First Look

First Look summarizes new working papers, case studies, and publications produced by Harvard Business School faculty. Readers receive early knowledge of cutting-edge ideas before they enter the mainstream of business practice. For complete details on faculty research, see our Working Papers section.

July 24, 2007

Tennis champ Maria Sharapova takes a swing at the world of marketing endorsements in a new case by HBS professor Anita Elberse and MBA '07 Margarita Golod. Sharapova aced the Ladies' Singles at Wimbledon in 2004, and the case details how her agent at International Management Group (IMG) has subsequently evaluated opportunities and tradeoffs for the talented young athlete. It's an inside look at an important segment of sports stardom.

This week also provides a heads-up with other publications and many, many (28) cases. Two cases in particular deal with the changing health-care industry. "Apollo Hospitals" looks at the business model behind an organization in Asia that offers advanced medical procedures at low cost. "Managing Orthopaedics at Rittenhouse Medical Center" describes the issues that emerge when a health center grasps several, possibly competing, goals at once.

 

Working Papers

Using By-Product Synergy for Competitive Advantage

Abstract

We study how a manufacturer can leverage by-product synergy for competitive advantage. By focusing on the economic impact to the firm and the competitive market, this paper complements the existing industrial ecology literature that highlights the environmental benefits of by-product synergy. By-product synergy is defined as the conversion of a firm's waste stream from a manufacturing process into valuable feedstock for another manufacturing process. The distinguishing operational characteristic of a firm practicing by-product synergy is that quantities of the primary product and by-product are linked, with production of the primary product defining the upper bound of the quantity of the by-product. Optimization of a by-product synergy operation requires the firm to shift from a "product and waste" mentality to a "product and product" mentality, and thereby actively manage the quantities of both products to maximize profit. We find that it is almost never profit-maximizing for the firm to continue business-as-usual producing the primary product and converting all its waste into by-product. In some cases, when the markets for the primary and by-products are "separable," it is optimal to convert only a portion of the waste into by-product and disposing of the rest. In other cases, when the markets are "interdependent", the firm should increase production of the primary product in order to capture more value in the by-product market. In the latter case, all waste is converted into by-product. Because the two markets are linked through the firm's (proportional) production of primary and by-products, the firm must jointly optimize the production quantities of the two products based on the characteristics of both markets. We find that increasing disposal cost increases the cost of the primary product, but decreases the cost of the by-product. A second-order effect of increasing disposal cost is that, relative to its competitors, the firm practicing by-product synergy gains a cost advantage. Therefore, as disposal cost increases, the total amount of waste decreases more when there is a firm practicing by-product synergy than when there is not. Additionally, it may be optimal for the firm to increase the proportion of waste generated by the primary product to improve the process efficiency of the by-product. We also examine the market structure where two firms practice by-product synergy, as well as conditions under which the by-product becomes the primary product.

Innovation through Global Collaboration: A New Source of Competitive Advantage

Abstract

Many recent studies highlight the need to rethink the way we manage innovation. Traditional approaches, based on the assumption that the creation and pursuit of new ideas is best accomplished by a centralized and collocated R&D team, are rapidly becoming outdated. Instead, innovations are increasingly brought to the market by networks of firms, selected for their unique capabilities, and operating in a coordinated manner. This new model demands that firms develop different skills, in particular, the ability to collaborate with partners to achieve superior innovation performance. Yet despite this need, there is little guidance on how to develop or deploy this ability.

This article describes the results of a study to understand the strategies and practices used by firms that achieve greater success in their collaborative innovation efforts. We found many firms mistakenly applied an "outsourcing" mindset to collaboration efforts which, in turn, led to three critical errors: First, they focused solely on lower costs, failing to consider the broader strategic role of collaboration. Second, they didn't organize effectively for collaboration, believing that innovation could be managed much like production and partners treated like "suppliers." And third, they didn't invest in building collaborative capabilities, assuming that their existing people and processes were already equipped for the challenge. Successful firms, by contrast, developed an explicit strategy for collaboration and made organizational changes to aid performance in these efforts. Ultimately, these actions allowed them to identify and exploit new business opportunities. In sum, collaboration is becoming a new and important source of competitive advantage. We propose several frameworks to help firms develop and exploit this new ability.

