Technology

109 Results

 

Multi-sided Platforms

There is growing interest in the economics of multi-sided platforms (MSPs), which-like eBay, Uber, and Xbox-get two or more sides on board and enable interactions between them. In this article the authors study firms' strategic positioning decisions between a multi-sided platform (MSP) mode and three alternative modes. The main focus is on the choice between operating in MSP mode and operating in vertically integrated (VI) mode. The authors provide a formal model of this choice. The model highlights the key trade-off between the coordination benefits of the VI mode when there are spillovers across the decisions of individual professionals/employees and the benefits of the MSP mode in motivating unobservable effort on the part of professionals/employees. The authors also study how this trade-off shifts according to the nature of contracts available under the two different modes. Finally, they also highlight some of the key trade-offs that arise in the choice between operating as a MSP or as a reseller, and between operating as a MSP or as an input supplier. Read More

Inventing Products is Less Valuable Than Inventing Ideas

When companies create new products, they are often also inventing new ideas—and that's where the real value resides. Gautam Ahuja discusses why companies fall short in fully exploiting their intellectual capital. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Apple Pay’s Technology Adoption Problem

Apple wants to convert your iPhone into a digital wallet with Apple Pay. Professors Benjamin Edelman and Willy Shih assess its chances for success and wonder if consumers have a compelling reason to make the switch. Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Leading Innovation is the Art of Creating ‘Collective Genius’

As Linda Hill sees it, innovation requires its own brand of leadership. The coauthor of the new book Collective Genius discusses what's been learned from 16 of the best business innovators. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Does Internet Technology Threaten Brand Loyalty?

Internet technologies may not kill off brands, but they certainly magnify both the bad and good decisions of marketers. Jim Heskett's readers weight in on this month's question. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration

Firms play a central role in the immigration of skilled workers to the United States. In this paper the authors review the progress that has been made so far on understanding the impacts of high skilled immigration from the perspective of the firm. They discuss why an understanding of the economics of the firm is important, and emphasize the important degree to which firms internalize substitutions and complementarities over different worker groups and occupations. They then review recent academic work about firms and skilled immigration, and describe important areas for future research from both microeconomic and macroeconomic perspectives, respectively. Overall, the authors make clear that firms play an essential and active role in the skilled immigration process. In fact, the structure of the most important skilled immigration program allows firms to first choose the worker that they want to hire before the immigration to the United States occurs. The same importance is true for universities and students, who often become the workers later hired by firms (e.g., Stephan and Levin 2001, Stephan 2010). Given this policy framework, it is particularly valuable to understand exactly how these institutions choose to be a part of the immigration process, the role of the immigrants in their sponsoring institutions, and how these initial conditions persist for future assimilation of the immigrant. Read More

Book Excerpt: ‘Can China Lead?’

Creativity and innovation can be nurtured in different educational and institutional settings, but does China have a good institutional framework for innovation? An excerpt from Can China Lead? Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

A Brand Manager’s Guide to Losing Control

Social media platforms have taken some of the marketing power away from companies and given it to consumers. Jill Avery discusses the landscape of "open source branding," wherein consumers not only discuss and disseminate branded content, they also create it. Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Return Migration and Geography of Innovation in MNEs: A Natural Experiment of On-the-Job Learning of Knowledge Production by Local Workers Reporting to Return Migrants

Since the mid-1990s, a large number of multinational enterprises (MNEs) have set up research and development centers in China, India, and other emerging markets. Such MNEs face constraints in expanding their "geography of innovation" —that of producing and transferring knowledge across borders—because for the MNE knowledge is likely to be localized within larger, more established centers of knowledge production. How do MNEs in emerging markets circumvent this constraint? In this paper, the author uses personnel data from a Fortune 50 technology firm and studies the role of return migrants in facilitating patenting at the emerging market R&D center. The author also studies on-the-job learning of knowledge production by local employees who report to return migrants at an emerging-market R&D setting. The findings generate insights into the functioning of 'internal labor markets' of multinationals. The results are also important for managers: Given the great many Fortune 500 MNE R&D centers in countries such as China and India, and the large fraction of these centers managed by return migrants, the findings may assist those who set up and manage current and future MNE R&D centers. Read More

Resolving Patent Disputes that Impede Innovation

Technical standards both spur innovation and protect the innovators, but abuses in the intellectual property protection system threaten US competitiveness. Josh Lerner and Jean Tirole discuss remedies. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Technology Re-Emergence: Creating New Value for Old Innovations

Every once in a while, an old technology rises from the ashes and finds new life. Ryan Raffaelli explains how the Swiss watch industry saved itself by reinventing its identity. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Information and Incentives in Online Affiliate Marketing

Compared to historic advertising methods, online marketing invites advertisers to attempt a sharply increased quantity of partnerships. Online relationships reduce the transaction costs of buying ad placements. In many advertising marketplaces, standardized contracts let an advertiser accept a proposed placement with a single click, and ad networks widely sell bundles of hundreds or thousands of placements. Meanwhile, many advertisers find they can get valuable leads and favorable pricing from the Internet's myriad small sites. These numerous relationships entail costs, too, such as selecting, compensating, and supervising the sites, making sure each site is suitable to show the advertiser's offer, and making sure sites in fact deliver the promised benefits. Advertisers thus turn to specialists and outside firms to handle important aspects of advertising-buying. In this paper, the authors evaluate advertisers' chosen management structures by measuring the relative prevalence of advertising fraud targeting advertisers engaged in online "affiliate marketing," a performance-based compensation system increasingly common in online ad campaigns. Specifically, the authors identify the vulnerabilities best addressed by outsourcing marketing management to external specialists, versus the problems better overseen by keeping management decisions in-house. They find outside advisors most effective at enforcing clear rules, but in-house staff excel at preventing practices viewed as "borderline" under industry norms. While the results apply most directly to advertisers considering the management structure of their online marketing programs, the analysis also speaks to broader concerns of outsourcing and the boundary of the firm. Read More

Twitter IPO: Overvalued or the Start of Something Big?

