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420 Results

 

Reform Tax Law to Keep US Firms at Home

The flood of US corporations relocating to other countries is a hot topic in Congress. In recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Finance, Mihir Desai provided possible solutions around rethinking corporate tax and regulatory policy. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Is a Gap in Small-Business Credit Holding Back the American Economy?

Karen Mills, former head of the US Small Business Administration, analyzes the current state of availability of bank capital for small business. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Marketing Obamacare

HBS Professor John Quelch contends that the success of the Affordable Care Act depends more on marketing than it does on policy. And in Connecticut, he's got just the state to prove it. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

How Business Leaders Can Strengthen American Schools

The declining competitiveness of the United States in world markets is due in part to the country's stagnant education system. Yet partnerships between business and educators have been marked by distrust. Jan Rivkin highlights proposals for a new collaboration. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Banning Big-box Stores Can Hurt Local Retailers

Research by Raffaella Sadun shows how regulations meant to protect independent retailers from big-box stores may actually backfire. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

The Role of Emotions in Effective Negotiations

HBS Senior Lecturer Andy Wasynczuk, a former negotiator for the New England Patriots, explores the sometimes intense role that emotions can play in negotiations. Open for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Wisdom or Madness? Comparing Crowds with Expert Evaluation in Funding the Arts

In fields as diverse as technology entrepreneurship and the arts, crowds of interested stakeholders are increasingly responsible for deciding which innovations to fund, a privilege that was previously reserved for a few experts, such as venture capitalists and grant-making bodies. Despite the growing role of crowds in making decisions once left to experts, however, we know little about how crowds and experts may differ in their ability to judge projects, or even whether crowd decision-making is based on any rational criteria at all. Drawing on a panel of national experts and data from the crowd funding platform Kickstarter, this study offers the first detailed comparison of crowd and expert judgment. There are three main findings. First, on average, there is a remarkable degree of congruence between the realized funding decisions by crowds and the evaluation of those same projects by experts. Second, there seems to be an "art" to raising money from crowds, one that may be systematically different from that of raising money from experts. Third, crowd funded projects are equally likely to have delivered on budget, result in organizations that continue to operate, and be successful in other ways. Overall, crowd funding appears to allow projects the option to receive multiple evaluations and reach out to receptive communities that may not otherwise be represented by experts. Read More

The Unfulfilled Promise of Educational Technology

With 50 million public school students in America, technology holds much potential to transform schools, says John Jong-Hyun Kim. So why isn't it happening? Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

In the Future of Sports Investing, Media Is the Best Bet

Sports investing is no longer just about buying teams and selling beer. Bob Higgins discusses why media, digital devices, and invention of fan-friendly sports are driving next-generation investors. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Cohort Turnover and Productivity: The July Phenomenon in Teaching Hospitals

Nearly all managers must deal with the consequences of employee turnover within their organizations. Despite the importance of this issue, several authors have observed that academic attention has been disproportionately focused on the causes rather than consequences of turnover. To investigate consequences more closely, the authors of this paper focus on the effects of turnover in a particularly high-stakes setting: teaching hospitals. Specifically, the authors examine the effects on productivity of cohort turnover-the planned simultaneous exit of a large number of experienced employees-in this case, medical residents and fellows-and a similarly sized entry of new residents and fellows. Typically, at (or slightly before) the beginning of every July, the most senior residents at teaching hospitals move on to permanent medical positions or fellowships at other hospitals, and recent medical school graduates arrive as first-year residents. The authors examine the impact of the July turnover on hospital productivity using data on all patient admissions from a large, multi-state sample of American hospitals over a 16-year period. By comparing trends in teaching hospitals to those for non-teaching hospitals over the course of the year, they find significant negative effects of the residency turnover on hospital efficiency as measured by risk-adjusted, average length of stay. Overall, the cohort turnover of resident physicians in teaching hospitals reduces medical productivity by increasing resource utilization and, to a lesser degree, decreasing quality. The authors discuss implications for labor turnover in other types of organizations. Read More

Eliciting Taxpayer Preferences Increases Tax Compliance

Most citizens dislike paying taxes. In the United States, for example, tax noncompliance is estimated to amount to some $385 billion annually. Many other governments also suffer from a "tax gap" in their national accounts. A meaningful portion of tax aversion can be understood and addressed by considering psychological characteristics of the tax process. To explore this possibility the authors design and carry out a set of experiments that allow taxpayers to express advisory preferences regarding the use of their tax dollars. They then assess the effects of this taxpayer agency treatment on tax compliance as well as satisfaction with tax payment and attitudes towards taxation. Findings show that providing taxpayers with such "taxpayer agency"—giving them a sense of influence over tax spending—significantly increases tax compliance. The authors also observe that agency operates, in part, by bringing together payment and benefit. In addition, agency creates no decrease in tax satisfaction or change in fear of audit, and it may reduce general antitax sentiment among taxpayers. Overall, giving taxpayers a voice may act as a two-way nudge, changing tax payment from a passive experience to a channel of communication between taxpayers and government. Read More

The Alibaba Effect

Alibaba's $200 billion mega-IPO is history-making in a number of ways. Bill Kirby and Warren McFarlan discuss what the deal says about Chinese entrepreneurship and American markets. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Firms and the Economics of Skilled Immigration

Firms play a central role in the immigration of skilled workers to the United States. In this paper the authors review the progress that has been made so far on understanding the impacts of high skilled immigration from the perspective of the firm. They discuss why an understanding of the economics of the firm is important, and emphasize the important degree to which firms internalize substitutions and complementarities over different worker groups and occupations. They then review recent academic work about firms and skilled immigration, and describe important areas for future research from both microeconomic and macroeconomic perspectives, respectively. Overall, the authors make clear that firms play an essential and active role in the skilled immigration process. In fact, the structure of the most important skilled immigration program allows firms to first choose the worker that they want to hire before the immigration to the United States occurs. The same importance is true for universities and students, who often become the workers later hired by firms (e.g., Stephan and Levin 2001, Stephan 2010). Given this policy framework, it is particularly valuable to understand exactly how these institutions choose to be a part of the immigration process, the role of the immigrants in their sponsoring institutions, and how these initial conditions persist for future assimilation of the immigrant. Read More

Comparing the Cash Policies of Public and Private Firms

Industrial firms listed on stock markets in the United States held $1.5 trillion in cash at the end of 2011. Many commentators and policymakers observed that this so-called "dead money" might be one reason behind the sluggish performance of the United States and other developed economies since the Great Recession. But evidence on such cash-hoarding behavior is limited to listed (or 'public') firms, which account for a relatively small part of the US economy. Do private firms also hold large cash balances? Using a rich panel of over 200,000 non-SEC-filing private US firms, the author finds that the average public firm holds twice as much cash as the average large private firm over the 2002-2011 period. Results are most consistent with the hypothesis that differences in the extent to which public and private firms engage in market timing are a key driver of public firms' higher demand for cash, as the risk of misvaluation induces public firms to raise capital and accumulate precautionary cash reserves when they perceive their equity to be overvalued. Consistent with this hypothesis, the author finds that the cash difference between public and private firms is larger in industries with a higher prevalence of misvaluation shocks. In addition, public firms in these industries tend to save a larger fraction of their equity issuance proceeds than private firms, particularly in times when they have reasons to believe that their equity is overvalued. Read More

Football Stars Debate ‘The Social Capital of the Savvy Athlete’

NFL players Richard Sherman, Arian Foster, Larry Fitzgerald, and Domonique Foxworth discussed Twitter pros and cons on marketing and race relations at Harvard Business School. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Calderón: Economic Arguments Needed to Fight Climate Change

Former President of Mexico Felipe Calderón says the United States Congress and Chinese coal plants are the biggest obstacles to fixing climate change. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

A Playbook for Small-Business Job Creation

Karen Mills left her post as SBA Administrator for a joint fellowship at Harvard to tackle a question she's faced her whole career: How can the United States drive innovation and turn it into jobs? Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Opting Out of Good Governance

New disclosure rules of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) require that foreign firms listed on US exchanges articulate more clearly their compliance with exchange requirements. In this paper the authors study the extent to which cross-listed firms opt out of corporate governance rules, analyzing which firms opt out of US exchange requirements and the consequences of doing so. Opting out is quite common, with 80.2 percent of cross-listed firms opting out of at least one exchange corporate governance requirement. Firms that opt out appear to adopt weaker governance practices and have fewer independent directors. The decision to opt out appears to reflect the relative costs and benefits of this governance choice. The costs of complying are likely to be higher for insiders who might enjoy certain private benefits when following weak governance practices allowed in their home country. The benefits of complying are likely to be higher for firms that are attempting to raise capital and grow. Consistent with this tradeoff, the data show that firms based in countries with weak corporate governance are less likely to comply, and those that are based in such countries and are expanding and issuing equity are more likely to comply. Opting out of US exchange requirements also has consequences for how the market values cash holdings. For firms from countries with weak governance requirements, cash within the firm is worth significantly less if the firm opts out of more US exchange requirements. Overall, the paper provides insight about the costs and benefits of complying with stringent governance rules and also sheds light on the effect of governance requirements on valuation. Read More

How Electronic Patient Records Can Slow Doctor Productivity

Electronic health records are sweeping through the medical field, but some doctors report a disturbing side effect. Instead of becoming more efficient, some practices are becoming less so. Robert Huckman's research explains why. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

The Use of Broker Votes to Reward Brokerage Firms’ and Their Analysts’ Research Activities

Broker votes are one of the most pervasive yet least understood reporting practices on Wall Street. The votes are essentially ratings of the value of brokers' investment research services. These ratings are produced by institutional investors (the "buy side") and solicited by broker dealers (the "sell side"). Little research to date, however, has examined the determinants of broker votes, their consequences, and their economic function. In this paper the authors use data gathered from a mid-sized investment bank for the years 2004 to 2007 in order to study how broker votes are related to institutional investors' commission payments and analysts' client services and compensation. Results overall suggest that broker votes help to facilitate implicit contractual relationships between sell-side brokers, their affiliated analysts, and their buy-side clients. Broker votes are neither mere popularity contests nor a simple reflection of trading in analysts' covered stocks. Instead, they appear to be a key component of the investment research industry's contracting technology, acting as the nexus for a set of relationships between sell-side brokers, their affiliated analysts, and their buy-side clients. The findings thus deepen our understanding of how information is exchanged on Wall Street and help to explain why the practice of collecting and aggregating client votes—a costly internal reporting procedure—has stood the test of time and has been replicated across countless sell-side research departments. Read More

A Brand Manager’s Guide to Losing Control

Social media platforms have taken some of the marketing power away from companies and given it to consumers. Jill Avery discusses the landscape of "open source branding," wherein consumers not only discuss and disseminate branded content, they also create it. Closed for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Can We Get To Where We Need To Go?

America's infrastructure woes and how to fix them were front and center at the recent summit, America on the Move: Transportation and Infrastructure for the 21st Century, led by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Counting Up the Effects of Sarbanes-Oxley

More than a decade after its inception, the effects of Sarbanes-Oxley seem, if anything, beneficial, say Harvard's Suraj Srinivasan and John C. Coates. Why then do so many critics remain? Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

When Will the Next Dot.com Bubble Burst?

Summing Up: Is that the sound of a dot.com bubble bursting? Could be, but is that a bad thing?, ask Jim Heskett's readers. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

How Grocery Bags Manipulate Your Mind

People who bring personal shopping bags to the grocery store to help the environment are more likely to buy organic items—but also to treat themselves to ice cream and cookies, according to new research by Uma R. Karmarkar and Bryan Bollinger. What's the Quinoa-Häagen-Dazs connection? Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Uncovering Racial Discrimination in the ‘Sharing Economy’

New research by Benjamin G. Edelman and Michael Luca shows how online marketplaces like Airbnb inadvertently fuel racial discrimination. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Busting Six Myths About Customer Loyalty Programs

Low-margin retailers argue they can't afford customer loyalty programs, but is that true? Rajiv Lal and Marcel Corstjens make the case that such programs are profit-enhancing differentiators. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Racist Umpires and Monetary Ministers

Are baseball umpires racist? Are ministers motivated by money? Christopher Parsons teases important economic lessons from unlikely sources. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Companies Detangle from Legacy Pensions

Although new defined benefit plans are rare, many firms must still fund commitments to retirees. Luis M. Viceira looks at the pension landscape and the recent emergence of insurance companies as potential saviors. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Management Practices, Relational Contracts, and the Decline of General Motors

What led to General Motors' decline? Long regarded as one of the best managed and most successful firms in the world, its share of the US market fell from 62.6 to 19.8 percent between 1980 and 2009, and in 2009 the firm went bankrupt. The authors argue that the conventional explanations for GM's decline are seriously incomplete. They discuss a number of causes for the firm's difficulties, and make the case that one of the reasons that GM began to struggle was because rival Toyota's practices were rooted in the widespread deployment of effective relational contracts--agreements based on subjective measures of performance that could neither be fully specified beforehand nor verified after the fact and that were thus enforced by the shadow of the future. GM's history, organizational structure, and managerial practices made it very difficult to maintain these kinds of agreements either within the firm or between the firm and its suppliers. The authors also argue that at least two aspects of GM's experience seem common to a wide range of firms. First, past success often led to extended periods of denial: Indeed a pattern of denial following extended success appears to be a worldwide phenomenon. Second, many large American manufacturers had difficulty adopting the bundle of practices pioneered by firms like Toyota. The paper concludes by discussing the implications of this history for efforts to revive American manufacturing. Read More

The Art of American Advertising

Harvard Business School's Baker Library is hosting a historical exhibit that examines the advertising industry in a bygone era. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

The Tricky Business of Managing Web Advertising Affiliates

Advertising through numerous website affiliates potentially helps marketers get more bang for their buck. But the far-flung systems can also lead to fraud, says Ben Edelman. What's the best way to manage your advertising network? Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

The Diseconomies of Queue Pooling: An Empirical Investigation of Emergency Department Length of Stay

