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Dusya Vera is a Professor of Strategy and the Executive Director of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership. Prior to joining the Ivey Business School in 2022, she was on the faculty of the C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in the Department of Management & Leadership for 20 years.
Dusya's research is in the areas of strategic leadership, leader character, improvisation, and organizational learning. She has published in top academic and practitioner publications such as the Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Annals, Organization Science, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies, The Leadership Quarterly, Organization Studies, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and Management Learning, among others. She also enjoys writing practitioner-oriented articles, which have been published in journals such as Organizational Dynamics and Business Horizons.
She is currently an Associate Editor of The Leadership Quarterly and an editorial board member of the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, Journal of Business Research, and Management Learning. She has served on the Editorial Board of journals such as The Academy of Management Review, The Academy of Management Journal, The Leadership Quarterly, Management Learning, and IEEE Transactions of Engineering Management. She is a member of the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society.
Throughout her career, Dusya is an award-winning teacher, teaching courses at the undergraduate, masters, doctoral, and executive level in the areas of strategic management and strategic leadership. She has extensive experience in Executive Development. She has also received multiple awards in the areas of research and service.
- Cross-Enterprise Leadership
- BS, Engineering, Polytechnic University, Ecuador
- Certificate, MIS, Martin Luther Universitaet Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
- MBA, University of Pittsburgh, USA
- PhD, Western University, Canada
Recent Refereed Articles
Crossan, M. M.; Nguyen, B.; Vera, D. V.; Sturm, R. E.; Pardo, A. R., 2023, "Leader Character in Engineering Projects: A Case Study of Character Activation, Contagion, and Embeddedness", IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management Abstract: We contribute to the blending of leadership and engineering by challenging the prioritization of technical competence over leadership competence in engineering projects, and by specifically highlighting the importance of bringing leader character into the conversation. Using a single-case-study methodology, with a university's Formula Society of Automotive Engineers organization, we examine and illustrate character activation in individuals, its contagion in groups, and how character can become embedded within an organization's nonhuman repositories, such as culture, processes, and policies. In doing this, we describe a multilevel view of character. In addition, we offer a practical account of how leader character is revealed in everyday practices and in critical moments in an engineering project in terms of technical, operational, and relational decisions. Findings from the case study show that character can change how competences are enacted, and therefore, organizational members can more effectively use their competences in the organization, and the character-competence interplay can contribute to performance gains of the project.
Link(s) to publication:
Vera, D. V.; Crossan, M. M., 2023, "Character-enabled improvisation and the new normal: A paradox perspective", Management Learning, February 54(1): 77 - 98. Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified and exacerbated organizational paradoxes felt by individuals largely because of the nostalgia individuals feel for the “old” normal while facing the need to let go in order to create a “new” normal. We position improvisation as a synthesis-type approach to working through the paradoxes of the pandemic. Furthermore, we look at individual differences that underpin the ability to improvise, and identify that it is the strength of character and character-based judgment of the individual that enables the enactment of a focal context, the choice to improvise, and the act of effectively improvising to work through paradoxes. Linking character to improvisation, and, vice versa, improvisation to the development of character, reveals the importance of dimensions such as courage, humility, temperance, transcendence, humanity, and collaboration in the practice of improvisation.