Explicating Lean Principles by Examining Indian Software Services

Abstract

This paper examines the implementation of a lean operating system at an Indian software services firm. By studying the introduction and impact of lean management techniques in a nontraditional setting we are able to move beyond the artifacts and gain insight into the principles that may lead to improved performance in certain settings. In particular we find that the impact of the changes on problem solving, standardization of work, and coordination improve the way that the firm learns and its productivity. Using a detailed case study we document the internal firm processes that the lean principles influence and empirically show that firm operational performance has improved. Finally, we suggest that the lean initiative studied possesses qualities of a Trojan Horse change initiative—its outward manifestation accomplishes the short-term goal (entering the city gates / productivity) while its inner core leads to much more radical change (sacking of Troy / innovation).

Democratizing Entry: Banking Deregulations, Financing Constraints, and Entrepreneurship

Abstract

We study how US branch banking deregulations affected the entry and exit of firms in the non-financial sector using establishment-level data from the US Census Bureau's Longitudinal Business Database. The comprehensive micro-data allow us to study how the entry rate, the distribution of entry sizes, and survival rates for firms responded to changes in banking competition. We also distinguish the relative effect of the policy reforms on the entry of startups versus facility expansions by existing firms. We find that the deregulations reduced financing constraints, particularly among small startups, and improved allocative efficiency across the entire firm size distribution. However, the US deregulations also led to a dramatic increase in "churning" at the lower end of the size distribution, where new startups fail within the first three years following entry. This churning emphasizes a new mechanism through which financial sector reforms impact product markets. It is not exclusively better ex ante allocation of capital to qualified projects that causes creative destruction; rather banking deregulations can also "democratize" entry by allowing many more startups to be founded. The vast majority of these new entrants fail along the way, but a few survive ex post to displace incumbents.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/07-033.pdf

 

Cases & Course Materials

AFL-CIO: Office of Investment and Home Depot

Harvard Business School Case 407-097

Describes the AFL-CIO: Office of Investments activities in their campaign to improve governance at Home Depot by calling attention to Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli's compensation package and the company's poor performance. The AFL-CIO Office of Investments advocates for improved corporate governance at public companies, focusing on the problems of excessive chief executive compensation, improperly backdated stock options, insufficiently independent corporate board members, poor responsiveness to shareholders concerns, and a lack of transparency in the activities and decisions of boards. The AFL-CIO believes that such problems were indicators of underlying problems in corporate governance that could impact the long-term value of a public company. To advance its cause, the Office targeted Home Depot. In an effort to bring about change at the company, the AFL-CIO and AFSCME corresponded with Home Depot executives, staged public protests, appeared on talk shows, and maintained several Web sites. The trillion-dollar size of the union pension funds gave the Office a platform from which to work. The departure of Home Depot's CEO had been a significant step by Home Depot and the company had made other concessions as well. The AFL-CIO Office of Investment now needed to decide whether to continue to use its limited resources focusing on Home Depot or find a new target to forward their cause.

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Apollo Hospitals—First-World Health Care at Emerging-Market Prices

Harvard Business School Case 706-440

The Apollo Hospitals Group, one of Asia's premier health care organizations, had come to rival the best health care organizations on the globe. Apollo offered advanced medical procedures, such as cardiac surgery using the beating heart technique, at very high levels of quality but at a fraction of the cost of hospitals in the West. Apollo's managers must decide how best to capitalize on the group's remarkable medical capabilities. One option was to bet on global medical tourism by trying to attract patients from Asia and worldwide needing advanced medical procedures. Thailand had set the example for medical tourism and attracted more than one million patients a year, most of them undergoing plastic surgery. Another option Apollo considered was to build and manage hospitals abroad.

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Bert Twaalfhoven: The Successes and Failures of a Global Entrepreneur

Harvard Business School Case 807-165

Bert Twaalfhoven (70; HBS '54) is faced with two offers to acquire the manufacturing holding company he had built up over 40 years. Despite the attractive price, which would net Twaalfhoven and his family $70 million, he is reluctant to sell the company because his original vision was to create a family-owned conglomerate which would last for generations. Of his eight children, two are appropriate successors, but neither shows much interest in following in their father's footsteps.

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BYD Company, Ltd.

Harvard Business School Case 606-139

Considers whether BYD Co., Ltd., the largest Chinese maker of rechargeable batteries, should enter the Chinese automobile industry by acquiring Qinchuan Auto, a state-owned car manufacturer. Set just after BYD's initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2002, it describes the development of BYD's labor-intensive approach to battery manufacturing-an approach decidedly different from its more capital-intensive Japanese competitors and one that took advantage of the abundant supply of low-cost labor in China. Highlights the unique benefits and challenges created by BYD's operations strategy and asks students to determine whether the capabilities developed by the company in battery manufacturing can productively be applied to the automobile sector. Asks students to consider which, if any, aspects of BYD's operations constitute sources of sustainable competitive advantage for the company.

