22 Results


Learning From Japan’s Remarkable Disaster Recovery

Harvard Business School students make an annual trek to businesses in the Japanese area wrecked by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Their objectives: learn all they can about human resilience and share their own management knowledge. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Separating Homophily and Peer Influence with Latent Space

People are often more willing to try new things when they see others doing so. This phenomenon, which academics call "social influence", has a profound impact on many aspects of customer decision-making and marketing. For example, social influence affects consumers' willingness to take up new technologies, adopt and use social networks, and ask their physicians for particular prescription medicines. Marketers are thus eager to understand how and to what extent social influence affects people's consumption decisions. To date, however, it has been difficult to pinpoint the effects of social influence, as researchers have struggled to separate it from a simple fact that like-minded people tend to enjoy the same things, per the adage "Birds of a feather flock together." The authors use the field of mobile app adoption in Japan to examine this problem. Japan is an ideal testing ground because approximately 80-85 percent of all page views occur through mobile. In addition, mobile apps are often social in nature, especially those that are linked to a social network platform. The authors devise a new method to assess social influence by controlling for other factors that usually complicate the picture. Overall, the findings show that peer usage accounts for more than a quarter of all mobile app adoptions. The paper also highlights a risk that firms could overestimate social influence by 40 percent on average, even up to 100 percent in certain cases. The authors' method helps overcome this risk. Read More

How Major League Baseball Clubs Have Commercialized Their Investment in Japanese Top Stars

Japanese money flowing from broadcasting rights, sponsorships, and merchandise contributes substantially to the prosperity of Major League Baseball (MLB) in America. This market growth depends on wide exposure of and good performance by Japanese major leaguers. Acquiring and signing these stars can become a passport to get in touch with the Japanese market directly. The authors examine how the MLB clubs have tried to commercialize their investment in Japanese top stars and assesses whether the clubs have succeeded. Seven factors attract revenues from Japanese companies and fans: pitcher or position player, player's popularity, non-stop flights from Japan, distance from Japan, non-sport tourist attractions in a city, size of Japanese community in the city, and player's and team's performance. The most important factor, however, is the player's talent and popularity in terms of performance in both Japan and the US and his media exposure in Japan including endorsement contracts. Read More

What Wall Street Doesn’t Understand About International Trade

Firms that correlate their international trading activity with the local ethnic community significantly outperform those that don't, according to new research by Lauren H. Cohen, Christopher J. Malloy, and Umit G. Gurun. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Historical Trajectories and Corporate Competences in Wind Energy

Analyzing developments in the wind turbine business over more than a century, Geoffrey Jones and Loubna Bouamane argue that public policy has been a key variable in the spread of wind energy since the 1980s, but that public policy was more of a problem than a facilitator in the earlier history of the industry. Geography has mattered to some extent, also: Both in the United States and Denmark, the existence of rural areas not supplied by electricity provided the initial stimulus to entrepreneurs and innovators. Building firm-level capabilities has been essential in an industry which has been both technically difficult and vulnerable to policy shifts. Read More

Japan Disaster Shakes Up Supply-Chain Strategies

The recent natural disaster in Japan brought to light the fragile nature of the global supply chain. Professor Willy Shih discusses how companies should be thinking about their supply-chain strategy now. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Will the Japan Disaster Remake the Landscape for Green Energy in Asia?

