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Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Journal of Business Research

The impact of World Café on entrepreneurial strategic planning capability

Wen-Long Chang a, Shih-Ting Chen b,⁎
Department of Business Administration, Shih Chien University, No.70, Dazhi St., Zhongshan Dist., Taipei City 104, Taipei, Taiwan
Department of Technology Applications and Human Resources Development, National Taiwan Normal University, No.162, Sec. 1, Heping E. Rd., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 106, Taipei, Taiwan

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The World Café has been used to develop business and organizational strategies, to enhance safety performance,
Received 17 June 2013 to support executive education, to foster community development, and for a host of other specific applications.
Received in revised form 21 November 2014 However, is the World Café superior to traditional strategy workshop techniques in terms of increases in partic-
Accepted 24 November 2014
ipant knowledge and understanding? Up to now there has been no absolute no answer to this question. This
Available online 24 December 2014
study examines and compares how the World Café and Strategy Workshops influence the development of entre-
preneurs in the writing of business plans and as a means to model learning behavior. This study also investigates
World Café which kinds of leadership styles (transactional leadership or transformational leadership) can simultaneously
Entrepreneur benefit learning performance. A quasi-experimental design is utilized which includes pre–post tests. 120 partic-
Strategic planning ipants attending an entrepreneurial program held by the government are observed. The results indicate that the
Leadership style World Café strategy has a significantly higher positive effect on their strategic planning capability than with tra-
ditional Strategy Workshops. Second, the leadership style of the focus leader can significantly increase the
entrepreneur's strategic planning capability. Finally, in the discussion of World Café, the effects of transactional
leadership on the entrepreneur's strategic planning capability is found to be greater than the effects of transfor-
mational leadership.
© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction The World Café is a typical example of the group wisdom discussion
mode, an expansion of the traditional workshop modes outlined by
Good strategic planning can assist in the startup of an organization Brown and Isaacs (1998). It is a discussion strategy comprising small
and improve organizational performance (Balabanis & Spyropoulou, flexible group discussions and conversation in a relaxed atmosphere
2007). Strategic planning instruments can be categorized into three aimed at uncovering group wisdom. Discussion can bring out synchro-
types: the first involves general internal and external analysis and nized dialogue, aid in reflection on issues, encourage the sharing of
includes SWOT, BCG, PESTLE (Armstrong & Brodie, 1994; Hill & knowledge, and even uncover new opportunities for action. An increas-
Westbrook, 1997; Jarratt & Stiles, 2010). The second relies on technolo- ing number of enterprises now use the World Café to explore operation-
gy, such as simulations performed by computer (Drozdow & Carroll, al strategies. The difference between ordinary strategy workshops and
1997), to assist in personal or organizational development. The last the World Café is that, in the World Café, group members are changed
utilizes group discussion, work-shops, and brainstorming to encourage or rotated out and assistance is needed to transform ongoing thinking
different kinds of thinking for the planning of strategies (Dyson, 2004; into a systematized outline, as a reference for discussion. This type of
Hodgkinson, Whittington, Johnson, & Schwarz, 2006; Spee & outline thinking is a utilization of what academics often refer to as a
Jarzabkowski, 2009). In the last few years, the “group wisdom” discus- mind map, which can help to focus the discussion while enabling
sion mode has attracted considerable attention. This can include various team members to use logical thinking and pay more attention to the
activities for further analysis and exploration related to the topic at details of strategic planning. The World Café is used widely as an instru-
hand, designed to assist participants in developing a macro- ment for strategy workshops (Carter & Swedeen, 2012; Fouche & Light,
perspective viewpoint. Thus, numerous organizations have adopted 2011; Hodgkinson et al., 2006; Johnson, Prashantham, Floyd, & Bourque,
this discussion mode. 2010; Schieffer, Isaacs, & Gyllenpalm, 2004); however, the question
remains: Is this instrument effective in assisting strategic organization
development? No previous studies have been performed to determine
whether this is the case. An instrument must be implemented and ver-
⁎ Corresponding author at: Department of Technology Applications and Human ified to confirm its validity. The host (table leader) in the World Café
Resources Development, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei 114, Taiwan.
Tel.: +886 953 985768.
plays an important role as facilitator. The host is expected to create a
E-mail addresses: wenlong@mail.usc.edu.tw (W.-L. Chang), welcoming atmosphere and listen to the real meaning behind different
tinating001@yahoo.com.tw (S.-T. Chen). comments, then transform those comments into a discourse that

