Internationally renowned expert, Dr. Richard Daft has been an industry leader in organizational management. He has published 12 books, dozens of articles, and presented at more than 45 universities around the world. Being a former Associate Dean at Owen, Dr. Daft has also developed and managed the Center for Change Leadership, participated in more than $500,000 in research grants, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Management. Dr. Daft is currently professor at the Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University. He is the author of the textbook (10 edition), Management. He shares his insight on several management topics this week:
Discuss how you got involved studying management and becoming professor at Vanderbilt University.
During my last semester of college, I met a young professor in the business school. As I learned about his work, I was intrigued, but felt that becoming a professor was too far out of reach. A couple of years later while working in Marshalltown, Iowa, I was in the library and came across a textbook on organizational behavior. I was so interested in the subject matter that I realized in that moment that I would try to be become a professor in organization studies. I came to Vanderbilt 24 years ago when a position opened up and I was ready to make a move from a large state university to a smaller private university. I applied for the position and got it.
What do you feel are the major challenges for American businesses faced with the realities of globalization?
For me, the issue comes down to qualities of both leadership and management. Globalization makes every industry more competitive. Thus businesses have to be super efficient, which is a function of management control and accountability. Businesses also have to be forward-looking and innovative, which is about employee creativity and engagement that are awakened by leadership.
What key leadership traits will be important as the world faces an uncertainty future?
I would say a certain amount of courage, vision and/or purpose, persistence, great soft skills, and knowing oneself. By knowing oneself, I mean knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and choosing situations that take advantage of your strengths and accommodating weaknesses through others’ strengths. By great soft skills, I mean that people who genuinely care about and get along with others seem to thrive in any environment.
There are 20 million unemployed in our country. What are the positive things for these people to look forward to in 2014 and beyond?
It is hard for me to be positive about the huge number of unemployed people in our country. The trend I am most aware of is the growth of technology that is replacing the need for workers. More businesses are creating or buying technology to do work more efficiently and for less cost than hiring employees to do the work. Hence businesses are thriving while unemployment is decreasing very slowly. I also feel a personal frustration with the legislative and executive branches of our government which seem more loyal to their respective ideologies than to solving the unemployment problem. I would like to see the government focus on designing an economic system that ranks full employment as a top priority.
Any other comments:
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your questions. I hope the Management text is working well for your students.
Vanderbilt MBA Program
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ABOUT THIS EXPERT
Professor Daft is among the most highly cited academics in the fields of economics and business. Richard Daft is studying high performance mental models – which include cognitive models of high performing managers – and examining high performance management systems. He has been involved in management development and consulting for companies and organizations such as the American Banking Association, Bell Canada, Bristol-Myers Squibb, J.C. Bradford & Company, Ford Motor Company, Pratt & Whitney, USAA, First American National Bank, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Central Parking Systems, Performance Food Group, the National Science Foundation, Northern Telecom, State Farm Insurance, the United States Air Force, the United States Army, and Vanderbilt Medical Center.
B.S., University of Nebraska, 1967
M.B.A., University of Chicago, 1971
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1974