Link(s) to publication:
- Vera, D. V.; Crossan, M., (Forthcoming), "Character-infused improvisation", Management Learning
Miller, C.; Chiu, S. S-C.; Wesley II, C. L.; Vera, D. V.; Avery, D. R., 2022, "Cognitive Diversity at The Strategic Apex: A review and critique of four decades of research", Academy of Management Annals, August 16(2): 806 - 852. Abstract: Diverse perspectives and ideas among senior leaders (top management teams and boards of directors) might generate substantial value for organizations. In theory, such diversity could provide a foundation for creative insights, innovative strategies, and strong organizational performance. Unfortunately, empirical research on these and other possible outcomes has generated a complex array of confusing findings. Our systematic review, the first to consider all types of relevant studies, attempts to make sense of the complicated landscape. On the negative side of the coin, the review highlights unsolved theoretical puzzles, severely fragmented empirical studies, and methodological conundrums. As a result, it calls into question several widespread assumptions and practices. On the positive side of the coin, our work surfaces some important pockets of consistency in existing empirical findings, mostly driven by studies using direct measures of cognitive diversity among senior leaders rather than demographic proxies. Our recommendations for the future include dramatically increasing qualitative research to move beyond a powerful deductive straightjacket that seems to exist. We also recommend taking a finer-grained approach through a substantial narrowing of quantitative research in the near term to better capture and understand key concepts, measures, and boundary conditions. Many in the corporate world believe senior leaders are most effective when bringing different perspectives and ideas to their collective decision-making (Bunderson & van der Vegt, 2018). Cognitive diversity of this type is thought to promote rich decision processes and creativity that, in turn, foster organizational learning, innovation, and strong financial outcomes. Indeed, recent reports from McKinsey & Company (Barta, Kleiner, & Neumann, 2012) and Deloitte (Bourke & Dillon, 2018) suggest that different cognitive perspectives among executives create substantial value for firms. Hence, the trend among practitioners has been to actively encourage cognitive diversity in the composition of senior management teams and boards of directors to promote the insights and flexibility required for effective decisions in volatile business environments (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and stock market crashes). Similar to corporate pundits, many scholars also believe senior leadership benefits from diverse perspectives and ideas (Samba, van Knippenberg, & Miller, 2018). Top management teams (TMTs) and boards of directors frequently deal with complex, nonroutine decisions that require judgment rather than straightforward computational elegance (Eisenhardt & Zbaracki, 1992; March, 1997). As such, the cognitive assets these leaders bring to decision-making are believed to play important roles in facilitating stronger organizational outcomes. In essence, senior leaders are seen as information workers (McCall & Kaplan, 1985) who bring together experiences and insights from different domains, thereby enhancing decision-making quality and, ultimately, organizational performance (Amason, 1996; Bantel & Jackson, 1989; Beckman, Schoonhoven, Rottner, & Kim, 2014; Olson, Parayitam, & Bao, 2007). The presence of different perspectives and ideas helps to create synergies and reduce the odds of tunnel vision, satisficing, and other common decision pitfalls (Bantel & Jackson, 1989; Boeker, 1997; Hoever, van Knippenberg, van Ginkel, & Barkema, 2012; van Knippenberg & Schippers, 2007). This scholarly perspective has been the dominant view of senior-leader cognitive diversity, particularly among strategic management scholars (Samba et al., 2018). However, a different scholarly view grounded in social psychology and the political school of thought also has emerged (e.g., Byrne, 1969). These scholars emphasize the tendency for senior managers and board members to like those who think as they do and dislike those who do not (Miller, Burke, & Glick, 1998). This pattern of liking and disliking sets the stage for cognitive diversity to generate dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics and problems in collective decision-making (Glick, Miller, & Huber, 1993; Miller et al., 1998). Moreover, from a political perspective, different ideas often have an element of self-interest, which can cause information manipulation and decision delays (Dean & Sharfman, 1996; Eisenhardt & Bourgeois, 1988; Elbanna & Child, 2007; Pettigrew, 1973). Empirically, scholars have observed both positive and negative effects across important outcome variables. On the one hand, cognitive diversity has produced positive effects in some studies, such as those focused on strategic decision quality in food-processing firms (Amason, 1996) and breakthrough innovations in biotechnology firms (Tzabbar & Margolis, 2017). Benefits also have been reported for bottom-line firm performance (e.g., de Jong, Song, & Song, 2013; Kilduff, Angelmar, & Mehra, 2000). On the other hand, Bunderson and Sutcliffe (2002) reported negative effects on information sharing and profitability in 44 Fortune 100 firms. Similarly, Denis, Lamothe, and Langley (2001) found that diverse ideas hindered necessary changes in hospitals. Others also have reported negative effects (Ko, Wiklund, & Pollack, 2021; Voss, Cable, & Voss, 2006). In addition to these opposed findings, negligible and contingent findings have appeared in the extant literature (e.g., Ensley, Pearson, & Amason, 2002; Gordon, Stewart, Sweo, & Luker, 2000; Hendricks, Howell, & Bingham, 2019). Carpenter (2002), Pennings and Wezel (2010), and Wei and Wu (2013) provided important examples of contingent effects wherein relationships are neither positive nor negative except in particular circumstances. To some extent, the complex array of findings probably is a function of the inherent complexity of the phenomena—diversity’s effects might be quite nuanced, with a number of factors playing mediating and moderating roles. At the same time, the inconsistency might result from research practices that have obscured accurate detection of nuanced phenomena (e.g., overreliance on lean archival data). Regardless of which explanation carries the most weight, cognitive diversity research focused on senior leaders has not yet reached a mature state. Accordingly, we aim to provide direction for future work through a critical, comprehensive review of existing studies. We begin by distinguishing our review from other senior-leader reviews that have shed light on the impact of diversity. We then examine the theoretical background commonly used to ground research on cognitive diversity at the strategic apex of organizations (a.k.a., the home for senior management teams and boards of directors). Next, we contextualize and describe the results of our critical evaluation of existing studies. Finally, we discuss the meaning of our findings as well as possible pathways for the future.
