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 2

The strategist redefined

In the Harvard Business Review article "The New Psychology of Strategic Leadership," professor Giovanni Gavetti climbs on the academic shoulders of Michael Porter to advance the idea that a strategist's job must go beyond analyzing market forces. His view is that strategic leaders must also be "practitioner psychologists" who can envision their companies in new ways by using new analogies, much like Harley-Davidson sees itself in the entertainment business. Such an approach allows the strategist to see opportunities in places where the competition isn't even looking.

A Jewish-owned business in Nazi Germany

A new working paper from business historians Geoffrey Jones and Christina Lubinski looks at the plight of German pharmaceutical and skin care company Beiersdorf, which faced serious threats during World War II both from the Nazi regime (the company's owners were Jewish) and from forces abroad because of its German parentage. The paper examines the company's approach to risk management both during and long after the war. Read "Managing Political Risk in Global Business: Beiersdorf 1914-1990."

Angel investors take flight

As the angel investing landscape continues to change, a new case by William A. Sahlman and Evan Richardson discusses a number of questions including: How has angel investing changed in the last few years? How do you think about risk and reward in angel investing? Is it possible for angel funds to be too big? "The Changing Face of Angel Investing" includes a discussion with Ram Shriram, Mike Maples, Eric Paley, James Geshweiler, and Jim Southern about their investment philosophies.

 

Publications

The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work

Abstract

The most effective managers have the ability to build a cadre of employees who have great inner work lives—consistently positive emotions; strong motivation; and favorable perceptions of the organization, their work, and their colleagues. The worst managers undermine inner work life, often unwittingly. As Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain in The Progress Principle, seemingly mundane workday events can make or break employees' inner work lives. But it's forward momentum in meaningful work—progress that creates the best inner work lives. Through rigorous analysis of nearly 12,000 diary entries provided by 238 employees in seven companies, the authors explain how managers can foster progress and enhance inner work life every day. The book shows how to remove obstacles to progress, including meaningless tasks and toxic relationships. It also explains how to activate two forces that enable progress: 1) catalysts—events that directly facilitate project work, such as clear goals and autonomy and 2) nourishers—interpersonal events that uplift workers, including encouragement and demonstrations of respect and collegiality. Brimming with honest examples from the companies studied, The Progress Principle equips aspiring and seasoned leaders alike with the insights they need to maximize their people's performance.

Publisher's Link: http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/web/product_detail.seam?E=79788&R=10106-HBK-ENG&conversationId=323988

Surviving the Global Financial Crisis: Foreign Ownership and Establishment Performance

Abstract

We examine the differential response of establishments to the recent global financial crisis with particular emphasis on the role of foreign ownership. Using a worldwide establishment panel dataset, we investigate how multinational subsidiaries around the world responded to the crisis relative to local establishments. We find that first, multinational subsidiaries fared on average better than local counterfactuals with similar economic characteristics. Second, among multinational subsidiaries, establishments sharing stronger vertical production and financial linkages with parents exhibited greater resilience. Finally, in contrast to the crisis period, the effect of foreign ownership and linkages on establishment performance was insignificant in non-crisis years.

Read the paper: http://www.people.hbs.edu/lalfaro/SurvivingGlobalFinancialCrisis.pdf

Picking Green Tech's Winners and Losers

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Read the paper: http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/picking_green_techs_winners_and_losers/

The New Psychology of Strategic Leadership

Abstract

In this article, it is argued that today's dominant ideas about the practice of business strategy—defined by Porter three decades ago—hinge on a specific and therefore partial interpretation of competition. The result is an equally partial picture of the strategist's job. The problem lies not in what strategists are trained to do: Porter's perspective is powerful-so powerful that it has dominated both the teaching and the practice of business strategy for 30 years. The problem lies instead in what strategic leaders are not trained to do. In caricature, Porter's view casts strategists as practitioner economists who expertly analyze and manage market forces. It is suggested that strategic leaders must also be practitioner psychologists who expertly analyze and manage their own and others' thought processes.

Read the paper: http://hbr.org/2011/07/the-new-psychology-of-strategic-leadership/ar/1

Effects of Cultural Ethnicity, Firm Size, and Firm Age on Senior Executives' Trust in Their Overseas Business Partners: Evidence from China

Abstract

We investigate trust relationships between senior business executives and their overseas partners. Drawing on the similarity-attraction paradigm, social-categorization theory, and the distinction between cognition- and affect-based trust, we argue that executives trust their overseas partners differently depending on the partners' cultural ethnicity. In a field survey of 108 Chinese senior executives, we found that these executives have higher affect-based trust in overseas partners of the same cultural ethnicity as themselves; cognition-based trust is associated with affect-based trust differently when overseas partners are of the same or different cultural ethnicity. We also examine the role of relative firm size and age in shaping intra- and inter-cultural trust. Relative firm size has a stronger negative effect on executives' cognition-based trust if their partners were of a different cultural ethnicity. Although firm age does not have a negative effect on executives' affect-based trust as hypothesized, we found firm age to be positively associated with affect-based trust for partners of the same cultural ethnicity. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of this pattern of inter- and intra-cultural trust on international business and networking (guanxi) dynamics in China.