0148-2963/© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
1284 W.-L. Chang, S.-T. Chen / Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290

creates resonance. In other words, the host must find a balance between World Café dialog focuses on group discussion and rotation, the
dynamic participation and mutual reflection. Thus, the leadership style adoption of new perspectives to maximize the effects of brainstorming,
of the host can determine whether the activity succeeds or fails. and finally the creation of collective wisdom. The style of discussion is
Shonk (1982) discovered that, to create a successful group, leaders appreciative inquiry, which draws on discussing issues more than
have to provide clear prospects and participate positively. Many studies once, encouraging members to share their personal perspectives, and
have shown that leaders have a crucial influence on group performance listening to others to discover the context and deep problem of multiple
and effectiveness (Morgeson, 2005; Zaccaro & Klimoski, 2002). perspectives.
Katzenbach and Smith (1993) investigated the importance of group In the second half of such discussions, participants devise plans for
leaders through two dimensions. Internally: Group leaders must improve group activities based upon collective wisdom. Groups exchange ideas
the procedures used in group activities while teaching and supporting by changing their seats and using different directions to discuss ques-
group members in the development of creative options for the resolution tions. This method can expand small ideas to a big organization, elicit
of problems. Externally: Group leaders must deal with the problems of new conversations, and initiate collective activities.
group boundaries, such as coordinating with other groups or senior Brown (2005) reflected on the World Café, remarking that it has
members of the organization as well as searching for information and re- spread and now includes supporters ranging from CEOs to government
sources required by the group. Leadership style is clearly a key factor af- ministers, senior managers, academics, journalists, and the founders of
fecting the effectiveness of any type of group discussion. think-tanks. The World Café has expanded this way because its use
Leadership style has been widely discussed by researchers of organi- has been shown to assist in solving problems quickly and easily.
zational and operational performance. Various types of leadership style Fullarton and Palermo (2008) compared two workshop techniques:
have been identified, including charismatic leadership (House, 1996), one based on the World Café and the other using large group facilitation
the full range of leadership (Sivasubramaniam, Murry, Avolio, & Jung, (LGF). Their results indicate that the World Café is superior to LGF in
2002), transformational leadership (Bass, 1985), counseling style lead- terms of enhancing the knowledge and understanding of participants.
ership, guided leadership, authorized style leadership and teaching- Participants in the World Café were also far more likely to express the
leadership. However, transformational and transactional leadership belief that this approach was beneficial to their learning, compared to
are the most important and broadly utilized methods in current studies those who took part in the LGF.
(Dvir, Eden, Avolio, & Shamir, 2002). The World Café approach facilitates a series of small- and large-group
Transformational leadership increases member confidence and value conversations intended to spur asset-based thinking, generate local solu-
through excitation, in which members are motivated to work harder tions, and identify new partners associated with an issue of importance to
and contribute more to the organization. Excitation includes ideological a particular community. It has been used in a wide range of corporate and
influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individu- community contexts including the development of strategies (Bertotti,
alized considerations. Transactional leadership focuses on expedient re- Adams-Eaton, Sheridan, & Renton, 2009; Fullarton & Palermo, 2008;
