SMS Educational Impact Award

We are pleased to announce the inauguration of this award to be presented by the Strategic Management Society!

The Educational Impact Award recognizes excellence in contributing to the teaching mission in Strategic Management. It will be given annually to an individual who has made an exemplary contribution to quality and innovation in the teaching of strategic management, either through their own teaching and mentoring activities and/or by empowering other teachers with innovations and high-quality teaching materials.

Award Timeline

Nominations for the SMS Educational Impact Award will be accepted until March 31 of each year and should be sent to the SMS Executive Office at:

Award Nominations

Nominations must include:

  • A nomination letter of not more than two pages in length specifically addressing the nominee’s achievements vis-à-vis the above criteria
  • Two additional letters of recommendation for the nominated individual
  • A full current CV for the nominated individual

Past Educational Impact Award Recipients

Nominees for this award will be judged according to the following criteria:

  • Innovation in the teaching of strategic management (e.g. new pedagogies, new media for learning and knowledge sharing)
  • Development and dissemination of teaching materials, such as texts, case studies and digital materials
  • Writing and publishing on pedagogy
  • Evidence of excellence in teaching at their home institution and other places they have taught (e.g. teaching awards, reference letters from administrators or peers, etc.)

The Award will be presented at the SMS Annual Conference and accompanied by a plaque and a $5,000 monetary prize. In addition, the recipient is invited to present in a special session that is part of the Teaching Community Track at the conference.

The selection committee for this award includes members of the Board of Directors and the leadership of the SMS Teaching Community. The committee is chaired by the SMS Past President.

Nominations – including self-nominations – are invited from any member of the SMS.

2019 Award Recipient: Jackson Nickerson

We are honored to present this year’s Education Impact Award to Jackson Nickerson of Washington University of St. Louis.

Jackson has made seminal contributions to management education for graduate students, executives, and government leaders.  He has been an inspiring and insightful teacher for more than twenty years. He has also authored more than 40 case studies, and he has been a true innovator in pedagogy, with some ground-breaking ideas about how to teach strategy to executives and government leaders.

Jackson’s biggest contribution to teaching excellence is how he has brought his academic research into the classroom.  He has written a monograph on Critical Thinking, as well as scholarly articles on problem formulation, and these have informed his novel approach to teaching strategic decision making. This work was recognized by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) with the MBA Roundtable Innovator’s Award in 2011, and a request to develop a leadership development program for assistant and associate deans on the same topic.

Jackson has also been active as a mentor to junior colleagues at the Olin School of Business, helping them to develop their skills as teachers and to bring their academic research into the classroom.

Jackson will be presented with this award at the Awards Luncheon, Tuesday afternoon at the SMS Annual Conference in Minneapolis. As a recipient of the award, he will also be organizing a session on Tuesday at the conference!

We have also conducted a short interview with Jackson, as this year's recipient. Click below to see his answers.

Interview with Jackson Nickerson, October 2019

Teaching executives does differ substantially from teaching MBAs and undergrads.  Perhaps the two most important differences are found in scaffolding and motivation.  Scaffolding encompasses information, knowledge, and life experiences that students use to interpret the world.  Executives have a lot more scaffolding compared to undergrads and MBAs.  This scaffolding must be activated, disassembled, and then rebuilt for them to learn new material. Fortunately, executives are motivated to learn new approaches to tackle the difficult real-world challenges that they face whereas undergrad and MBA motivation is more about getting good grades and jobs.  Successful executive courses therefore are designed to leverage this motivation to deconstruct and then reconstruct the architecture of their thinking.

Problem formulation is trying to figure out the right problem (or, depending on one’s vernacular, the right opportunity, situation, issue, etc.) to solve.  Unfortunately, biases and assumptions as well as narrowness of perspective (or scaffolding) can lead to jumping to a solution, which all too often fails to solve the right problem the first time.  An important part of critical thinking, which is a focus of my teaching and research, is to design, share, and inculcate within students processes of thinking as well as facilitation methods to help them overcome these impediments so that they can solve the right problem the first time.  Getting the thinking process right greatly increases their batting average.

Almost all of my course designs integrate my (and others’) research papers.  I use cases to present a context and surface dilemmas to students and asked them make decisions.  Students typically jump to a solution based on their scaffolding and ignore many features of the context.  After they've disclosed their decision and thinking to each other, I share research insights, mine and others, to “treat” them in terms of providing a different way of thinking using concepts new to them.  Once treated, I ask them to apply the new concepts and thinking to resolve the situation.  We then go to case B to discover what the protagonist actually did as well as to learn the outcomes of these decisions in case C.  The students then reflect and compare how they think now versus at the beginning of the class as well as in comparison to the protagonist.  Students also are assigned these same academic papers to read to deepen their understanding of the key concepts and to help them develop a capacity to learn directly from academic journals like SMJ.

With mentoring, I first explore and try to understand what challenges my colleague faces, how they teach, and how they are thinking about teaching.  Of particular importance is understanding their philosophy of teaching and student learning.  We all have been students and (hopefully) experienced great courses and teaching; but that doesn’t mean we have observed the philosophy behind the decisions that led to these outcomes.  If I can help colleagues structure, advance, and refine their teaching philosophy then specific decisions and actions to improve outcomes are much easier to figure out.