Although it has yet to make a dime, share buyers valued Twitter's IPO at $25 billion. Asks professor Chet Huber, what do they see? Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Is Your iPhone Turning You Into a Wimp?

The body posture inherent in operating everyday gadgets affects not only your back, but your behavior. According to a new study by Maarten Bos and Amy Cuddy, operating a relatively large device inspires more assertive behavior than working on a small one. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Exclusive Preferential Placement as Search Diversion: Evidence from Flight Search

Measuring the net effect of search diversion is important for understanding the extent to which search engines and other intermediaries may act to influence consumer behavior. This paper makes two contributions. First, the authors develop a theoretical model to establish conditions when a search engine chooses to divert search to a less relevant service. Results indicate that search engines have a larger incentive to divert search when they are able to alter the consumers' perceptions of the difference between non-paid and paid placements, and when search engines place a large weight on revenue. These results are consistent with instances where some search engines have labeled paid links with confusing euphemisms or not at all, and where some search engines have mixed paid and non-paid links in the same area of the screen. Second, the authors measure the impact of a diversion mechanism where a search engine exclusively awards a non-paid preferred placement slot to its own service. Specifically, they examine Google's preferred placement of Flight Search. Analysis indicates that there was an 85 percent increase in click-through rates for paid advertising and a 65 percent decrease in click-through rates for non-paid algorithmic search traffic to competing online travel agencies. Both changes are statistically significant, providing evidence of Google's ability to influence how consumers choose services after they search. Read More

Digital Technology’s Profound Game Change for Marketers

Within a few years, chief marketing officers will spend more on technology--digital marketing--than CIOs. Jeffrey Bussgang says it is clear that technology is radically transforming the marketing function and the role of the marketing professional. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Why Business IT Innovation is so Difficult

If done right, IT has the potential to completely transform business by flattening hierarchies, shrinking supply chains, and speeding communications, says professor Kristina Steffenson McElheran. Why, then, do so many companies get it wrong? Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

How Will the “Age of Big Data” Affect Management?

Summing up: How do we avoid losing useful knowledge in a seemingly endless flood of data? Jim Heskett's readers offer some wise suggestions. What do you think? Closed for comment; 33 Comments posted.

Do Online Dating Platforms Help Those Who Need Them Most?

The $2 billion online dating industry promises the possibility of a priceless product: romantic love. Associate Professor Mikolaj Piskorski investigates whether these sites are helping the lonely—or just making life easier for young singles who are popular already. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

The Dynamic Effects of Bundling as a Product Strategy

This paper investigates the practice of bundling as a product strategy, and identifies how consumers make choices between products and bundles in a dynamic environment. Authors Timothy Derdenger and Vineet Kumar look at the handheld video game market to study bundling in a platform setting with the goal of investigating several key questions of interest to practitioners who make product decisions: First, do consumers value bundles over and beyond their component products, indicating a synergy, which some researchers have hypothesized? Second, have there been differing opinions on whether mixed bundling, that is offering both the bundle and individual products for sale, is more effective than offering only pure bundles or even compared to offering only the products for sale? Given the prevalence of bundling in technology markets, it is critical to understand whether bundling is more effective in environments with strong network effects or with weak network effects. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Online Marketing

In this collection from our archives, Harvard Business School faculty discuss the latest research on online marketing techniques, including consumer reviews, video ads, loyalty programs, and coupon offerings. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Quantity vs. Quality: Exclusion by Platforms with Network Effects

Many well-known platforms regulate access and transactions even though excluded users would be willing to pay the "price of admission." For example, Apple routinely excludes certain application developers from its highly popular iPhone store, and videogame console manufacturers such as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo restrict access to a select set of game developers. Exclusion is oftentimes a necessary strategic instrument, which allows platforms to trade off the quantity versus the "quality" of users. Andrei Hagiu's paper builds a simple strategic model that formalizes the choices of possible exclusion policies and discusses the potential gains and losses of exclusion. Read More

To Groupon or Not to Groupon: The Profitability of Deep Discounts

For consumers, online discount vouchers (like those offered by Groupon.com) have obvious appeal: discounts as large as 90 percent. But for retailers offering the deals through the site, does the publicity compensate for the deep hit to profit margins? This paper sets out to help small businesses decide whether it makes sense to offer discount vouchers. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, Business Economics PhD candidate Scott Duke Kominers, and by Sonia Jaffe of the Harvard University Department of Economics. Read More

Immigrant Innovators: Job Stealers or Job Creators?

The H-1B visa program, which enables US employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers for three years, is "a lightning rod for a very heated debate," says Harvard Business School professor William Kerr. His latest research addresses the question of whether the program is good for innovation, and whether it impacts jobs for Americans. Closed for comment; 37 Comments posted.

