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. 12

Boost your results, reduce your hours

Professor Robert C. Pozen is known as a man who gets things done. A lot of things. He reveals his methods in the new book, Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours . "Extreme Productivity," according to the publisher, "explains how to determine your highest priorities and match them with how you actually spend your time."

The strategy of pre-announcement

A company's announcement of a major new product can stop competitors dead in their tracks—even if that product will never see the light of day. A paper in a forthcoming issue of Marketing Science examines the strategy of pre-announcements. Authors Elie Ofek and Ozge Turut describe three types of such announcements and under what conditions they might be deployed. The paper is titled "Vaporware, Suddenware and Trueware: New Product Preannouncements under Market Uncertainty."

A famous French wine estate looks to expand

In a new case study, Ofek coauthors a look at the business decisions behind one of the great wine estates in the world, Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite). The case uncorks the strategy of Baron Eric de Rothschild as he acts conservatively to protect the brand while also exploring new Chateaux blending wine programs and expansion to areas including China. Read "Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite): Plus ca change…," by Ray A.Goldberg, Arthur I Segel, Ofek, and Carin-Isabel Knoop.

 

Publications

One-Switch Conditions for Multiattribute Utility Functions

Abstract

We introduce a variety of new independence conditions for multiattribute utility functions that permit preference dependencies among the attributes of a decision problem. The hierarchy of new conditions varies in the degree to which it specifies the functional form, ranging from more general solutions with weaker constraints, to more specific solutions with stronger constraints. This formulation provides a wealth of new functional forms that a decision maker may use in a multiattribute decision problem. In addition, it may be used to tailor the utility elicitation process to the comfort level of the decision maker. The new conditions, and the corresponding functional forms, are based on the idea of limiting the number of switches that a decision maker may make between two decision alternatives as a parameter of the problem varies. We show how this formulation also relates many widely used concepts in single and multiattribute utility theory.

Paper: http://or.journal.informs.org.ezp-prod1.hul.harvard.edu/content/60/5/1199.full.pdf+html

Convergence of Position Auctions under Myopic Best-Response Dynamics

Abstract

We study the dynamics of multi-round position auctions, considering both the case of exogenous click-through rates and the case in which click-through rates are determined by an endogenous consumer search process. In both contexts, we demonstrate that the dynamic auctions converge to their associated static, envy-free equilibria. Furthermore, convergence is efficient, and the entry of low-quality advertisers does not slow convergence. Because our approach predominantly relies on assumptions common in the sponsored search literature, our results suggest that dynamic position auctions converge more generally.

Paper: http://www.benedelman.org/publications/convergence_in_position_auctions.pdf

Assessing Potential Carbon Revenues from Reduced Forest Cover Loss in Liberia

Abstract

We conducted an analysis that explores the merits of a low-carbon development strategy for Liberia. This chapter describes both our cost-benefit analysis initiative and a plausible policy process for Liberia. We proposed a simple approach that models the costs and benefits of land placed under different uses. Policy scenarios then determine the amount of land under each land use and the implications for costs, benefits, and carbon emissions. A "low-carbon development strategy" for Liberia would include a number of cost beneficial policies, the most obvious being a transition to more efficient agriculture. Other beneficial policies include accelerating the establishment of Protected Areas, ensuring that tree crop plantations are located on degraded land rather than forest areas, and introducing energy-efficient stoves for charcoal and fuel wood.

Antitrust Scrutiny of Google

Abstract

I evaluate antitrust claims against Google and propose possible remedies. While Google's specific tactics are often novel, I show connections to practices deemed unlawful over a period of decades, and I identify remedies well-grounded in antitrust precedent.