Entrepreneurs at the recent Asia Business Conference at Harvard Business School said the disaster in Japan could accelerate the move toward "green" energy sources in Asia, opening opportunities. Read More

Harvard Business School Faculty Comment on Crisis in Japan

Harvard Business School faculty share their views and insights about the challenges that lie ahead for Japan's business leaders and for global companies operating there. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

How Firm Strategies Influence the Architecture of Transaction Networks

In business, an "ecosystem" refers to a group of firms that work together through a series of shared transactions to provide a complex product or service. Using data from the disparate Japanese electronics and automotive sectors, this paper tackles the following questions: Do hierarchies of interfirm transaction networks vary across different ecosystems? What practices explain the difference in hierarchy across these two ecosystems? How do firms' strategies influence hierarchy? And what environmental factors explain the differences in the largest firm's strategies in each ecosystem? Research was conducted by Carliss Y. Baldwin of Harvard Business School and Jianxi Luo, Daniel E. Whitney, and Christopher L. Magee of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Read More

The Task and Temporal Microstructure of Productivity: Evidence from Japanese Financial Services

Boredom and fatigue often hamper the productivity of workers whose jobs consist of repeating the same tasks. This paper explores ways in which companies can combat this problem, introducing the idea of the "restart effect" - a deliberate disruption that kindles productivity. Research, which focused on a loan-application processing line at a Japanese bank, was conducted by HBS professor Francesca Gino and Kenan-Flagler Business School assistant professor Bradley R. Staats. Read More

Audit Quality and Auditor Reputation: Evidence from Japan

High-quality external auditing is a central component of sound corporate governance, yet what determines audit quality? Douglas J. Skinner, of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Suraj Srinivasan, of Harvard Business School, study the Japanese audit market, where recent events provide a powerful setting for investigating the effect of auditor reputation on audit quality absent litigation effects. Specifically, Skinner and Srinivasan analyze events surrounding the collapse of ChuoAoyama, the PricewaterhouseCoopers affiliate in Japan that was implicated in a massive accounting fraud at Kanebo, a large Japanese cosmetics company. Taken as a whole, the researchers' evidence provides support for the view that auditor reputation is important in an economy where the legal system does not provide incentives for auditors to deliver quality. Read More

The History of Beauty

Fragrance, eyeliner, toothpaste—the beauty business has permeated our lives like few other industries. But surprisingly little is known about its history, which over time has been shrouded in competitive secrecy. HBS history professor Geoffrey Jones offers one of the first authoritative accounts in Beauty Imagined: A History of the Global Beauty Industry. Read More

Tragedy at Toyota: How Not to Lead in Crisis

"Toyota can only regain its footing by transforming itself from top to bottom to deliver the highest quality automobiles," says HBS professor Bill George of the beleaguered automobile company that in recent months has recalled 8 million vehicles. He offers seven recommendations for restoring consumer confidence in the safety and quality behind the storied brand. Read More

International Differences in the Size and Roles of Corporate Headquarters: An Empirical Examination

Are small headquarters more nimble and efficient than large ones? Not necessarily, according to HBS adjunct professor David Collis and coauthors David Young and Michael Goold. Even within a single industry in one country, the variance can be enormous: In Germany in the late 1990s, for instance, Hoechst, the chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer, had only 180 people in the headquarters function at the same time that Bayer had several thousand. This paper seeks to fill gaps in the research by using a unique database of over 600 companies in seven countries to determine whether systematic differences in the size and roles of corporate headquarters between countries actually exist, and if so, how they differ. In particular, the authors examine whether there is a systematic difference between market- and bank-centered economies, and between developed and developing countries. Read More

Measuring and Understanding Hierarchy as an Architectural Element in Industry Sectors

In an industry setting, classic supply chains display strict hierarchy, whereas clusters of firms have linkages going in many different directions. Previous theory has often assumed the existence of the hierarchical relationships among firms, and empirical industry studies tend to focus on a single-layer industry, or a two-layer structure comprising buyers and suppliers. And yet, some industries have a multilayer structure with a multistep supply chain. Others comprise a cluster of complementary firms producing different parts of a large system. HBS professor Carliss Y. Baldwin and colleagues use network analysis to study multilayer industries both empirically (in the case of Japan) and theoretically and to explore how industries are organized at the sector level in an attempt to reveal the underlying rules that determine how industry architectures form and change. Read More