wards or punishment, through role definition and task distribution, to Latham, 2008), the enhancement of safety performance, as a support for
encourage members to achieve goals. The focus is on contingent rewards, education, as a means to foster community development, and for a host
active management by exception and passive management by exception. of other applications (Ritch & Brenan, 2010; Schieffer et al., 2004).
This study focused on participants in government-funded business The World Café is particularly effective in dealing with strategy-
planning classes in Taiwan, to determine the effectiveness of the related issues that require collective wisdom and discussion. This ap-
World Café when applied to processes associated with entrepreneurial proach enables access to the thoughts of masses of people, and expands
strategic planning. We also investigated the role played by table leaders. marginal ideas to larger groups. This study compares the World Café
The objectives of this research are as follows: with conventional strategy workshops with regard to the enhancement
of strategic planning capability.
1. To investigate the effects of various types of discussion mode on
entrepreneurial strategic planning; 2.2. Relevance of strategy workshops in strategic planning
2. To observe how the leadership style of the facilitator affects entrepre-
neurial strategic planning; Strategy workshops are another tool used to develop operational
3. To determine whether the relationships among various modes of strategies within an organization (Bourque & Johnson, 2008; Hendry
discussion and leadership style influence entrepreneurial strategic & Seidl, 2003; Hodgkinson et al., 2006). The strategy workshops are de-
planning. signed to foster discussion and analysis of a topic in a profound way
through various activities, to help participants develop a macro-
According to the results, we provide suggestions for World Café perspective related to the topic at hand (Bourque & Johnson, 2008).
users to further develop discussion modes, and outline means to Strategy workshops focus on facilitating individual growth by im-
increase the effectiveness of this method for strategic planning. proving understanding through work with small groups. In this scenar-
io, the leader sets aside immediate work-related concerns and gathers
2. Literature review subordinates for one or two days to discuss topics related to strategy
(Johnson et al., 2010). Strategy workshops encourage members to es-
2.1. Relevance of World Café to strategic planning cape the framework and structure of the organization and brainstorm
with others to discover alternative ways of achieving goals and resolv-
World conversations are based on seven core design principles and ing difficulties. One survey revealed that 77% of enterprises conduct
the assumption that people already have within them the wisdom and strategic planning through strategy workshops (Jarzabkowski & David,
creativity to confront even the most difficult challenges. These seven 2008). Traditional strategy workshops are an integrated concept,
principles include: 1. setting the context, 2. creating a hospitable collecting participants’ opinions and inspiring resonance towards the
space, 3. exploring questions that matter, 4. encouraging contribution discussion topic through discussion, speech and lectures. Moreover,
from everyone involved, 5. connecting diverse perspectives, 6. listening participatory group discussion is often applied in strategy workshops,
together for patterns and insights, and 7. sharing collective discoveries. which is regarded as an important means affecting the effectiveness of
When used in combination, these principles provide useful guidance for hosting strategy workshops.
anyone seeking creative ways to foster authentic dialogue in which the Entrepreneurial proposals were used as instruments to measure the
goals are thinking together, accessing collective intelligence, and creat- strategic planning capability of the participants. The role played by the
ing actionable knowledge (Brown, 2001). table leader in strategy workshop discussions differs from that of the
W.-L. Chang, S.-T. Chen / Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290 1285