Improving efficiency and customer experience are key objectives for managers of service organizations including hospitals. In this paper, the authors investigate queue management, a key operational decision, in the setting of a hospital emergency department. Specifically, they explore the impact on throughput time depending on whether an emergency department uses a pooled queuing system (in which a physician is assigned to a patient once the patient is placed in an emergency department bed) or a dedicated queuing system (in which physicians are assigned to specific patients at the point of triage). The authors measured throughput time based on individual patients' length of stay in the emergency department, starting with arrival to the emergency department and ending with a bed request for admission to the hospital or the discharge of a patient to home or to an outside facility. The findings show that, on average, the use of a dedicated queuing system decreased patients' lengths of stay by 10 percent. This represented a 32-minute reduction in length of stay—a meaningful time-savings for the emergency department and patients alike. The authors argue that physicians in the dedicated queuing system had both the incentive and ability to make sure their patients' care progressed efficiently, so that patients in the waiting room could be treated sooner than they otherwise would have. Read More

Super Bowl Ads for Multitaskers

With more than half the Super Bowl audience using smartphones or laptops at the same time they watch the big game on TV, Thales S. Teixeira says advertisers have to step up their game. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Digital Discrimination: The Case of Airbnb.com

To build trust and facilitate transactions, online marketplaces present information not only about products, but also about the people offering the products. Many platforms now allow sellers to present personal profiles, post pictures of themselves, and even link to their Facebook accounts. While these features serve the laudable goals of building trust and accountability, they can also bring unintended consequences: Personal profiles may facilitate discrimination. Benjamin G. Edelman and Michael Luca investigate the extent of racial discrimination against hosts on the popular online rental marketplace Airbnb.com. They construct a data set combining pictures of all New York City landlords on Airbnb with their rental prices and information about characteristics and quality of their properties. The authors use this data to measure differences in outcomes according to host race. Nonblack hosts are able to charge approximately 12 percent more than black hosts, holding location, rental characteristics, and quality constant. Moreover, black hosts receive a larger price penalty for having a poor location relative to nonblack hosts. These differences highlight the risk of discrimination in online marketplaces, suggesting an important unintended consequence of a seemingly-routine mechanism for building trust. Read More

High-Tech Immigrant Workers Don’t Cost US Jobs

Hiring skilled immigrants by United States high-tech firms not only doesn't push out existing workers, it creates job opportunities for all, argues William Kerr. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Language Wars Divide Global Companies

An increasing number of global firms adopt a primary language for business operations—usually English. The problem: The practice can surface dormant hostilities around culture and geography, reports Tsedal Neeley. Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Resolving Patent Disputes that Impede Innovation

Technical standards both spur innovation and protect the innovators, but abuses in the intellectual property protection system threaten US competitiveness. Josh Lerner and Jean Tirole discuss remedies. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

How Government Can Restore the Faith of Citizens

Would we like government more if we could see what it was doing to help citizens? Research by Michael Norton and Ryan Buell. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Excerpt: ’Fortune Tellers’

An excerpt from Walter A. Friedman's book, Fortune Tellers: The Story of America's Economic Forecasters. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

The Entrepreneurs Who Invented Economic Forecasting

The new book Fortune Tellers investigates the history of economic forecasting and its roots in the turbulent nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Read an interview with author Walter A. Friedman and an excerpt. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Do Productivity Increases Contribute to Social Inequality?

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers are divided about whether corporate productivity increases make social inequality worse. Closed for comment; 23 Comments posted.

Mechanisms of Technology Re-Emergence and Identity Change in a Mature Field: Swiss Watchmaking, 1970-2008

According to most theories of technological change, old technologies tend to disappear when newer ones arrive. As this paper argues, however, market demand for old technologies may wane only to emerge again at a later point in time, as seems to be the case for products like Swiss watches, fountain pens, streetcars, independent bookstores, and vinyl records, which have all begun to claim significant market interest again. Looking specifically at watchmaking, the author examines dynamics of technology re-emergence and the mechanisms whereby this re-emergence occurs in mature industries and fields. Swiss watchmakers had dominated their industry and the mechanical watch movement for nearly two centuries, but their reign ended abruptly in the mid-1970s at the onset of the "Quartz Revolution" (also known as the "Quartz Crisis"). By 1983, two-thirds of all watch industry jobs in Switzerland were gone. More recently, however, as the field has moved toward a focus on luxury, a "re-coupling" of product, organizational, and community identity has allowed master craftsmen to continue building their works of art. The study makes three main contributions: 1) It highlights the importance of studying technology-in-practice as a lens on viewing organizational and institutional change. 2) It extends the theorization of identity to products, organizations, and communities and embeds these within cycles of technology change. 3) It suggests the importance of understanding field-level change as tentative and time-bound: This perspective may allow deeper insights into the mechanisms that propel emergence, and even re-emergence, of seemingly "dead" technologies and industries. (Read an interview with Ryan Raffaelli about his research.) Read More

Technology Re-Emergence: Creating New Value for Old Innovations

Every once in a while, an old technology rises from the ashes and finds new life. Ryan Raffaelli explains how the Swiss watch industry saved itself by reinventing its identity. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: What Warren Buffett Saw in Newspapers

When Warren Buffett made a bid for troubled Media General's newspapers, analysts wondered whether the legendary investor had lost his fastball. Hardly, as Benjamin Esty's case reveals. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Is Walmart Defying Economic Gravity?

Summing Up Can Walmart sustain its half-a-trillion-dollar enterprise much longer? Jim Heskett's readers see a conflict between the company's immense size and its business model. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Encourage Breakthrough Health Care by Competing on Products Rather Than Patents

For too long, the science behind breakthrough therapeutics has been locked behind patents held by universities. Richard Hamermesh proposes the market compete on solutions rather than intellectual property rights. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Companies Choreograph Earnings Calls to Hide Bad News

Data from thousands of Wall Street earnings conference calls suggests that many companies hide bad performance news by calling only on positive analysts, according to new research by Lauren Cohen and Christopher Malloy. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Surfacing the Submerged State with Operational Transparency in Government Services

Research shows that Americans' trust in government is near historic lows and frustration with government performance is approaching record highs. While debates rage about how effective government is in providing basic services, one explanation for these trends in public opinion is that, independent of effectiveness, many voters may simply be unaware that government provides any services at all. Previous research by the authors reveals that seeing the labor in which firms engage improves customer satisfaction. In this paper, the authors design and test an intervention targeted toward increasing citizens' awareness of the services provided by government. Specifically, they present the results of an experiment in which Boston-area residents interacted with a website that visualized the service requests submitted by members of the public and the City's efforts to address those requests. Does seeing the work of government—fixing potholes, repairing streetlamps, removing graffiti, collecting garbage—lead citizens to express more positive attitudes toward government and increase their support for maintaining and expanding the scale of government programs? The study shows that providing greater operational transparency into government's efforts to address citizens' needs can improve attitudes toward government. Read More

Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of US Firms

The immigration of skilled workers is of deep importance to the United States, particularly in occupations closely linked to innovation and technology commercialization. Appropriate policies and admissions levels for skilled workers remain bitterly debated in the popular press. The authors analyze how the hiring of skilled immigrants affects the employment structures of US firms. This focus on the firm is both rare and important, since economists typically study immigration through the conceptual framework of shifts in the supply of workers to a labor market; yet substantial portions of the US immigration framework have been designed to allow American firms to choose the immigrants that they want to hire. Young workers account for a large portion of such skilled immigrants; for example, 90 percent of H-1B workers are under the age of 40. Given this context, the authors look specifically at the role of young skilled immigrants within more than 300 large employers and major patenting firms over the 1995-2008 period. The evidence suggests that increased employment of young skilled immigrants 1) raises the overall employment of skilled workers in the firm, 2) increases the immigrant share of these workers, and 3) reduces the older worker share of skilled employees. The latter effect is evident even among natives only. Overall, these results provide a multifaceted view of how young skilled immigration shapes the employment structures of US firms. There are significant implications for the competitiveness of American firms, the job opportunities of natives and immigrants employed by these firms, the larger national innovative capacity of the United States, and much beyond. Read More

Twitter IPO: Overvalued or the Start of Something Big?

Although it has yet to make a dime, share buyers valued Twitter's IPO at $25 billion. Asks professor Chet Huber, what do they see? Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Do Measures of Financial Constraints Measure Financial Constraints?

A core question in corporate finance is how financial constraints affect firm behavior. To answer this question we need a way to identify constrained firms with reasonable accuracy. Since the financial constraints that a firm faces are not directly observable, scholars have tended to rely on indirect proxies-such as having a credit rating or paying dividends-or on one of three popular indices based on linear combinations of observable firm characteristics such as size, age, or leverage (the Kaplan-Zingales, Whited-Wu, and Hadlock-Pierce indices). In this paper the authors ask: How well do these measures of financial constraints identify firms that are plausibly financially constrained? The short answer is: not well at all. The authors develop three different tests that show that public firms classified as constrained have no trouble raising debt when their demand for debt increases, are unaffected by changes in the supply of bank loans, and engage in paying out the proceeds of equity issues to their shareholders ("equity recycling"). Results imply that popular measures of financial constraints tend to identify as constrained subsets of firms that differ from the general firm population of public firms on a number of dimensions, but not in their ability to raise external funding. Importantly, the tests developed by the authors can be used to systematically test the extent to which any measure of financial constraints does capture constraints. 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

Monetary Policy Drivers of Bond and Equity Risks

Given the importance of nominal bonds in investment portfolios, and in the design and execution of fiscal and monetary policy, financial economists and macroeconomists need to understand the determinants of nominal bond risks. This is particularly challenging because the risk characteristics of nominal bonds are not stable over time. In this paper the authors ask how monetary policy has contributed to these changes in bond risks. They propose a model that integrates the building blocks of a New Keynesian model into an asset pricing framework in which risk and consequently risk premia can vary in response to macroeconomic conditions. The model is calibrated to US data between 1960 and 2011, a period in which macroeconomic conditions, monetary policy, and bond risks have experienced significant changes. Findings show that two elements of monetary policy have been especially important drivers of bond risks during the last half century. First, a strong reaction of monetary policy to inflation shocks increases both the beta of nominal bonds and the volatility of nominal bond returns. Positive inflation shocks depress bond prices, while the increase in the Fed funds rate depresses output and stock prices. Second, an accommodating monetary policy that smooths nominal interest rates over time implies that positive shocks to long-term target inflation cause real interest rates to fall, driving up output and equity prices, and nominal long-term interest rates to increase, decreasing bond prices. The paper shows empirical evidence that the Fed monetary policy followed an anti-inflationary stance after 1979, but it has moved to a more accommodating, nominal interest rate smoothing policy since the mid 1990's. Consistent with the predictions of the model, the first period corresponds to a period of average positive Treasury-bond beta and stock-bond correlation, and the second period to a period of average negative bond beta and stock-bond correlation. Overall, results imply that it is particularly important to take account of changing risk premia. Read More

Response to Readers: Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Following a contentious online debate, Professor Joe Lassiter expands his argument that nuclear power and fracking are the lesser evils when stacked up against coal power, and presents a way forward. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Time that Government Reopens for Business

Senior Lecturer Joe Fuller, an expert on competitiveness, sheds light on the government shutdown in Washington, DC and why it's time to "reopen for business." Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

The Case for Combating Climate Change with Nuclear Power and Fracking

Joseph B. Lassiter explains why he believes that nuclear power and shale gas are on the right side of the fight against climate change, and why markets have a better shot at winning the fight than governments do. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

Imperfect Information, Patent Publication, and the Market for Ideas

The market for ideas improves the innovation process by promoting division of labor between upstream inventors and downstream developers. Frictions such as asymmetric information and search costs may hinder the smooth functioning of the market and delay, or even block, mutually profitable transactions between buyers and sellers. In this paper, the authors study the effects of an important disclosure mechanism, the publication of patent applications, on mitigating these frictions and, thus, facilitating transactions in the market for ideas. In particular, they employ an important policy change in the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA), which required that U.S. patent applications filed beginning on November 29, 2000 be published 18 months after the application date. Findings show that post-AIPA patents, on average, are licensed 8.5 months earlier than pre-AIPA inventions. This shortening of the licensing lag is economically significant, given the 20-year duration of U.S. patents, and can translate to millions of dollars in profits and licensing revenues. Read More

Lehman Brothers Plus Five: Have We Learned from Our Mistakes?

Is the US financial system in better shape today than it was five years ago? Finance professors Victoria Ivashina, David Scharfstein, and Arthur Segel see real progress—but also missed opportunities and more challenges. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Organizational Factors that Contribute to Operational Failures in Hospitals

Despite a pressing need to do so, hospitals are struggling to improve efficiency, quality of care, and patient experience. Operational failures—defined as instances where an employee does not have the supplies, equipment, information, or people needed to complete work tasks—contribute to hospitals' poor performance. Such failures waste at least 10 percent of caregivers' time, delay care, and contribute to safety lapses. This paper seeks to increase hospital productivity and quality of care by uncovering organizational factors associated with operational failures so that hospitals can reduce the frequency with which these failures occur. The authors, together with a team of 25 people, conducted direct observations of nurses on the medical/surgical wards of two hospitals, which surfaced 120 operational failures. The team also shadowed employees from the support departments that provided materials, medications, and equipment needed for patient care, tracing the flow of materials through the organizations' internal supply chains. This approach made it possible to discover organizational factors associated with the occurrence and persistence of operational failures. Overall, the study develops propositions that low levels of internal integration among upstream supply departments contributed to operational failures experienced by downstream frontline staff, thus negatively impacting performance outcomes, such as quality, timeliness, and efficiency. Read More

The Impact of Conformance and Experiential Quality on Healthcare Cost and Clinical Performance

This study examines the relationship between hospital's focus on both conformance and experiential dimensions of quality and their impact on financial and clinical outcomes. Conformance quality measures the level of adherence to evidence-based standards of care achieved by the hospitals. Experiential quality, on the other hand, measures the extent to which caregivers consider the specific needs of the patient in care and communication, as perceived by the patient. These are important dimensions to investigate because hospitals may face a tension between improving clinical outcomes and maintaining their financial bottom-line. However, little has been known on the joint impact of these dimensions on hospital performance in terms of cost and clinical quality. The authors' study, which examined data from multiple sources for the 3,458 U.S. acute care hospitals, is a first step towards understanding these relationships. Results show that hospitals with high levels of combined quality are typically associated with higher costs, but better clinical outcomes, as measured by length of stay and readmissions. These results suggest that hospitals face a tradeoff between cost performance and clinical outcomes. The study also finds that the effect of conformance quality on length of stay is dependent on the level of experiential quality. Taken together, these findings underline the important synergy that exists between conformance and experiential quality with regards to clinical outcomes, a topic that has been completely overlooked in the extant literature. Read More

Playing Favorites: How Firms Prevent the Revelation of Bad News

Given the current regulatory environment in the United States (and increasingly globally) of level playing-field information laws, firms can only communicate information in public exchanges. However, even in these highly regulated venues, there are subtle choices that firms make that reveal differential amounts of information to the market. In this paper the authors explore a subtle but economically important way in which firms shape their information environments, namely through their specific organization and choreographing of earnings conference calls. The analysis rests on a simple premise: firms understand they have an information advantage and the ability to be strategic in its release. The key finding is that firms that manipulate their conference calls by calling on those analysts with the most optimistic views on the firm appear to be hiding bad news, which ultimately leaks out in the future. Specifically, the authors show that "casting" firms experience higher contemporaneous returns on the (manipulated) call in question, but negative returns in the future. These negative future returns are concentrated around future calls where they stop this casting behavior, and hence allow negative information to be revealed to the market. Read More

Status: When and Why It Matters

Status plays a key role in everything from the things we buy to the partnerships we make. Professor Daniel Malter explores when status matters most. Open for comment; 9 Comments posted.