Read the paper: http://www.people.hbs.edu/rchua/JIBS_Intercultural_trust.pdf

Evolve (Again)

Abstract

Frenzy over social networks and interactive media can produce equally overhyped predictions that everything will change, not to mention money-losing investments in silly ventures. Separating enduring strategic lessons from the hype can help avoid a new crash. Hint: the lessons don't include rushing to fund start-ups on the basis of back-of-the-envelope calculations. The tools are changing, but not the rules about change. Encouraging self-organizing networks to let them investigate whatever they want to through company channels can produce new business ideas, as IBM found in the early days of virtualization. When talented employees leave to start ventures, smart companies keep them in the family through seed-capital investments or alumni groups. Experiments with other models, whether internal or with partners, provide experience and readiness for future change. Learning from partners, or from corporate venture capital investments, is a strategic capability.

Read the paper: http://hbr.org/2011/07/column-evolve-again/ar/1

The Paradox of Samsung's Rise

Abstract

Twenty years ago, few people would have predicted that Samsung could transform itself from a low-cost original equipment manufacturer to a world leader in R&D, marketing, and design, with a brand more valuable than Pepsi, Nike, or American Express. Fewer still would have predicted the success of the path it has taken. For two decades now, Samsung has been grafting Western business practices onto its essentially Japanese system, combining its traditional low-cost manufacturing prowess with an ability to bring high-quality, high-margin branded products swiftly to market. Like Samsung, today's emerging giants—Haier in China, Infosys in India, and Koç in Turkey, for instance—face a paradox: their continued success requires turning away from what made them successful. The tightly integrated business systems that have worked in their home markets are unlikely to secure their future in global markets. Samsung has steadily navigated this paradox to transcend its initial success in its home markets and move onto the world stage. It is a story that holds many important lessons for the current generation of emerging giants seeking to do the same.

Book: http://hbr.org/2011/07/the-globe-the-paradox-of-samsungs-rise/ar/1

 

Working Papers

Big BRICs, Weak Foundations: The Beginning of Public Elementary Education in Brazil, Russia, India, and China

Abstract

Our paper provides a comparative perspective on the development of public primary education in four of the largest developing economies circa 1910: Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC). These four countries encompassed more than 50% of the world's population in 1910, but remarkably few of their citizens attended any school by the early twentieth century. We present new, comparable data on school inputs and outputs for BRIC drawn from contemporary surveys and government documents. Recent studies emphasize the importance of political decentralization and relatively broad political voice for the early spread of public primary education in developed economies. We identify the former and the lack of the latter to be important in the context of BRIC, but we also outline how other factors such as factor endowments, colonialism, serfdom, and, especially, the characteristics of the political and economic elite help explain the low achievement levels of these four countries and the incredible amount of heterogeneity within each of them.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/11-083.pdf

Managing Political Risk in Global Business: Beiersdorf 1914-1990

Abstract

This working paper examines corporate strategies of political risk management during the twentieth century. It focuses especially on Beiersdorf, a German-based pharmaceutical and skin care company. During World War I the expropriation of its brands and trademarks revealed its vulnerability to political risk. Following the advent of the Nazi regime in 1933, the largely Jewish owned and managed company faced a uniquely challenging combination of home and host country political risk. The paper reviews the firm's responses to these adverse circumstances, challenging the prevailing literature which interprets so-called "cloaking" activities as one element of businesses' cooperation with the Nazis. The paper departs from previous literature in assessing the outcomes of the company's strategies after 1945. It examines the challenges and costs faced by the company in recovering the ownership of its brands. While the management of distance became much easier over the course of the twentieth century because of communications improvements, this working paper shows that the costs faced by multinational corporations in managing governments and political risk grew sharply.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/12-003.pdf

The Architecture of Transaction Networks: A Comparative Analysis of Hierarchy in Two Sectors

Abstract

A hierarchy is a generic structure in which entities such as firms are ordered with respect to a specific relationship. Thus, if A sells to B, which sells to C, then A, B, and C form a hierarchy with respect to transactions. Prior industry studies often suggest a hierarchical form of organization in which firms are ordered, from "upstream" to "downstream," according to the sequence of production processes. However, little is known about whether transactional hierarchy varies across industry sectors, and if so, what causes such variation. In this study, we use network-based methods of analysis to define and measure the degree of hierarchy in two industry sectors in Japan: automotive and electronics. Our empirical results show that the electronics sector exhibits a much lower degree of hierarchy than the automotive sector due to the existence of numerous interfirm transaction cycles. Transaction cycles in turn can only arise if a subset of firms have two-way "vertically permeable boundaries." Such firms (1) participate in multiple stages of the industry value chain (hence are vertically integrated); (2) purchase goods for downstream units from other firms in the sector; and (3) sell goods from upstream units to other firms in the sector. We conjecture that having two-way vertically permeable boundaries may allow firms designing innovative system products to advantageously access knowledge in their component divisions, while maintaining the competitiveness of those divisions by selling goods to external customers.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/11-076.pdf

