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.

December 22, 2015

Imagination and globalization

In a new article, Geoffrey Jones and Christos Pitelis explore the role of entrepreneurial imagination on the international expansion of multinational enterprises, paying particular attention to the factors that help firms create new markets. "Entrepreneurial Imagination and a Demand and Supply-side Perspective on the MNE and Cross-border Organization" appears in the December issue of Journal of International Management.

The quality of financial patents

The number of patents related to financial services has surged in recent years. But does the quality of the patents match the quantity? A new working paper focuses on the quality of finance patents in the years after the 1998 Supreme Court decision State Street Bank & Trust Company vs. Signature Financial Group, Inc. "Financial Patent Quality: Finance Patents After State Street" was written by Josh Lerner, Andrew Speen, Mark Baker, and Ann Leamon.

Adventures in ShondaLand

A case by Anita Elberse and Henry McGee looks at the life and times of the woman who created a slew of hit television shows, including "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal." "Shona Rhimes' ShondaLand" delves into challenges such as how to "solve the problem of writing and producing serialized dramas for broadcast network television."

A complete list of new research and publications from Harvard Business School faculty follows.

— Carmen Nobel
 
  • 2015
  • The $13 Trillion Question: How America Manages Its Debt

The Optimal Maturity of Government Debt

By: Greenwood, Robin, Samuel Gregory Hanson

Abstract—No abstract available.

Publisher's link: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50179

  • 2015
  • The $13 Trillion Question: How America Manages Its Debt

Debt Management Conflicts Between the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve

By: Greenwood, Robin, Samuel Gregory Hanson, Joshua S. Rudolph, and Lawrence Summers

Abstract—No abstract available.

Publisher's link: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50227

  • December 2015
  • Journal of International Management

Entrepreneurial Imagination and a Demand and Supply-side Perspective on the MNE and Cross-border Organization

By: Jones, Geoffrey, and Christos Pitelis

Abstract—This article explores the role of entrepreneurial imagination on the international expansion of multinational enterprises. The focus is on supply- and demand-side factors that help explicate cross-border expansion. The article explores how appropriability-informed and legacy-shaped entrepreneurial imagination motivates a process of creation and co-creation of the cross-border business context (such as markets, demand, and supporting infrastructures, including business ecosystems) and, when feasible, the wider institutional, regulatory, and even cultural context that conventional International business literature takes as a datum. This is examined conceptually and by using illustrative business history case examples. The article claims that by focusing on agency, learning, intentionality, and demand-side factors, our approach complements and also challenges extant sometimes static, supply-side, agent-agnostic theories of the multinational and helps appreciate better phenomena such as the creation and co-creation of markets and value, multinationals without firm-specific advantages, and born-global firms.

Publisher's link: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50242

  • November 13, 2015
  • Harvard Business Review

If CEOs Care About the Long Term, Why Don't They Talk About It?

By: Kotsantonis, Sakis, Shalini Rao, Daniela Saltzman, and George Serafeim

Abstract—No abstract available.

Publisher's link: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50239

  • December 2015
  • Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology

Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing in IR

By: Oklu, Rahmi, Derek A. Haas, Robert S. Kaplan, Katelyn Brinegar, Nicole Bassoff, H. Benjamin Harvey, James A. Brink, and Anand Prabhakar

Abstract—No abstract available.

Publisher's link: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50229

Racial Discrimination in the Sharing Economy: Evidence from a Field Experiment

By: Edelman, Benjamin G., Michael Luca, and Daniel Svirsky

Abstract—Online marketplaces increasingly choose to reduce the anonymity of buyers and sellers in order to facilitate trust. We demonstrate that this common market design choice results in an important unintended consequence: racial discrimination. In a field experiment on Airbnb, we find that requests from guests with distinctively African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names. The difference persists whether the host is African American or White, male or female. The difference also persists whether the host shares the property with the guest or not, and whether the property is cheap or expensive. Discrimination is costly for hosts who indulge in it: hosts who reject African-American guests are able to find a replacement guest only 35% of the time. On the whole, our analysis suggests a need for caution: while information facilitates transactions, it also facilitates discrimination.

