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.

Feb. 23

A cursory glance at the news headlines every day makes it clear: Our leadership frequently disappoints. Where are the principled leaders who can provide fresh and effective approaches to solving local, national, and global problems? Who will lead the next generation of companies?

Academia—with insights from practice—needs to engage more broadly and deeply with the hows and whys of leadership, according to HBS professors Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana. Their groundbreaking volume, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, brings together 26 chapters by top scholars who examine leadership development, identity, and culture, among many other topics crucial to organizations and the wider world.

The book, Nohria and Khurana write, "tries to reinvigorate research on leadership—in as broad a manner as possible, across a wide variety of disciplines—with the hope that we can stimulate new ideas and thinking about leadership, by the best scholars in our institutions, so that we can respond to society's urgent need for better leadership and, in turn, fulfill the espoused mission of our own institutions to develop better leaders who can serve society."

This week also sees four new working papers by HBS faculty, among other publications. In one study, "Will I Stay or Will I Go? Cooperative and Competitive Effects of Workgroup Sex and Race Composition on Turnover," HBS professor Kathleen L. McGinn and Wharton School professor Katherine L. Milkman describe their research on voluntary and involuntary turnover in an up-or-out organization. One of their surprising results: "Clustering same race or same sex junior employees to provide an increased sense of community may have the opposite effects of those desired unless accompanied by similar or greater increases in the diversity of senior professionals."

 

Working Papers

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

Abstract

This study looks at the role of firms' internal linkages in highly competitive technology clusters, where much of the world's R&D takes place. The leading players in these clusters are multi-location firms that organize and integrate knowledge across sites worldwide. Strong internal links across locations allow these firms to leverage knowledge for competitive advantage without risking critical knowledge outflow to competitors. We examine whether multi-location firms increase internal ties when they face appropriability risks from direct competitors. Our empirical analysis of the global semiconductor industry shows that when leading firms co-locate with direct market competitors, innovations tend to be quickly internalized and are more likely to involve collaboration across locations, particularly with inventors from the firm's primary R&D site. Our results suggest that R&D dynamics in clusters are heavily influenced by multi-location firms with innovative links across locations, and that future research on technology innovation in clusters should account for these links.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-064.pdf

The Strategic Use of Architectural Knowledge by Entrepreneurial Firms

Abstract

This paper describes how entrepreneurial firms can use superior architectural knowledge of a technical system to gain strategic advantage. The strategy involves, first, identifying "bottlenecks" in the existing system, and then creating a new architecture that isolates the bottlenecks in modules. An entrepreneurial firm with limited financial resources can then focus on supplying superior bottleneck components while outsourcing non-bottleneck components. I show that a firm pursuing this strategy will have a higher return on invested capital (ROIC) than competitors with a less modular design. Over time, the focal firm can drive the ROIC of competitors below their cost of capital, causing them to shrink and possibly exit the market. The strategy was used by Sun Microsystems in the 1980s and Dell Computer in the 1990s.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-063.pdf

The Determinants of Individual Performance and Collective Value in Private-Collective Software Innovation

Abstract

We investigate if the actions by individuals in creating effective new innovations are aligned with the reuse of those innovations by others in a private-collective software development context. This relationship is studied in the setting of eleven "wiki-like" programming contests, where contest submissions are open for reuse by others, each involving more than one hundred contributors and several thousand attempts to generate, over a one-week period, the "best" software solution to a difficult programming challenge. We find that greater amounts of new code and novel recombinations of others' code, in a contest submission, increases both the probability of achieving top rank and the subsequent reuse by others in their own submission (community value). While increasing use of borrowed code in a submission reduces the probability of achieving top rank, it increases the community value of the submission. Code structures that are more nonconforming to commonly accepted programming conventions similarly increase the probability of generating a top performer but reduce subsequent reuse by others. Surprisingly, greater code complexity in a submission increases both the odds of generating a top performing entry and its community value. We discuss the implications of these findings in light of the literature on private-collective innovation with an emphasis on the importance of considering both individual and community perspectives as they relate to knowledge creation, reuse, and recombination for innovation.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-065.pdf

Will I Stay or Will I Go? Cooperative and Competitive Effects of Workgroup Sex and Race Composition on Turnover