Non-competes Push Talent Away

California is among several states where non-compete agreements are essentially illegal. Is it a coincidence that so many inventors flock to Silicon Valley? New research by Lee Fleming, Matt Marx, and Jasjit Singh investigates whether there is a "brain drain" of talented engineers and scientists who leave states that allow non-competes and move to states that don't. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Japan Disaster Shakes Up Supply-Chain Strategies

The recent natural disaster in Japan brought to light the fragile nature of the global supply chain. Professor Willy Shih discusses how companies should be thinking about their supply-chain strategy now. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Building a Better Board

While corporate board members take their jobs more seriously than ever, they are not necessarily as helpful or effective as they could be, says HBS senior lecturer Stephen Kaufman. He recently sat down with HBS Working Knowledge to discuss what he considers to be the biggest practical issues facing boards today. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Teaching a ‘Lean Startup’ Strategy

Most startups fail because they waste too much time and money building the wrong product before realizing too late what the right product should have been, says HBS entrepreneurial management professor Thomas R. Eisenmann. In his new MBA course, Launching Technology Ventures, Eisenmann introduces students to the idea of the lean startup—a methodology that has proven successful for many young high-tech companies. Closed for comment; 56 Comments posted.

Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information

Research by Hanna Halaburda (Harvard Business School) and Yaron Yehezkel (Tel Aviv University) shows how pricing, profits, and market efficiency are affected in two-sided markets, such as with smartphone and video game platforms, when users and developers do not know the utility or costs associated with the platform until they join. Read More

Managing the Open Source vs. Proprietary Decision

In their new book, The Comingled Code, HBS professor Josh Lerner and London School of Economics professor Mark Schankerman look at the impact of open source software on economic development. Our book excerpt discusses implications for managers. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Agglomerative Forces and Cluster Shapes

HBS professor William R. Kerr and doctoral candidate Scott Duke Kominers develop a theoretical model for analyzing the forces that drive agglomeration, or industrial clustering. It is rare that researchers systematically observe the forces like technology sharing, customer/supplier interactions, or labor pooling that lead to firm clustering. Instead, the data only portray the final location decisions that firms make (for example, firms that utilize one type of technology are clustered over 50 miles, while those using another technology are clustered over 100 miles). The researchers' model identifies how these observable traits can be used to infer properties of the underlying clustering forces. Read More

Is Groupon Good for Retailers?

For retailers offering deals through the wildly popular online start-up Groupon, does the one-day publicity compensate for the deep hit to profit margins? A new working paper, "To Groupon or Not to Groupon," sets out to help small businesses decide. Harvard Business School professor Benjamin G. Edelman discusses the paper's findings. Closed for comment; 59 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty on 2010’s Biggest Business Developments

Three Harvard Business School professors—former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George, economist and entrepreneurship expert William Sahlman, and innovation and strategy authority Rosabeth Moss Kanter—offer their thoughts on the most significant business and economic developments of 2010. Read More

Sponsored Links’ or ’Advertisements’?: Measuring Labeling Alternatives in Internet Search Engines

In processing a search for a particular phrase, Internet search engines generally offer two types of results: the algorithmic results, which a search engine selects based on relevance, and the "sponsored links," for which advertisers pay. The latter often occupy prominent screen space. But does the average web surfer realize that they are advertisements? In an online experiment, Harvard Business School professor Benjamin Edelman and doctoral candidate Duncan S. Gilchrist show that "sponsored link" is too vague a term for some users to understand, and that "paid advertisement" is a label that better clarifies the nature of the link. They call on the FTC to compel search engines to improve their disclosures. Read More

Growth Through Heterogeneous Innovations

Economists have long recognized that innovation is central to economic growth and development. But as a profession, economics is just beginning to model the many types of innovations that exist and the amazing heterogeneity in the firms that conduct research and development--from General Electric to Silicon Valley start-ups. This paper provides theoretical and empirical evidence surrounding how firm size influences the types of R&D undertaken, with particular focus on choices to pursue exploration R&D (capturing new product lines) versus exploitation R&D (refining current product lines internally). From the choices made by individual firms and new entrepreneurs, the model then builds to consider aggregate economic growth. Research was conducted by Ufuk Akcigit of the University of Pennsylvania and William R. Kerr of Harvard Business School. Read More

Data.gov: Matching Government Data with Rapid Innovation

Data.gov is a young initiative of President Barack Obama for making raw data available on the Web. In an HBS executive education class for technology specialists, professor Karim Lakhani and the US Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, sparked dialogue about new routes to innovation. Read More

How IT Shapes Top-Down and Bottom-Up Decision Making

What determines whether decisions happen on the bottom, middle, or top rung of the corporate ladder? New research from professor Raffaella Sadun finds that the answer often lies in the technology that a company deploys. Open for comment; 15 Comments posted.

The Distinct Effects of Information Technology and Communication Technology on Firm Organization

At what point in the corporate food chain are big decisions made? It depends on technology, according to new research, which finds that information-based software will help to push decisions further down the corporate ladder, whereas communication technologies will push decisions up to the top. Research was conducted by Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University; Assistant Professor Raffaella Sadun of Harvard Business School; and Luis Garicano and John Van Reenen of the London School of Economics. Read More

When Does a Platform Create Value by Limiting Choice?

Platforms such as video games and smartphones need to attract users, and the best way to do so is to offer more and more applications. Is there ever a point where a platform should limit the variety available? Researchers Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Hanna Halaburda observe that in many situations users enjoy consuming applications together. When such consumption complementarities are present, users may benefit if the platform limits choice. With fewer applications to choose from, it is easier for users to take full advantage from shared consumption. Read More

What Is Customer Opinion Good For?

Summing Up: Are customer wishes irrelevant when creating a new product? Jim Heskett's readers say it depends on the product, on market goals, and where you are in the development cycle. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens September 2.) Closed for comment; 73 Comments posted.