Download working paper: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50258

Financial Patent Quality: Finance Patents After State Street

By: Lerner, Josh, Andrew Speen, Mark Baker, and Ann Leamon

Abstract—In the past two decades, patents of inventions related to financial services ("finance patents"), as well as litigation around these patents, have surged. One of the repeated concerns voiced by academics and practitioners alike has been about the quality of these patents, in particular, and business method patents more generally. Because so much of the prior work in these areas has not been patented, concerns have been expressed as to the extent to which the awards reflect this knowledge. Inspired by these issues, this paper empirically examines the quality of finance patents in the years after the landmark litigation between State Street Bank and Signature Financial Group. We show that relative to two sets of comparison groups, finance patents in aggregate cite fewer non-patent publications and especially fewer academic publications. This finding holds across the major assignee groups. In addition, it appears that patents assigned to individuals and associated with non-practicing entities (NPEs) cite less academic work than those assigned to non-NPE corporations. While not statistically significant due to the small number of academic citations in finance patents, we observe qualitatively similar patterns of under-citation when we restrict our analysis to finance patents held by individuals and NPEs, as opposed to non-NPE corporations. These findings raise questions about the quality of finance patents. We also explore litigated finance patents and discuss how the results here may reflect differences in the quality of finance patents relative to other areas. We find that, as earlier work has suggested, finance patents are more likely to be litigated than non-finance patents, but increased academic citations appear to reduce that possibility relative to others. Collectively, these findings raise important questions about the quality of finance patents and the proliferation of litigation in this domain.

Download working paper: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/Pages/item.aspx?num=50238

  • Harvard Business School Case 815-129

Tanfeeth: Bringing Service Excellence to the GCC

Tanfeeth, a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm in the United Arab Emirates, was founded in July 2011 as a fully owned subsidiary of Emirates NBD, the largest bank in the Gulf Corporation Council. When Tanfeeth was founded, Emirates NBD, along with the leaders of Tanfeeth, decided that Tanfeeth would begin by improving processes at the bank. However, two years after its founding, some Tanfeeth executives felt that the organization needed to take on work from outside clients. They were concerned that if Tanfeeth waited too long, its first-mover advantage and position as market leader would deteriorate. Additionally, if Emirates NBD held back Tanfeeth's growth ambitions, some of the world-class talent Tanfeeth had been able to attract might leave. What was the best course of action for Emirates NBD and Tanfeeth?

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/815129-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 615-022

IDEO: Human-Centered Service Design

This case describes the human-centered innovation culture and service design process at IDEO, one of the world’s leading design consultancies. In 2014, in reaction to a rapidly changing competitive landscape, Cineplanet, the leading movie cinema chain in Peru, hired a team of IDEO designers to reinvent the movie-going experience for Peruvians. Cineplanet’s management team wishes to better align the company’s operating model with the needs and behaviors of its customers.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/615022-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 516-026

Shonda Rhimes' ShondaLand

In January 2015, superstar television creator Shonda Rhimes, whose production company ShondaLand dominates American television's most competitive and lucrative night with three shows in primetime on network ABC's Thursday night, is plotting the future. One challenge she faces is to, as she put it, "solve the problem of writing and producing serialized dramas for broadcast network television." What changes could she propose to ABC to make the creative process more manageable? A second challenge is to figure out how to further expand ShondaLand. How could Rhimes best build her portfolio and further cement ShondaLand's place in television history?

