Traveling ideas like a Global Virus Infections for Leadership
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'Traveling ideas' denotes that virtually identical management ideas crop up more or less simultaneously in similar organizations globally. The encounter between thought and practice may be lasting; beliefs may affect training and practice. Leaders in organizations may play a more active role than the one often depicted in management fashion theory. The ideas represent a trade-off between business strategy, leadership, and employees. We keep acceptable and adequate ideas while we drop unacceptable and inadequate plans. The ideas work like a sensitizing concept of directions along which to look for temporary order and stability. Adopting a business idea is like a virus spreading worldwide, leaving an enormous strength through global corporations and societies. The study methodology is built upon a total of 20 in depth interviews in Telia and Telenor done in 2019 and 2020. We also analyzed the annual reports for 2020 for the 20 largest corporations at the stock markets in Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen (N=60) to compare the results. We developed seven hypotheses from the literature foundation for empirical testing. We identified the following ideas at Telia (Sweden) and Telenor (Norway): Globalization, digitalization, sustainability, trust-based leadership, value-based leadership, virtual teams, project management agility, and flexible workplaces. The ideas came up both top-down as strategic intentions and bottom-up as the direction of work or by the COVID-19 crisis. We found that most of the 60 largest corporations at the Scandinavian stock market practice the same ideas. We have thus concluded that strategic and leadership concepts work as traveling ideas. These buzz words go to almost any private business forming the way of thinking and working as a traveling virus. We argue that this article's empirical test supports our belief that a virus-inspired theory gives a more vibrant picture than the fashion theory. Our analysis shows that four of our six hypotheses, derived from the virus-inspired theory, are strengthened by Telia and Telenor's empirical explorative story. Telia and Telenor have decided upon what is adequate and acceptable as their business ideas and beliefs, similar to other corporations globally as a virus infection. The virus might hit the corporate culture in different ways, Virtually identical ideas crop up globally more or less simultaneously in similar organizations. A primary idea virus is running in every larger organization with a smaller differentiation than anticipated. In Telia and Telenor, the virus ideas worked like mission statements giving meaning and belief to work as a spiritual business soul of belonging to the modernity and the future. The virus works like directions along which to look for meaning, belonging, and modernity. The image of modernity through global buzz words might be a self-betrayal and most businesses would probably benefit more from critical reflections and a learning from their own culture and history.