World Café. In strategy workshops, the leader focuses the discussion on Eisenbeib & Boerner, 2013; Herrmann & Felfe, 2012). Transactional
a specific topic; however, in the World Café, the leader focuses on listen- leadership is hindered by insufficient time spent clearly explaining
ing to all of the participants to maximize the effectiveness of brain- goals to subordinates, imperfections in reward systems, disharmony be-
storming. Therefore, this study proposes the following hypothesis: tween leaders and subordinates, a lack of leadership skills, and limited
resources (Bass & Avolio, 1990). However, in situations involving re-
H1. The choice of discussion mode (World Café and strategy work- peated mechanical work within a stable environment or a personnel-
shops) influence the strategic planning capability of entrepreneurs. Fur- oriented organization, transactional leadership can produce better re-
thermore, the World Café discussion mode is superior to that of strategy sults than transformational leadership (Bass, 1998). Hence, we propose
workshops. the following hypothesis:

H2. The leadership style (transactional or transformational) adopted by

2.3. Leadership style the table leader can affect the ability of new entrepreneurs to develop
skills for strategic planning. Furthermore, transactional leadership is su-
Bryman (1992) organized leadership theory into four groups: Trait perior to transformational leadership in enhancing these skills.
Theories; Theory of Planned Behavior (1940-1960), Contingency Theo- H3. The leadership style adopted by the table leader under different
ry (1960-1980); and Interactionism. In Interactionism, the key point discussion modes can affect the ability of new entrepreneurs to develop
was the importance of current leaders understanding their role in trans- skills for strategic planning.
formation activities with regard to leadership behavior and the subordi-
nates. These studies have prompted leaders to correct their behavior in
order to enhance the effectiveness of their leadership.
3. Research design and implementation
Transactional leadership and transformational leadership are com-
monly in the spotlight. Robert and Angelo (1995) categorized theories
3.1. Samples
on traditional leadership, such as Trait Theory, the Theory of Planned
Behavior and Contingency Theory, as theories related to transactional
The Taiwanese government encourages young people to establish
leadership. Konovsky and Pugh showed that transactional leadership
their own businesses by launching classes for prospective entrepre-
is based on job requirements and exchanges, in which a simple econom-
neurs. This study focuses on the 120 participants who attended the
ic relationship is maintained with an emphasis on rewards when goals
June 2012 entrepreneurial class sponsored by the Taiwanese govern-
are achieved. Employees are concerned with fairness in the workplace;
ment with the aim of starting their own businesses within three years.
therefore, any hint of bias can undermine trust in leadership. Transfor-
mational leadership focuses on using leaders to build prospects, to es-
tablish important values, characteristics, beliefs and behavior for these 3.2. Methodology
prospects through care for the needs of each subordinate, actively im-
proving their intelligence, and guiding them to transform their benefits This study adopted a quasi-experimental design to explore the influ-
and seek organizational prospects (Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006; Sosik, ence of leadership style (transactional and transformational) and dis-
Godshalk, & Yammarino, 2004). Bennis and Nanus (1985) discovered cussion mode (World Café and strategy workshop) on the strategic
that the relationship between transformational leaders and subordi- planning skills of new entrepreneurs. To ensure that participants in
nates is actually a partnership, such that leaders develop an understand- the control group (strategy workshop) and experimental group
ing of the needs and wants of their subordinates. This causative (World Café) had comparable a priori entrepreneurial knowledge, an
relationship helps develop an organizational system in which subordi- 18 hour entrepreneurial course was offered over a period of three
nates gain power and are encouraged to seek values such as fairness, days prior to the workshops (refer to Table 1).
justice, freedom, and self-realization. Strauss, Griffin, and Rafferty
(2009) found that transformational team leaders assist their subordi-
nates by enhancing their confidence to initiate change. 3.3. Variables and operational definitions
Transformational leaders can enhance the sense of value a subordi-
nate attaches to work goals, which can strengthen the link between ef- This study adopted discussion mode (World Café and strategy work-
fort and performance, help subordinates to recognize the contribution shops) and leadership style (transactional and transformational) as in-
of their leaders, and embrace organizational goals (Bono & Judge, dependent variables and strategic planning capability as a dependent
2003; Herrmann & Felfe, 2012; Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993). variable. The operational definition of each study variable is outlined
Yammarino, Spangler, and Bass (1993) found that transactional leaders in the following:
simply exchange benefits with their subordinates with the only concern
being whether goals are completed on time and whether the work con- 3.3.1. Discussion mode
forms to expectations. Transactional leaders provide rewards to estab- The study conducted experiments based on two different discussion
lish an atmosphere in which an employee reaches the goal to get the modes, World Café and strategy workshops. The World Café uses group
rewards and puts in efforts to avoid punishment. Affective commitment discussion and rotation to promote brainstorming in order to tap into
will decrease via the effort of transactional leaders. Ponder (2001) noted collective wisdom. Strategy workshops focus on better understanding
that transactional leadership is oriented toward employee needs and re- to achieve individual growth through small group experiences. In this
quires standard procedural control. This leadership style emphasizes study, the greatest difference between strategy workshops and World
benefit exchange. Café is that members of the World Cafe took turns as table leader.
A number of studies on leadership behavior have described the im-
pact of positive affection on the relationships between subordinates
and leaders. Some researchers have ventured to assert that transforma- 3.3.2. Leadership
tional leadership is better than transactional leadership (Bass, Avolio, Transactional leaders exchanged real benefits with their subordi-
Jung, & Berson, 2003; Judge & Piccolo, 2004; Whittington, Goodwin, & nates (such as controlling the business plan scores of the subordinates),
Murray, 2004). The adoption of a transformational leadership style in exchange for the completion of tasks assigned. Transformational
can enhance the creativity and satisfaction of subordinates, thereby en- leaders encouraged their subordinates to achieve higher goals, tasks,
hancing performance and service quality (Bass & Avolio, 1994; or visions.
1286 W.-L. Chang, S.-T. Chen / Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290

Table 1 were conducted in three rounds; however, members did not

Content of entrepreneurial training course. move to new groups until the end of class.
Time Class name Content