Abstract

We develop an integrated theory of the social identity mechanisms linking workgroup sex and race composition across levels with individual turnover. Building on social identity research, we theorize that social cohesion (Tyler, 1999; Hogg and Terry, 2000) and social comparison (Festinger, 1954) lead to well-known cooperative effects within subordinate-supervisor pairs of the same sex and race, but potentially competitive effects among demographically similar peers. Analyzing longitudinal human resource data on professionals employed in a large up-or-out knowledge organization, we assess the distinct effects of demographic match with superiors and demographic match with peers on the exit of junior professionals. We find largely cooperative effects of cross-level composition—junior professionals who work in groups with higher proportions of same sex senior professionals are less likely to exit. At the peer level, however, these effects are reversed, and professionals are more likely to leave as the proportions of same-sex and race peers within the workgroup increase. The effects hold across demographic groups but vary by majority/minority status, disproportionately affecting women and underrepresented minorities.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/10-066.pdf

 

Publications

Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice

Abstract

The study of leadership suffers intellectual neglect and has yet to be considered a serious academic discipline. And though the mission statements of most business schools profess to "develop leaders who make a difference in the world," these same schools produce hardly any serious scholarship or research to advance our understanding of leadership. To fill this void, Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana have invited leading scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds to take stock of what we know about leadership and to set an agenda for future research. Based on a Harvard Business School Centennial Colloquium, this edited volume brings together the most important scholars from fields as diverse as psychology, sociology, economics, and history to shape the academic discipline of leadership.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

Women and Leadership: Defining the Challenges

Abstract

We use the experience of Carly Fiorina as an introduction to the continued challenges faced by women in top leadership roles. Although Fiorina, on becoming CEO of Hewlett Packard in 1999, asserted that "there is not a glass ceiling," her memoir eight years later acknowledged many encounters with sexist comments and attitudes. We suggest that all female leaders must deal with ambivalent reactions rooted in gender stereotypes. Generally, the assertive, dominant behavior typical among leaders tends to be viewed as atypical and unattractive in women. Studies of attitudes toward women in traditionally male roles show that they effectively trade perceptions of competence for likeability-the more successful they appear, the less positively they are regarded. Such trends affect both organizational openness to female leaders and the conceptions women have about themselves as leaders.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

Leadership and History

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

Unlocking the Slices of Genius in Your Organization: Leading for Innovation

Abstract

There is a widespread consensus that innovation is fast becoming the principal source of differentiation and competitive advantage in today's knowledge-intensive economy. But until we reframe our understanding of what innovation and leadership are all about, we fear that innovation will remain an "unnatural act" in many corporations. A sizeable body of research on engendering innovation exists; too little of this knowledge appears to have infiltrated the notions of leadership espoused in the literature or in practice. In this chapter, we share preliminary results from a collaborative project on leadership for innovation. We studied a dozen effective leaders of innovation in a wide range of industries and geographies, posing the following question: what do leaders of innovation really do? In this chapter, we describe what occurs inside of organizations as they develop novel and useful solutions to problems, and we offer a framework for how effective leaders of innovation think and act. Leadership for innovation is more about leading "from behind" than leading from the front. It is about shaping individual and collective experiences to foster innovation rather than about setting direction and mobilizing people to follow. In this chapter, we show what it takes to insure that an organization is willing and able to innovate. We conclude by posing questions for future research. The research will appear in more depth in a forthcoming book, Collective Genius.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

Leadership in a Globalizing World

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and U.S. Ethnic Invention

Abstract

This study evaluates the impact of high-skilled immigrants on U.S. technology formation. We use reduced-form specifications that exploit large changes in the H-1B visa program. Higher H-1B admissions increase immigrant science and engineering (SE) employment and patenting by inventors with Indian and Chinese names in cities and firms dependent upon the program relative to their peers. Most specifications find limited effects for native SE employment or patenting. We are able to rule out displacement effects, and small crowding-in effects may exist. Total SE employment and invention increases with higher admissions primarily through direct contributions of immigrants.

