet. My definition of side hustle is something that is generating some type of revenue. Right now, I just want to build the best experience possible for users.”  

Why did you decide to come to WashU Olin to get your MBA?  

“I decided to come to WashU Olin when I saw the need to grow my toolkit as a product manager. I had always worked on business-to-business products but wanted to work with more consumer-facing brands. I applied for graduate school through the Consortium, and WashU is the founding member school and had a curriculum that fit my entrepreneurial interests. Prior to applying, I had never been in person. But he relationships I made during Diversity Weekend stuck with me, and they made the decision that much easier to uproot me and my wife from Atlanta.”   

Any idea how many people have played Utter at this point?  

“We’ve had almost 500 games played since we first launched last year! That’s has mostly come from word of mouth; I haven’t paid for any advertisement. Most players are from the USA, but some people have played as far away as the UK and India. We definitely have a lot of room for growth, but this is just the beginning and I’m excited about what’s next.”


Amazon featured an Olin grad in a lively video to promote its 2021 Career Day, which was last week. Rovina Valashiya, MBA ’10 and BSBA ’09, talks about where she grew up, family, basketball, ambition and launching Amazon’s “Textures & Hues” storefront. Check it out.




In the first episode of the hit TV series “Downton Abbey,” Lady Cora Crawley gently reminds her husband of the dowry she, an American heiress, brought when she left Pittsburgh to marry him and relocate to rural Yorkshire. Her fortune saved the Abbey and Earl Grantham’s family from ruin.

“Downton Abbey” and a BBC miniseries based on Edith Wharton’s novel “The Buccaneers” inspired Olin Dean Mark P. Taylor to examine a historical trend:

In the four decades before the outbreak of World War I, 100 daughters of American business magnates married titled members of the British aristocracy.

“Given that British aristocracy was generally regarded as the most exclusive club in the world outside of the British royal family, this is a remarkable phenomenon,” said Taylor, who is British.

Taylor’s research premise is that the rapid decline in British agricultural prices—which shrank not only the income of aristocratic landed estates, but also the income of common families who owned land—led to a significant proportion of male aristocrats marrying American heiresses. American brides with rich dowries were substituted for brides from the traditional source: British families who had no aristocratic titles but did have land.

Mark P. Taylor

In “Peers, Buccaneers and Downton Abbey: An economic analysis of 19th century British aristocratic marriages,” published in the August edition of Economic Letters, Taylor provides empirical data analysis supportive of his thesis.

“This is what a year of watching TV does to an academic,” Taylor joked, referring to months of quarantining because of the pandemic.

In Britain, agricultural prices dropped because of the opening up of the American prairies, development of US railroads and the advent of steamships—”all of which led to the flooding of the UK market with cheap prairie wheat,” Taylor said.

Meanwhile in the US, high society shunned the families of wealthy businessmen. “East Coast high society was the jealously guarded preserve of families who could trace their ancestry back to the earliest Dutch or English settlers, and who socially ostracized the nouveau riche business magnates and their families,” Taylor writes.

So what were the daughters to do? Marry into the British aristocracy. Their mothers, in particular, set their sights on marrying their daughters into British nobility as a means of establishing social pedigree—at whatever the cost.

The whole trend, Taylor said, likely started with the 1874 marriage of Jennie Jerome, the daughter of New York financier Leonard Jerome, and a son of the 7th Duke of Marlborough, Lord Randolph Churchill—a union that produced Winston Churchill. Leonard Jerome settled a dowry of £50,000 on the marriage, which is about $6.5 million today.

Two years later, Consuelo Yznaga, the daughter of Antonio Yznaga, who had made his fortune in West Indian sugar plantations before relocating to Newport, Rhode Island, married the heir to the Duke of Manchester, “thereby proving that the very highest social rank below royalty was not beyond the scope of the daughter of an American business family,” Taylor writes. The dowry settlement was £200,000, or about $26 million today.

Blenheim Palace, the residence of the dukes of Marlborough. Shutterstock

“Perhaps the most celebrated (or notorious) American-aristocratic marriage of the period, however, took place at the height of the trend in 1895,” Taylor writes. The family of the American railroad magnate William K. Vanderbilt became allied to one of the most prestigious British aristocratic families when his daughter, Consuelo, married the 9th Duke of Marlborough. The dowry settlement was $2.5 million—about $82 million today. The money restored the family fortunes and restored the palatial Marlborough ancestral seat of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Marriages to American heiresses were part of a wider, less pronounced, phenomenon whereby non-American foreign brides also were substituted for British exogamous brides with land during much of the 19th century when agricultural prices declined.

In addition, Taylor finds significant evidence of substitution for landed brides with British business family brides for the whole of the 18th and 19th centuries, which was less marked than the rate of admission for foreign brides but which increased over the course of those centuries.

In a time of agricultural decline, cash restraints may be imposed on lump-sum transfers (i.e. dowries) from landed families, “allowing unlanded but nevertheless rich families to offer higher lump-sum transfers in order to compensate for the lower level of prestige associated with non-landholders,” he writes, “a phenomenon which may perhaps be aptly termed the Downton Abbey Effect.”

(For “Downton Abbey” fans, the sequel film will be in theaters in March 2022.)