Research Group ACED, the Antwerp Centre of Evolutionary Demography, is an international Centre of Excellence of the Department of Management. In 2007, ACED was established by Prof. dr. Arjen van Witteloostuijn and Prof. dr. Christophe Boone, based on a large FWO Odysseus grant financed by the Flemish government to study the dynamics of diversity at different levels of analysis (individual, team, industry and community). In October 2013, Prof. dr. ir. Victor Gilsing from Tilburg University, joined ACED as a senior research professor of Corporate Innovation & Entrepreneurship. In November 2014, Prof. dr. ir. Victor Gilsing has received an FWO Odysseus research grant from the Research Foundation - Flanders to study the role of Top Managers in a firm´s ability to create innovations and technological breakthroughs. Together with Prof. dr. Christophe Boone, he will contribute to the development and execution of the current and future research agenda of ACED. Prof. dr. Carolyn Declerck, professor of psychology, also forms part of the ACED-team as a senior researcher in the field of Neuro-Economics. The ACED team is in continuous evolution with PhD candidates from all over the world. Several new colleagues joined our group, others left to all corners of the world for new challenges and interesting jobs, after finalizing their PhD with strong research results.
Mission & 4 Research Themes
It is ACED’s unequivocal mission to develop itself into a world-class, truly interdisciplinary, fundamental research institute focused on the following 4 major research topics:
Top Management Team Behavior
Both in the popular press and in academic outlets the role of executives and their characteristics in organizational behavior is increasingly being emphasized. Within ACED, we study the impact of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the other executives – in short: the Top Management Team (TMT) – on a range of organizational outcomes, such as organizational fairness, innovative capabilities, risk-taking, and performance. We do this in a variety of settings, ranging from large multinationals in the biotech industry, banking and small entrepreneurial spin-offs.
Corporate Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Interfirm Networks
This theme studies topics at the intersection of the literature on upper echelons and innovation. It specifically deals with issues such as the role of a firm´s top managers in the building of an innovative organization and how this affects the ability to create technological breakthroughs. But also topics such as the performance consequences of corporate venturing and external collaboration for innovation form part of this theme.
Organizational demography and new form emergence
This theme focuses on organizational diversity within and between organizational populations and considers new organizational form emergence, organizational identity and renewal, and how this influences the aggregate behavior and performance of organizations in communities. The focus is on how competition between organizations affects the diffusion of oppositional ideologies in societies (e.g., Islamic vs. conventional banking; the cooperative vs. the corporate form) and how values of TMTs shape this process.
At the micro-level, we investigate the processes that underscore decision-making, accounting for variation in individual strategies, and subsequently, heterogeneity in groups and organizations. By combining economic paradigms developed in game theory with neuro-imaging techniques we attempt to unravel the latent drivers of choice behavior and differentiate between the role of emotions versus cognitive deliberation. This research program provides us with a micro-foundational basis for our studies on CEO and TMT decision making.
What the 4 research themes have in common is an emphasis on a multi-disciplinary, multi-level and multi-method approach. First, insights from different economic and social science disciplines will be combined and integrated, notably economics, psychology, sociology and political science. Second, the multi-level perspective will be explored systematically, implying that interactions across different levels of analysis will be investigated. Third, we emphasize longitudinal and a quantitative approach to understand the dynamics of the phenomena we are interested in (e.g. count data models, event history analysis, panel data analysis). In this respect, it is important to note that we have an open mind with respect to combining multiple methods. For instance, we are working on developing experiments to analyze in more depth the plausibility of our basic assumptions.
All in all, it is the ultimate aim of ACED’s research program & approach to accomplish a more in-depth understanding of the interrelationship between these 4 different levels of analysis, and in this way contribute to bridging the growing distance between the micro and macro levels in organization sciences. Specific questions are, for example, ‘what is the relationship between (neuro-economic) individual differences and their behavior in teams, how do top management teams contribute to organizational innovation and what is the role of new organizational form emergence in this process? But also what is the relationship between selection processes at different levels of analysis, for example, selection of top managers in teams and selection of organizations in markets?’