U.S. High-Skilled Immigration, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship: Empirical Approaches and Evidence

In the 2008 Current Population Survey, immigrants represented 16 percent of the United States workforce with a bachelor's education. Moreover, immigrants accounted for 29 percent of the growth in this workforce during the 1995-2008 period. Exceeding these strong overall contributions, the role of immigrants within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields is even more pronounced. Even so, the importance of the global migration of STEM talent has been under-studied. In this paper, which focuses exclusively on the United States' experience, the author reviews academic work regarding the effects of global migration on innovation and entrepreneurship. Findings show that while some aspects of the phenomenon are well understood, such as the quantity and quality of immigrants, scholars still have very little insight on others, such as return migration. Overall, immigration has clearly been essential for the United States' leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship. There is also evidence of positive impacts of high-skilled diasporas for home countries, although the ledger that can be measured in the United States remains incomplete. Read More

Unspoken Cues: Encouraging Morals Without Mandates

Harvard Business School professor Michel Anteby studied his own employer to better understand how organizations can create moral behavior using unspoken cues. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Excerpt: Manufacturing Morals

At Harvard Business School, the orderly landscape and community setting reinforces values the School wishes to introduce to both faculty and students. An excerpt from professor Michel Anteby's Manufacturing Morals: The Values of Silence in Business School Education Read More

What Went Wrong at J.C. Penney?

J.C. Penney CEO Ron Johnson went bold in his attempted rescue of the fading retailer, but his top-to-bottom makeover failed. Marketing expert Rajiv Lal explores what went wrong and why JCP has an even more difficult road ahead. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

Studying How Income Inequality Shapes Behavior

Professor David A. Moss is studying how growing income disparity affects our decision-making on everything from risk-taking to voting. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Read All About It: Digital CEO Buys Traditional Media!

At 136 years old, the Washington Post has reported on critical news events over the decades. Now the sale of the Post to Jeff Bezos is itself a game changer, for digital media. Harvard Business School strategy experts Bharat Anand and David Collis read between the lines. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Detroit Files for Bankruptcy: HBS Faculty Weigh In

After a long period of economic decline, the city of Detroit filed for bankruptcy protection last week. John Macomber, Robert Pozen, Eric Werker, and Benjamin Kennedy offer their views on some down-the-road scenarios. Closed for comment; 22 Comments posted.

Five Imperatives for Improving Health Care

Leaders from Harvard's medical and business schools are exploring ways to improve health care delivery. In a new study, their Forum on Healthcare Innovation delivers five key imperatives. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Corporate Leaders Need to Step Up on Climate Change

Despite perceptions that sustainable business efforts are progressing, the environment reminds us we're failing to deal with the problem sufficiently. Here's what business leaders must do next, according to Michael Toffel and Auden Schendler. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

The Long-Term Fix to US Competitiveness

Participants at a Harvard Business School event were urged by professors Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin to chart a new path forward to improve US competitiveness. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Making America an Industrial Powerhouse Again

President Obama's funding of the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation is a needed step to get the country building again, says Professor Gary Pisano. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Clusters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

For many decades, the common wisdom among local officials pursuing employment growth for their areas was to attract a large firm to relocate. This "smokestack chasing" led to many regional governments bidding against each other and providing substantial incentives to large plants making their location choice decisions. The success of entrepreneurial clusters in recent decades, however, has challenged this wisdom, and now many policy makers state that they want their regions "to be the next Silicon Valley." This has led to extensive efforts to seed local entrepreneurship, with today's politicians routinely announcing the launch of an entrepreneurial cluster in a hot industry, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, or advanced manufacturing. In this paper, the authors explore the rationale for and efficacy of policies to promote local entrepreneurship and innovation and reflect on recent initiatives in this domain. Read More

A Company’s Evolving View of Gender Equity

Looking at the evolution of gender in US society over nearly 20 years, a new study by Lakshmi Ramarajan, Kathleen L. McGinn, and Deborah Kolb traces how one prominent professional-service firm internalized the shifting concerns. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

How Local Events Shake Up Corporate Philanthropy

Large-scale events like the Olympics lead to a dramatic, albeit short-term increase in otherwise steady charitable-giving patterns among corporations headquartered near the event's host city, according to research by András Tilcsik and Christopher Marquis. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Are First-Time Buyers Left Out of Real Estate’s Rebound?

Real estate is again on the move in the United States. Nicolas P. Retsinas examines the impact on home buyers, renters, and policymakers. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Diagnosing the ‘Flutie Effect’ on College Marketing

Boston College, after one of the most dramatic plays in collegiate football history, benefitted with a dramatic upswing in applications. Other colleges have experienced similar upswings from sports success. In a new study, Doug J. Chung demonstrates the reality behind the "Flutie Effect," named after BC quarterback Doug Flutie. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

The Auditing Oligopoly and Lobbying on Accounting Standards

The US auditing industry has been characterized as an oligopoly, which has successively tightened from eight key players to four over the last 25 years. This tightening is likely to change the incentives of the surviving big auditors, with implications for their role in our market economy. Motivated by the economic and public policy implications of the tightening audit oligopoly, the authors of this paper investigate the changing relation between the big firms and accounting standards. Accounting standards are a key input in the audit process and, through their effects on financial reporting, can impact capital allocation decisions in the economy. Results show that the big auditors are more likely to identify decreased reliability in proposed standards as the auditing oligopoly has tightened: This suggests that big auditors perceive higher litigation and political costs from the increased visibility that accompanies tighter oligopoly. The findings are also consistent with tighter oligopoly decreasing competition among the surviving firms to satisfy client preferences in accounting standards. The findings do not support the concern that tightening oligopoly has rendered the surviving big firms "too big to fail." Read More

Learning Curve: Making the Most of Outsourcing

Companies that view outsourcing as an easy way to offload commodity work are missing powerful improvements to be gained by working closely with service providers, says Professor Robert S. Huckman. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

How to Demotivate Your Best Employees

Many companies hand out awards such as "employee of the month," but do they work to motivate performance? Not really, says professor Ian Larkin. In fact, they may turn off your best employees altogether. Closed for comment; 62 Comments posted.

How Chapter 11 Saved the US Economy

In a relatively short time, much of the corporate debt that defaulted during the US financial crisis has been managed down and corporate profits have rebounded. Stuart C. Gilson reviews the power of Chapter 11 bankruptcy Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Pulling Campbell’s Out of the Soup

Campbell Soup had lost its way when Douglas Conant took charge in 2001. His first task: get out of his quiet zone and apply bold measures. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Women MBAs at Harvard Business School

Professor Boris Groysberg discusses his new case, "Women MBAs at Harvard Business School: 1962-2012," which delves into the experiences of the School's alumnae over the past 50 years. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Lessons from Running GM’s OnStar

Before teaching at Harvard Business School, Chet Huber ran the General Motors telematics subsidiary OnStar. Huber discusses how the lessons he learned in the field mesh with the lessons he teaches to students. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Big Deal: Reflections on the Megamerger of American and US Airways

The proposed marriage between American Airlines and US Airways would create the nation's largest airline. Professors Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Stuart Gilson reflect on a megamerger. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

The Dynamic Advertising Effect of Collegiate Athletics

The primary form of mass media advertising by academic institutions in the United States is, arguably, through its athletics program. This study investigates the possible advertising effects of intercollegiate athletics. Specifically, it looks at the spillover effect and the magnitude and divergence that athletic success has on the quantity and quality of applications received by an academic institution of higher education in the United States. Overall, findings show that athletic success has a significant impact on the quality and quantity of applicants to these institutions. However, athletic success has relatively more importance to the students with lower ability. Students of higher ability have a stronger preference for the quality of education compared to their lower-ability counterparts. Read More

Are the Big Four Audit Firms Too Big to Fail?

Although the number of audit firms has decreased over the past few decades, concerns that the "Big Four" survivors have become too big to fail may be a stretch. Research by professor Karthik Ramanna and colleagues suggests instead that audit firms are more concerned about taking risks. Closed for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Creating the Perfect Super Bowl Ad

Professor Thales S. Teixeira says TV viewers lose purchasing interest when ads get too caught up in entertainment. His advice for the perfect pitch: tie together a good story and a compelling brand. Closed for comment; 3 Comments posted.

The Messy Link Between Slave Owners and Modern Management

Harvard-Newcomen Fellow Caitlin C. Rosenthal studies the meticulous records kept by southern plantation owners for measuring the productivity of their slaves, some of which were forerunners of modern management techniques. Closed for comment; 53 Comments posted.

Few Women on Boards: Is There a Fix?

Women hold only 14 percent of the board seats at S&P 1500 companies. Why is that, and what—if anything—should business leaders and policymakers do about the gender disparity? Research by Professor Boris Groysberg and colleagues shows that male and female board members have very different takes on the issue. Closed for comment; 17 Comments posted.

Should We Rethink the Promise of Teams?

Summing Up: Teams that are properly structured and managed can support innovative thinking that depends on contributions from both extroverts and introverts, according to Professor Jim Heskett's readers. Closed for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Affordable Housing: Israel and the United States

At a recent conference in Herzliya, Israel, Nicolas P. Retsinas, John H. Vogel, and Charles S. Laven joined residential developers, non-profits, national and local government officials, and academics to brainstorm approaches to affordable rental housing. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

An Outside-Inside Evolution in Gender and Professional Work

How do organizations adapt to social transformation? In the US, one of the most visible changes in employment since the 1980s—the growing representation of highly educated women—has challenged widely held understandings about gender and professional work. Although much is known about social institutions and social issues at the institutional and organizational levels, researchers still know very little about how individual organizations experience and internalize gradual shifts in deeply held social understandings. To bridge the gap, this study analyzes nearly 20 years of data to explore the adaptation of one professional service firm to an increase in women in the professional workforce and the shifting discourse around gender and work. Findings show that the firm internalized shifts in the social institution of gender through iterated cycles of analysis and action, integrating external pressures from the changing social institution of gender into its beliefs, structure, policies, programs, and practices. Overall, the study reveals how the interplay between activities and beliefs directs the pace and course of organizational change over time. Read More

Power to the People: The Unexpected Influence of Small Coalitions

J. Gunnar Trumbull discusses his new book, Strength in Numbers, in which he argues that diffuse groups—environmentalists, consumer activists, farmers—wield great influence in areas of regulation including trade to product safety and labor policy. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Book Excerpt: Strength in Numbers

In his new book, Strength in Numbers: The Political Power of Weak Interests, Gunnar Trumbull shows how consumer groups can effect change by forming interest-driven alliances among activists, regulators, and corporations. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

Vulnerable Banks

Since the beginning of the US financial crisis in 2007, regulators in the United States and Europe have been frustrated by the difficulty in identifying the risk exposures at the largest and most levered financial institutions. Yet, at the time, it was unclear how such data might have been used to make the financial system safer. This paper is an attempt to show simple ways in which this information can be used to understand how deleveraging scenarios could play out. To do so the authors develop and test a model to analyze financial sector stability under different configurations of leverage and risk exposure across banks. They then apply the model to the largest financial institutions in Europe, focusing on banks' exposure to sovereign bonds and using the model to evaluate a number of policy proposals to reduce systemic risk. When analyzing the European banks in 2011, they show how a policy of targeted equity injections, if distributed appropriately across the most systemic banks, can significantly reduce systemic risk. The approach in this paper fits into, and contributes to, a growing literature on systemic risk. Read More

Book Excerpt: Harder Than I Thought

Harder Than I Thought: Adventures of a Twenty-First Century Leader invites readers to critique the fictional journey of Jim Barton, the new CEO of a west coast aerospace firm. The book was written by business scholars Robert Austin, Richard Nolan, and Shannon O'Donnell. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

New Winners and Losers in the Internet Economy

In a stressed US economy, employment in the Internet ecosystem is growing at an impressive rate, with small companies especially benefiting, according to a new study by Professor John A. Deighton and research associate Leora D. Kornfeld. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

LEED-ing by Example

When a local government decides to pursue environmentally aware construction policies for its own buildings, the private sector follows suit, according to new research by Timothy Simcoe and Michael W. Toffel. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Stop Talking About the Weather and Do Something: Three Ways to Finance Sustainable Cities

How do we ensure that our cities are resilient in the face of inevitable future weather events like Hurricane Sandy? John Macomber offers three ways that the private sector can take action. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

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.

Digital Technology’s Profound Game Change for Marketers

Within a few years, chief marketing officers will spend more on technology--digital marketing--than CIOs. Jeffrey Bussgang says it is clear that technology is radically transforming the marketing function and the role of the marketing professional. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

The Immigrants Who Built America’s Financial System

In The Founders and Finance, Harvard Business School business historian Thomas McCraw lays out in fascinating detail how immigrants Alexander Hamilton and Albert Gallatin became essential to the nation's survival. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Can We Bring Back the “Industrial Commons” for Manufacturing?