Day 1 2. Pre-Test:
09:00–12:00 Analysis of entrepreneurial 1. Entrepreneurial strategies and Members of the experimental and control groups began by present-
trend and operational trends ing entrepreneurial proposals and the scores they obtained were
resources 2. Industry selection & structure of
taken as the pre-test result to confirm their prior knowledge and
3. Entrepreneurial resources the initial abilities of the students.
14:00–17:00 Youth entrepreneurship 1. Youth entrepreneurship loan 3. Prior Knowledge
loan program proposal proposal writing practice A presentation was given to ensure that the participants understood
writing & case study 2. Entrepreneurial management
the rules of World Café as well as the characteristics of a good table
Day 2
leader. Participants were then invited to engage in a practice discus-
09:00–12:00 Entrepreneurial tax laws & 1. Business registration process sion using World Café. The presentation included role playing as a
regulations 2. Business regulations table leader as well as tips on hosting a meeting and guiding subordi-
3. Lease signing & precautions nates, including the rules of presentation, the importance of remain-
4.Tax management
ing impartial, assisting group members and listening to them
14:00–17:00 Entrepreneurial capital 1. Entrepreneurial capital funding
planning 2. Key the successful financing carefully, maintaining focus on the discussion issue, ensuring mutual
3. Financial revenue and respect between group members, and making sure that all group
expenditure control and financial members join the discussion.
Day 3
09:00–12:00 Entrepreneurial marketing 1. Entrepreneurial market data 3.4.2. Experimental stage
collection and analysis of 1. Experimental Group
competitors The experimental group adopted a World Café dialog style for their
2. District positioning and
discussions. Each group was assigned a table leader and a recorder.
marketing strategies for the
customer Three 50-minute discussions were conducted in each course. Group
3. Service tools and brand loyalty members moved to new groups after each round; however, the
modeling table leader remained in the same group. After each round of discus-
14:00–17:00 Entrepreneurial Goods and 1. Planning the basic principles &
sions, the table leader was given the task of summarizing the point of
Service Management Data Management
2. Price positioning and cost
the discussion topic. An assistant outlined the key points of the dis-
control cussion and wrote them on a discussion board for the table leader
3. Channel planning and to supplement later. Finally, each table leader assembled a summary
logistics/Cash flow management of of key conclusions and gave a 5-minute oral presentation at the end
purchasing and inventory
of the three rounds of discussion.
2. Control Group
The control group adopted the strategy workshop dialog style for
their discussions. Each group was assigned a table leader and a re-
3.3.3. Strategic planning capability corder. Three 50-minute discussions were conducted in each course.
Strategic planning capability refers to the ability of an entrepreneur The group members did not change between rounds. After the three
to make plans regarding the future operation of a company. The testing rounds of discussion, each group elected one person to give a 5-
index includes whether the business plan is reasonable or competitive. minute oral presentation.
3. Discussion topics
3.4. Experimental design Topic 1: Grouping strategic planning team members
Topic 2: Assessment of pre-strategic planning – operations of depart-
The discussions in the control group and experimental group were ments
conducted at the same time but in different classrooms. Classes in the Topic 3: Assessment of pre-strategic planning – financial assessment
experimental group were divided into 2, 3-hour segments for discus- Topic 4: Assessment of pre-strategic planning – market assessment
sion. The topics of discussion included strategic planning, group team Topic 5: Assessment of pre-strategic planning – competitive advan-
members, financial assessments, market assessments, etc. In the first tage analysis
half, the experimental group focused on discussions of topics 1 to 3, Topic 6: Assessment of pre-strategic planning – expected benefits
while the second half focused on topics 4–6. analysis

3.4.1. Pre-operation
1. The study randomly assigned participants to the experimental group 3.4.3. Post-test
(60 persons), and a control group (60 persons). Following the experiment, the author presented the entrepreneurial
proposal for a second time, the results of which were adopted as post-
(1). Experimental group (World Café) test results.
The students were divided into 6 groups of 10 individuals each.
The instructor randomly distributed the members and assigned 3.5. Instruments of measurement
one of the members as the table leader. Group discussions
were conducted in three rounds and members changed to new An entrepreneurial proposal was evaluated to compare the efficacy
groups in each round. of World Café and strategy workshops in the enhancement of entrepre-
(2). Control group (strategy workshops) neurial strategic planning capability. Proposal writing was selected as
The students were divided into 6 groups of 10 individuals each. an instrument to measure strategic planning capability because strate-
The instructor randomly distributed the members and assigned gies must be developed before startup (Chang & Lee, 2013; Li &
one of the members as the table leader. Group discussions Atuahene-Gima, 2001; Song, Droge, Hanvanich, & Calantone, 2005), in
W.-L. Chang, S.-T. Chen / Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290 1287