Link(s) to publication:
Crossan, M. M.; Nguyen, B.; Sturm, R. E.; Vera, D. V.; Ruiz Pardo, A.; Maurer, C. C., 2022, "Organizational learning through character-based judgment", Management Learning Abstract: We introduce character into organizational learning by building theory about how strength of individual character enhances organizational learning and how unbalanced or weak character undermine organizational learning. Bringing character into organizational learning theory helps to elucidate the type of judgment (i.e. character-based judgment anchored in all dimensions of character) that is missing but required in organizational learning to resolve organizational learning dilemmas that have persisted in the field. In connecting character to organizational learning, we rely on the multi-level processes of the 4I framework of organizational learning as scaffolding to theoretically introduce the processes of character activation, character contagion, and character embeddedness and discuss how the different character configurations and processes enhance organizational learning across levels in an organization.
Link(s) to publication:
Vera, D. V.; Bonardi, J-P.; Hitt, M. A.; Withers, M. C., 2022, "Extending the boundaries of strategic leadership research", The Leadership Quarterly, June 33(3) Abstract: This special issue was developed to extend the boundaries of strategic leadership research, to help bridge the micro-macro divide regarding theories of strategic leadership, and to bring together theories that have emerged independently. In this introductory editorial, we provide an overview of the research on strategic leadership and emphasize the need for further integration of research from the organizational behavior, industrial and organizational psychology, organizational economics, behavioral strategy, and strategic management fields. We then introduce and summarize the eleven articles we accepted for this special issue by classifying them into two broad themes: (a) Chief executive officer (CEO) characteristics and (b) the dynamics of interactions among the CEO, the top management team, and the board. Finally, we propose recent theoretical and empirical foci for advancing strategic leadership research and offer a research agenda for future research highlighting several important research questions related to extending the dialogue among scholars across the different leadership and strategy domains.
Link(s) to publication:
Maldonado, T.; Vera, D. V.; Spangler, W. D., 2021, "Unpacking humility: Leader humility, leader personality, and why they matter", Business Horizons, February 65(2): 125 - 137. Abstract: The virtue of humility and “humble leaders” have attracted increasing attention in leadership given the positive effects it can have on team and firm performance. In spite of what we know about the favorable outcomes of leader humility, we do not know much about how personality influences humble behaviors. How is leader humility related to personality? How can leaders develop humility? In this paper, we look at how the personality factors of Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, Neuroticism, Openness to Experience, and Extraversion, lead to specific humble behaviors: self-awareness, appreciation of others, low self-focus, teachability, and self-transcendent pursuits. We find that the personality mix of Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience represents the substantial base for leader humility. At the same time, a humble leader can be introvert or extrovert, and can demonstrate different degrees of emotional stability. We offer recommendations and a behavioral inventory of leader humility that can be used by emerging leaders and by organizations to recruit and promote for humility, engage in behavioral modeling and coaching, and create interventions to develop leader humility.