Summing Up: Does the US have the political will or educational ability to remake its manufacturing sector on the back of an 'industrial commons?' Professor Jim Heskett's readers are dubious. Closed for comment; 26 Comments posted.

Colocation and Scientific Collaboration: Evidence from a Field Experiment

In recent years there has been considerable interest in the policy arena on fostering collaborative and especially interdisciplinary collaborations. Yet there is scant evidence on how to do this in practice. To learn how team members find each other in the scientific community and decide to collaborate, the authors designed and carried out an experiment involving Harvard University and its affiliated hospitals. Results suggest that matching between scientists may be subject to considerable frictions, even among scientists in relatively close geographic proximity and in the same organizational system. However, even a brief and focused event facilitating face-to-face interactions can be useful for the formation of new scientific collaborations. Read More

Why Do We Tax?

As the US presidential election bears down for November, it's prime time to ask how the income tax system could be improved. Assistant Professor Matthew C. Weinzierl suggests how. Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

US Competitiveness at Risk

America's declining global competitiveness—it ranks No. 7 this year in one respected survey—began long before the current recession took hold. Harvard Business School Professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin discuss causes and possible solutions. From Harvard magazine. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Risky Business: The Impact of Property Rights on Investment and Revenue in the Film Industry

Films are a risky business because much more is known about the quality and revenue potential of a film post-production than pre-production. Using rich data on the US film industry, this paper explores variation in property right allocations, investment choices, and film revenues to find empirical support for three predictions based on property rights theory. (1) Studios underinvest in the marketing of independent films relative to studio-financed films. (2) Because of underinvestment, independent films have lower revenues than comparable studio-financed films. (3) If production cost and marketing investment are complementary, underinvestment in marketing harms large-budget films more than small-budget films, making it more likely that large-budget films will be studio-financed. Kuppuswamy and Baldwin's paper may be the first to provide evidence that vertical integration affects the revenue of specific products through its impact on marketing investments in those products. Read More

Why Public Companies Underinvest in the Future

Private companies are much more focused on the long term when making deals than their publicly owned counterparts. Which side has the right idea? New research from Assistant Professor Joan Farre-Mensa and colleagues. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Spatial Organization of Firms: Internal and External Agglomeration Economies and Location Choices Through the Value Chain

How do firms decide location strategy for distinct activities in the value chain, such as manufacturing, research and development, or sales? Does strategy depend on geographically bounded spillovers between firms, or within firms? This paper uses data for organic expansions in the US by firms in pharmaceuticals in 1993-2005 to consider two types of expansions. The first is internal: an increase in employment in existing establishments. The second is external: opening new establishments. Alcacer (HBS) and Delgado (Fox School of Business) argue that decisions about geographical location are a tradeoff between external drivers pulling firms to geographically disperse activities and internal drivers pushing within-firm collocation, either across activities (such as manufacturing and R&D) or within activities (such as multiple R&D labs). Read More

HBS Cases: Branding Yoga

As yoga's popularity has grown into a $6 billion business, a cast of successful entrepreneurs has emerged with their own styles of the ancient practice. Yet yoga's rise underscores a larger question for Professor Rohit Deshpandé: Is everything brandable? Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Will Business Management Save US Health Care?

Summing Up: Problems confronting the US health care system are much larger and broader than those that can be solved by management in the absence of other remedies, readers tell Jim Heskett. Open for comment; 28 Comments posted.

Entrepreneurship and Urban Growth: An Empirical Assessment with Historical Mines

Does entrepreneurship cause urban growth? Economists and policymakers often argue yes, but it is remarkable how little is known about what lies behind this relationship. This paper investigates the connection more closely using a link between historical mineral and coal deposits and modern entrepreneurship observed in US cities today. Because the process of bringing ores out of the earth is a capital-intensive operation that often benefits from large-scale operations, cities with a historical abundance of nearby mineral and coal mines developed industrial structures with systematically larger establishments and less entrepreneurship. These early industrial traits persisted long after the initial conditions faded through intergenerational transmissions, path dependency, and similar. Using this variation, the study finds the strong connection between a city's initial entrepreneurship and subsequent economic growth is still observed after removing the most worrisome endogeneity. This connection works primarily through lower employment growth of startups in cities that are closer to mines. Read More

Employee-Suggestion Programs That Work

The key to operating a successful employee-suggestion program is to stop spending so much time on big-bang projects and focus on solving "low-hanging-fruit" problems. Research by Anita L. Tucker and Sara J. Singer. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Key Drivers of Successful Implementation of an Employee Suggestion-Driven Improvement Program

Service organizations frequently implement improvement programs to increase quality. These programs often rely on employees' suggestions about improvement opportunities. Yet organizations face a trade-off with suggestion-driven improvement programs. Should managers use an "analysis-oriented" approach to surface a large number of problems, prioritize these, and select a small set of high priority ones for solution efforts? Or is it better to take an "action-oriented" approach, addressing problems raised by frontline staff regardless of priority ranking? In this paper the authors weigh the tradeoff between these two different approaches. Using data from 58 work groups in 20 hospitals that implemented an 18-month-long employee suggestion-driven improvement program, the authors find that an action-oriented approach was associated with higher perceived improvement in performance, while an analysis-oriented approach was not. The study suggests that the analysis-oriented approach negatively impacted employees' perceptions of improvement because it solicited, but not act on, employees' ideas. Read More

A Randomized Field Study of a Leadership WalkRounds™-Based Intervention

Hospitals face an imperative to improve quality, increase efficiency, and improve customer experience. Many hospitals utilize process improvement techniques to achieve these goals. One technique to involve senior managers, known in hospitals most commonly as Leadership WalkRounds™, is a program of visiting the organization's frontlines to observe and talk with employees while they do their work. The intention is that managers and frontline staff will work together to identify and resolve obstacles to efficiency, quality, or safety. (For brevity, the authors refer to it in this paper as WalkRounds™.) Rigorous testing of the effectiveness of process improvement interventions generally, and WalkRounds™ particularly, however, has been rare. This paper presents results from a field study that tested the effectiveness of a safety improvement program inspired by WalkRounds™. The authors compare pre-program and post-program measures of perceived improvement in performance (PIP) from work areas in hospitals that were randomly selected to implement the program, with pre- and post- measures from the same types of work areas in control hospitals. Findings show that, contrary to expectations, the WalkRounds™-based program was associated with decreased PIP. This study calls into question the general effectiveness of WalkRounds™ on employees' perceptions, which had been assumed in prior literature. Read More

Advertising: It’s Not ‘Mad Men’ Anymore

Three major forces have changed advertising since Don Draper last prowled the corridors of Sterling Cooper. Professor Emeritus Alvin J. Silk's decades of research finds an industry that, while evolving in fundamental ways, is healthy and creative. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Legislating Stock Prices

This paper examines the importance of firms' relationships with their legal and political environment, and the actors who form this environment. Governments pass laws that affect firms' competitive landscape, products, labor force, and capital, both directly and indirectly. And yet, it remains difficult to determine which firms any given piece of legislation will affect, and how it will affect them. By observing the actions of legislators whose constituents are the affected firms, the authors gather insights into the likely impact of government legislation on firms. Specifically, the authors demonstrate that legislation has a simple yet previously undetected impact on firm prices. Read More

Penn State Lesson: Today’s Cover-Up was Yesterday’s Opportunity

While leaders may rationalize that a cover-up protects the interests of their organizations, the inevitable damage harms their institutions far more than acknowledging a mistake, says professor Bill George. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty on Supreme Court Health Care Ruling

We asked three Harvard Business School faculty members, all experts in the health care field, to provide their views on various facets of one of this country's most important and complex problems. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: A Startup Takes On the Credit Ratings Giants

Moody's, Fitch, and Standard & Poor's dominated the credit ratings industry for decades. Could the recession weaken their hold? Professor Bo Becker discusses his case on super startup Kroll. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

When Business Competition Harms Society

In highly competitive markets, many firms are likely to bend the rules if doing so will keep their customers from leaving for a rival, according to new research by professor Michael W. Toffel and colleagues. Case in point: service stations that cheat on auto emissions testing. Open for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Conflict Policy and Advertising Agency-Client Relations: The Problem of Competing Clients Sharing a Common Agency

This paper takes a fresh look at a recurring and often contentious issue in agency-client relations: Should an advertising agency simultaneously serve competing accounts or should the agency be restricted from doing so? Professor Alvin J. Silk traces the evolution and current state of industry practices with respect to conflict norms and policies; reviews the body of conceptual and empirical research that is available about the sources and consequences of conflicts, and outlines some directions for future research to address unresolved policy issues. Read More

OSHA Inspections: Protecting Employees or Killing Jobs?

As the federal agency responsible for enforcing workplace safety, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is often at the center of controversy. Associate Professor Michael W. Toffel and colleague David I. Levine report surprising findings about randomized government inspections. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Can Decades of Military Overspending be Fixed?

Costs tend to rise in all organizations unless managers and their staffs have the motivation and skill to control them. Professor emeritus J. Ronald Fox analyzes this phenomenon during 50 years of US military overspending. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Who Controls Water?

In a recent field study seminar, Professor Forest L. Reinhardt discussed the case "Woolf Farming & Processing," which illustrates how access to water—a basic building block of agriculture—is affected by everything from complex government-mandated requirements to a 3-inch endangered bait fish. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

The High Risks of Short-Term Management

A new study looks at the risks for companies and investors who are attracted to short-term results. Research by Harvard Business School's Francois Brochet, Maria Loumioti, and George Serafeim. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Who Sways the USDA on GMO Approvals?

Government agencies can be "captured" by the very companies or industries they regulate. Looking at how genetically altered food products are approved, Assistant Professor Shon R. Hiatt finds unexpected influencers on the US Department of Agriculture. Open for comment; 15 Comments posted.

Finding the Right Jeremy Lin Storyline

New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin is confounding every stereotype we have about modern day basketball stars. Professor Lakshmi Ramarajan suggests that Lin's complex storylines can help us put our own prejudices in focus. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Crowded at the Top: The Rise of the Functional Manager

It's not lonely at the top anymore—today's CEO has an average of 10 direct reports, according to new research by Julie M. Wulf, Maria Guadalupe, and Hongyi Li. Thank a dramatic increase in the number of "functional" managers for crowding in the C-suite. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Customer-Driven Misconduct: How Competition Corrupts Business Practices

Competition is typically thought to generate many positive outcomes including lower prices and higher productivity. But competition can also lead firms to increase quality for their customers in ways that are both illegal and socially costly. This paper examines the impact of competition on the vehicle emissions testing market, and finds that firm misconduct increases with competitive pressure and the threat of losing customers to rival firms. These results have serious implications for policy makers and managers. This paper is among the first to empirically demonstrate that increased competition can motivate firms to provide illicit quality to avoid losing business. Read More

Unplugged: What Happened to the Smart Grid?

Replacing the antiquated electrical system in the United States with a super-efficient smart grid always seemed a surefire opportunity for entrepreneurs. So what went wrong? asks Professor Rebecca M. Henderson. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Is JC Penney’s Makeover the Future of Retailing?

The stuffy department store chain has become emboldened under new CEO Ron Johnson, with plans for an innovative store upgrade, simplified prices, and a brand polish. Professor Rajiv Lal discusses whether Johnson can repeat his previous magic at Apple and Target. Closed for comment; 45 Comments posted.

Nitin Nohria: Why US Competitiveness Matters

Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria discusses the multidimensional quality of the American competitiveness problem, and why it matters to all. Read More

Learning from My Success and From Others’ Failure: Evidence from Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

The importance of failure in the learning process is well recognized. In organizations as work grows increasingly fragmented—more specialized and divided into smaller tasks—the role of individuals in organizational learning becomes more important. This paper examines how individuals learn directly from their own past experience, and indirectly from the past experience of others. Focusing on one particular performance outcome, the quality of surgeries, findings indicate that individuals learn the most from their own successes and the failures of others, possibly because in both cases they attribute the outcomes to internal rather than external factors. This research has implications for healthcare and organizations more generally. Research by KC Diwas, Bradley R. Staats, and Francesca Gino. Read More

Kodak: A Parable of American Competitiveness

When American companies shift pieces of their operations overseas, they run the risk of moving the expertise, innovation, and new growth opportunities just out of their reach as well, explains HBS Professor Willy Shih, who served as president of Eastman Kodak's digital imaging business for several years. Open for comment; 32 Comments posted.

Once a Castle, Home is Now a Debtors’ Prison

Forget the notion of the home as "castle." Twenty-two percent of Americans owe more on their mortgages than the value of their homes. Nicolas P. Retsinas offers ideas for how these "debtors' prisons" can be turned into productive housing. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Is Support for Small Business Misplaced?

Summing Up Is small business overhyped as a panacea for our economic troubles? Jim Heskett's readers don't think so. Closed for comment; 35 Comments posted.

Who Lives in the C-Suite? Organizational Structure and the Division of Labor in Top Management

The size of a CEO's executive team has increased dramatically in recent decades, but little has been known about its composition. Using a rich dataset of US firms from 1986 to 2006, this paper documents the dramatic increase in the number of functional managers in the executive team. The size of the team in these firms doubled over the time period from five to 10 positions, with approximately three-fourths of the increase attributable to functional managers (such as Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and so on) rather than general managers. The paper explores the drivers of these changes. Findings are critical for practitioners, and specifically CEOs, as they structure their executive teams and more generally as they make decisions to implement or execute strategy. Read More

A Few Firms Have Outsized Influence in D.C.