the hopes of enhancing the performance of the business and an entre- Table 3
preneurial proposal is an important reference blueprint for the develop- Analysis of t-tests on the influence of strategic planning for differences in table leaders’
leadership style.
ment of business strategy. Klinger and Schündeln (2011) emphasized
that proposal writing is a key point in entrepreneurial training and a Leadership style Average Standard deviation t-Value Sig.
guiding principle for startup strategy planning. Transactional 3.913 4.023 2.114 0.032⁎
In assessing the pros and cons of the written business plans, we Transformational 2.175 3.642
referred to Mason and Stark (2004) who used the concept of investors ⁎ p b 0.05.
as the basis for assessment. In each round of assessment, every business
plan was quantitatively rated on seven dimensions: ability of operation, progress score among World Café participants was 3.68, which is signif-
completeness, market orientation, realism, consistency, competitive ad- icantly higher than that obtained among participants of the strategy
vantage, and definitude. The scores ranged from 60 to 100 (60 and workshops (1.933). These findings indicate that the World Café discus-
below = very incomplete proposal statement, 100 = very complete sion mode is better able to improve the strategic planning capability of
proposal statement). In an attempt to provide clear evaluation criteria new entrepreneurs, thereby supporting Hypothesis 1. (See Table 2.)
for all participants, the instructor explained the assessment process in As shown in Table 3, leadership style had a significant influence on
great detail prior to the implementation of the courses. In addition, sam- the development of strategic planning capability (t = 2.114, p b 0.05).
ple business plans and comments were provided as an aid for the clari- The average progress score under transactional table leaders (3.913)
fication of criteria. was significantly higher than the scores obtained under transformation-
al table leaders (1.933). Thus, Hypothesis 2 is supported. These results
3.6. Data treatment demonstrate that under transactional leadership, strategic planning ca-
pability can be improved more effectively than what can be achieved
This study used a quasi-experimental design and the data was ana- under transformational leadership.
lyzed using a t-test to evaluate the effects of different discussion We also analyzed the effects of leadership style and discussion mode
modes, and multivariate analysis of factors. Different styles of leader- on the development of strategic planning capability among new entre-
ship (transactional and transformational) were observed in the context preneurs. As shown in Table 4, the results of 2x2 factorial analysis on
of different discussion modes (World Café, strategy workshops) in order business plan writing performance indicates a significant interaction
to examine the effect of each on the dependent variables. between leadership style and discussion mode (F = 15.30, p b 0.01).
After confirming an interaction between leadership style and discus-
4. Results and discussion sion mode, we implemented analysis on simple main effects. The results
in Table 5 reveal that in the World Café, transactional leadership had a
4.1. Descriptive statistics greater impact than did transformational leadership on the develop-
ment of strategic planning capability among new entrepreneurs (t =
Background data indicated that all 120 participants wanted to start 6.426, p b 0.0000). In addition, under transactional leadership, the
their own businesses within 3 years. Those aged below 30 years World Café discussion mode had a greater impact on the development
accounted for 32%, those aged 30–35 years accounted for 50%, and of strategic planning capability among new entrepreneurs, compared
those aged from 35–40 years accounted for 8% of the participants. In ad- to the same leadership mode within a traditional strategy workshop
dition, 36% were female; 62% had undergraduate college degrees; 32% (t = 3.863, p b 0.000). These findings support Hypothesis 3.
held masters or doctorate degrees; 40% were majoring in business;
46% were science and engineering majors, while other fields accounted
for 14%. Among the table leaders, 48% adopted a transformational lead- 4.3. Discussion
ership style and 52% adopted a transactional leadership style.
Our results confirm the practicability of the World Café strategy. This
4.2. Results is consistent with other studies (Carter & Swedeen, 2012; Fullarton &
Palermo, 2008; Ritch & Brenan, 2010; Schieffer et al., 2004), which indi-
The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of discussion cated that the discussion mode employed in the World Café can en-
mode (World Café & strategy workshops) and leadership style (trans- hance understanding and the utilization of knowledge by encouraging
formational & transactional) on the development of strategic planning interaction among various groups of people. In this study, these charac-
capability among new entrepreneurs. Prior to statistical analysis, the teristics did indeed lead to significant improvements in strategic plan-
study first conducted tests on data homogeneity to evaluate whether ning capability. In addition, the World Café assigns assistants to
the data gathered conformed to the homogeneity hypothesis. Our re- outline important ideas, vocabulary, and concepts during discussion as
sults indicate that the p-value of 0.111 N 0.05 is below the level of signif- reference materials for the other attendees. The diagram used to visually
icance, therefore, the homogeneity of variance is accepted and the data outline this type of information is called a Mind Map, and it can be used
conforms to the basic hypothesis. to enhance communication and learning (Eriksson & Hauer, 2004;
This study employed a dependent sample t-test to investigate the in- Mueller, Johnston, & Bligh, 2002).
fluence of discussion mode on the development of strategic planning ca-
pability among new entrepreneurs. As shown in Table 3, discussion
Table 4
mode had a significant influence on the development of strategic plan- Summary of 2×2 factorial designs on the business plan writing performance.
ning capability (t = 4.142; p b 0.001). We also know that the average
Source Type III Sum of Df Mean F Sig.
Squares square
Table 2 Leadership style 15.408 1 15.408 1.309 .255
Analysis of t-test results on the influence of strategic planning between the two different Discussion mode 226.875 1 226.875 19.277 .001⁎⁎⁎
discussion modes. Leadership style * 180.075 1 180.075 15.300 .001⁎⁎⁎
Discussion mode
Discussion mode Average Standard deviation t-value Sig.
Error 1365.233 116 11.769
World Café 3.683 3.529 4.142 0.001⁎⁎⁎ Total 3101.000 120
Strategy workshop 1.933 3.741 Corrected total 1787.592 119
⁎⁎⁎ p b 0.001. ⁎⁎⁎ p b 0.001.
1288 W.-L. Chang, S.-T. Chen / Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290