Paper: http://journaloflaw.us/0%20JoL/2-2/JoL2-2.pdf#page=197

The Future of Boards: Meeting the Governance Challenges of the 21st Century

Abstract

Predicting the challenges boards will face in the years ahead requires an understanding of how they and the governance they have provided has evolved in past years, as well as the challenges they face in the years ahead. Since I have been serving on and doing research about public company boards over the past twenty-five years, I believe I have a clear sense of the state of corporate governance in the United States and in much of Western Europe. Not surprisingly, my crystal ball for predicting future developments and demands on boards cannot be so clear.

The Language of Global Management

Abstract

Now in its third edition, this multi-volume Encyclopedia of Management has been revised and updated to chart the major developments that have occurred in digital technologies, ethics and governance-related issues, innovation, emerging markets, organizational networks, and new avenues of sustainable business growth. Providing comprehensive coverage of the field of management, the encyclopedia spans fourteen subject volumes providing a landmark work of reference for scholars, students, and professionals. In addition to two entirely new volumes (on Technology & Innovation and Management Research Methodology), the 14-volume encyclopedia now offers users a fully searchable online resource linked to the wider literature and to an associated database of handbooks and journals in the field.

Vaporware, Suddenware and Trueware: New Product Preannouncements under Market Uncertainty

Abstract

A firm may want to preannounce its plans to develop a new product in order to stimulate future demand. But given that such communications can affect rivals' incentives to develop the same new product, a firm may decide to preannounce untruthfully in order to deter competitors. We examine an incumbent's preannouncement strategy when there is uncertainty regarding the commercial viability of a new product opportunity and a threat of rival entry. Each firm has a private assessment of the market potential for the new product, and two competitive incentives arise for the incumbent: it can discourage entry through preemptive communication or by remaining silent and instilling a pessimistic market potential outlook. We find that an incumbent prefers to follow a vaporware strategy-i.e., declare plans to pursue the new product opportunity even when it may have no development intentions-when its market forecasting capabilities are weak and the demand-side benefits from preannouncing are small. By contrast, when the incumbent has strong market forecasting capabilities and the demand-side benefits are small, the incumbent adopts a suddenware strategy-i.e., remains silent about its new product plans even when it actually plans to develop the new product. Finally, when its market forecasting capabilities are strong and the demand-side benefits are large the incumbent prefers to engage in a trueware strategy-i.e., truthfully preannounce development plans. We show that an interplay between competitive-related and demand-related considerations is what allows trueware to emerge as an equilibrium in the absence of any ex-post cost to engaging in vaporware. In an extension, we let the incumbent's actual development plans leak out and allow the entrant to wait and learn these plans prior to setting an R&D level. We identify conditions for the entrant to postpone development despite the risk of being late to market, and conditions for the entrant to commence development immediately despite not knowing what the incumbent is up to based on the preannouncement observed.

Sweatshop Labor Is Wrong Unless the Shoes Are Cute: Cognition Can Both Hurt and Help Motivated Moral Reasoning

Abstract

The present research investigated the dual role of cognition as either an enabler of moral reasoning or self-interested motivated reasoning for endorsing sweatshop labor. Experiment 1A showed motivated reasoning: participants were more likely to endorse the use of sweatshop labor when considering a Caribbean vacation with questionable labor practices for themselves than for their friends. Experiment 1B demonstrated that endorsement of sweatshop labor mediated the relationship between product desirability and purchase intention. Experiment 2 found that cognitive resources were recruited to enhance motivated reasoning regarding sweatshop labor, the latter of which was reduced under cognitive load. Experiments 3A and 3B found that when cognitive resources were specifically directed in a comparative joint evaluation, participants offered harsher views on the ethicality of a favored company, and were less influenced by motivated factors than when under separate evaluations.

Book:

The Business of Business Schools: Restoring a Focus on Competing to Win

Abstract

As business leaders worry about the decline of American competitiveness, business schools are responding by changing their curriculums. But are the topics and approaches taught in today's business schools part of the solution or part of the problem? In this paper, I explore the possibility that four trends in current MBA curriculums-theory creep, mission creep, doing well by doing good, and the quest for enlightenment-are teaching students to be uncompetitive in today's global markets. If this hypothesis is true, I argue that business school curriculums should be re-centered around the tough choices needed to compete-and to win.

