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Myself

2 questions in a business article

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Myself

Hi,

While reading a bussiness article, I don't quite understand these two. Could you please help paraphrase them? If you can explain in Chinese, that would be better. But if not, can you explain in simple English? Thank you.

1. Ideally, it would be desirable to investigate adaptation directly. Unfortunately, in a cross-sectional study such as this, adaptiveness is hard to measure because of its normative overtones. Almost all executives claim that they are adaptive---that they scan their environments for problems and opportunities and adjust their strategies accordingly.

(question: what is normative overtones in this context?)

2. Uncertain environments were shown by Miller (1988) to warrant the expenses of, and to benefit the most from, product innovation and aggressive marketing differentiation.

(question: Which is benefited? uncertain environments or product innovation?)

(from Danny Miller's Stale in the Saddle: CEO Tenure and The Match Between Organization and Environment)

Thanks in advance!!

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yonglin

I'll have a go.

1. Ideally, it would be desirable to investigate adaptation directly. Unfortunately, in a cross-sectional study such as this, adaptiveness is hard to measure because of its normative overtones. Almost all executives claim that they are adaptive---that they scan their environments for problems and opportunities and adjust their strategies accordingly.

(question: what is normative overtones in this context?)

If you are doing a cross-sectional study (横断面研究) you are probably investigating some issue (for instance, whether executives are adaptive) by sending out a survey (usually, a long booklet with multiple-choice type questions) to a large number of people. As I understand it, they were sending this type of survey to a number of business executives, asking questions like "Do you consider yourself adaptive in your work?". You can compare this with a case study (个案研究), in which the researcher might very carefully observe a small number of executives in their work to decide whether they are adaptive or not.

If you would be observing the behaviour of the executives, then you can objectively answer the question whether they are adaptive or not. That is, it's a matter of fact. However, in this case, you were just asking the executives whether they believe themselves to be adaptive or not - so you are investigating the question whether the executives think they are adaptive or not, not whether in fact they are adaptive or not.

In this case, "normative" means something related to opinion rather than to objective facts. Something related to facts would be called "positive". For instance, "most leaves and green" is a positive statement (just a fact about the world), whilst "green leaves are beautiful" (an opinion of something) is a normative statement. This distinction is often used in the social sciences. For instance, we distinguish between positive and normative economics. A positive economic statement would be something like "when prices of apples fall, people buy more apples" (just a fact about the world), whilst "governments ought to provide unemployment insurance" would be a normative statement (expressing an opinion).

2. Uncertain environments were shown by Miller (1988 ) to warrant the expenses of, and to benefit the most from, product innovation and aggressive marketing differentiation.

In strict grammatical sense, it is the uncertain environments benefiting. You can separate this sentence into two parts:

1. "Miller showed that uncertain environment warrant (=justify) the expenses of product innovation and aggressive marketing differentiation. "

Surely, innovation and aggressive marketing is expensive, but if the environment is uncertain, such costs are justified (That is: If the economic environment is uncertain, it is more profitable for the company to invest in marketing and innovation than not to.)

2. "He also showed that uncertain environments benefit the most from product innovation and marketing differentiation."

The benefits of innovation and and aggressive marketing are larger the greater the uncertainty in the market.

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Myself

Thank you so much, younglin!!! I think I've got the picture after your detailed explanation. Thank you!!!:)

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