 

Cases & Course Materials

Jones Lang LaSalle 2005-2008

Ranjay Gulati and Luciana Silvestri
Harvard Business School Case 411-095

The case traces the evolution of Jones Lang LaSalle's organization and strategy between the years 2005-2008, as it transitioned from a modular to an integrated structure. The case protagonist, CEO Peter Roberts, deals with the challenges of creating an organization that pursues multiple logics and requires both focus and collaboration among individuals and groups.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/411095-PDF-ENG

Assistant Professor Gyan Gupta and the Wet Noodle Class (A)

Dorothy Leonard
Harvard Business School Case 912-405

Professor Gupta faces three major problems in teaching cases: 1) his students, accustomed to lectures, don't know how to conduct a case discussion; 2) the students are using the Internet to discover the outcome of managerial dilemmas posed in the case; 3) he wants to share the theory he learned as a doctoral student, but can't figure out the appropriate way to integrate theory into the case-based discussion. He seeks advice, particularly about the students' use of the Internet.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/912405-PDF-ENG

Assistant Professor Gyan Gupta and the Wet Noodle Class (B)

Dorothy Leonard
Harvard Business School Supplement 912-406

Professor Gupta has imposed two new policies on his class midway through the term: 1) no use of the Internet to locate additional information on the company in the case; 2) an increase in the percentage of grades attributed to class participation. He meets with rebellion from the class members.

Purchase this supplement:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/912406-PDF-ENG

Reinsurance Negotiation: Confidential Information for Auburn Re

Robert C.Pozen and Henoch Senbetta
Harvard Business School Supplement 311-112

This case is a fictional three-party negotiation between a primary insurer and two reinsurers. It is appropriate for use in a wide variety of courses, including Financial Institutions, Negotiations, and courses related to the Insurance and Reinsurance industry. This Exercise emphasizes the key learning points that are most relevant to a course on financial institutions, while also examining several key elements of negotiation strategy.

Purchase this supplement:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/311112-PDF-ENG

Reinsurance Negotiation: Confidential Information for Brack Re

Robert C.Pozen and Henoch Senbetta
Harvard Business School Supplement 311-113

This case is a fictional three-party negotiation between a primary insurer and two reinsurers. It is appropriate for use in a wide variety of courses, including Financial Institutions, Negotiations, and courses related to the Insurance and Reinsurance industry. This Exercise emphasizes the key learning points that are most relevant to a course on financial institutions, while also examining several key elements of negotiation strategy.

Purchase this supplement:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/311113-PDF-ENG

Reinsurance Negotiation: Confidential Information for JLT Insurance Company

Robert C. Pozen and Henoch Senbettas
Harvard Business School Exercise 311-111

This case is a fictional three-party negotiation between a primary insurer and two reinsurers. It is appropriate for use in a wide variety of courses, including Financial Institutions, Negotiations, and courses related to the Insurance and Reinsurance industry. This Exercise emphasizes the key learning points that are most relevant to a course on financial institutions, while also examining several key elements of negotiation strategy.

Purchase this exercise:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/311111-PDF-ENG

BP's Macondo: Spill and Response

Julio J. Rotemberg
Harvard Business School Case 711-021

This case starts by reporting various factors that may have contributed to the massive Macondo oil spill, noting that BP, its partners, and the government all made decisions that helped cause the accident. It then discusses the response to this spill by BP and the government. This helps provide some context for the decision by the Obama administration to request $20 billion for a fund from BP and for BP's willingness to go along with this request. The case also depicts BP's safety record before this spill, which may also have contributed to the creation of this fund. After this, the case describes the various ways in which the U.S. government is involved in offshore oil, starting from the leasing of tracts, the regulation of drilling and the assessment of fines and damages. To provide a contrast with BP's payments, the case depicts the payments made by Exxon after the Exxon Valdez spill. The U.S. regulatory regime is then briefly compared with regimes in other countries. After a brief description of the way the fund set up by BP sought to distribute funds and of the temporary moratorium that followed the spill, the case ends with discussion of possible regulatory responses.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/711021-PDF-ENG

The Changing Face of Angel Investing

William A. Sahlman and Evan Richardson
Harvard Business School Case 811-046

Angel investors Ram Shriram, Mike Maples, Eric Paley, James Geshweiler, and Jim Southern discuss their investment philosophies and the changing landscape of angel investing. Questions include the following: How has angel investing changed in the last few years? How do you evaluate a prospective investment's attractiveness? How do you think about risk and reward in angel investing? Is it possible for angel funds to be too big?

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/811046-PDF-ENG