Paper: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2211700

 

Working Papers

Delegation in Multi-Establishment Firms: Evidence from I.T. Purchasing

Abstract

Recent contributions to a growing theory literature have focused on the tradeoff between adaptation and coordination in determining delegation within firms. Empirical evidence, however, is limited. Using establishment-level data on decision rights over information technology investments, I find that a high net value of adaptation is strongly associated with delegation, as are local information advantages and firm-wide diversification; in contrast, a high net value of within-firm coordination is correlated with centralization. Variation across establishments within firms is widespread: most firms are neither fully centralized nor fully decentralized. Delegation patterns are largely consistent with standard team-theory predictions; however, certain findings, such as a negative correlation between delegation and firm size, call for a consideration of agency costs, as well.

Download the paper: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1802635

 

Cases & Course Materials

Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite): Plus ça change

Goldberg, Ray A., Arthur I Segel, Elie Ofek, and Carin-Isabel Knoop
Harvard Business School Case 913-402

For centuries Lafite has been the most admired wine Estate in the world. How does Baron Eric de Rothschild protect this crown jewel in a conservative manner while DBR develops other Chateaux blending wine programs, reaches out to new areas such as China, and begins to take a more active interest in the world's number one market-the United States.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/913402-PDF-ENG

GREE, Inc.

Hagiu, Andrei, and Masahiro Kotosaka
Harvard Business School Case 713-447

In 2012, GREE was one of the world's most profitable mobile social gaming companies. Its success in Japan was due both to its in-house games and to the development platform that it offered to third-party game developers. Its biggest challenge was to replicate the success of this two-pronged strategy in international markets, where it had to contend not just with many other game developers (e.g., Zynga), but also with the mobile platform providers themselves (e.g., Apple's iOS and Google's Android).

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/713447-PDF-ENG

SMARTBITES (A)

Roberts, Michael J., Jeronimo Silva, and Amar Bhide
Harvard Business School Case 813-074

The case describes a Turkish brother-sister team who are evaluating the option of acquiring and operating a franchise of a U.S. bakery/cafe in Turkey. They are comparing this option to that of simply starting a similar business.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/813074-PDF-ENG

SMARTBITES (B): May 2009

Roberts, Michael J., and Amar Bhide
Harvard Business School Case 813-110

No abstract available.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/813110-PDF-ENG

SMARTBITES (C): June 2009

Roberts, Michael J., and Amar Bhide
Harvard Business School Case 813-111

No abstract available.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/813111-PDF-ENG

SMARTBITES (D): February 2010

Roberts, Michael J., and Amar Bhide
Harvard Business School Case 813-112

No abstract available.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/813112-PDF-ENG

SOHO China: Design, Development, and Social Harmony

Segel, Arthur I, and Mukti Khaire
Harvard Business School Case 213-025

Founded in 1995 by Zhang Xin and her husband, Mr. Pan Shiyi, SOHO China has developed into a world-class real estate development firm that has consistently delivered high-quality projects known for their cutting-edge designs and investment potential. Despite the tremendous success of the firm, Zhang Xin still looks at the future with great uncertainty. Average residential pricing in China has dropped, as government continues to put downward pressure on residential housing prices through restrictions on the number of apartments a resident is allowed to purchase and aggressive promotion of affordable housing on the low-end of the market. Zhang Xin wonders what opportunities and threats such market conditions present to SOHO. On the sales and marketing front, SOHO China has historically been geographically focused only on high-end, design-driven projects in Shanghai and Beijing. As the market became more competitive, Zhang Xin wondered what key strategic decisions in regards to design, financing, and sales the company would need to make in order to maintain its competitive advantage in China.

Purchase this case:
http://hbr.org/search/213025-PDF-ENG