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.

August 26, 2008

Many companies characterize their products as "revolutionary," but that claim could honestly be made by Given Imaging Ltd., which developed a camera-inside-a-pill for imaging the small bowel in the gastrointestinal tract. A new case study available for purchase, "Given Imaging Ltd. —First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin?", looks behind initial marketing decisions such as which countries to rollout to first.

Accepted history isn't always factual history. A new working paper by David A. Moss and Jonathan B. Lackow, available for free download, challenges the standard account of a famous decision in 1927 by the Federal Radio Commission to vote down expansion of the radio band. Turns out it wasn't just incumbent broadcasters that influenced the vote. Want to learn more about the hedge fund industry? Check out "Note: The Hedge Fund Industry," which describes the industry at the end of 2007.


Working Papers

Applicant and Examiner Citations in U.S. Patents: An Overview and Analysis


Researchers studying innovation increasingly use indicators based on patent citations. However, it is well known that not all citations originate from applicants—patent examiners contribute to citations listed in issued patents—and that this could complicate interpretation of findings in this literature. In 2001 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) began reporting examiner and applicant citations separately. In this paper, we analyze the prior art citations of all patents granted by the USPTO in 2001-2003. We show that examiner citations account for 63% of all citations on the average patent and that 40% of patents have all citations added by examiners. We use multivariate regression and analysis of variance to identify the determinants of examiner shares. Examiner shares are highest for non-US applicants and in electronics, communications, and computer-related fields. However, most of the variation is explained by firm-specific variables, with the largest patent applicants having high examiner shares. Moreover, a large number of firms are granted patents that contain no applicant prior art. Taken together, our findings suggest that heterogeneity in firm-level patenting practices, in particular by high-volume applicants, has a strong influence on the data. This suggests that analysis of firm-level differences in patenting strategies is an important topic for future research.

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Stability and Nash Implementation in Matching Markets with Couples


We consider two-sided matching markets with couples. First, we extend a result by Klaus and Klijn (2005, Theorem 3.3) and show that for any weakly responsive couples market there always exists a "double stable" matching, i.e., a matching that is stable for the couples market and for any associated singles market. Second, we show that for weakly responsive couples markets the associated stable correspondence is (Maskin) monotonic and Nash implementable. In contrast, the correspondence that assigns all double stable matchings is neither monotonic nor Nash implementable.

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Rethinking the Role of History in Law & Economics: The Case of the Federal Radio Commission in 1927


In the study of law and economics, there is a danger that historical inferences from theory may infect historical tests of theory. It is imperative, therefore, that historical tests always involve a vigorous search not only for confirming evidence, but for disconfirming evidence as well. We undertake such a search in the context of a single well-known case: the Federal Radio Commission's (FRC's) 1927 decision not to expand the broadcast radio band. The standard account of this decision holds that incumbent broadcasters opposed expansion (to avoid increased competition) and succeeded in capturing the FRC. Although successful broadcaster opposition may be taken as confirming evidence for this interpretation, our review of the record reveals even stronger disconfirming evidence. In particular, we find that every major interest group, not just radio broadcasters, publicly opposed expansion of the band in 1927 and that broadcasters themselves were divided at the FRC's hearings.

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Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey


This paper surveys recent empirical studies on the economic impacts of immigration. Particular emphasis is given to the experiences of Northern Europe and Scandinavia. The survey first examines the magnitude of immigration as an economic phenomenon in various host countries. The second part deals with the assimilation of immigrant workers in host-country labor markets and the use of social benefits by immigrants. The survey then considers the effect of immigration on the labor market outcomes of natives. The paper concludes with studies of immigration's impact for the public sector of host countries.

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Cases & Course Materials

Abraaj Capital

Harvard Business School Case 809-008

Abraaj Capital addresses issues of how to respond to the fast-growing Middle East market. Questions of scaling, institutionalization, and geographic scope are among those considered.

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Arauco (B): 'Papel' in Brazil

Harvard Business School Supplement 709-416

This is Part B to the "Arauco: Forward Integration or Horizontal Expansion?" case. This short case looks at the company in late 2007 after it has decided to invest in a Brazilian joint venture involving forests, saw mills, and a paper mill. The case acts as an epilogue and allows students to revisit the concept of forward integration into paper in the Brazilian context.

