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.

October 4

Rating companies on their advocacy

Advocates for environmental change are undoubtedly successful at raising political awareness, generating campaign funding, and rallying public support for their causes. Why then, when agencies rank corporations based upon their environmental friendliness, do they not take into account that company's advocacy work, choosing instead to concentrate on metrics such as carbon neutrality? In their new working paper, What Environmental Ratings Miss, Auden Schendler and Michael Toffel offer up Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. as an example of a firm whose business operations get high green grades but whose publications blast environmentalism. By giving companies credit or blame on their public environmental stands, ratings agencies "could spur corporate activism, and in the process, help solve the world's most pressing problems."

Do you need a global strategy?

Is the world flat or just a series of local markets? In "Should You Have a Global Strategy?," a new think piece in the MIT Sloan Review, authors Chris Carr and David J. Collis suggest that companies assess the geographic concentration of firms in their industries before writing a strategy for addressing international markets. Their scenarios "offer a different opportunity for profit and different implications for how companies can compete."

China's stepped-up environmental enforcement

Until recently, China has talked a better game about protecting the environment than actually enforcing laws that could do it. But now the country is getting serious about green policing, adding a new layer of complexity for foreign firms doing business there. Researchers Christopher Marquis, Jianjun Zhang, and Yanhua Zhou ponder the implications for managers in a forthcoming article in California Management Review, "Regulatory Uncertainty and Corporate Response: How China's Environmental Enforcement Is Catching Up to Regulation and How Business Can Keep Up."

 

Publications

Collective Memory Meets Organizational Identity: Remembering to Forget in a Firm's Rhetorical History

Abstract

Much organizational identity research has grappled with the question of identity emergence or change. Yet the question of identity endurance is equally puzzling. Relying primarily on the analysis of 309 internal bulletins produced at a French aeronautics firm over almost fifty years, we theorize a link between collective memory and organizational identity endurance. More specifically, we show how forgetting in a firm's ongoing rhetorical history-here, the bulletins' repeated omission of contradictory elements in the firm's past (i.e., structural omission) or attempts to neutralize them with valued identity cues (i.e., preemptive neutralization)-sustains its identity. Thus knowing "who we are" might depend in part on repeatedly remembering to forget "who we were not."

The Enabling Role of Social Position in Diverging from the Institutional Status Quo: Evidence from the U.K. National Health Service

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between social position, both within the field and within the organization, and the likelihood of individual actors initiating organizational changes that diverge from the institutional status quo. I explore this relationship using data from 93 change projects conducted by clinical managers at the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. The results show social position, both within the field and within the organization, influences actors' likelihood to initiate two types of organizational change that diverge from the institutional status quo, namely, (1) changes that diverge from the institutionalized template of role division among organizations and (2) changes that diverge from the institutionalized template of role division among professional groups in a field. The findings indicate that these two types of divergent organizational change are likely to be undertaken by individual actors with different profiles in terms of social position within the field and the organization.

Should You Have a Global Strategy?

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Read the paper: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/the-magazine/2011-fall/53103/should-you-have-a-global-strategy/

How to Hang On to Your High Potentials

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Read the paper: http://hbr.org/2011/10/how-to-hang-on-to-your-high-potentials/ar/1

The Cure for Horrible Bosses

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Read the paper: http://hbr.org/2011/10/the-cure-for-horrible-bosses/ar/1

Golfing Alone? Corporations, Elites and Nonprofit Growth in 100 American Communities

Abstract

We examine the link between corporations and community by showing how corporate density interacts with the local social and cultural infrastructure to affect the growth and decline of the number of local nonprofits between 1987 and 2002. We focus on two sub-populations of nonprofits in 100 American cities: elite-oriented cultural and educational institutions and social welfare-oriented organizations. We find that corporate density enhances the growth of both types of nonprofits, as does location in the Northeast U.S. and being a long-established business community, but corporate density is especially potent for the growth of elite-oriented nonprofits-but not social welfare nonprofits-when local networks and cultural norms support elite mobilization. We conclude that despite globalizing trends, the local geographic community continues to be an important unit of analysis for unpacking multi-sector organizational processes among corporations and nonprofits.