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Calloway Laboratory: Pee for Profit

Harvard Business School Case 807-040

Describes the formation and rapid growth of a drug-testing company. The company needs to decide whether to enter the painkiller testing market, in addition to growing its drug treatment center business.

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Caselets: Bribery and Extortion in International Business (Abridged)

Harvard Business School Case 707-052

"Caselets" present several examples of decisions involving bribery or take other actions that could be considered as corrupt.

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China Resources Corp. (A): 6S Management

Harvard Business School Case 107-013

No abstract available.

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Choosing Corporate and Global Scope

Harvard Business School Note 707-496

Introduces students to the study of corporate strategy, while providing an overview framework for understanding international strategy. Focuses on questions of scope and ownership. Examines both horizontal and vertical integration. Underscores the point that economies of scope, or the existence of relationship-specific investments, are insufficient to explain effective corporate strategy unless there are important obstacles to contractual solutions.

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Comcast Corp.

Harvard Business School Case 507-080

In October 2006, Comcast executives had entered negotiations with broadcast networks to broaden the selection of free network content distributed via its video-on-demand (VOD) service. The major broadcast networks, however, were unsure of the effect it would have on regular "linear" viewership of programs airing every evening at their scheduled times, and feared that if television audiences migrated to VOD, their revenues from selling advertising time would decrease. How could Burke and Roberts convince the networks to team up with Comcast and distribute their content via On Demand free of charge? Or was it time for Comcast to rethink its push for "free" content, and craft a different business model?

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Digital China Holdings Ltd.: Managing the Transition from a Product-Oriented Towards a Service-Oriented Company

Harvard Business School Case 307-093

Digital China is the largest Chinese independent systems integrator (IBM and HP are larger). Describes their history and their current strategy and invites the student to advise them as to how they should continue to grow in the future. This is the closest China currently has to Infosys and their 7,700-person company is a very interesting, and today, a largely unknown organization outside of China.

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Dollar General (A)

Harvard Business School Case 607-140

Dollar General Corporation (DG) operates one of the leading chains of extreme value retailers in the United States. 2006 revenues reached $9.2 billion, making DG the 6th largest mass retailer in the country. With revenues growing at 9% annually over the five-year period up to 2005, DG had the distinction of being only one of three retailers to outperform Wal-Mart in both revenue and profit growth in that time. Life in a Dollar General store paints a vivid picture of the roots and historical focus of the company. Opportunistic buying has given the stores an eclectic merchandise mix. Analysts often referred to this category as "treasure hunt" SKUs. Offers an opportunity to examine a company's business model, particularly since DG has been so successful competing with Wal-Mart where so many other retailers have not. While it started out as a family business in the five-and-dime tradition, it evolved to a close-out retail model where its unique low-overhead operations were advantageous. As it added highly consumable categories its mix shifted, but it managed to retain its low-overhead model. Interestingly, the mix shift was likely more an emergency strategy driven by store-level operations than by top-down driven strategy. Frames the growth options available to DG's CEO as he grapples with how to maintain growth.

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Dollar General (B)

Harvard Business School Supplement 607-156

Supplements the (A) case.

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Dressen (Abridged) (A)

Harvard Business School Case 207-125

John Lynch, CEO of the Dressen Division of Westinghouse, was elated by the proposed leveraged buyout by the private equity firm, Warburg Pincus Ventures. The buyout would rid the division of a "bad" parent and place the division's destiny in its own hands. A recently instituted restructuring plan seemed likely to improve profitability, but the turnaround was in its infancy. Would sources of finance support a financing plan that relied heavily on debt? Would Warburg Pincus Ventures be prepared to pay a price sufficient to win the bidding contest?

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Dressen (Abridged) (B)

Harvard Business School Supplement 207-126

Supplements the (A) case.

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EZAmuse Negotiation Background (A)

Harvard Business School Case 807-007

This is the background to an exercise in negotiation. A promising venture-capital-backed company, EZAmuse Communications, is raising a B round. Its existing backer, Reality Venture Partners, would like it to raise enough for six or nine months, when it will have results on its current products and be able to raise a C round at a higher valuation. The new and talented CEO, who has succeeded with Reality in the past, would like to raise a larger amount now to avoid raising a C round (and preserve his own position). The keenest interest has come from a German firm that tends to do larger later-stage deals and would happily fund the company's entire needs. In the negotiations, explores the tradeoffs and dynamics of the situation.