New research by Harvard Business School Associate Professor William R. Kerr suggests the number of companies affecting government policy through lobbying may be smaller—but more powerful—than previously thought. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Income Inequality and Social Preferences for Redistribution and Compensation Differentials

Market-based factors have substantially increased inequality in the United States over the last three decades. If the inequality caused by these mechanisms reduces social preferences regarding distributive equality, the inequality can become amplified and entrenched. The potential thus exists for the formation of a "vicious cycle" where increases in disparity weaken concern for wage equality or redistribution. This weakened concern affords greater future compensation differentials, a shrinking of the welfare state, and so on that further increase inequality and again shift preferences. Alternatively, changes in social preferences can counteract inequality increases. William Kerr characterizes how changes in inequality affect social attitudes towards government-led redistribution and compensation differentials. The results of this study provide mixed evidence regarding the vicious-cycle hypothesis. Kerr's findings suggest that social preferences regarding inequality adjust to desire more redistribution while allowing greater labor market inequality. Read More

Beyond Heroic Entrepreneurs

Research in progress by Harvard Business School's Julie Battilana and Matthew Lee reveals that a large number of social entrepreneurs are focused on local rather than global change, and on sustainable funding. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Private Meetings of Public Companies Thwart Disclosure Rules

Despite a federal regulation, executives at public firms still spend a great deal of time in private powwows with hedge fund managers. Eugene F. Soltes and David H. Solomon suggest that such meetings give these investors unfair advantage. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

HBS Cases: Clocky, the Runaway Alarm Clock

There had not been an innovative breakthrough in alarm clock design since the snooze button until entrepreneur Gauri Nanda created Clocky. Her runaway hit has been the inspiration for several cases written by Professor Elie Ofek. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Are There Too Many Safe Securities? Securitization and the Incentives for Information Production

Markets for near-riskless securities have suffered numerous shutdowns in the last 40 years, with the recent financial crisis the most prominent example. This suggests that instability could be a general characteristic of such markets, not just a one-time problem associated with the subprime mortgage crisis. Professors Samuel G. Hanson and Adi Sunderam argue that the infrastructure and organization of professional investors are in part determined by the menu of securities offered by originators. Since robust infrastructure is a public good to originators, it may be underprovided in the private market equilibrium. The individually rational decisions of originators may lead to an infrastructure that is overly prone to disruptions in bad times. Policies regulating originator capital structure decisions may help create a more robust infrastructure. Closed for comment; 0 Comments posted.

What Impedes Oil and Gas Companies’ Transparency?

Oil and gas companies face asset expropriations and corruption by foreign governments in many of the countries where they operate. In addition, most of these companies operate in multiple host countries. What determines their disclosure of business activities and hence transparency? Paul Healy, Venkat Kuppuswamy, and George Serafeim examine three forms of disclosure costs that oil and gas managers could potentially consider. Both the US government and the European Union are currently considering laws that would require oil and gas companies to disclose information about operations in host countries. Read More

Rethinking the Fairness of Organ Transplants

Because of an organ shortage, hundreds or even thousands of people miss out on needed organ transplants each year. Business researchers at Harvard and MIT are rethinking how kidney transplants are allocated to give patients longer lives. An interview with professor Nikolaos Trichakis. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

The Dynamics of Firm Lobbying

Lobbying is a primary avenue through which firms attempt to change policy in the United States, with total expenditures outnumbering campaign contributions by a factor of nine. While lobbying by businesses is a frequently debated issue, there has been little systematic empirical evidence on these behaviors at the firm level. This paper is one of the first to begin to fill this gap. To do so, the researchers constructed an empirical model of lobbying behavior of publicly traded, US-headquartered firms between 1998 and 2006. They also looked in depth at a specific policy shift that has been the subject of significant public debate: the dramatic decline in the limit on H-1B visas that occurred in 2004. Findings show that the decline in the limit on H-1Bs did not induce new firms to lobby that were not previously lobbying on other issues. The decline did, however, significantly shift lobbying resources towards high-skilled immigration issues amongst firms that had lobbied previously for other issues. Moreover, the manner in which this shift occurs among firms already lobbying indicates little constraint on adjustments across issues important for firms. Read More

HBS Cases: Making Lincoln Center Cool Again

When Reynold Levy took over as president of New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, he faced challenges ranging from crumbling buildings to an aging customer base. How could the venerable institution get its high notes back? Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

CEO Bonus Plans: And How to Fix Them

Discussions about incentives for CEOs in the United States begin, and often end, with equity-based compensation. After all, stock options and (more recently) grants of restricted stock have comprised the bulk of CEO pay since the mid-1990s, and the changes in CEO wealth due to changes in company stock prices dwarf wealth changes from any other source. Too often overlooked in the discussion, however, is the role of annual and multiyear bonus plans—based on accounting or other non-equity-based performance measures—in rewarding and directing the activities of CEOs and other executives. In this paper, Kevin J. Murphy and Michael C. Jensen describe many of the problems associated with traditional executive bonus plans, and offer suggestions for how these plans can be vastly improved. The paper includes recommendations and guidelines for improving both the governance and design of executive bonus plans and, more broadly, executive compensation policies, processes, and practices. The paper is a draft of a chapter in Jensen, Murphy, and Wruck (2012), CEO Pay and What to Do About it: Restoring Integrity to both Executive Compensation and Capital-Market Relations, forthcoming from Harvard Business School Press. Read More

The Forgotten Book that Helped Shape the Modern Economy

A British merchant's long-forgotten work, An Essay on the State of England, could lead to a rethinking of how modern economies developed in Europe and America, and add historical perspective on the proper relationship between government and business. An interview with business historian Sophus A. Reinert. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Fairness, Efficiency, and Flexibility in Organ Allocation for Kidney Transplantation

For many people who suffer end-stage renal disease, a kidney transplant is considered a potentially life-saving gift. Allocation policies for kidneys from deceased donors are thus of central importance and have to accomplish major objectives in alleviating human suffering, prolonging life, and providing nondiscriminatory, fair, and equal access to organs for all patients. In this paper, the authors focused on national allocation policies in the United States and the recent effort to revise the current policy. Their design of a national allocation policy focuses on perhaps the simplest, most common and currently used priority method, namely a point system. They also present four case studies in which they designed new policies under different scenarios. Read More

Chasing Stars: Why the Mighty Red Sox Struck Out

When the Red Sox announced they had signed away veteran pitcher John Lackey from the Anaheim Angels, it was the start of one of the most expensive talent hunts in baseball history. So why were the Red Sox an epic failure in 2011? Lackey's lackluster performance is a case study in the perils of chasing superstars, says Professor Boris Groysberg. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

The Yelp Factor: Are Consumer Reviews Good for Business?

In a new study, Assistant Professor Michael Luca shows just how much restaurant reviews on Yelp affect companies' bottom lines. The more difficult question: Are these ratings reliable as a measure of product quality? Closed for comment; 14 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

US Healthcare Reform and the Pharmaceutical Industry

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) will restructure the US health care market in the coming years. For the pharmaceutical industry, the ACA is likely to prove a mixed blessing. In this paper, Assistant Professor Arthur Daemmrich analyzes the political economy of health care, specifically concerning health care reform. He then considers how the ACA will affect the pharmaceutical sector, both quantitatively in terms of the size of the prescription drug market and qualitatively in terms of industry structure and competitive dynamics. Daemmrich also places the current reforms into historical context and describes the political negotiations that enabled passage of the ACA. Read More

The Steve Jobs Legacy

Harvard Business School faculty offer their perspectives on the legendary career of Steve Jobs, who remade several industries even as he changed how we use technology. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Measuring Teamwork in Health Care Settings: A Review of Survey Instruments

It is critical to accurately assess teamwork in health-care organizations. About 60 percent of primary-care practices in the United States use team-based models to coordinate work across the broad spectrum of health professionals needed to deliver quality care; in many other countries the percentage is almost 100 percent. While the benefits of effective teamwork are substantial, effective teamwork is often lacking in these settings, with negative consequences for patients. To date, little has been known about the survey instruments available to measure teamwork. In this paper Valentine, Nembhard, and Edmondson report the results of their systematic review of survey instruments that have been used to measure teamwork in various contexts. Their research helps to identify existing teamwork scales that may be most useful in testing theoretical models. Read More

Doomsday Coming for Catastrophic Risk Insurers?

Insurance "reinsurers" underwrite much of the catastrophic risk insurance taken out to protect against huge disasters natural and man-made. Problem is, says Professor Kenneth A. Froot, reinsurers themselves are in danger of failing from a major catastrophic event. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Ethnic Innovation and US Multinational Firm Activity

What effects do immigrant scientists and engineers have on the global activities of the firms that employ them? To what extent do these high-skilled immigrants help US multinationals capitalize on foreign opportunities? Professors Foley and Kerr analyze key data concerning US patents, direct investment abroad, research and development, and the ownership structure of firms. They show that immigration enhances the competitiveness of US multinationals. Taken together, the results have implications for immigration policies. Many debates about immigration focus on the potentially deleterious impact of low wage immigrants on the domestic workforce. However, Foley and Kerr point out that immigrants who are skilled enough to engage in innovative activity generate benefits for firms that are seeking to do business abroad. Read More

Improving Fairness in Flight Delays

Airlines and the FAA don't like flight delays any more than passengers, but what's to be done? Assistant Professor Douglas Fearing and colleagues propose a "fairness" system that could save travelers time and service providers millions of dollars annually. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Decoding Insider Information and Other Secrets of Old School Chums

Associate Professors Lauren H. Cohen and Christopher J. Malloy study how social connections affect important decisions and, ultimately, how those connections help shape the economy. Their research shows that it's possible to make better stock picks simply by knowing whether two industry players went to the same college or university. What's more, knowing whether two congressional members share an alma mater can help predict the outcome of pending legislation on the Senate floor. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Business Plan Contest: 15 Years of Building Better Entrepreneurs

Since 1997, Hundreds of student-entrepreneurs have tested their ideas at Harvard Business School's annual Business Plan Contest. Here is what they have learned about success, failure, and themselves. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Protecting against the Pirates of Bollywood

Hollywood's earnings in India have largely been disappointing. Professor Lakshmi Iyer believes the problem has more to do with intellectual pirates than the cinematic kind. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty Views on Debt Crisis

In the midst of the US debt crisis, Harvard Business School faculty offer their views on what went wrong and what needs to be done to right the US ship of state. Open for comment; 27 Comments posted.

To Groupon or Not to Groupon: The Profitability of Deep Discounts

For consumers, online discount vouchers (like those offered by Groupon.com) have obvious appeal: discounts as large as 90 percent. But for retailers offering the deals through the site, does the publicity compensate for the deep hit to profit margins? This paper sets out to help small businesses decide whether it makes sense to offer discount vouchers. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professor Ben Edelman, Business Economics PhD candidate Scott Duke Kominers, and by Sonia Jaffe of the Harvard University Department of Economics. Read More

Immigrant Innovators: Job Stealers or Job Creators?

The H-1B visa program, which enables US employers to hire highly skilled foreign workers for three years, is "a lightning rod for a very heated debate," says Harvard Business School professor William Kerr. His latest research addresses the question of whether the program is good for innovation, and whether it impacts jobs for Americans. Open for comment; 36 Comments posted.

Non-competes Push Talent Away

California is among several states where non-compete agreements are essentially illegal. Is it a coincidence that so many inventors flock to Silicon Valley? New research by Lee Fleming, Matt Marx, and Jasjit Singh investigates whether there is a "brain drain" of talented engineers and scientists who leave states that allow non-competes and move to states that don't. Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Making the Case for Consumer-Driven Health Care

Even as so-called Obamacare becomes a central issue in the 2012 presidential election, policymakers and academics continue the debate on how best to deliver affordable and efficient health care services to millions of Americans. In this video interview, professor Regina Herzlinger makes the case that consumers should have more say over their own care. Open for comment; 19 Comments posted.

An Empirical Decomposition of Risk and Liquidity in Nominal and Inflation-Indexed Government Bonds

The yields on US Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) have declined dramatically since they were first issued in 1997. This paper asks to what extent the returns on nominal and inflation-indexed bonds in both the US and the UK can be attributed to differential liquidity and market segmentation or to real interest rate risk and inflation risk. Read More

QuikTrip’s Investment in Retail Employees Pays Off

Instead of treating low-paid staffers as commodities, a new breed of retailers such as QuikTrip assigns them more responsibility and invests in their development, says professor Zeynep Ton. The result? Happy customers and even happier employees. Open for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Building a Better Board

While corporate board members take their jobs more seriously than ever, they are not necessarily as helpful or effective as they could be, says HBS senior lecturer Stephen Kaufman. He recently sat down with HBS Working Knowledge to discuss what he considers to be the biggest practical issues facing boards today. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Casino Payoff: Hands-Off Management Works Best

Micromanagers beware: Research of casino hosts by Harvard Business School's Dennis Campbell and Francisco de Asís Martinez-Jerez and Rice's Marc Epstein makes the case that hands-off management can work to improve employee learning and decision making. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

While Waiting for Japan’s Recovery, Let’s Enhance Supplier Competitiveness at Home

The Obama administration and US companies do not have to wait for Japanese suppliers to recover from earthquake damage, argues Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Action can be taken now to ensure that America invests in growing our domestic stock of world-class suppliers. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Teaching a ‘Lean Startup’ Strategy

Most startups fail because they waste too much time and money building the wrong product before realizing too late what the right product should have been, says HBS entrepreneurial management professor Thomas R. Eisenmann. In his new MBA course, Launching Technology Ventures, Eisenmann introduces students to the idea of the lean startup—a methodology that has proven successful for many young high-tech companies. Closed for comment; 56 Comments posted.

Attention Medical Shoppers: What Health Care Can Learn from Walmart and Amazon

At a Harvard Business School panel discussion on health care management, experts looked to the retail industry as a possible model for delivering medical services more effectively. Participants included Harvard's Robert Huckman, Raffaella Sadun, David Cutler, and Atul Gawande. Open for comment; 7 Comments posted.

Reinventing the National Geographic Society

How do you transform a 123-year-old cultural icon and prepare it for the digital world? Slowly, as a new case on the National Geographic Society by professor David Garvin demonstrates. Open for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Why Manufacturing Matters

After decades of outsourcing, America's ability to innovate and create high-tech products essential for future prosperity is on the decline, argue professors Gary Pisano and Willy Shih. Is it too late to get it back? From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 44 Comments posted.