The Effect of Market Leadership in Business Process Innovation: The Case(s) of E-Business Adoption

The connection between market leadership and the adoption of new technologies is central to understanding how firms maintain or gain competitive advantage over time. One key determinant of firm openness to either product or process innovation is how radical or incremental a particular change is for the organization. Using the context of IT-enabled business processes for e-buying and e-selling, a setting that offers a complementary view to studies that have focused on R&D expenditure and patents as measures of innovation, HBS professor Kristina McElheran sheds light on whether, when, and why market leaders might be more likely to adopt new innovations. This study represents the first robust, multi-industry evidence that market leaders are far more likely to adopt incremental rather than radical business process innovations. Read More

Location Strategies for Agglomeration Economies

Locations thick with similar economic activity expose firms to pools of skilled labor, specialized suppliers, and potential inter-firm knowledge spillovers that can provide firms with opportunities for competitive advantage. While certainly attractive, the lure of these agglomeration economies varies. Some firms should be wary of aiding their competitors by co-locating with them, for example, because each "agglomeration economy" differs in how readily competitors can leverage contributions made by others. HBS professor Juan Alcácer and Wilbur Chung of the University of Maryland develop a framework to better understand how firms respond to agglomeration economies. Read More

Ruthlessly Realistic: How CEOs Must Overcome Denial

Even the best leaders can be in denial—about trouble inside the organization, about onrushing competitors, about changing consumer behavior. Harvard Business School professor Richard S. Tedlow looks at history and discusses how executives can acknowledge and deal with reality. Plus: Book excerpt. Read More

Local R&D Strategies and Multi-location Firms: The Role of Internal Linkages

While geographic co-location has obvious benefits for firm innovation, it can also have serious drawbacks. HBS professor Juan Alcácer and Ross School of Business professor Minyuan Zhao explore how firms tap into the rich resources of technology clusters while protecting the value of their innovations. To understand R&D dynamics in a cluster, the scholars argue, we must recognize that a firm located in a particular cluster may also be part of an extended network, with its operations strategically integrated across multiple locations and multiple business lines. Read More

Accelerating Innovation In Energy: Insights from Multiple Sectors

How should the energy sector best respond to the threat of climate change? In this introductory chapter to a forthcoming book, Harvard Business School's Rebecca M. Henderson and Richard G. Newell of Duke University frame the discussion by highlighting the volume's contributions concerning four particularly innovative sectors of the U.S. economy: agriculture, chemicals, life sciences, and information technology. These four sectors have been extraordinarily important in driving recent economic growth. Henderson and Newell describe why accelerating innovation in energy could play an important role in shaping an effective response to climate change. Read More

Government’s Positive Role in Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship

The U.S. government has spent billions of dollars bailing out troubled companies. Is it time for Uncle Sam to invest in new entrepreneurial firms as well? Professor Josh Lerner makes the case for limited government involvement in his book Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed—and What to Do about It. Read More

Why Are Web Sites So Confusing?

Just as bread and milk are often found at far-away ends of the supermarket, Web sites that match consumers with certain products have an incentive to steer users to products that yield the highest margins. The result: a compromise between what users want and what produces the most revenues, say HBS professor Andrei Hagiu and Toulouse School of Economics researcher Bruno Jullien. A look inside the world of search. Read More

Mixed Source

As most managers know, commercial firms may benefit from participating in open source software development by selling complementary goods or services. Open source has the potential to improve value creation because it benefits from the efforts of a large community of developers. Proprietary software, on the other hand, results in superior value capture because the intellectual property remains under the control of the original developer. While the straightforward rationale for "mixed source" (a combination of the two) is appealing, what does it mean for a business model? Under what circumstances should a profit-maximizing firm adopt a mixed source business model? How should firms respond to competitors' adoption of mixed source business models? And what are the right pricing structures under mixed source compared with the proprietary business model? In this paper the researchers analyze a model where firms with modular software must decide which modules to open and which to keep proprietary. Findings can be directly applied to the design of optimal business strategies. Read More

Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation

In just a short period of time the spatial location of invention can shift substantially. The San Francisco Bay Area grew from 5 percent of U.S. domestic patents in 1975-1984 to over 12 percent in 1995-2004, for example, while the share for New York City declined from 12 percent to 7 percent. Smaller cities like Austin, Texas, and Boise, Idaho, seem to have become clusters of innovation overnight. Despite the prevalence of these movements, we know very little about what drives spatial adjustments in U.S. invention, the speed at which these reallocations occur, and their economic consequences. In this paper, HBS professor William R. Kerr investigates whether breakthrough inventions draw subsequent research efforts for a technology to a local area. Evidence strongly supports the conclusion that centers of breakthrough innovations experience subsequent growth in innovation relative to their peer locations. Read More

Informed and Interconnected: A Manifesto for Smarter Cities

To make our cities and communities smarter, we must become a little smarter ourselves, seeking information and an agenda to forge connections enabling collaboration, according to HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter and IBM's Stanley S. Litow. Their vision is that someday soon, leaders will combine technological capabilities and social innovation to help produce a smarter world. That world will be seen on the ground in smarter cities composed of smarter communities that support the well-being of all citizens. This paper outlines eight challenges facing cities and the communities they encompass, based on experience in the United States. Kanter and Litow provide examples of practices and programs led by both government and nonprofit organizations, many technology-enabled, that point the way to solutions, and they conclude with a call for leaders to embrace an agenda for change. Read More

Markets or Communities? The Best Ways to Manage Outside Innovation

No one organization can monopolize knowledge in any given field. That's why modern companies must develop a new expertise: the ability to attract novel solutions to difficult or unanticipated problems from outside sources around the world. A conversation with Harvard Business School professor Karim R. Lakhani on the keys to managing distributed innovation. Read More