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/516026-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 215-070

Bankruptcy in the City of Detroit

The June 2013 bankruptcy of Detroit, Michigan, was, at the time, the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. Detroit had struggled for years with a weakening tax base, high unemployment, a heavy debt load, and increasing retiree costs. These financial strains led to cuts in basic public services, declines in population, and significant urban blight. The State of Michigan appointed an emergency manager, Kevyn Orr, to lead the city though the restructuring process. In March 2014, Orr and his team put forth a restructuring plan to the city's creditors that provided for needed reinvestment in city services, but low recoveries for unsecured creditors. The city's plan also proposed that the Detroit Art Collection be transferred to a trust funded by philanthropists, with the proceeds accruing solely to retirees rather than to all creditors. Orr and his team must now find consensus on a plan that meets the needs of Detroit and is acceptable to its creditors.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/215070-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 515-076

Mauboussin

Mauboussin is a French jewelry brand founded in 1827 in Paris. In the 1920s, the company earned a huge notoriety for capturing the aesthetic and emotional dimension of the Art Deco movement in its design and gained a worldwide reputation for innovation and expertise in the realm of colored stones. Known as the designer for royalty and Hollywood stars, Mauboussin was a legendary jeweler but became complacent and lost its clients. Taken over in 2001 by a new leadership team, Mauboussin engaged in a radically different strategy and abandoned its ultra-prestigious and exclusive positioning to embrace a more accessible and affordable approach. The brand experienced several years of phenomenal commercial success in France, Europe, and Japan, and in 2008, Mauboussin entered the U.S. market where the brand did not meet the expected success. It eventually closed its flagship store in NYC in 2014. Mauboussin's leadership is nonetheless eager to learn from this experience to relaunch successfully in the United States.

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The rapid growth in quantity and quality of universities in China since 1978 is the most recent evolution in a long history of higher education. From as early as the Tang Dynasty, academies existed to prepare scholars for the civil service examination, but by the Republican period, higher learning was dominated by a host of well-regarded, cosmopolitan, comprehensive universities. In 1952, these institutions were reorganized according to the Soviet model and remained highly specialized until the resurgence of comprehensive institutions after 1978. This background note describes this history and then elaborates on the system of higher education since 2000, focusing on university governance, funding, faculty policy, admissions systems, and internationalization. It concludes by looking at the tightening of ideological control in universities in 2013 and 2014 and reflects on the potential for China to establish "world-class" universities.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/316066-PDF-ENG

Discussions of "world-class" universities have become an academic cottage industry in the 21st century, and definitions of the term are complex and at times contradictory. This background note traces the origins of university ranking systems and their evolution from a byproduct of lists of great men in the United States to a global phenomenon that has a strong influence on the development of higher education. Then it examines commonalities across various conceptions of "world-class," including productive faculty, excellent students, flexible administration, plentiful funding, and international engagement.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/316065-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 716-405

The On-Demand Economy

This note describes the emerging on-demand economy, also referred to as the sharing economy. The note highlights several companies including Uber and Airbnb that exemplify this new mode of competition, a model that threatens to disrupt traditional firms. Uber provides ride services much like a traditional taxi company, but it owns no cars and employs no drivers, and instead matches independent car owners with customers looking for rides. Airbnb provides a lodging service, but owns no hotels, and instead matches home owners with extra rooms with customers looking for a place to stay. The note allows students to explore what impact such companies might have on traditional business models, what impact they might have on labor and how people work, and whether existing regulations aimed at traditional business models are adequate for the new model.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/716405-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 416-006

Srivathsan Canchi at eBay Inc.

No abstract available.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/416006-PDF-ENG

  • Harvard Business School Case 416-021

Leading and Managing Change (Abridged)

Managing change is consistently ranked as one of the most critical and difficult tasks that leaders face. This note outlines the key choices that leaders must make when engineering change. It is organized into four sections, offering guidance on how to 1) diagnose the need for change; 2) determine what sort of change is called for (e.g., radical or incremental); 3) develop a delivery strategy that fosters stakeholder buy-in; and, 4) evaluate impact. Managers, instructors, and students of change management should find this note especially useful for discussing the core tenets of designing and implementing a change initiative. This is an abridged version of the "Leading and Managing Change" note.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/416021-PDF-ENG

Team Rubicon, a military veteran volunteer disaster relief organization, has experienced significant success in attracting attention and support in its first four years of operation. The challenges of managing the volunteer base, the cost of responding to disasters, and the evolution of the organization raise significant strategic and organizational issues for the founding team.

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https://cb.hbsp.harvard.edu/cbmp/product/315124-PDF-ENG