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EZAmuse Negotiation (B): Georg von HaufenGeld Background

Harvard Business School Supplement 807-169

Supplements the (A) case.

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EZAmuse Negotiation (D): Rob Bonham Background

Harvard Business School Supplement 807-171

Supplements the (A) case.

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Howard Schultz: Building Starbucks Community (B)

Harvard Business School Supplement 407-127

Supplements the (A) case.

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Managing Orthopaedics at Rittenhouse Medical Center

Harvard Business School Case 607-152

Considers the issues associated with running multiple business models-a private practice and an academic faculty practice—within the confines of the orthopaedics department of a single medical center. Students assume the role of Neela Wilson, Executive Director of Rittenhouse Medical Center, in managing the operational requirements of, and organizational tensions created by, these competing models. In analyzing the case, students have the opportunity to: (1) gain a better understanding of operational focus and the concept of a "focused factory" in health care, (2) consider the concept of a "factory within a factory" in the context of an academic medical center, and (3) build an appreciation of the managerial challenges associated with operating related, and often competing, business units within the same organization.

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Maria Sharapova: Marketing a Champion (A)

Harvard Business School Case 507-065

In July 2004, a then 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Max Eisenbud, Sharapova's agent at International Management Group (IMG), knew the championship would lead to a flood of new opportunities. What would be the best approach to the management and marketing of a champion like Maria Sharapova? Which of the various endorsement offers would be worthwhile to pursue? And how could Eisenbud best leverage the resources available to him at IMG? Allows for an in-depth examination of marketing issues and, more specifically, sports endorsement opportunities in the context of a world-class athlete. (As of 2006, Sharapova is one of the world's most recognized sports figures, and its highest compensated female athlete.) Provides unique insights into the world of "team Sharapova," consisting of Sharapova and her advisors at IMG, a leading sports, media, and entertainment agency. Contains rich data on the way in which IMG structures its sales process, and can serve to illustrate best practices and key trade-offs in sports or entertainment marketing initiatives.

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Maria Sharapova: Marketing a Champion (B)

Harvard Business School Supplement 507-066

Supplements the (A) case.

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The Mitchell Family and Mitchells/Richards

Harvard Business School Case 605-047

Describes a small, luxury retail chain's operational sophistication achieved through the use of technology and "high-touch" customer-service. A family-run business, Mitchells has built its success with a customer service strategy known internally as "hugging." The term is deceptively simple. The firm's true success lies in its blend of a warm, other-oriented corporate culture, sophisticated information technology, and an effective family business structure. It is currently considering further expansion for future generations. A rewritten version of an earlier case.

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Nestle's Milk District Model: Economic Development for a Value-Added Food Chain and Improved Nutrition

Harvard Business School Case 906-406

Nestle is the largest milk firm in the world. For over a century, it has developed a milk model procurement program that improved the well-being of the small-scale farmer and the ultimate consumer. Can it partner with other firms and institutions to make even greater use of this model and can it do so in a manner that is consistent with host country goals and equally useful to the long-term viability of Nestle?

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Netflix

Harvard Business School Case 607-138

Reed Hastings founded Netflix with a vision to provide a home movie service that would do a better job satisfying customers than the traditional retail rental model. But as it encouraged challenges it underwent several major strategy shifts, ultimately developing a business model and an operational strategy that were highly disruptive to retail video rental chains. The combination of a large national inventory, a recommendation system that drove viewership across the broad catalog, and a large customer base made Netflix a force to be reckoned with, especially as a distribution channel for lower-profile and independent films. Blockbuster, the nation's largest retail video rental firm, was initially slow to respond, but ultimately rolled out a hybrid retail/online response in the form of Blockbuster Online. Aggressive pricing pulled in subscribers, but at a price to both it and Netflix. But a new challenge was on the horizon: video-on-demand. How should Netflix respond?

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Portfolio Investment in Emerging Markets

Harvard Business School Note 706-438

Provides distinctive data on investment flows into emerging markets.

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Rovná Daň: The Flat Tax in Slovakia

Harvard Business School Case 707-043

Explores the tax policy choices made by Slovakia and the impact of reforms. Set in 2006, looks at the decision facing new Prime Minister Robert Fico as he faces the public's "reform fatigue." Traces the development of tax and fiscal policies since Slovakia's independence in 1993, focusing on the 2004 implementation of the rovna dan, or "equal tax," a drastic simplification of the tax system. A major theme is the impact of labor market and welfare reform, as well as the effective tax rates of both investors and workers. Another important theme relates to Slovakia's desire to join the EU and adopt the Euro.