Technology Innovation and Diffusion as Sources of Output and Asset Price Fluctuations

A central challenge to modern business cycle analysis is that standard macro models are unable to generate fluctuations in the stock market with the amplitude, persistence, and lead-lag pattern observed in the data. At the same time, standard macro models predict that good news about future, such as those received during 1994-1995 on the arrival of IT, lead to recessions rather than expansions. HBS professor Diego Comin and coauthors develop a model that overcomes these two problems by explicitly incorporating an endogenous speed of diffusion of technologies that is increasing in the resources spent in adoption. Revisions in beliefs about future profits generate fluctuations in the stock market with the amplitude and lead over output observed in the data. The firms' investment decisions in adoption leads to a shift in labor demand that increases hours worked and output. Read More

File-Sharing and Copyright

The researchers argue that file-sharing technology has not undermined the incentives of artists and entertainment companies to create, market, and distribute new works. The advent of new technology has allowed consumers to copy music, books, video games, and other protected works on an unprecedented scale at minimal cost. Such technology has considerably weakened copyright protection, first of music and software and increasingly of movies, video games, and books. While policy discussion surrounding file-sharing has largely focused on the legality of the new technology and the question of whether declining sales in music are due to file-sharing, the debate has been overly narrow. Copyright protection exists to encourage innovation and the creation of new works—in other words, to promote social welfare. This essay analyzes the landscape and identifies areas for more research. Read More

Do Friends Influence Purchases in a Social Network?

In spite of the cultural and social revolution in the rise of social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace (and in South Korea, Cyworld), the business viability of these sites remains in question. While many sites are attempting to follow Google and generate revenues from advertising, will advertising be effective? If friends influence the purchases of a user in a social network, it could potentially be a significant source of revenue for the sites and their corporate sponsors. Using a unique data set from Cyworld, this study empirically assesses if friends indeed influence purchases. The answer: It depends. Findings are relevant for social networking sites and large advertisers. Read More

The IT Leader’s Hero Quest

Think you could be CIO? Jim Barton is a savvy manager but an IT newbie when he's promoted into the hot seat as chief information officer in The Adventures of an IT Leader, a novel by HBS professors Robert D. Austin and Richard L. Nolan and coauthor Shannon O'Donnell. Can Barton navigate his strange new world quickly enough? Q&A with the authors, and book excerpt. Read More

Catering to Characteristics

Can patterns of corporate net stock issuance help identify times when particular characteristics, such as industry, size, or book-to-market ratio, are mispriced? The authors of this study argue that differences between the characteristics of issuers and repurchasers can shed light on characteristic related stock returns. Consider the case in which analysts were interested in forecasting the returns of Google. The standard approach would be to collect Google's characteristics (e.g., large, technology, non-dividend paying, etc) and associate these characteristics with an average return in the cross-section. The authors argue that if other stocks with these characteristics are issuing stock, this bodes poorly for Google's future returns, even if Google is itself not issuing. This research by HBS professor Robin Greenwood and Harvard doctoral student Samuel Hanson has implications for studying the stock market performance of seasoned equity offerings (SEOs), initial public offerings (IPOs), and recent acquirers. Read More

The Sciences of Design: Observations on an Emerging Field

This paper examines the sciences of design as an emerging field of study that cuts across disciplinary boundaries. The paper summarizes and synthesizes the positions, reflections, opportunities, and challenges expressed at the first doctoral consortium to explore the topic, held in 2008. It thus provides a useful agenda for clarifying and articulating important strands of this nascent field. Read More

Was the Wealth of Nations Determined in 1000 B.C.?

To the extent that history is discussed at all in economic development, it is usually either the divergence associated with the Industrial Revolution or the effects of colonial regimes. Is it possible that precolonial, preindustrial history also matters significantly for today's national economic development? The authors find that technology adoption circa 1500 A.D., prior to the era of colonization and extensive European contacts, predicts approximately 50 percent of cross-country differences in both current per capita income and technology in a large cross-section of countries. When exploring the causes of this extreme persistence in technology, they find evidence in favor of the importance of the effect of current adoption on subsequent adoption as the main driver. This leaves a limited role to country-specific factors such as institutions, geography, or genes to explain the persistence of technology. Read More

Social Media Leads the Future of Technology

From Facebook to smartphones, advances in technology are changing the way we work and communicate. Professor David Yoffie led three experts in a recent panel discussion on "The Technology Revolution and its Implications for the Future" at the HBS Centennial Business Summit. Read More

Technology, Identity, and Inertia through the Lens of ‘The Digital Photography Company’

Why do established firms find some technological change so challenging? While existing research has identified numerous sources of inertia in established firms exploring new technological domains, identity is a critical piece of the puzzle. As the core essence of an organization, identity directs and constrains action. The routines, procedures, capabilities, knowledge base, and beliefs of an organization all reflect its identity. So when a technology is identity-challenging to an organization—when pursuing it would violate the core beliefs of both insiders and outsides about what the firm represents—organizations face significant obstacles to adopting it. This study by Tripsas highlights the importance of recognizing and evaluating the tradeoffs associated with technological opportunity and organizational identity. Read More