Read the paper: http://www.people.hbs.edu/cmarquis/GolfingAlone_FINAL.pdf

Regulatory Uncertainty and Corporate Response: How China's Environmental Enforcement Is Catching Up to Regulation and How Business Can Keep Up

Abstract

We develop a framework to analyze the closing gap between regulation and enforcement of environmental protection in China and present a number of resulting implications for doing business there. We identify three major dimensions that characterize change in regulatory systems generally: priorities and incentives, bureaucratic alignment, and transparency and monitoring. Using these dimensions, we first unpack the mechanisms that characterized China's prior period, during which enforcement of environmental protection was decoupled from regulation. These mechanisms include (a) the intense emphasis on economic growth leading to misaligned incentives and regulatory competition across regions, (b) fragmented bureaucratic organization, and (c) lack of transparency and monitoring, all of which undermined enforcement. Then we show how, in each of these dimensions, regulation and enforcement are becoming realigned or recoupled over time. We show how this results from (a) a change in national development strategy to focus more on sustainable development and a harmonious society, (b) reorganization of the bureaucracy, and (c) an increase in monitoring by both the government and the general public. Correspondingly, we advance managerial implications that stem from these recent changes, illustrated by recent MNC and Chinese domestic firm successes. To address changes in policies and incentives, firms should align with governmental signals and embrace environmental innovation. Regarding bureaucratic alignment, firms should avoid regulatory shopping and integrate local and global standards. Finally, to address transparency and monitoring issues, firms should be transparent and compete on reputation. We conclude with a more general discussion of the contributions of our framework to understanding managerial practice in emerging-market regulatory contexts.

Read the paper: http://www.people.hbs.edu/cmarquis/Regulatory_Uncertainty_CMR_Final.pdf

The Factor Environmental Ratings Miss

Abstract

There's a problem with most major environmental rankings of businesses: too often, the ratings fail to incorporate advocacy activities that influence environmental regulation.

Read the story: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/x/53104

Toward a Theory of Extended Contact: The Incentives and Opportunities for Bridging across Network Communities

Abstract

This study investigates the determinants of bridging ties within networks of interconnected firms. Bridging ties are defined as non-redundant connections between firms located in different network communities. We highlight how firms can enter into these relationships due to the incentives and opportunities for action that are embedded in the existing network structure. Specifically, we propose that the dynamics of proximate network structures, which reflect firms' and their partners' direct connections, affect the formation of bridging ties by shaping the value-creation and value-distribution incentives for bridging. We also argue that the evolving global network structure affects firms' propensity to form bridging ties by shaping the structural opportunities for bridging. We test our theory using the network of partnership ties among firms in the global computer industry from 1991 to 2005. We find support for structural incentives and opportunities as influential precursors of bridging ties.

 

Working Papers

Social Enterprise Series No. 32: Value Creation in Business—Nonprofit Collaborations

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/12-019.pdf

Market Interest in Nonfinancial Information

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/12-018.pdf

What Environmental Ratings Miss

Abstract

There's a problem with most major environmental rankings of businesses: too often, the ratings fail to incorporate advocacy activities that influence environmental regulation.

Download the paper: http://www.hbs.edu/research/pdf/12-017.pdf

 

Cases & Course Materials

OPOWER: Increasing Energy Efficiency through Normative Influence (B)

Maarten W. Bos, Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Kyle T. Doherty
Harvard Business School Supplement 911-061

The case profiles OPOWER, an energy efficiency software company that applies Cialdini's principles of social influence to successfully encourage consumers to reduce their energy usage. OPOWER was co-founded in 2008 by two young Harvard graduates, Dan Yates and Alex Laskey, who were inspired by Robert Cialdini's behavioral science research showing that people's normative beliefs-and messaging tailored to those beliefs-had a powerful and measurable impact on their energy-conserving behaviors. Yates and Laskey redesigned the home energy bill to include normative messaging, including feedback on how consumers' energy usage compares to their neighbors' usage. Through early trials of the program, the electrical utilities began seeing 1.5% to 3.5% savings in energy usage, almost immediately. After the rapid success of OPOWER's first three years, Yates and Laskey wondered whether their approach would produce sustainable results: what strategy should they pursue to ensure that consumers continue to read and respond to the normative messaging in the "Energy Bill 2.0"?