Individual Rationality and Participation in Large Scale, Multi-Hospital Kidney Exchanges

As kidney exchange moves from local networks to a national level, a new set of problems arises. One central issue, for example, is how individual hospitals can be motivated to participate. This paper by Itai Ashlagi (Sloan School of Management, MIT) and Alvin E. Roth (Harvard Business School) provides a theoretical framework to study and overcome the kinds of problems that can be anticipated. Read More

Do US Market Interactions Affect CEO Pay? Evidence from UK Companies

CEOs of UK firms receive higher total compensation if their companies have interactions with US product, capital, and labor markets. Moreover, the compensation package is often adopted from American-style arrangements, such as the use of incentive-based pay. Researchers Joseph J. Gerakos (University of Chicago), Joseph D. Piotroski (Stanford), and Suraj Srinivasan (Harvard Business School) analyzed data on the compensation practices of 416 publicly traded UK firms over the period 2002 to 2007. Read More

Keeping Credit Flowing to Consumers in Need

Regulators and policymakers are debating the best ways to revamp our damaged system of consumer and housing finance. The problem: turning the regulatory spigot too tightly could shut off the flow of needed credit to millions of lower-income Americans. A discussion with professor Nicolas P. Retsinas. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

From Social Control to Financial Economics: The Linked Ecologies of Economics and Business in Twentieth Century America

No transformation looks more consequential for the history of American higher education than the extraordinary rise of business schools and business degrees in the twentieth century. Marion Fourcade (UC Berkeley) and Rakesh Khurana (HBS) analyze the changing place of economics in American business education as reflected in the teaching of three elite business schools over the course of the twentieth century: the Wharton School (1900-1930), the Carnegie Tech Graduate School of Industrial Administration (post World War II), and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago (1960s-present). Read More

How Foundations Think: The Ford Foundation as a Dominating Institution in the Field of American Business Schools

What causes institutions to change? This paper adds organizational and exogenous perspective to existing theories by looking at the idea of "dominating institutions"—a class of formal organizations purposively designed to change other institutions. HBS professor Rakesh Khurana and colleagues look at the Ford Foundation and its work reshaping America's graduate schools of management between 1952 and 1965 through funding of "centers of excellence" at a number of schools, including Harvard Business School. Read More

What’s Government’s Role in Regulating Home Purchase Financing?

The Obama administration recently proposed housing finance reforms to wind down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and bring private capital back to the mortgage markets. HBS professor David Scharfstein and doctoral student Adi Sunderam put forth a proposal to replace Fannie and Freddie and ensure a more stable supply of housing finance. Read More

Lawful but Corrupt: Gaming and the Problem of Institutional Corruption in the Private Sector

In the business world, "gaming" refers to the act of subverting the intent of rules or laws without technically breaking them--a skillful if unsavory way to achieve private gain. Harvard Business School professor emeritus Malcolm S. Salter explores how gaming the system can lead to institutional corruption, citing examples from Enron and early efforts by some banks to game the implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act. Read More

Agglomerative Forces and Cluster Shapes

HBS professor William R. Kerr and doctoral candidate Scott Duke Kominers develop a theoretical model for analyzing the forces that drive agglomeration, or industrial clustering. It is rare that researchers systematically observe the forces like technology sharing, customer/supplier interactions, or labor pooling that lead to firm clustering. Instead, the data only portray the final location decisions that firms make (for example, firms that utilize one type of technology are clustered over 50 miles, while those using another technology are clustered over 100 miles). The researchers' model identifies how these observable traits can be used to infer properties of the underlying clustering forces. Read More

A Brief Postwar History of US Consumer Finance

The growth of the consumer finance sector after World War II provided a bevy of new financial options for Americans. These options led to a "do-it-yourself" approach to consumer finance, and an increase in household risk taking. In this paper, Harvard Business School professors Gunnar Trumbull and Peter Tufano, along with former HBS research associate Andrea Ryan, discuss the major themes that dominated the expansive postwar sector, including some of the factors that set the stage for the recent subprime mortgage crisis. Read More

Activist Board Members Increase Firm’s Market Value

Board members nominated by activist investors presumably have one primary goal: change the status quo. Does that agenda create or diminish value of the firm in the eyes of shareholders? New evidence offered by Harvard Business School professors Bo Becker, Daniel B. Bergstresser, and Guhan Subramanian suggests financial markets value a new approach. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Does Shareholder Proxy Access Improve Firm Value? Evidence from the Business Roundtable Challenge

In August 2010, the Security and Exchange Commission announced a highly anticipated rule that would make it easier for investors to nominate new board members and get rid of existing ones. It allowed shareholders to have their board candidates included in the company's proxy materials--if those shareholders had owned at least 3 percent of the firm's shares for at least the prior three years. On October 4, the SEC unexpectedly and indefinitely postponed the implementation of that rule, pending the outcome of a lawsuit aimed at overturning it. This paper gauges the significance of the proxy access rule by measuring whether certain firms gained or lost market value on news of the delay. Research was conducted by Harvard Business School professors Bo Becker, Daniel Bergstresser, and Guhan Subramanian. Read More

Is Groupon Good for Retailers?

For retailers offering deals through the wildly popular online start-up Groupon, does the one-day publicity compensate for the deep hit to profit margins? A new working paper, "To Groupon or Not to Groupon," sets out to help small businesses decide. Harvard Business School professor Benjamin G. Edelman discusses the paper's findings. Closed for comment; 59 Comments posted.

Funding Unpredictability Around Stem-Cell Research Inflicts Heavy Cost on Scientific Progress

Funding unpredictability in human embryonic stem-cell research inflicts a heavy cost on all scientific progress, says professor William Sahlman. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

HBS Faculty on 2010’s Biggest Business Developments

Three Harvard Business School professors—former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George, economist and entrepreneurship expert William Sahlman, and innovation and strategy authority Rosabeth Moss Kanter—offer their thoughts on the most significant business and economic developments of 2010. Read More

Panama Canal: Troubled History, Astounding Turnaround

In their new book, The Big Ditch, Harvard Business School professor Noel Maurer and economic historian Carlos Yu discuss the complicated history of the Panama Canal and its remarkable turnaround after Panama took control in 1999. Q&A with Maurer, plus book excerpt. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Tax US Companies to Spur Spending

With traditional monetary and fiscal policy instruments to stimulate the economy seemingly exhausted, professor Mihir Desai offers a radical proposal: Use taxes to motivate corporations to spend a trillion dollars in cash. Open for comment; 9 Comments posted.

Regulating for Legitimacy: Consumer Credit Access in France and America

Why have American households consistently borrowed so heavily? And why have their counterparts in France borrowed so little? This comparative historical analysis by HBS professor Gunnar Trumbull traces the roots of these different attitudes. In the United States, early welfare reformers embraced credit "on a business-like basis" as an alternative to expansive welfare states of the sort that were emerging in Europe. In France, early social planners saw consumer credit as a drain on savings that threatened to crowd out industrial investment. Regulatory regimes that emerged in the postwar period in the two countries reflected these different interpretations of the economic and social role of credit in society. Read More

United Breaks Guitars

A new case coauthored by HBS marketing professor John Deighton and research associate Leora Kornfeld offers an object lesson in the dangers social media can bring for big, recognizable companies and their brands. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Open for comment; 26 Comments posted.

GM’s IPO: Back to the Future

General Motors reaches a milestone this week as it presents an initial public offering. HBS faculty discuss issues facing the automaker's revival. Read More

The Unbundling of Advertising Agency Services: An Economic Analysis

From 1982 through 2007, U.S. advertising agencies increasingly "unbundled," or disaggregated, services such as copywriting and media placement, moving away from the industry's traditional one-stop-shop model. At the same time, agencies began to charge clients based on a fee-for-service system, rather than collecting commissions on media placements. The researchers analyze this trend and consider how it may be interpreted by the economic theory of bundling. Read More

How to Fix a Broken Marketplace

Alvin E. Roth was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science this week for his Harvard Business School research into market design and matching theory. This article explores his research. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Why Do We Chase Stars?

Summing Up: Is it wise for companies to recruit "star" performers? Discussing the book "Chasing Stars", Jim Heskett's readers support the idea that talent is portable between employers and that women are better at it than men. (Next Forum opens December 2) Closed for comment; 46 Comments posted.

Will I Stay or Will I Go? How Gender and Race Affect Turnover at ‘Up-or-Out’ Organizations

Gender and racial inequalities continue to persist at "up-or-out" knowledge organizations, making it difficult for women and minorities to advance to senior levels, professor Kathleen McGinn says. Read More

Tesco’s Stumble into the US Market

UK retailer Tesco was very successful penetrating foreign markets—until it set its sights on the United States. Its series of mistakes and some bad luck are captured in a new case by Harvard Business School marketing professor John A. Quelch. Read More

Venture Capital’s Disconnect with Clean Tech

Clean-tech start-ups depend on patience and public policy to thrive—the Internet models for VC funding don't apply. That's why Harvard Business School professor Joseph Lassiter is making an unusual recommendation to his entrepreneurship students: Spend a few years serving time in a government job. Closed for comment; 18 Comments posted.

A Comparative-Advantage Approach to Government Debt Maturity

Can the government do anything to discourage short-term borrowing by the private sector? HBS Professor Robin Greenwood, Harvard University and Harvard Business School PhD candidate Samuel Hanson, and Harvard University Professor Jeremy C. Stein suggest the government could actively influence the corporate sector's borrowing decisions by shifting its own financing between T-bills and bonds. Read More

Reversing the Queue: Performance, Legitimacy, and Minority Hiring

While there has been a steady rise in the number of black executives in corporate America, the fact remains that white males have a persistent advantage in terms of access to managerial positions. This paper sets out to find out how a company's performance influences the hiring of minorities into management positions, and whether the presence of minorities in senior management positions affects the racial composition of the subordinate management team. Research, which focused on the corporate structure of the National Football League, was conducted by Harvard Business School doctoral candidate Andrew Hill and professor David Thomas. Read More

Employee Selection as a Control System

One of the most powerful tools that an organization has to achieve its goals is the ability to hire employees with complementary values and capabilities. Reviewing personnel and lending data from a financial services organization undergoing a major decentralization process, Dennis Campbell offers the first direct empirical evidence establishing a link between employee selection and better alignment with organizational performance goals. Read More

How Government can Discourage Private Sector Reliance on Short-Term Debt

Financial institutions have relied increasingly and excessively on short-term financing--putting the overall system at risk. Should government step in? Harvard researchers Robin Greenwood, Samuel Hanson, and Jeremy C. Stein propose a "comparative advantage approach" that allows government to actively influence the corporate sector's borrowing decisions. Read More

Will Transparency in CEO Compensation Have Unintended Consequences?

Summing Up: The Dodd-Frank legislation requiring companies to compare CEO compensation with rank-and-file pay will have little or no impact on executive compensation levels, say Jim Heskett's readers. (Online forum has closed; next forum opens November 4.) Closed for comment; 55 Comments posted.

Medium Term Business Cycles in Developing Countries

Business cycle fluctuations in developed economies tend to have very strong effects on developing countries, says a new study by Harvard Business School professor Diego Comin, Norman Loayza and Luis Serven of the World Bank, and Farooq Pasha of Boston College. The researchers have developed a quantitative model capable of explaining the amplitude and persistence of the effect that U.S. shocks have on Mexico's macroeconomic variables. The model is then used to provide an account of the drivers of business fluctuations in developing economies. Read More

The Consumer Appeal of Underdog Branding

Research by HBS professor Anat Keinan and colleagues explains how and why a "brand biography" about hard luck and fierce determination can boost the power of products in industries as diverse as food and beverages, technology, airlines, and automobiles. Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Mindful Leadership: When East Meets West

Harvard Business School professor William George is fusing Western understanding about leadership with Eastern wisdom about the mind to develop leaders who are self-aware and self-compassionate. An interview about his recent Mindful Leadership conference taught with a Buddhist meditation master. Closed for comment; 33 Comments posted.

Turning Employees Into Problem Solvers

To improve patient safety, hospitals hope their staff will use error-reporting systems. Question is, how can managers encourage employees to take the next step and ensure their constructive use? New research by Julia Adler-Milstein, Sara J. Singer, and HBS professor Michael W. Toffel. Read More

The Influence of Prior Industry Affiliation on Framing in Nascent Industries: The Evolution of Digital Cameras

Firms entering a new product market face tremendous ambiguity and competitive uncertainty, particularly when the new market is sparked by radical technological change. Potential customers have little or no experience with products, and during this period of turbulence, firms experiment with alternative product configurations, functions, and technologies. By studying the emergence of the consumer mass market for digital cameras, Carlson School of Management professor Mary J. Benner and HBS professor Mary Tripsas explore what factors influence a firm's initial introduction of product features during the nascent stage of a product market, and how the process of convergence on a standard set of features unfolds. In particular, they assess how a firm's prior industry affiliation influences its conceptualization of the product. Read More

How to Speed Up Energy Innovation

We know the grand challenge posed by shifting away from dirty energy sources. The good news, says Harvard Business School professor Rebecca Henderson, is that we have seen such change before in fields including agriculture and biotech, giving us a clearer pathway to what it will take. Read More

HBS Faculty Debate Financial Reform Legislation

Harvard Business School professors Robert Steven Kaplan, David A. Moss, Robert C. Pozen, Clayton S. Rose and Luis M. Viceira share their perspectives on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, slated to be signed this week by U.S. President Barack Obama. Read More

Renewable Energy: Winds at Our Back?