Platform Rules: Multi-Sided Platforms as Regulators

Using case studies of Facebook, Tokyo's Roppongi Hills "mini-city," Harvard Business School, and TopCoder, a vendor of outsourced software products, Boudreau and Hagiu explore how multi-sided platforms (MSPs) regulate an industry ecosystem. An MSP is a platform that enables interactions between multiple groups of surrounding consumers and complementors. As the authors demonstrate, the regulatory role played in these cases by MSPs was pervasive and at the core of their business models. That regulatory role goes beyond price-setting and includes imposing rules and constraints, creating inducements, and generally shaping behaviors. These various non-price instruments essentially solve problems that could otherwise lead to market failure. The authors' analytical framework suggests a two-step approach for a platform owner: (1) maximize value created for the entire ecosystem, and (2) maximize the value extracted. "Platform Rules" is a chapter in the forthcoming book Platforms, Markets and Innovation, Gawer, A. (ed) (2009), Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, U.S.: Edward Elgar. Read More

The Agglomeration of U.S. Ethnic Inventors

The higher concentration of immigrants in certain cities and occupations has long been noted. There has been very little theoretical or empirical work to date, however, on the particular agglomeration of U.S. immigrant scientists and engineers. This scarcity is disappointing given the scale of these ethnic contributions and the importance of innovation to regional economic growth. William R. Kerr's study contributes to our empirical understanding of agglomeration and innovation by documenting patterns in the city-level agglomeration of ethnic inventors (e.g., Chinese, Indian) within the United States from 1975 through 2007. It is hoped that the empirical platform developed in this study provides a foothold for furthering such analyses. Read More

Diffusing Management Practices within the Firm: The Role of Information Provision

Managers face a range of options to diffuse innovative practices within their organizations. This paper focuses on one such technique: providing practice-specific information through mechanisms such as internal seminars, demonstrations, knowledge management systems, and promotional brochures. In contrast to corporate mandates, this "information provision" approach empowers facility managers to decide which practices to actually implement. The authors examine how corporate managers diffused advanced environmental management practices within technology manufacturing firms in the United States. The study identifies several factors that encourage corporate managers to employ information provision, including subsidiaries' related expertise, the extent to which the subsidiaries were diversified or concentrated in similar businesses, and the geographic dispersion of their employees. Read More

On Best-Response Bidding in GSP Auctions

Keyword auctions have become a critical source of revenue for Google and Yahoo!, among others. This new form of advertising has provided a new way for advertisers to reach customers. But advertisers also face the complex task of optimizing bids to increase their exposure while avoiding unnecessary costs. HBS professor Benjamin Edelman and colleagues analyzed a class of bidding strategies that attempt to increase advertiser utility under limited assumptions about other players' behavior. Under a strategy they call Balanced Bidding (BB), advertisers converge to the advertiser-preferred equilibrium—achieving stability of bids and reducing advertisers' costs relative to other possible outcomes. Read More

The Changing Face of American Innovation

Chinese and Indian scientists and engineers have made an unexpectedly large contribution to U.S. technology formation over the last 30 years, according to new research by HBS professor William R. Kerr. But that trend may be ebbing, with potentially harmful effects on future growth in American innovation. Read More

The Evolution of Apple

Apple's continuing development from computer maker to consumer electronics pioneer is rich material in a number of Harvard Business School classrooms. Professor David Yoffie discusses his latest case study of Apple, the 5th update in 14 years, which challenges students to think strategically about Apple's successes and failures in the past, and opportunities and challenges in the future. Read More

Managing Proprietary and Shared Platforms: A Life-Cycle View

The challenges facing platform managers vary systematically depending on (1) whether the platform is proprietary or shared and (2) the stage of platform development. This article summarizes the results of a multiyear research project on platform strategies, including interviews with 30 companies. It describes 3 stages of the platform life cycle—platform design, network mobilization, and platform maturity—and reviews in depth the strategic decisions and management issues for each stage. Read More

Platform Envelopment

Established platform providers can be difficult to displace. This paper explores a path to platform leadership change that does not rely on breakthrough innovation or Schumpeterian creative destruction: a phenomenon the authors call "platform envelopment." In practical terms, envelopment entails one platform provider adding another platform's functionality to its own, and then offering a multiplatform bundle. Eisenmann and his colleagues describe a variety of envelopment attacks based on the relationship between the attacker's platform and its target's, and then discuss the economic and strategic motivations for each attack type. Read More

Multi-Sided Platforms: From Microfoundations to Design and Expansion Strategies

The term "platform" is increasingly popular among executives today. Platforms, and multi-sided platforms (MSPs) in particular, serve the needs of interdependent constituents. Although MSPs have existed for centuries in the form of matchmakers and village markets, information technology has increased tremendously the opportunities for building larger, more powerful, and more valuable platforms. At the same time, by expanding the potential scope of platforms, information technology has also increased the number and complexity of factors, both economic and technical, that drive the strategic design of MSPs. Surprisingly, few companies rigorously analyze the underlying drivers of their MSPs, and the emerging business and economics literature on two-sided markets has not been very helpful in this direction, either. This article provides a general framework to help organize managerial thinking about MSPs. Read More

Merchant or Two-Sided Platform?

With ever more sophisticated logistics and the rise of information technologies, intermediaries and market platforms have become increasingly ubiquitous and important agents in the digital economy. While market intermediation is not a new phenomenon, the digital economy has revealed that there can be two polar types of intermediaries: "merchants," which acquire goods from sellers and resell them to buyers, and "two-sided platforms," which allow affiliated sellers to sell directly to affiliated buyers. As examples, retailers like Walmart.com and Amazon.com are (mostly) merchants; eBay is a pure two-sided platform; and Apple's iTunes digital music store exhibits both merchant and platform features. This research is a first pass at delineating the economic tradeoffs between the merchant and two-sided platform modes. Read More

Electronic Hierarchies and Electronic Heterarchies: Relationship-Specific Assets and the Governance of Interfirm IT