Capitalizing On Innovation: The Case of Japan

How can Japan create a better business environment for innovation? Japan presents a unique case of industrial structures that have produced remarkable developments in certain sectors but seem increasingly inadequate to do the same in modern technology industries, which rely on ecosystems of firms producing complementary products. Robert Dujarric and HBS professor Andrei Hagiu present three case studies of software, animation, and mobile telephony to illustrate potential sources of inefficiencies. Like all advanced economies, Japan faces two interconnected challenges. The first challenge is rising competition from lower-cost countries with the capacity to manufacture midrange and in some cases advanced industrial products. At the same time, Japan confronts changes in the relative weights of manufacturing and services, including soft goods, which go against the country's long-standing competitive advantage and emphasis on manufacturing. If Japan is to continue to prosper in a world where its ability to rely principally on manufacturing will diminish, its policymakers will need to capitalize on its untapped innovative power. Read More

Where is the Pharmacy to the World? International Regulatory Variation and Pharmaceutical Industry Location

The era of paternalistic medicine has passed, but the notion that patients can act as consumers and make appropriate decisions concerning medical treatment poses countervailing risks of its own. A better accommodation among key players needs to be struck to foster the safe use of pharmaceuticals, according to HBS professor Arthur Daemmrich. The "pharmacy to the world," once located at the intersection of Germany, Switzerland, and France, today is found in the United States. Studies of the industry have attributed this sustained competitive advantage to a variety of factors, including U.S. intellectual property policies, funding for biomedical research through the National Institutes of Health, the absence of government controls on drug prices, and the availability of venture capital and other factors that fostered the growth of the biotechnology industry. The data and analysis presented in this working paper, however speculative, are an initial step toward deepening the understanding of interrelationships between government regulation, patients' mobilization both as regulators and as consumers, and the functioning of the pharmaceutical industry. Read More

An Exploration of the Japanese Slowdown during the 1990s

Why was the 1990s a lost decade for Japan? HBS professor Diego Comin argues that it was the combination of some shocks that lasted for about three years and the response of companies that drastically reduced their expenses in adopting new technologies and developing new ones. Though the severe shocks that hit the Japanese economy did not persist, the investments that Japanese companies and entrepreneurs did not undertake to improve technology and production methods during the 1990s propagated those shocks and made their effects very long-lasting. Read More

Extending Producer Responsibility: An Evaluation Framework for Product Take-Back Policies

Managing products at the end of life (EOL) is of growing concern for durable goods manufacturers. While some manufacturers engage in voluntary "take back" of EOL products for a variety of competitive reasons, the past 10 years have seen the rapid proliferation of government regulations and policies requiring manufacturers to collect and recycle their products, or pay others to do so on their behalf. Toffel, Stein, and Lee develop a framework for evaluating the extent to which these product take-back regulations offer the potential to reduce the environmental impacts of these products in an effective and cost-efficient manner, while also providing adequate occupational health and safety protection. The evaluation framework is illustrated with examples drawn from take-back regulations in Europe, Japan, and the United States. Read More

Governing Sumida Corporation

In a new Harvard Business School case, Professor Lynn Paine and her colleagues explore the nature of corporate governance systems by studying Japanese electronics components maker Sumida Corp. CEO Shigeyuki Yawata looks to create a governance structure that would be transparent to investors and stakeholders worldwide. Read More

The Trouble Behind Livedoor

When Livedoor CEO Takafumi Horie was arrested last month, it shook the economic underpinnings of Japan. Professor Robin Greenwood discusses what went wrong with one of that country's most-watched Internet companies. Read More

Float Manipulation and Stock Prices

When a firm reduces the number of shares available to trade, so-called float manipulation, the price of the stock is often driven up. The author uses a series of 2,000 stock split events in Japan as an experiment to understand the consequences of float manipulation for stock prices. The conclusion: Stock prices are raised significantly when there are differing opinions about the value of shares, investors are unable to sell short, and the number of outstanding shares is reduced. Read More