Advancing Leadership Theory and Practice

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

A Contingency Theory of Leadership

Abstract

The idea of a contingency theory of leadership is not novel. In the 1960s several scholars conducted research and proposed such an approach arguing that the style of leadership that would be most effective depended upon the situation (Fiedler, Tannenbaum and Schmidt, and Vroom and Yetton). This work was an integral part of the wave of organizational behavior research that led to what we labeled a "Contingency Theory" of organizations at the time. Like much of the early contingency work, these efforts on leadership suffered from some limitations. First, while there was an agreement that the appropriate leadership style did depend on situational contingencies, there was not complete agreement about what such factors were. For example, all three of the authors cited indicated that the appropriate leadership style did depend upon the nature of the task, specifically how certain or uncertain it was. However Vroom and Yetton defined the task as decision making, while the others were not so specific about the type of task.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

Tribute to Paul A. Samuelson

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Revisiting the Meaning of Leadership

Abstract

During the past 50 years, organizational scholarship on leadership has shifted from a focus on the significance of leadership for meaning-making to the significance of leadership for economic performance. This shift has been problematic for two reasons. First, it has given rise to numerous conceptual difficulties that now plague the study of leadership. Second, there is now comparatively little attention given to the question of how individuals find meaning in the economic sphere even though this question should arguably be one of the most important questions for organizational scholarship. This chapter discusses several reasons for the shift, arguing that one of the most important has been the lack of a clear definition and operationalization of meaningful economic activity. As a first step to redressing this shift, we offer a definition and operationalization of meaningful action, and we propose a typology of executive behaviors as a foundation for a systematic exploration of the meaning-making capacity of leaders. We conclude with a discussion of the relationship between the capacity of leaders to infuse meaning and the capacity of leaders to impact on performance.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

What Is Leadership: The CEO's Role in Large, Complex Organizations

Abstract

What is the role of the CEO in a large, complex enterprise? What makes a CEO effective? At first blush, these questions seem easy to answer. A CEO is the epitome of leadership. He or she exercises ultimate power and is responsible for making the most critical choices facing an organization. However, these questions get far more complicated as one contemplates the realities of large organizations. Actually, the CEO cannot make most decisions, or even review them. The CEO is powerful, but multiple constituencies can exercise power as well, starting with the board. The shortening CEO tenure reveals that many leaders misunderstand the role and how to play it effectively.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

Moment-to-Moment Optimal Branding in TV Commercials: Preventing Avoidance by Pulsing

Abstract

We develop a conceptual framework for understanding the impact that branding activity (the audio-visual representation of brands) and consumers' dispersion of attention have on their moment-to-moment avoidance decisions during television advertising. It formalizes this in a Dynamic Probit Model and estimates it with MCMC methods. Data on commercial avoidance through zapping along with eye tracking on 31 commercials for nearly 2,000 participants are used to calibrate the model. New, simple metrics of attention dispersion are shown to strongly predict avoidance. Independent of this, central on-screen brand positions but not brand size further promote commercial avoidance. Based on the model estimation, we optimize the branding activity under marketing control for ads in the sample to reduce commercial avoidance. This reveals that pulsing the brand presence—while keeping total brand exposure constant—decreases commercial avoidance significantly. Both numerical simulations and a controlled experiment using regular and edited commercials provide evidence of the benefits of brand pulsing to ward off commercial avoidance. Implications for advertising management and theory are addressed.

When Does Leadership Matter? A Contingent Opportunities View of CEO Leadership

Abstract

There is by now a long-standing debate on the impact that CEOs have on company performance. Studies of leadership describe how CEOs can significantly impact company performance, while the "constraints" perspective argues that leaders are sufficiently constrained by their environments, and that their ability to impact performance is limited. This paper seeks to alter the framing of this debate by asking, instead, "When does leadership matter?" We develop a "contingent opportunities" theory of leadership and empirically examine our predictions on a dataset of 531 companies from 42 industries from 1979 to 1997. We show that CEO impact differs markedly by industry, and that CEOs have the most significant impact where opportunities are scarce or where CEOs have slack resources.