It certainly stirred up controversy in 2001 when an entrepreneur proposed erecting 130 wind turbines off the coast of Massachusetts' Cape Cod. After nine years of struggle over regulatory, environmental, safety, and social issues, the plan appears closer to becoming a reality. HBS professor Richard Vietor reflects on wind energy and innovations in the renewable energy industry. Read More

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

A recent Harvard Business School case by HBS professors Amy C. Edmondson and Anita Tucker explores how one hospital implemented its own version of health-care reform, taking overall performance levels from below average to the top 10 percent in the industry. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Stimulus Surprise: Companies Retrench When Government Spends

New research from Harvard Business School suggests that federal spending in states appears to cause local businesses to cut back rather than grow. A conversation with Joshua Coval. Read More

Just Say No to Wall Street: Putting A Stop to the Earnings Game

Over the last decade, companies have struggled to meet analysts' expectations. Analysts have challenged the companies they covered to reach for unprecedented earnings growth, and executives have often acquiesced to analysts' increasingly unrealistic projections, adopting them as a basis for setting goals for their organizations. As Monitor Group cofounder Joseph Fuller and HBS professor emeritus Michael C. Jensen write, improving future relations between Main Street and Wall Street and putting an end to the destructive "earnings game" between analysts and executives will require a new approach to disclosure based on a few simple rules of engagement. (This article originally appeared in the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance in the Winter 2002 issue.) Read More

Environmental Federalism in the European Union and the United States

Under what circumstances will individual states take the lead in passing the most stringent environmental regulations, and when will the federal government take the lead? When a state takes a leadership role, will other states follow? HBS professor Michael Toffel and coauthors describe the development of environmental regulations in the U.S. and EU that address automobile emissions, packaging waste, and global climate change. They use these three topics to illustrate different patterns of environmental policymaking, describe the changing dynamics between state and centralized regulation in the United States and the EU. 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

The Economic Crisis and Medical Care Usage

The global economic crisis has taken a historic toll on national economies and household finances around the world. What is the impact of such large shocks on individuals and their behavior, especially on their willingness to seek routine medical care? In this research, Annamaria Lusardi of Dartmouth College, Daniel Schneider of Princeton University, and Peter Tufano of Harvard Business School find strong evidence that the economic crisis—manifested in job and wealth losses—has led to large reductions in the use of routine medical care. Specifically, more than a quarter of Americans reported reducing their use of such care, as did between 5 and 12 percent of Canadian, French, German, and British respondents. Read More

Location Strategies for Agglomeration Economies

Locations thick with similar economic activity expose firms to pools of skilled labor, specialized suppliers, and potential inter-firm knowledge spillovers that can provide firms with opportunities for competitive advantage. While certainly attractive, the lure of these agglomeration economies varies. Some firms should be wary of aiding their competitors by co-locating with them, for example, because each "agglomeration economy" differs in how readily competitors can leverage contributions made by others. HBS professor Juan Alcácer and Wilbur Chung of the University of Maryland develop a framework to better understand how firms respond to agglomeration economies. Read More

Why Are Fewer and Fewer U.S. Employees Satisfied With Their Jobs?

This month's column yielded many hypotheses to explain why U.S. employees' job satisfaction is at a 23-year low, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Readers also offered antidotes to job malaise. (Online forum now closed. New forum begins May 5.) Closed for comment; 95 Comments posted.

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

Manager Visibility No Guarantee of Fixing Problems

Managers who merely put in time "walking the floor" are not doing enough when it comes to problem solving; in fact, it can make employees feel worse about their situation, says HBS professor Anita Tucker. Read More

Investing in Improvement: Strategy and Resource Allocation in Public School Districts

The operating environments of public school districts are largely void of the market forces that reward a company's success with more capital and exert pressure on it to eventually abandon unproductive activities. Stacey Childress describes the strategic resource decisions in 3 of the 20 public school districts that she and colleagues have studied through the Public Education Leadership Project at Harvard. The stories in San Francisco, New York City, and Maryland's Montgomery County occurred largely before the districts faced dramatic decreases in revenues, though they show the superintendents facing budget concerns near the end of the narratives. Even so, the situations share common principles that superintendents and their leadership teams can use to make differentiated resource decisions—reducing spending in some areas and increasing it in others with a clear rationale for why these decisions will produce results for students. Read More

Looking Behind Google’s Stand in China

Google's threat to pull out of China is either a blow for Internet freedom or cover for a failed business strategy, depending on with whom you talk. Professor John A. Quelch looks behind the headlines in a new case. Read More

A Macroeconomic View of the Current Economy

Concerned or confused by the economic environment? Take some lessons from history and concepts from macroeconomics to get a better understanding of how the economy works. A Q&A with HBS professor David A. Moss, author of A Concise Guide to Macroeconomics: What Managers, Executives, and Students Need to Know. Read More

Private Equity and Industry Performance

In response to the global financial crisis that began in 2007, governments worldwide are rethinking their approach to regulating financial institutions. Among the financial institutions that have fallen under the gaze of regulators have been private equity (PE) funds. There are many open questions regarding the economic impact of PE funds, many of which cannot be definitively answered until the aftermath of the buyout boom of the mid-2000s can be fully assessed. HBS professor Josh Lerner and coauthors address one of these open questions, by examining the impact of PE investments across 20 industries in 26 major nations between 1991 and 2007. In particular, they look at the relationship between the presence of PE investments and the growth rates of productivity, employment, and capital formation. 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

Good Banks, Bad Banks, and Government’s Role as Fixer

Government action to stem collapse of the U.S. financial system was certainly warranted, agrees professor Robert Pozen. But results include less competition and increased risk to taxpayers. A Q&A from the HBS Alumni Bulletin and book excerpt from Too Big to Save? Read More

The End of Chimerica

For the better part of the past decade, the world economy has been dominated by a unique geoeconomic constellation that the authors call "Chimerica": a world economic order that combined Chinese export-led development with U.S. overconsumption on the basis of a financial marriage between the world's sole superpower and its most likely future rival. For China, the key attraction of the relationship was its potential to propel the Chinese economy forward by means of export-led growth. For the United States, Chimerica meant being able to consume more, save less, and still maintain low interest rates and a stable rate of investment. Yet, like many another marriage between a saver and a spender, Chimerica was not destined to last. In this paper, economic historians Niall Ferguson of HBS and Moritz Schularick of Freie Universität Berlin consider the problem of global imbalances and try to set events in a longer-term perspective. Read More

The Times Captures History of American Business

"We are not the first to face what seem like overwhelming challenges," says HBS professor and business historian Nancy F. Koehn. A new volume edited and narrated by Koehn, The Story of American Business: From the Pages of The New York Times, presents more than a hundred timely articles from the 1850s to today. Q&A and book excerpt. Read More

Come Fly with Me: A History of Airline Leadership

A new book looks at the history of the U.S. aviation industry through the eyes of its entrepreneurs, managers, and leaders—men like Pan Am's Juan Trippe and Southwest Airlines' Herb Kelleher—each emerging at different stages of the industry's evolution from start-up to rebirth. Who comes next? An interview with coauthor Anthony J. Mayo. Read More

Medium Term Business Cycles in Developing Countries

At the end of 2007, the U.S. economy entered a recession that, by the first quarter of 2009, had reduced U.S. GDP by 2.2 percent. The Mexican economy was showing no sign of distress until the U.S. recession began. Despite that, Mexican GDP declined by 7.8 percent during the same period. This and similar episodes from other developing countries motivate several questions: Why do shocks to developed economies affect developing countries to such an extent? Does the response of developing economies to shocks that originate in their developed neighbors account for the larger volatility of developing economies? More broadly, what ingredients do macroeconomic models need to incorporate in order to account for the unique features of economic fluctuations in developing economies? To investigate these questions, the researchers developed a two-country asymmetric model to study the business cycle in developing countries. The mechanisms introduced in the model should provide an accurate account of business cycles in other developing countries. Read More

Shareholders Need a Say on Pay

"Say on pay" legislation now under debate Washington D.C. can be a useful tool for shareholders to strengthen the link between CEO pay and performance when it comes to golden parachutes, says Harvard Business School professor Fabrizio Ferri. Here's a look at how the collective involvement of multiple stakeholders could shape the future of executive compensation. Read More

Stock Price Fragility

Does the composition of ownership of a financial asset influence future returns and risk? Previous economic research has documented significant price effects of investor demand in numerous settings, including retail demand for options, investor demand for bonds, and mutual funds' flow-driven demand for stocks. This paper provides a methodology to identify assets that are vulnerable to such investor demand shocks. The central idea is that assets are risky if the current owners of the asset face correlated liquidity shocks—i.e., they buy and sell at the same time. We call assets with a high concentration of owners who trade in the same direction "fragile." A related concept is "co-fragility." Two assets are "co-fragile" if their owners have correlated trading needs, even if the holdings of these owners do not directly overlap. The authors build measures of fragility for U.S. stocks between 1990 and 2007. Consistent with their predictions, more fragile stocks are more volatile, and two co-fragile stocks exhibit high correlations among their stock returns. Read More

Systemic Risk and the Refinancing Ratchet Effect

During periods of rising house prices, falling interest rates, and increasingly competitive and efficient refinancing markets, cash-out refinancing is like a ratchet, incrementally increasing homeowner debt as real-estate values appreciate without the ability to symmetrically decrease debt by increments as real-estate values decline. This paper suggests that systemic risk in the housing and mortgage markets can arise quite naturally from the confluence of these three apparently salutary economic trends. Using a numerical simulation of the U.S. mortgage market, the researchers show that the ratchet effect is capable of generating the magnitude of losses suffered by mortgage lenders during the financial crisis of 2007-2008. These observations have important implications for risk management practices and regulatory reform. Read More

Breakthrough Inventions and Migrating Clusters of Innovation

In just a short period of time the spatial location of invention can shift substantially. The San Francisco Bay Area grew from 5 percent of U.S. domestic patents in 1975-1984 to over 12 percent in 1995-2004, for example, while the share for New York City declined from 12 percent to 7 percent. Smaller cities like Austin, Texas, and Boise, Idaho, seem to have become clusters of innovation overnight. Despite the prevalence of these movements, we know very little about what drives spatial adjustments in U.S. invention, the speed at which these reallocations occur, and their economic consequences. In this paper, HBS professor William R. Kerr investigates whether breakthrough inventions draw subsequent research efforts for a technology to a local area. Evidence strongly supports the conclusion that centers of breakthrough innovations experience subsequent growth in innovation relative to their peer locations. Read More

Understanding Users of Social Networks

Many business leaders are mystified about how to reach potential customers on social networks such as Facebook. Professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski provides a fresh look into the interpersonal dynamics of these sites and offers guidance for approaching these tantalizing markets. Read More

Banking Deregulations, Financing Constraints and Firm Entry Size

How do financing constraints on new start-ups affect the initial size of these new firms? Since bank debt comprises the majority of U.S. firm borrowings, new ventures are especially sensitive to local bank conditions due to their limited options for external finance. Liberalization in the banking sector can thus have important effects on entrepreneurship in product markets. As HBS professors William Kerr and Ramana Nanda explain, the 1970s through the mid-1990s was a period of significant liberalization in the ability of banks to establish branches and to expand across state borders, either through new branches or through acquisitions. Using a database of annual employment data for every U.S. establishment from 1976 onward, Kerr and Nanda examine how U.S. branch banking deregulations impacted the entry size of new start-ups in the non-financial sector. This paper is closely related to their prior work examining how the deregulations impacted the rates of startup entry and exit in the non-financial sector. Read More

Perspectives from the Boardroom--2009

Chief executives and regulators have been blamed for the current economic crisis, but in some ways what is surprising is that boards have generally escaped notice. Clearly the experience of corporate boards in the downturn has not been explored. To understand what transpired in the boardrooms of complex companies, and to offer a prescription to improve board effectiveness, eight senior faculty members of the HBS Corporate Governance Initiative talked with 45 prominent directors about what has happened to their companies and why. These directors, who serve on the boards of financial institutions and other complex companies, were asked two broad questions: How well did their boards function before the recession? And, what do they believe should be improved as they look to the future?

This white paper [PDF] first explains how the interviewees characterize the strengths of their boards, then examines in depth six areas in which they identified shortcomings or needs for improvement: 1) clarifying the board's role; 2) acquiring better information and deeper knowledge of the company; 3) maintaining a sound relationship with management; 4) providing oversight of company strategy; 5) assuring management development and succession; 6) improving risk management. Finally, the paper discusses two issues that appeared not to trouble the interviewees but that the public feels are important: executive compensation and the relationship between the board and shareholders. This paper was written by Jay Lorsch with the assistance of Joseph Bower, Clayton Rose, and Suraj Srinivasan. The interviews were conducted by Joseph Bower, Srikant Datar, Raymond Gilmartin, Stephen Kaufman, Rakesh Khurana, Jay Lorsch, and Clayton Rose. Read More

Information Risk and Fair Value: An Examination of Equity Betas and Bid-Ask Spreads

What is the role of fair values in the current economic crisis? The interplay between information risk—that is, uncertainty regarding valuation parameters for an underlying asset—and the reporting of financial instruments at fair value has been a subject of high-level policy debate. Finance theory suggests that information risk is reflected in firms' equity betas and the information asymmetry component of bid-ask spreads. HBS professor Edward Riedl and doctoral candidate George Serafeim test predictions for a sample of large U.S. banks, exploiting recent mandatory disclosures of financial instruments designated as fair value level 1, 2, and 3, which indicate progressively more illiquid and opaque financial instruments. Overall, banks with higher exposures to level 3 financial assets have both higher equity betas and higher bid-ask spreads. Both results are consistent with higher levels of information risk, and thus cost of capital, for these firms. Read More

Where Cash for Clunkers Ran Off the Road

Marketing professor John Quelch says the federal government's "Cash for Clunkers" program was poorly run and failed to meet its main objectives, proving again the government has no business trying to shape consumer behavior. Join the discussion. Read More

Quantifying the Economic Impact of the Internet

Businesses around the advertising-supported Internet have incredible multiplier effects throughout the economy and society. Professor John Quelch starts to put some numbers on the impact. Read More

Why Can’t Americans Get Health Care Right?

Change is desperately needed, agreed readers of Professor Jim Heskett's online forum. But how to make that change remains in doubt. What can Americans learn from solutions implemented by other countries? (Forum now closed; next forum begins September 4.) Closed for comment; 103 Comments posted.