Purchase this supplement:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/911061-PDF-ENG

Lady Gaga (B)

Anita Elberse and Michael Christensen
Harvard Business School Case 512-017

In March 2011, Troy Carter, manager of pop star Lady Gaga, reflects on decisions made regarding his artist's concert tour and faces a new set of challenges regarding the launch of Lady Gaga's new album, Born This Way. Is a huge, expensive launch akin to that of a "tent-pole" movie the best way to capitalize on Gaga's popularity, or is a more moderate approach that relies on word-of-mouth the right way to proceed? Designed to help students understand the decisions that helped propel Lady Gaga into one of the entertainment world's biggest names. Written from the perspective of her manager, the case provides rich insights into the artist's touring, recorded-music, and social-media activities, as well as supporting economic data.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/512017-PDF-ENG

Albert 'Jack' Stanley in Nigeria (A)

Lena G. Goldberg and Chad M. Carr
Harvard Business School Case 312-034

An international joint venture successfully bid for contracts to build six LNG trains on Nigeria's Bonny Island but, before the final train came on stream, became entangled in a widening corruption probe triggered by an unrelated accusation against an employee of Technip, the French JV partner. The (A) case discuss the JV's "business as usual" approach to doing business in the context of Nigeria's political culture and the predicament of the JV's alleged manager, Albert "Jack" Stanley, after being terminated in 2004 by Halliburton, parent of the U.S. JV partner, for taking kickbacks.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/312034-PDF-ENG

Albert 'Jack' Stanley in Nigeria (B)

Lena G. Goldberg and Chad M. Carr
Harvard Business School Supplement 312-035

The case describes Albert "Jack" Stanley's response to actions initiated against him by the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC.

Purchase this supplement:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/312035-PDF-ENG

Danielle Marcoux at AdNet2Win Technologies

Anthony J Mayo and Joshua D. Margolis
Harvard Business School Case 412-039

Danielle Marcoux, director of Web design at AdNet2Win Technologies, must decide how best to confront Charles Davide, the chief technology officer and leader of the design team charged with overseeing a major upgrade of the company's proprietary customer loyalty platform. Davide has kept tight control on the development process and has not allowed the design team to discuss difficult issues or challenge each other. Marcoux decides she must confront Davide about his management approach before the team loses its commitment to the design effort.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/412039-PDF-ENG

Mary Griffin at Derby Foods

Anthony J. Mayo and Joshua D. Margolis
Harvard Business School Case 412-040

Mary Griffin, vice president of consumer products, must provide feedback to one of her direct reports, Simon York. York is a strong performer, but he has displayed some poor interpersonal skills in the manner in which he interacts with his team and the production staff. Griffin needs to provide feedback to help prevent York from derailing in his career at Derby Foods.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/412040-PDF-ENG

Ramesh Patel at Aragon Entertainment Limited

Anthony J. Mayo and Joshua D. Margolis
Harvard Business School Case 412-042

Ramesh Patel, a high-potential employee, was excited to be named to the company's New Horizons Board, a select team responsible for producing recommendations for new products or line extensions for Aragon Entertainment. Patel's co-worker and friend, Jeremy Gibson, was also named to the Board, and the two were assigned to work together on a sub-taskforce. Patel was frustrated by Gibson's lack of effort and support on the taskforce and decides he must confront Gibson about his behavior.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/412042-PDF-ENG

What Happened at Citigroup? (B)

Clayton Rose and Aldo Sesia
Harvard Business School Supplement 312-038

The (B) case provides information on actions taken by Citigroup management in 2009-2010 in the aftermath of the financial crisis and massive government intervention to save the bank. It is a supplement to the (A) case.

Purchase this supplement:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/312038-PDF-ENG

Earl Martin Phalen: Ready to ROAR?

Noam Wasserman and Julia Taylor
Harvard Business School Case 812-024

Earl Martin Phalen is in the midst of starting his second nonprofit organization, Summer Advantage, by implementing the lessons he learned from BELL, the non-profit he had founded and run for the previous 15 years. His aspirations for Summer Advantage were to make it "bigger, better, and faster [than BELL]. I am going to serve more children more effectively and for less money." In the midst of taking a very different approach to financing, staffing, and running Summer Advantage, he received an offer to become non-founding CEO of a much bigger nonprofit and is grappling with whether to take the job.

Purchase this case:
http://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cb/product/812024-PDF-ENG