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Warburg Pincus and emgs: The IPO Decision (A)

Harvard Business School Case 807-092

Two partners of Warburg Pincus, a global private equity firm, are trying to decide whether to take a portfolio company public, and on what exchange. The company, Norway-based ElectroMagnetic GeoServices (emgs), has developed a market-leading technology that determines whether an undersea rock formation contains oil—prior to the oil company drilling a hole. With its high-growth characteristics, emgs is very different from the typical oilfield services company, and would be more suitable for floating on the NYSE or LSE, where liquidity and valuations would also be greater than on the Oslo Bors, the other possibility. Yet floating in the U.S. would involve greater compliance expense and might also require the management team to move to New York or Houston, something the team is reluctant to do. The partners need to decide what to do before the IPO window for energy-related companies closes.

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Zoots—Financing Growth (A)

Harvard Business School Case 807-139

Traces the genesis and founding of Zoots, the largest chain of dry cleaning establishments in the U.S. Founded by some of the founders of the very successful Staples chain, the company raises a very large amount of capital without fully proving its business model, and by 2006 is in need of yet more funding. Pushes students to dissect the business model and current operations—and their financial performance—and figure out what went wrong initially, if the business model and operations are now on solid footing, and, assuming capital can be raised, whether it is better to take the "bird in the hand" of significant capital at an admittedly disappointing valuation, or wait for a strategic investor who would pay a higher price but will need significantly more time to complete due diligence.

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Publications

The Moral Leader: Challenges, Insights, and Tools

Abstract

Successful leaders—at any level and in any arena—are inevitably presented with moral and ethical choices. This unique and innovative textbook is designed to encourage students and managers to confront those fundamental moral challenges, to develop skills in moral analysis and judgment, and to come to terms with their own definition of moral leadership and how it can be translated into action. Drawing on the inspiration of major literary and historical figures such as Machiavelli, Conrad, Shackleton and Achebe, and based upon an impressive array of literary sources, including novels, plays, history and biography, the book centers on four questions implicitly asked of all leaders:

  • What is the nature of a moral challenge?
  • How do people "reason morally"?
  • How do leaders contend with the moral choices they face?
  • How is moral leadership different from leadership in general?

The Moral Leader is based upon the renowned course of the same name taught at Harvard Business School for over two decades. With an emphasis on decision-making and action, students learn to identify moral problems, to address them systematically, and to develop skills that aid them throughout their studies and their professional lives. At times challenging, insightful, and always illuminating, this book is essential reading for all serious students of leadership, management, business ethics or policy.

Teaching The Moral Leader: A Literature-Based Leadership Course

Abstract

This book is a comprehensive, practical manual to help instructors integrate moral leadership in their own courses, drawing from the experience and resources of the Harvard Business School course "The Moral Leader," an MBA elective taken by thousands of HBS students over nearly twenty years. Through the close study of literature—novels, plays, and historical accounts—followed by rigorous classroom discussion, this innovative course encourages students to confront fundamental moral challenges, to develop skills in moral analysis and judgment, and to come to terms with their own definition of moral leadership. Using this guide's background material and detailed teaching plans, instructors will be well prepared to lead their students in the study of this vital and important subject. Featuring a website to run alongside that links the manual with the textbook and provides a wealth of extra resources, including on-line links to Harvard Business School case studies and teaching notes, this manual forms a perfect complement to The Moral Leader core text.

The Information Technology Ecosystem: Structure, Health, and Performance

Abstract

A number of modern industries are organized as complex networks of firms whose integrated efforts are necessary to deliver value to end customers. The complexity of these networks, or business ecosystems, and the associated interdependencies among firms, make traditional antitrust market analysis difficult. The information technology (IT) industry today consists of a rapidly evolving and massively interconnected network of organizations, technologies, products, and consumers. In the IT ecosystem, the vast majority of organizations provide applications. To assess the health and competitiveness of business ecosystems, three aspects of ecosystem health inspired by their biological metaphor and expressed in terms of their ecosystem analogy: robustness, productivity, and innovation are used. In conclusion, the ecosystem appears to be working well and recovering from the financial excesses of the late 1990s. Software and hardware platforms are witnessing significant innovation and evolution, which is, in turn, fueling innovation in a broad variety of applications and business models.