| 05.05.2021

Doctoral thesis: Board work is more affected by personal views than anticipated

New research shows that individual approaches to value and value creation call for re-learning, re-focusing and re-evaluation in board work.

In her doctoral thesis entitled “Individual perceptions of value and value creation: The human side of the board of directors of the entrepreneurial growth company” Mirja Kaarlela studies how board members bring their individual and personal approaches, frames of reference and worldview to any board situation and value creation.
“I approached board members of entrepreneurial growth companies to see how it is that they understand value and value creation. Often value is assumed to be financial, but I wanted to explore if there is more to it. In my study, I find that board members are individuals who, in fact, do think there is more to value than just monetary value. This would imply that we need to broaden our views on value and value creation towards new aspects”, Kaarlela says.
According to Kaarlela, it is often assumed that the workings of the board follow commonly acknowledged structures and content. And yet, the boards of entrepreneurial growth companies are serving and advising companies that are displaying unstructured, unconventional, more contemporary, even experimental ways of running a business, and in understanding the concept of value and value creation.

The study finds that board members express and speak about value in many ways. For example, for some, value is about their dreams and passion as well as emotions and energy in running a company. For another, value is created while openly interacting with another board member, sharing both successes and failures. One board member considers value created when she can immerse herself in the board work in ways in which there is room for reflection and personal growth. There is also the person who relies on conventional practices and boundaries as a way to create value.  
What seems meaningful and is shared with the interviewees, is the willingness and ability to engage in continuous re-learning, re-focusing and re-evaluation of your choices, reactions and decisions when interacting with others in a boardroom of entrepreneurial growth companies. Also, the various ways to understand value and value creation seem to evolve and mature, if attention is paid to them.

“In this ever present and overly connected economy, it would seem vital for anyone involved in board work of entrepreneurial growth companies to pay careful attention to default approaches and practices – are they really working and creating the kind of value intended. Asking questions and creating conversations around them generates awareness, purpose and transparency in board work”, Kaarlela concludes.

You can read the doctoral thesis in full here.

The event will be held virtually.
You can join the Teams meeting here. The link will go online at 12:00 noon on 7 May.

Mirja Kaarlela will be defending her doctoral thesis at 12:00 noon on 7 May 2021. The field of study is Entrepreneurship, Management and Organisation.
Opponent: Professor Silke Machold, University of Wolverhampton
Chair: Professor emeritus Martin Lindell, Hanken School of Economics