Scholars have long been interested in the impact of information technology on the organization of work. As Andrew McAfee and colleagues argue in this study, the appropriate governance mechanism for an IT-facilitated collaboration depends on the type of IT being deployed: When an enterprise technology is required, so is an electronic hierarchy. The paper explores the issue of relationship specificity of IT assets, proposes a categorization of information technologies based on their levels of relationship specificity, and uses data from more than forty Italian industrial districts to test three hypotheses around governance of interfirm IT. These districts typically have close ties, both horizontal and vertical, and have historically worked in close collaboration with each other. Read More

The Immigrant Technologist: Studying Technology Transfer with China

Immigrants account for almost half of Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers in the U.S., and are prime drivers of technology development. Increasingly, however, Chinese technologists and entrepreneurs are returning home rather than staying in the U.S. to pursue opportunities. Professor William Kerr discusses the phenomena of technology transfer and implications for U.S.-based businesses and policymakers. From New Business. Read More

The Industry R&D Survey: Patent Database Link Project

The development and diffusion of new innovations are central to economic growth, and understanding the firm-level underpinnings of technology progress is important to academics, policymakers, and business managers. While many researchers have examined (either separately or together) corporate research and development and technology diffusion, they run into two significant data constraints. William R. Kerr and Shihe Fu describe how they developed a new dataset for studying corporate innovation that encompasses three important existing datasets. This paper summarizes the Industry R&D Survey for researchers who want to study innovation through the Census Bureau's data. Read More

Surviving Success: When Founders Must Go

At some point, a start-up's founder usually cedes CEO responsibilities to a seasoned manager. But what roles does the founder assume next? Professor Noam Wasserman discusses a recent case study and what students learn from it in the classroom. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Scale without Mass: Business Process Replication and Industry Dynamics

Over the past ten years there's been a clear link between IT investment and productivity growth in the U.S. economy. But what impact has IT had on competition? This paper identifies several recent changes in the competitive dynamics of U.S. industries and shows that they are associated with IT intensity; the more IT and industry has, the greater the changes. Using case studies, previous research, and a simple model, the authors offer a theory that explains these patterns in the data. They argue that IT allows the rapid spread of business process innovations, which in turn leads to more turbulent and concentrated industries. Read More

How Software Platforms Revolutionize Business

Cell phones, the Game Boy, and PCs are examples of products based upon software platforms—ecosystems where independent companies can provide products and services tied to the core technology. Playing in a software platform world can make you rich—ask ringtone creators—but it also demands special management skills that emphasize cooperation over competition. Professor Andrei Hagiu discusses his new book, Invisible Engines. Read More

Capturing Benefits from Tomorrow’s Technology in Today’s Products: The Effect of Absorptive Capacity

It seems clear that firms with an existing R&D function are better able to use related outside research than firms without an R&D function. But can specific products also "absorb" a firm's knowledge of related technologies? Using patent data and the example of automobile carburetors, Daniel Snow studied how companies may adapt a component of a "radical innovation" technology for their own current-technology products. He also poses a far-reaching question for companies: Can they capture the returns of these inventive activities? Read More

Career Advancement Without Experience

Lacking experience, contract workers find it difficult to advance to a job with expanded responsibilities. But it can be done. Siobhan O'Mahony discusses research into the concept of "stretchwork" and the increasing complexity of career management. Read More

Lessons from the Browser Wars

The first-mover advantage is well chronicled, but it didn't help Netscape when Microsoft launched Internet Explorer. What drives technology adoption, and do browser upstarts such as Firefox stand a chance? A Q&A with professor Pai-Ling Yin. Read More

New Research Explores Multi-Sided Markets

Dating clubs, credit cards, and video games are all examples of multi-sided markets, where firms need to get two or more distinct groups of customers on the same platform. Professor Andrei Hagiu discusses this new field of business research—and why it matters to you. Read More

The China Dilemma for U.S. Firms: Comply, Resist, or Leave?

If you were an advisor to the senior managements of these companies doing business in China, what would you propose that they do? Closed for comment; 34 Comments posted.

Are Company Founders Underpaid?

Company founders have a tough time convincing their boards to increase compensation, says HBS professor Noam Wasserman. He discusses his research into "founder frustration" areas. Read More

The Hidden Market for Babies

Surrogates. Fertility clinics. Egg donors. Adoption. It's time to recognize (and perhaps regulate) the huge market being created by reproductive technologies, says HBS professor Debora L. Spar. She discusses her new book, The Baby Business. Read More

The Trouble Behind Livedoor

When Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie was arrested last month, it shook the economic underpinnings of Japan. Professor Robin Greenwood discusses what went wrong with one of that country's most-watched Internet companies. Read More

Sorting Out the Patent Craze

Some companies patent anything that moves to block innovation by competitors. But what does this mean for standard setting organizations? Professor Josh Lerner explains the challenges facing SSOs in this HBS Working Knowledge Q&A. Read More

Economic and Technical Drivers of Technology Choice: Browsers

Did Microsoft defeat Netscape in the browser war because its technology was better, or because MS created a better business strategy? The authors draw on the 1996-1999 browser battles to examine technical progress versus economic forces in driving diffusion on new technologies. Read More

A Survey-Based Procedure for Measuring Uncertainty or Heterogeneous Preferences in Markets

People who buy retail prescription drugs, invest funds, or participate in auctions rarely have complete information about the product they are buying. Often the only auction information participants have is the number of bidders, observed bids, and product characteristics. If data from an auction, for instance, is a function of bidder behavior, then external survey data may help in testing hypotheses about bidding behavior. Researchers often avoid using surveys because they consume time and effort, but Yin presents a survey design technique and econometric tool to deal with a general population of survey respondents. Her application tested eBay online auctions selling personal computers. Read More