Book: http://hbr.org/product/handbook-of-leadership-theory-and-practice/an/12326-HBK-ENG

 

Cases & Course Materials

ViniBrasil: New Latitude Wines

David E. Bell, Marcos Fava Neves, Luciano Thome e Castro, and Mary Shelman
Harvard Business School Case 509-003

ViniBrasil is a small wine venture in Brazil started by a top Portuguese wine company, Dao Sul. ViniBrasil grows its grapes in a novel environment (close to the equator) using innovative management practices such as controlled irrigation and year-round harvesting. ViniBrasil "Rio Sol" wines, which have received several awards, are sold mainly in Brazil where per capita wine consumption is low and there is strong competition from inexpensive imports. Dao Sul must decide how to expand the Brazilian market and also if there is international potential for the new Brazilian wines.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/509003-PDF-ENG

State of Emergency at Mercy Hospital

Thomas J. DeLong and Chirag Shah
Harvard Business School Case 409-048

Dr. Scott Gabu, Chairman of the Emergency Department of the world-renowned, university-based Mercy Hospital, was deeply disturbed when he read the letter from the family of John Samson, a patient who had come to the emergency room one week earlier, that described an incident that occurred at the hospital in which Dr. Jason Diliper, the attending Chief Resident in charge of Mr. Samson, irresponsibly threatened Mr. Samson's health by leaving his bedside while Mr. Samson was having difficulty breathing. Diliper had been a rising star at the hospital, but lately a number of reports about his behavior had concerned Gabu. Was Diliper burning out? What should Gabu do?

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/409048-PDF-ENG

Miles Everson at PricewaterhouseCoopers

Robert G. Eccles and David Lane
Harvard Business School Case 410-062

Miles Everson, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), is the Global Engagement Partner (GEP) for a large U.S. financial institution and about to take over this role for a much larger global financial institution. The GEP role is a critical one at PwC. GEPs have responsibility for the firm's largest and most important clients. They must manage a vast external network of client employees and an equally vast internal network of the firm's employees. The GEP needs to have a deep understanding of the client and its industry in order to identify opportunities and problems where the firm's resources can be brought to bear and to match the firm's capabilities to the client's needs. GEPs must be able to simultaneously manage a larger number of tasks, often under great time pressure. This case describes how a very effective GEP—Miles Everson who was named one of the top 25 consultants for 2006 by Consulting Magazine—performs this role and provides insights into the attitudes, skills, and subject matter expertise necessary to be successful in this role. Insights into how Everson does this job are provided by both PwC and client personnel. As is often the case, Everson is responsible for a business (in his case governance, risk, and compliance) and so he has substantial internal management responsibilities as well. The case raises questions about whether he will be able to retain these internal management responsibilities when he takes over a much larger and more complex global client and becomes the Senior Engagement Partner (SEP) on his current client. (SEPs perform an oversight role for the work being done by the GEP and his or her team and are typically very senior members of the firm.) The case also raises areas where Everson can improve.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/410062-PDF-ENG

Google in China

John A. Quelch and Katherine E. Jocz
Harvard Business School Case 510-071

In January 2010, Google threatened in a public statement to stop censoring its search results on its google.cn website, as required by Chinese authorities. Should Google exit China? Or attempt a compromise with the Chinese government?

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/510071-PDF-ENG

DR Corporation

Roy D. Shapiro
Harvard Business School Case 610-049

DR Corporation is a manufacturer of major appliances. The traffic manager is facing a decision of selecting a carrier for the inbound movement of motors. The primary case decisions are 1) what factors are critical to the decision; 2) how to calculate the tradeoffs among transportation costs, inventory costs, and order costs; and 3) how the company's managers should coordinate to make the decision. Acts as a very effective introduction to total supply chain cost calculations and problems of internal coordination for supply chain decision making. Coupled with ChemBright, DR Corporation is a particularly effective way to introduce supply chain management.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/610049-PDF-ENG

Curt Schilling's Next Pitch

Noam Wasserman, Jeffrey J. Bussgang, and Rachel Gordon
Harvard Business School Case 810-053

As his major-league pitching career was starting to wind down in 2006, baseball all-star Curt Schilling decided to become an entrepreneur. Looking to focus his tenacity and his passion for online role-playing games on a new challenge, he founded an online gaming venture, which later became known as 38 Studios. During the venture's first two years, he built a team of 70 people, including an executive team of business and industry veterans and learned key lessons about the challenges faced by industry-changing entrepreneurs. Wanting to self-fund the venture initially, and later finding it hard to raise outside money, he put a substantial percentage of his net worth on the line to build 38 Studios. Now he is facing a critical acquisition decision that could either double his problems or help solve them.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/810053-PDF-ENG