Table 5 responsibilities of the leader include maintaining team harmony and

Simple main effects on business plan writing performance. guiding attendees to remain on the topic of discussion. Thus, in a tradi-
Source t-value Significance Comparison tional workshop, leadership style did not exercise a significant effect on
Leadership style
the development of strategic planning capability.
Transactional 6.426 0.001 World Café N Strategy workshop
Transformational 0.314 0.755 ---
Discussion mode 5. Conclusions and suggestions
World Café 3.863 0.001 Transactional N Transformational
Strategy workshop 1.830 0.072 ---
The World Café is commonly used for strategy development in a
***p b 0.001. range of operations. However, the effectiveness of this tool has seldom
been examined in detail. This study compared the efficiency of two dis-
cussion modes (World Café and strategy workshops) and observed
These results also suggest that under transactional leadership, the their impact on the development of strategic planning capability,
improvements in strategic planning capability were more pronounced when administered under two styles of leadership (transactional and
than those observed under transformational leadership. This could be transformational). Our results demonstrate that the World Café played
explained by the fact that the World Café lessons are only one day a significant role in improving the strategic planning capability of new
long, which could make it difficult to influence attendees, provide entrepreneurs.
them with clear vision, and develop mutual trust. This may also explain Second, leadership style was shown to have a significant impact
why transactional leadership style is sometimes superior to transforma- on the development of strategic planning capability. Transactional
tional leadership, particularly when used in short-term situations. leaders were shown to be far more effective than transformational
In World Café discussions, transactional leadership had a more pro- leaders in facilitating improvements in strategic planning capability
nounced impact on the development of strategic planning capability among team members. Third, under transactional leadership, the
than did transformational leadership. We believe that the operation World Café was shown to be a more effective environment than
mode of the World Café could be a reason for this result. The table leader strategy workshops. Finally, during the World Café discussion, it
plays a key role in these discussions by providing guidance, moving the was found that transactional leadership had a greater impact than
discussion in the right direction, and helping attendees to stick to the did transformational leadership on the development of strategic
original discussion topic. This kind of discussion mode could be de- planning capability.
scribed as “active management-by-exception”, as emphasized in the It has been noted that the attendees of the World Café are not always
transactional leadership style. Bass (1985) claimed that transactional able to focus on the topic of discussion or provide specific solutions. This
leaders give guidance during work and adopt methods to ensure that is most likely due to the leadership style of the table leaders. In this
work is completed efficiently. Therefore, in the World Café discussion study, it was noticed that although transformational leaders tend to cre-
mode, transactional leadership style has a greater impact on strategic ate a friendly environment for discussion and tend not to restrict the
planning capability than does transformational leadership. topic being discussed, discussions can move off topic under transforma-
Under transactional leadership, the World Café showed a greater im- tional leadership, such that the goals established in the first place cannot
pact on strategic planning capability, compared to strategy workshops. always be met.
According to Yammarino et al. (1993), transactional leaders maintain On the other hand, transactional leadership is goal oriented, such
a lower level of transaction with staff. In other words, transactional that the discussion remains on the problem, which in this case
leaders only care about whether the objectives are being met on time enabled team members to learn more effectively. Thus, we recom-
and whether the anticipated outcome for the job is achieved. This is mend that focus leaders possess full understanding of the discussion
similar to the operational patterns observed in the World Café. During topics and consider their leadership style when working in the