Link(s) to publication:
Tabesh, P.; Vera, D. V., 2020, "Top managers' improvisational decision-making in crisis: a paradox perspective", Management Decision, November 58(1): 2235 - 2256. Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to describe how top management teams' expertise in comprehensive and intuitive decision-making contributes to effective improvisational decision-making in times of crisis. Also, improvisational decision-making, as a means for balancing or transcending the dualities of comprehensive and intuitive decision processes, enables the three strategic decision-making processes to coexist and contribute to decision-quality when in crisis.
After providing a general overview of comprehensive, intuitive and improvisational decision-making and introducing paradox theory, this paper offers a conceptual model of the link between improvisational decision-making and decision quality in crisis situations. Three boundary conditions are discussed: expertise in comprehensive decision-making, expertise in intuitive decision-making and the paradoxical balanced combination of comprehensive and intuitive decision-making. Two brief cases are included to illustrate the theory.
Although comprehensive and intuitive decision-making are rooted in distinct information processing approaches with different cognitive demands and at times contradictory logics, they can be combined in unique ways when senior executives improvise decisions in crisis situations.
Particularly in the contexts of crises, it is critical for managers to understand the value of improvisational decision-making and the balanced combination of decision-making tools available to them in order to make rapid and quality decisions. Potential action research interventions are suggested.
This paper offers an integrated model of decision-making, encompassing comprehensive, intuitive and improvisational processes and highlights the combinatory and synergistic nature of these approaches in a crisis.
Link(s) to publication:
Evans, K.; Salaiz, A.; Pathak, S.; Vera, D. V., 2020, "Community Influential Directors and Corporate Social Performance", Business & Society, October 61(1): 225 - 263. Abstract:
We draw upon the attention-based view of the firm to identify the conditions under which community influentials (CIs) on a board impact a firm’s corporate social performance (CSP). We test our hypotheses with a panel data set of Fortune 500 firms from 2004 to 2008, including 3,955 unique firm–director combinations (aggregated to the board level). Although CIs are often considered less powerful directors, we identify that when the firm is experiencing poor CSP, CIs have a positive effect on CSP. The ability of CIs to influence CSP is also conditional on the access of CIs and other board members to socially oriented board ties. Our article points out that power and influence is contingent on the decision context and the relative knowledge of organizational players, and that players with relatively lower power may improve their status and command attention when they can offer exclusive insight into important issues.
Link(s) to publication:
Vera, D. V.; Samba, C.; Kong, T.; Maldonado, T., 2020, "Resilience as thriving: The role of positive leadership practices", Organizational Dynamics Abstract: We introduce character into organizational learning by building theory about how strength of individual character enhances organizational learning and how unbalanced or weak character undermine organizational learning. Bringing character into organizational learning theory helps to elucidate the type of judgment (i.e. character-based judgment anchored in all dimensions of character) that is missing but required in organizational learning to resolve organizational learning dilemmas that have persisted in the field. In connecting character to organizational learning, we rely on the multi-level processes of the 4I framework of organizational learning as scaffolding to theoretically introduce the processes of character activation, character contagion, and character embeddedness and discuss how the different character configurations and processes enhance organizational learning across levels in an organization.
Link(s) to publication:
- Salaiz, A.; Evans, K.; Pathak, S.; Vera, D. V., 2020, "The impact of corporate social responsibility and irresponsibility on firm performance: New insights to an old question", Organizational Dynamics, April 49(2): 100698 - 100698.
Sturm, R. E.; Vera, D. V.; Crossan, M. M., 2017, "The Entanglement of Leader Character and Leader Competence and its Impact on Performance", Leadership Quarterly, June 28(3): 349 - 366. Abstract: Whereas the micro- and macro-oriented leadership literatures have often studied leader competencies necessary for effective performance, the role of leader character in relation to competencies and performance has been to a large extent neglected. Our work seeks to shift the scholarly dialogue by introducing the concept of character-competence entanglement, which reflects the binding between character and competence over time. The highest degree of entanglement represents the deep and more persistent interconnection and mutually-reinforcing effect between highly-developed leader character and highly-developed leader competence, whereas in cases of low entanglement, character can be activated temporarily in a particular context to help strengthen the relationship between competence and performance. Our core proposition is that high character-competence entanglement will lead to extraordinary performance over time. In addition, we emphasize that relying on naturally-occurring learning opportunities and the processes of learning-by-living both outside and inside the organization will positively impact the development of character-competence entanglement.