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Given Imaging Ltd. - First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin?

Harvard Business School Case 808-033

GI has developed a revolutionary video pill for imaging the small bowel in the gastro-intestinal tract. The development has required the integration of a wide variety of technologies. GI founder and CEO Gabriel Meron must determine GI's marketing strategy and prioritize GI's initial target markets: either the United States, Europe, or Japan, or any combination. He is also faced with the immediate decision if to make offers to U.S. and European regional managers. Cash resources are scarce, and GI hopes to raise additional capital soon.

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The Home Depot, Inc.

Harvard Business School Case 608-093

For its first 20 years, Home Depot was known for its entrepreneurial spirit and focus on customer service. Merchandising, purchasing, and store operations were all decentralized. When the company hit $45 billion in sales, many believed that a more disciplined approach to operations would be important for future growth. As a result, the company hired Bob Nardelli, a former GE executive, to lead the change. When Bob Nardelli became the Chairman and CEO in 2000, he centralized merchandising and purchasing and brought process discipline to store operations through using Six Sigma quality methodology. Although the changes led to higher profitability, the retailer's stock price remained unchanged. Many wondered if poor stock market performance was a reflection of the cultural change and declining customer service.

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Note: The Hedge Fund Industry

This note describes the hedge fund industry as of the end of the year 2007.

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Patient Flow at Meldon Hospital (B)

Harvard Business School Supplement 608-172

This case is an e-mail that follows up on the original case, which describes a day at Meldon Hospital when the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) was full, but two Meldon patients needed MICU beds, forcing the patients' physicians to search for available beds on Meldon's other intensive care units. The Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and the Thoracic Surgery Intensive Care Unit (TSICU) had available beds, and thus the case protagonist, SICU Chief, Thornton Burgess, had to decide whether the units should allocate their open beds to these two patients. The admitting physician (Martin Zollo) for the Emergency Department (ED) patient closely adhered to the hospital's protocol for requesting an ICU bed, and his patient was placed on the SICU without incident. However, the floor patient's admitting physician, Krishna Dugar, was unfamiliar with the hospital's policy. Therefore, in addition to correctly contacting admitting to request an ICU bed, Dugar incorrectly called the SICU and TSICU directly to ask those units for a bed for his patient. Thus, admitting was working on finding a bed for Dugar's patient on the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) while at the same time, the TSICU attending, Dr. Fred Moran, was debating with the nurse manager about whether they should accept Dugar's patient. Ultimately, Moran overrode the nurse manager's rejection and agreed to accept the patient, only to learn that the patient no longer needed the bed. Thus, all of the TSICU's efforts and conflict on behalf of the patient was wasted.

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Sovereign Wealth Funds: For Profits or Politics?

Harvard Business School Case 708-053

On March 21, 2008, the U.S. government secured an agreement from two leading sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) to adopt a new set of investment principles to govern the Funds' activities. SWFs, broadly defined as an investment fund owned by a national or a government, were gaining prominence across the globe, especially with their recent investments in troubled U.S. financial firms that had suffered significant losses from the subprime mortgage crisis. Yet SWFs were viewed with suspicions amid concerns that they could have potential political interests behind their investments. Many SWFs also lacked disclosure or transparency regarding their activities or investment goals. Countries such as the United States felt that some kind of international regulation had to be imposed, but would it be possible?

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Work Is Good: Branding the Employ+Ability Mission

Harvard Business School Case 809-028

Employ+Ability, a small company employing developmentally disabled adults, finds itself competing with low-cost producers of its core products—therapeutic hot and cold packs. How might an innovative branding campaign, centered on the company's core value of "Work Is Good," enable it to effectively compete with them?

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A Head Start on Succession


Our studies of CEO succession over the past several years have shown some improvements in the trends in CEO turnover, often resulting from outside pressures for improved oversight and better corporate governance. The next step in improving CEO succession—and ultimately in improving financial performance and long-term returns to shareholders—seems more likely to come from within, as management teams and boards improve their procedures for identifying and nurturing potential future leaders and for knowing when the time is ripe for change.