Information Technology Ecosystem Health and Performance

An IT ecosystem is "the network of organizations that drives the creation and delivery of information technology products and services." To understand the health and well being of the IT industry in the context of an ecosystem, the authors looked at three crucial IT ecosystem metrics: productivity, robustness, and innovation. Read More

Information Dispersion and Auction Prices

How can auctions be used most effectively? Government and industry traditionally use auctions to price and allocate assets and contracts with high but unknown value. Millions of people use Internet auctions for goods that are often of unknown value (e.g., used goods, unknown brands). This paper asks: Do bidders behave in the way auction theory predicts they should? And, what are the effects of different types of information on prices? To answer these questions, Yin combined theory, econometric modeling, and survey data. Read More

Empirical Tests of Information Aggregation

While neither buyers nor sellers may be certain of the worth of used goods, both may possess private information about the value. Do prices become more informative as the number of bidders grows? Using data from a sample of eBay auctions for computers, Yin looked at how and under what conditions auction prices converge to the common value of a given item. Read More

The Broadband Explosion: Thinking About a Truly Interactive World

When true broadband arrives, everything will change—work, play, and society—say professors Robert Austin and Stephen Bradley. What a truly interactive world will look like is the subject of their new book The Broadband Explosion. Read More

Why IT Matters in Midsized Firms

What does IT actually contribute to a business? Is IT a commodity like electricity or is it a crucial element of competitive advantage? In a study of over 600 medium-sized global firms to analyze the business benefits that IT can enable, the authors found that IT capability was key to profitable business growth. This was true in both the U.S. product and services sectors as well as in Germany and Brazil. Read More

Microsoft vs. Open Source: Who Will Win?

Using formal economic modelling, professors Pankaj Ghemawat and Ramon Casadesus-Masanell consider the competitive dynamics of the software wars between Microsoft and open source. Read our interview. Read More

Amazon, eBay and the Bidding Wars

"Sniping" is a popular way of winning a bid in the world of online auctions. But how far can it change the playing field? HBS professor Alvin Roth takes a look at how bidding rules change the way the game is played. Read More

How to Harness Auction Fever

HBS assistant professor Deepak Malhotra talks about the phenomena of "auction fever" in which bidders are driven to win at irrational costs. Read More

Radical Change, Entrepreneurial Opportunity

A key to exploiting radical technological change is to clear your vision of historical constraints and see new opportunities with a fresh perspective. Michael J. Roberts interviews HBS professor Mary Tripsas. Read More

Why Europe Lags in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

Governmental, cultural and academic differences are hurting Europe’s chances of gaining on the U.S. Can anything be done? Read More

How Hot is the “Hot Spot” Business?

Wi-Fi hot spots and the future of broadband were on the minds of attendees at the Bandwidth Explosion colloquium at Harvard Business School. Read More

Andy Grove on the Confident Leader

Intel’s famous chairman discusses decision making, intuition, and corporate governance with professor Clayton M. Christensen and Harvard Business School Publishing Editorial Director Walter Kiechel. Read More

Making Biotech Work as a Business

What will it take for biotechnology to fulfill its economic potential? Participants need to think twice about the strategies and assumptions that are driving the industry, says HBS professor Gary P. Pisano. Read More

Wrap-up: Software, Telecom, and Recovery

How is the VC industry doing on its own and in partnership with software and telecoms? These were just three topics discussed in special panel sessions at the recent conference. Here, a few highlights from those conversations. Read More

Governance in India and Around the Globe

India is not known for rigid corporate governance standards. Is software giant Infosys changing all that? A working paper by HBS professors Tarun Khanna and Krishna Palepu looks at how globalization may—or may not—foster convergence of corporate governance. Read More

Alfred Chandler on the Electronic Century

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alfred D. Chandler Jr. examines the development of two pivotal industries in post-World War II America—the consumer electronics and computer industries. Read More

Why Evolutionary Software Development Works

What is the best way to develop software? HBS professor Alan MacCormack discusses recent research proving the theory that the best approach is evolutionary. In this article from MIT Sloan Management Review, MacCormack and colleagues Marco Iansiti and Roberto Verganti uncover four practices that lead to successful Internet software development. Read More

More Than the Sum of Its Parts: The Impact of Modularity on the Computer Industry

The "power of modularity," write HBS Dean Kim Clark and Professor Carliss Baldwin in their new book, rescued the computer industry from a problem of nightmarish proportions and made possible remarkable levels of innovation and growth in a relatively short period of time. Read More

The Business of Biotech

On the cusp of what most analysts agree will be the age of biotechology, Professor Gary P. Pisano and four HBS alums on the front lines of the biotech revolution offer their views of the challenges, issues and opportunities facing the industry in the laboratory, the boardroom and the marketplace. Read More

Presentation Round-Up

This round-up of other panels and presentations at the IS2K conference includes a look at the emerging "e-service" model, the future of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, and a discussion of "Genes on the Web." Read More

Market Makers Bid for Success

Two CEOs at the forefront of the transformation in the way businesses buy and sell goods—Scott Randall of FairMarket (HBS MBA '87) and Glen Meakem of FreeMarkets (HBS MBA '91—spoke with Professor Bill Sahlman recently about their paths to new business models and what they've learned along the way. Read More

The Simple Economics of Open Source

What motivates thousands of computer programmers-and even the companies that employ them-to share their code with the world? The growing use of so-called "open source" software may not seem, at first glance, to make much economic sense. But according to research by HBS Professor Josh Lerner and his colleague Jean Tirole, economics may actually help explain why open source works as well as it does. Read More