Link(s) to publication:
Krylova, K. O.; Vera, D. V.; Crossan, M. M., 2016, "Knowledge Transfer in Knowledge-Intensive Organizations: The Crucial Role of Improvisation in Transferring And Protecting Knowledge", Journal of Knowledge Management, October 20(5): 1045 - 1064. Abstract: Article Classification: Conceptual paper Purpose: This paper answers the question: How do knowledge workers’ improvisation processes promote both knowledge transfer and protection in knowledge-intensive organizations (KIOs)? A model is proposed identifying how effective improvisation can strengthen the effect of four specific knowledge transfer mechanisms--an experimental culture, minimal structures, the practice of storytelling, and shared mental models--on knowledge transfer inside the organization and knowledge protection outside of it. Designmethodologyapproach: The paper builds on a knowledge translation perspective to position improvisation as intrinsically intertwined with knowledge transfer and knowledge protection. Findings: Improvisation is proposed as the moderating factor enhancing the positive impact of an experimental culture, minimal structures, storytelling practice, and shared mental models on knowledge transfer and knowledge protection. Practical implications: The paper argues against a plug-and-play approach to knowledge transfer that seeks to replicate knowledge without considering how people relate to the routines and the context, and highlights to leaders of KIOs the importance of developing awareness, understanding, and motivation to improvise in order to internalize new knowledge being transferred and to create imitation barriers. Originalityvalue: The paper proposes that KIOs’ success in transferring and protecting knowledge emerges, not directly from formal knowledge transfer mechanisms, but from knowledge workers’ improvisation processes.
Link(s) to publication:
Vera, D. V.; Crossan, M. M.; Rerup, C.; Werner, S., 2014, "Thinking Before Acting’ or Acting Before Thinking’: Antecedents of Individual Action Propensity in Work Situations", Journal of Management Studies, December 51(4): 603 - 633. Abstract: We introduce the concept of individual action propensity’ to examine the approach of individuals towards solving situations for which they lack knowledge andor experience about what to do. We focus on a naturally contrasting pair of responses: thinking before acting’ or acting before thinking’, and associate low action propensity with thinking one's way into understanding how to act, and high action propensity with acting one's way into understanding such situations. We build on regulatory mode theory with its dimensions of locomotion and assessment and the trade-off between speed and accuracy to examine individual characteristics as predictors of individual action propensity. We find that individual action propensity is associated with being a woman, having fewer years of formal education, not relying on help-seeking behaviours, and having a positive attitude towards spontaneity. Our findings shed light on why individuals take action, or not, and provide implications for research on organizational action propensity.
Link(s) to publication:
Jansen, J.; Vera, D. V.; Crossan, M. M., 2009, "Strategic Leadership for Exploration and Exploitation: The Moderating Role of Environmental Dynamism", Leadership Quarterly, February 20(1): 5 - 18. Abstract: This study advances prior theoretical research by linking transformational and transactional behaviors of strategic leaders to two critical outputs of organizational learning: exploratory and exploitative innovation. Findings indicate that transformational leadership behaviors contribute significantly to adopting generative thinking and pursuing exploratory innovation. Transactional leadership behaviors, on the other hand, facilitate improving and extending existing knowledge and are associated with exploitative innovation. In addition, we argue that environmental dynamism needs to be taken into account to fully understand the effectiveness of strategic leaders. Our study provides new insights that misfits rather than fits between leadership behaviors and innovative outcomes matter in dynamic environments. Hence, we contribute to the debate on the role of strategic leaders in managing exploration and exploitation, not only by examining how specific leadership behaviors impact innovative outcomes, but also by revealing how the impact of leadership is contingent upon dynamic environmental conditions.
- University of Houston, USA 2002-2022
- Instituto de Desarrollo Empresarial (IDE), Ecuador
- Polytechnic University (ESPOL), Ecuador
- Guayaquil Stock Exchange, Ecuador
- Pacific Bank, Ecuador
- Consulcoti, Ecuador
- Strategic Leadership
- Leader Character
- Organizational Learning
- Strategic Management
- Global Leadership