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MBA Program Chair Presents at BAM 2022 Conference

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YEREVAN, Armenia — American University of Armenia (AUA) Master of Business Administration Program Chair Dr. Mane Beglaryan presented a research paper at the British Academy of Management (BAM) 2022 Conference held on August 31-September 2 and hosted by the University of Manchester, Alliance Manchester Business School, UK. The presentation was titled “Innovation under Certainty: Who Holds the Upper Hand.” 

BAM is the leading authority in the academic field of management in the UK, supporting and representing the community of scholars and engaging with international peers. This year’s conference theme was “Reimagining business and management as a force for good.” Aspiring to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the conference challenged the participants to reimagine the purpose of business. It is necessary to reimagine a new workplace that enhances the health and wellbeing of the workforce, creating “good work” for all.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented health and economic crisis that affected the world economy and inhibited global economic growth. Due to the extensive, large-scale hardships imposed by the pandemic, firms faced serious threats to their survival and sustained success in the extremely turbulent environment caused by the crisis. Since small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the more vulnerable players in the economy, they suffered even more than larger firms. In response, many companies chose innovation as a path to overcome the challenges posed by the crisis. Conditioned by the growing trend of uncertainty, SMEs’ necessity for rapid innovation remains even after the pandemic fades away. Defined as an organizational setting that embraces certain activities and employee behaviors that ultimately lead to the development of new products and services or the modification and upgrading of existing ones, the role of innovation remains crucial for gaining competitive advantage. 

As a firm’s capacity to innovate is a measure of its entrepreneurial orientation, it is embedded in its strategy to support novelty and experimentation that may result in new products, services, or technological processes.  Further, a variety of factors could influence the innovative capabilities of the firm, among which is the level of importance attributed to the role that managers play in enabling the firm’s innovative attitude. In her study, Dr. Beglaryan examines the managerial characteristics that prompt managers of SMEs to pursue innovation under uncertainty. The paper examines how the propensity to innovate under uncertainty varies depending on a manager’s number of years in the position, educational attainment, gender, and functional area. The study has found a positive relationship between uncertainty and innovation. Dr. Beglaryan’s analysis demonstrates that managers in strategic positions were more likely to engage in innovative activities under uncertainty than those in support positions. The study did not find any relation between managers’ educational attainment and seniority in the position and their inclination to innovate under conditions of uncertainty. The results also indicate that the gender and functional area of managers have a significant influence on their likelihood to engage in innovation in response to external turbulence.

“Given the profound shift in the way we approach business practices in the post-COVID reality, we are interested to see whether the world provides us with new opportunities to plan for new organizational futures,” notes Dr. Beglaryan. “Changes to work patterns and supply chains, combined with workforce and skill shortages clustering around firms, managers and employees are behaving in ways that could change the world of business forever. In that regard, we would like to explore whether standard economic and business thinking stifles our ability to reimagine and innovate or whether the external pressures indeed create an urgency to innovate and do things fundamentally differently. Increased variability in the external environment puts a higher pressure on firms to be more proactive and place a stronger emphasis on innovation. To do better in this world,  organizations need to engage in rapid innovation, not only during the current crisis but continue doing so after the crisis subsides.” 

Dr. Anush Drampyan, former postdoctoral researcher at the Università degli Studi di Padova and co-author, concurs: “The COVID-19 pandemic has once again proven that innovation is no more a choice but a necessity for companies to survive and succeed. In this study, we examined how the characteristics of managers affect SMEs’ propensity to innovate under uncertainty. Our results emphasize the role gender and functional area of managers play in determining the innovativeness of the firm. Moreover, the findings reflected the gender gap existing in the context of a developing country like Armenia, where women face specific challenges when undertaking entrepreneurial activity. Overall, this study has important implications for understanding the factors that could induce SMEs’ propensity to innovate and thus overcome the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.