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Journal of General Management  (IF),  Pub Date : 2019-06-25, DOI: 10.1177/0306307019853052
Teck Yong Eng

Welcome to the Summer edition of the Journal of General Management! In this edition, we put together four articles examining practical roles of general management in navigating small and medium-sized enterprises through uncertain economic conditions, commitment of microinsurers to their social mission, mechanisms for policypractice conformance in international business and chief executive officers’ (CEOs) strategic advice-seeking behaviour from executives at other organizations. Firstly, Drs Sainidis, Robson and Heron’s article investigates how the UK manufacturers of small and mediumsized enterprises (MSMEs) respond to the post-Great Recession in 2008. They assessed the impact of economic downturn in a business cycle characterized by uncertain rapid changes and market swings. This can be crucial for business survival of MSMEs, as it is often the case for small businesses being unable to cope with a severe economic recession. In their survey of MSMEs, they find that senior management engage in strategy review more frequently as well as other business functions within an organization to provide a greater input to decision-making in the postGreat Recession period. While their study highlights an increased intensity in the sales, marketing and finance functions during uncertain business environments, the study also shows increase in levels of senior management involvement across business functions. In practical terms, it is crucial for MSMEs’ managers to develop general management knowledge concerning cross-functional contributions to operational and strategic decisions particularly for operating in turbulent business environments. The second article by Drs Elango, Chan and Jones examines an interesting phenomenon of increasing commercialization and/or marketization of products and services of the social enterprise business. In this vein, their article examines what drives social enterprises in the bottom of the pyramid markets to drift away from their social mission. They draw insight from theoretical perspectives of institutional theory and resource dependency by collecting data from 192 micro-insurance operators in 26 emerging markets. In particular, they focus on the influence of donor involvement and state of fragility on social mission orientation. The study shows that donor involvement correlates positively with commitment to social mission. Similarly, countries with well-established governance functions demonstrate commitment to social mission. The study provides implications for general management in terms of while social enterprises may drift away from their social mission, be it, as part of their evolution or conflicting interests, a stakeholder approach to increasing participation of donors and communities could help to ground the commitment to social mission. The third article in this edition is by Drs Mandrinos, Mahdi and Liew. They explore the existence of policypractice deviations in the context of international exporting organizations. As international business involves crossborder trade and exchange, conformity to standards and regulations is not only important for consumer markets but also for a level playing field among international firms. This article reveals variations in business practice from institutional regulations based on a sample of nine export organizations in Greece. While managers may rationalize their decision in the interest of efficiency and profitability, the policy–practice decoupling raises key questions of ethical business practice and sustainability especially for disadvantaged parties in international trade. The predominant mechanism for disobedience and/or misconduct towards institutional regulatory expectations has often been associated with punitive measures. General managers and policymakers can formulate mechanisms to incentivize conformity in promoting good business ethics and transparency. Last but not the least, Drs Vestal and Guidice present a study on CEOs’ strategic advice-seeking behaviour using a large sample of non-profit agencies in Florida. Consistent with upper echelons theory, they examine the extent to which CEOs seek strategic advice from executives at other organizations. In the strategic leadership literature, CEOs who seek strategic advice from executives at other organizations tend to improve organization performance. While the increase in performance is also shown in the study, CEOs’ personal characteristics of age, organization tenure and personality trait based on the need for cognitive closure provide different managerial implications especially for non-profit sectors. For example, there is no evidence to suggest that age is positively associated with CEOs’ external advice-seeking behaviour. As suggested in an upper echelons perspective, CEOs with both a longer term tenure and a higher need for cognitive closure would be less likely to seek strategic advice from executives at other organizations. Although information and advice from external organizations may distort CEOs’ established decision-making models, the ability to achieve enhanced performance and produce innovations is consistent with CEOs seeking strategic advice from executives at other organizations.