discussions, the responsibilities of the table leaders include guiding World Café.
the team to complete six different topics of discussion and then summa-
rizing each discussion.
In other words, “obtaining a better score in business plan writing” 6. Limitations
was the main objective for both the table leaders and team members.
During the discussion, the table leaders had to remind the team mem- 6.1. Students may not have started with a clear understand of the operation
bers to discuss each topic within the time given and centralize their mode of World Café
speech in order to obtain better scores. This is consistent with the find-
ings of Konovsky and Pugh (1994), in which it was noted that transac- The World Café is widely applied by enterprises or organizations for
tional leadership is based on the exchange of subordinates fulfilling practical discussion; however, it is rarely applied in schools. As a result,
job requirements and employers providing compensation. This results this mode of discussion may have been new to the students. Nonethe-
in an economic relationship with an emphasis on rewards given for less, the author has frequently adopted this approach to teaching and
goals accomplished, leading to higher productivity. This is the reason attended numerous discussion activities outside the campus. This
that the World Café proved more effective than did the strategy work- made it possible to ensure that the students were fully aware of the
shops when organized under transactional leadership. World Café protocol.
Finally, the reasons for the insignificant result were also investigat-
ed. According to Bono and Judge (2003), transformational leaders pro-
vide a vision for the staff and have strong expectations and confidence 6.2. The grading of entrepreneurial proposals is easily affected by teacher
in their staff’s abilities. They also try to influence the staff through the in- bias, which may skew the results
ternalization of values. Due to the time limitations of the government
lessons, the discussion time was limited to just six hours a day, which This entrepreneurial course is practice-oriented, and the evaluation
was insufficient for the leaders to influence attendees. Thus, transforma- of entrepreneurial proposals could be affected by the instructor.
tional leadership did not present significant advantages over strategy To reduce subjective bias, we obtained appropriate evaluation indexes
workshops when employed in the World Café in this study. in advance to enable teachers to make unbiased evaluations. In addi-
The leader in a strategy workshop is not as involved as the table tion, students were graded by two teachers and the final score was
leaders in the World Café. In a strategy workshop, the main averaged.
W.-L. Chang, S.-T. Chen / Journal of Business Research 68 (2015) 1283–1290 1289

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Wen Long Chang is the Director of Academic Research, Office of Research & Development,
Organization Management, 27, 66–96.
at Shih Chien University, Taipei, Taiwan. He received his BA degree from Baker University
Song, M., Droge, C., Hanvanich, S., & Calantone, R. (2005). Marketing and technology re-
of Kansas in the United States, MBA degree from National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan,
source complement: An analysis of their interaction effect in two environmental con-
and PhD degree in Industrial Education, from National Taiwan Normal University. His cur-
texts. Strategic Management Journal, 6(3), 259–276.
rent research interests include entrepreneurship education, strategic management, and
Sosik, J. J., Godshalk, V. M., & Yammarino, F. J. (2004). Transformational leadership, learn-
human resource management.
ing goal orientation and expectations for career success in mentor-protégé relation-
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Spee, A. P., & Jarzabkowski, P. (2009). Strategy tools as boundary objects. Strategic Shih-Ting Chen is a project manager in the Taiwan Province Industry Association. She is
Organization, 7(2), 223–232. also a doctoral student in the Department of Technology Application and Human Resource
Strauss, K., Griffin, M. A., & Rafferty, A. E. (2009). Proactivity directed toward the team and Development at National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan (ROC). Her current research
organization: The role of leadership, commitment, and confidence. British Journal of interests include entrepreneurship education, strategic management, and human resource
Management, 20, 279–291. management.