Buy Local? The Geography of Successful and Unsuccessful Venture Capital Expansion

From Silicon Valley to Herzliya, Israel, venture capital firms are concentrated in very few locations. More than half of the 1,000 venture capital offices listed in Pratt's Guide to Private Equity and Venture Capital Sources are located in just three metropolitan areas: San Francisco, Boston, and New York. More than 49 percent of the U.S.-based companies financed by venture capital firms are located in these three cities. This paper examines the location decisions of venture capital firms and the impact that venture capital firm geography has on investments and outcomes. Findings are informative both to researchers in economic geography and to policymakers who seek to attract venture capital. Read More

Business Summit: Real Estate

Experts discuss the global real estate crisis, the future of securitization, and predictions for the future of the U.S. real estate market. Read More

Informed and Interconnected: A Manifesto for Smarter Cities

To make our cities and communities smarter, we must become a little smarter ourselves, seeking information and an agenda to forge connections enabling collaboration, according to HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter and IBM's Stanley S. Litow. Their vision is that someday soon, leaders will combine technological capabilities and social innovation to help produce a smarter world. That world will be seen on the ground in smarter cities composed of smarter communities that support the well-being of all citizens. This paper outlines eight challenges facing cities and the communities they encompass, based on experience in the United States. Kanter and Litow provide examples of practices and programs led by both government and nonprofit organizations, many technology-enabled, that point the way to solutions, and they conclude with a call for leaders to embrace an agenda for change. Read More

Diagnosing the Public Health Care Alternative

With deep experience in health insurance reform, HBS faculty describe how improved competition in insurance plans could improve value for patients. Professors Regina E. Herzlinger, Robert Huckman, and Michael E. Porter take the pulse of a debate. Read More

Business Summit: The Role of Social Entrepreneurship in Transforming American Public Education

Amid formidable barriers, a set of passionate social entrepreneurs are disrupting the status quo in education with innovative and effective approaches that are producing measurable results. The challenge now is to build support so these solutions can be applied elsewhere. Read More

“Too Big To Fail”: Reining In Large Financial Firms

Four little words have cost U.S. taxpayers dearly in government bailouts of once-mighty Wall Street firms. Congress can put an end to such costly rescues, says HBS professor David A. Moss, and the Federal Reserve could be a super regulator, adds senior lecturer Robert C. Pozen. But will Congress enact the regulatory cure that is required? From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Business Summit: The Evolution of Agribusiness

Agribusiness has come to be seen not just as economically important, but as a critical part of society. The future for this massive industry will be both exciting and complex. Read More

Elections and Discretionary Accruals: Evidence from 2004

How does the political process affect accounting? During the 2004 U.S. congressional elections, outsourcing of American jobs was a major campaign issue. Because outsourcing is assumed to be net profitable, the use of income-decreasing accruals would enable donor firms to deflect public scrutiny of both the firm and the political candidate over outsourcing. HBS professor Karthik Ramanna and MIT Sloan School professor Sugata Roychowdhury examine the accrual choices made by outsourcing firms with links to U.S. congressional candidates during the 2004 elections, and specifically test for income-decreasing discretionary accruals. Evidence is consistent with firms using earnings management to reduce both direct political costs and the costs associated with causing embarrassment to affiliated political candidates. Read More

GM: What Went Wrong and What’s Next

For decades, General Motors reigned as the king of automakers. What went wrong? We asked HBS faculty to reflect on the wrong turns and missed opportunities of the former industry leader, and to suggest ideas for recovery. Read More

What Does Slower Economic Growth Really Mean?

Respondents to this month's column by HBS professor Jim Heskett came close to general agreement on the proposition that economic growth is not measured properly by GDP, calling for new indicators. Jim sums up. (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins July 6.) Closed for comment; 44 Comments posted.

Earnings Quality and Ownership Structure: The Role of Private Equity Sponsors

Although 99 percent of the companies operating in the United States are private, according to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, their accounting practices remain largely unknown due mainly to the lack of publicly available financial statements. In this study, HBS professor Sharon P. Katz used a unique database of firms with privately held equity and publicly held debt to examine how two different ownership structures-private equity sponsorship and non-private equity sponsorship-affect firms' financial reporting practices, financial performance, and stock returns in the years preceding and following the initial public offering (IPO). 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

Clay Christensen on Disrupting Health Care

In The Innovator's Prescription, professor Clayton Christensen and his coauthors target disruptive innovations that will make health care both more affordable and more effective in the future. Q&A with Christensen. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Cheers to the American Consumer

The willingness by American consumers to adopt new products, processes, and services more rapidly than those in other countries may be the most important enabler of entrepreneurship and innovation in America, says marketing professor John Quelch. Read More

The Flattening Firm and Product Market Competition: The Effect of Trade Liberalization

Corporate hierarchies are becoming flatter: Spans of control have broadened, and the number of levels within firms has declined. But why? Maria Guadalupe of Columbia University and HBS professor Julie M. Wulf investigate how increased competition in product markets—and, in particular, product market competition resulting from trade liberalization—may be fundamentally altering how decisions are being made. Guadalupe and Wulf also shed light on the possible reasons behind certain organizational choices and on the importance of communication and decision-making processes inside firms. Read More

The Contingent Nature of Public Policy and Growth Strategies in the Early Twentieth-Century U.S. Banking Industry

The effects of public policy on organizations and economic activities have been widely observed. This line of research has contributed to organizational theory by showing the importance of state action for constructing economic systems, as well as firm structures and strategies. But there are a number of reasons why this perspective may in fact overemphasize the importance of public policy. This working paper, forthcoming as an article in the Academy of Management Journal, more fully investigates the contingent nature of the effects of policy on organizations, with the orienting premise that policy is just one of the external conditions that organizations face, and policy effects are more or less powerful to the extent that they are interactive with other elements of the environment. Specifically, the authors focus on how policy that regulated bank branching and other environmental factors affected—independently as well as interactively—the emergence and growth of large-scale firms in U.S. commercial banking from 1896 to 1978. Read More

Professional Networks in China and America

While American managers prefer to separate work and personal relationships, Chinese counterparts are much more likely to intermingle the two. One result: Doing business in China takes lots of time, says HBS professor Roy Y.J. Chua. Read More

Securing Jobs or the New Protectionism? Taxing the Overseas Activities of Multinational Firms

Popular imagination often links two significant economic developments: the rapid escalation of the foreign activities of American multinational firms over the last 15 years, and rising levels of economic insecurity, particularly among workers in certain sectors. The presumed linkages between these phenomena have led many to call for a reconsideration of the tax treatment of foreign investment. Increasing the tax burden on outbound investment by American multinational firms, it is claimed, offers the promise of alleviating domestic employment losses and insecurity while also raising considerable revenue. HBS professor Mihir A. Desai looks beneath the trends, examining the economic determinants of outbound investment decisions and synthesizing what is known about the relationship between domestic and foreign activities. Read More

Credit is Not the Bogey

"As we attempt to jump-start the economy of 2009, we should recognize both the risks and the advantages inherent in a robust credit industry," write HBS lecturer Nicolas P. Retsinas and Eric S. Belsky. The director and executive director, respectively, of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, they offer a prescription for making credit neither too easy nor too hard to get. Read More

Turbulent Firms, Turbulent Wages?

Has more creative destruction among firms raised wage volatility in the United States? Most of the related research on the remarkable and well-documented widening of wage inequality in the U.S. over the past three decades focuses on permanent components of workers' earnings, particularly the rising returns to education and ability associated with technological change, trade, and de-unionization. Less is known, however, about the contribution of larger transitory fluctuations. HBS professor Comin and colleagues explore whether workers' average pay is more volatile in firms that have experienced higher turbulence in sales. Findings have important implications for theories of labor markets and optimal wage compensation schemes. Read More

The Supply Side of Innovation: H-1B Visa Reforms and US Ethnic Invention

The H-1B visa program governs most admissions of temporary immigrants into the U.S. for employment in patenting-related fields. This program has become a point of significant controversy in the public debate over immigration, with proponents and detractors at odds over how important H-1B admission levels are for U.S. technology advancement and whether native U.S. workers are being displaced by immigrants. In this study, Kerr and Lincoln quantify the impact of changes in H-1B admission levels on the pace and character of U.S. invention over the 1995-2006 period. Read More

Concentration Levels in the U.S. Advertising and Marketing Services Industry: Myth vs. Reality

How concentrated is the U.S. advertising and marketing services industry? Over the past several decades, the effects of deregulation, globalization, and technological innovation have reshaped the advertising and marketing services industry as they worked their way through the economy. Estimates from the existing literature are typically based on data from trade sources and present a picture that emphasizes rising concentration over time and domination by a handful of holding companies. These estimates are suspect as they suffer from a number of conceptual and measurement limitations. This paper analyzes changes in concentration levels in the U.S. advertising and marketing services industry, using data that have been largely ignored in past discussions of the economic organization of the industry. Read More

Local Industrial Conditions and Entrepreneurship: How Much of the Spatial Distribution Can We Explain?

Some places, like Silicon Valley, seem almost magically entrepreneurial with a new start-up on every street corner. Other areas, like declining cities of the Rust Belt, appear equally starved of whatever local attributes make entrepreneurship more likely. Many academics, policymakers, and business leaders stress the importance of local conditions for explaining spatial differences in entrepreneurship and economic development. This paper uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau to characterize these entry relationships more precisely within the manufacturing sector. Read More

How Many U.S. Jobs Are ‘Offshorable’?

Some 900 Harvard Business School students were asked to recreate a study assessing the potential "offshorability" of more than 800 occupations in the United States. Their findings: It might be a larger number than we thought. Read More

Applicant and Examiner Citations in U.S. Patents: An Overview and Analysis

The ready availability of patent citation data has been a tremendous boon to applied research on knowledge and innovation. The role of examiners in the generation of patent citations has been thought to potentially complicate these analyses, but has been difficult to study. Taking advantage of a change in the way patent citation data has been reported starting in 2001, this paper summarizes basic facts on examiner citations, and provides a descriptive analysis of factors associated with citations in a patent. Read More

The Marketing of a President

Barack Obama's run for the White House was a model of marketing excellence, argues Professor John Quelch. Here's why it worked so well. Read More

Selling Out The American Dream

The American Dream has been transformed from an embodiment of the country's core values into a crass appeal to materialism and easy gratification. One result: the current economic crisis, says professor John Quelch. The federal government isn't helping. 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

Economics of the Ethanol Business

What happens when a group of Missouri corn farmers gets into the energy business? What appears to be a very lucrative decision quickly turns out to be much more risky. Professor Forest Reinhardt leads a case discussion on what the protagonists should do next. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Economic Impacts of Immigration: A Survey

International migration is a mighty force globally. According to United Nations statistics, over 175 million people, accounting for 3 percent of the world's population, live permanently outside their countries of birth. This paper surveys the economic impacts of immigration for host countries, mostly emphasizing the recent experiences of Northern Europe and Scandinavia. The paper documents how migrant flows to some countries within this region are now of similar magnitude to the United States. The authors discuss the impact of immigration on national labor markets in terms of both immigrant assimilation and possible native displacement. Their survey concludes with the impact of immigration on the public finances of host countries, which is of particular policy importance within Europe today given ageing populations and fiscal imbalances. Read More

Should You Bring Advertising Expertise In-House?

Advertising agencies have traditionally offered services to firms that couldn't afford or didn't find value in having that expertise in-house. But a recent study indicates more firms than previously thought are developing internal advertising units. Q&A with HBS professor emeritus Alvin J. Silk. Read More

Workout vs. Bailout: Should Government Take Advantage of the Buffett Effect?

The depth of the global financial crisis is becoming clearer day by day, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. Respondents to this month's column offered creative solutions, and by and large resisted the temptation to venture into the realm of ideology. (Online forum now closed.) Closed for comment; 50 Comments posted.

Financial Crisis Caution Urged by Faculty Panel

Dean Jay O. Light and a group of Harvard Business School faculty explored the origins and possible outcomes of the U.S. financial crisis at a recent "Turmoil on the Street" panel. Read More

The Internalization of Advertising Services: An Inter-Industry Analysis

When are advertisers more likely to establish and maintain their own in-house agencies? Despite occasional indications to the contrary, such self-sufficiency has long been viewed by industry observers and scholars as more the exception than the rule in the U.S. advertising and marketing services business. With the background that vertical integration in this industry is a neglected domain of research, analysis by HBS professor emeritus Alvin J. Silk and colleagues suggests that while most large U.S. advertisers rely primarily on independent agencies for advertising services, many other advertisers operate in-house advertising units. Read More

The Coming Transformation of Social Enterprise

A new generation of business leaders and philanthropists is experimenting with hybrid forms of social enterprises while demanding more transparency and accountability from the organizations they are funding. Harvard Business School professor Kash Rangan discusses what he sees as a sector on the brink of transformation. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Creating Leaders for Science-Based Businesses

The unique challenges of managing and leading science-based businesses—certain to be a driver of this century's new economy—demand new management paradigms. At Harvard Business School, the opportunities start just across the street. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

How Disruptive Innovation Changes Education

HBS professor Clayton M. Christensen, who developed the theory of disruptive innovation, joins colleagues Michael B. Horn and Curtis W. Johnson to advocate for ways in which ideas around innovation can spur much-needed improvements in public education. A Q&A with the authors of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. Read More

The Agglomeration of U.S. Ethnic Inventors

The higher concentration of immigrants in certain cities and occupations has long been noted. There has been very little theoretical or empirical work to date, however, on the particular agglomeration of U.S. immigrant scientists and engineers. This scarcity is disappointing given the scale of these ethnic contributions and the importance of innovation to regional economic growth. William R. Kerr's study contributes to our empirical understanding of agglomeration and innovation by documenting patterns in the city-level agglomeration of ethnic inventors (e.g., Chinese, Indian) within the United States from 1975 through 2007. It is hoped that the empirical platform developed in this study provides a foothold for furthering such analyses. Read More

Google-Yahoo Ad Deal is Bad for Online Advertising

A proposed advertising deal between Internet competitors Google and Yahoo would reduce competitiveness in the Internet advertising market, likely resulting in higher advertising rates, says Harvard Business School professor Benjamin G. Edelman. Read More

Does Market Capitalism Have a Future?

Does capitalism have a future? That intriguing topic was the subject of an HBS faculty colloquium led by professor Joe Bower, with fellow faculty members Dutch Leonard, David Moss, and Lynn Pain. Read More

Why the U.S. Should Encourage FDI

American financial executives are courting foreign direct investors, particularly sovereign wealth funds, for new investments. Should these investments draw increased scrutiny from U.S. regulators? Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai argues that most of these deals work out in America's best financial interest. Read More

A Replication Study of Alan Blinder’s “How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?”

The movement of business activity from developed economies to developing economies—commonly called offshoring—has become the focus of heated debates. Behind these debates lies a pivotal question of scale: How much business activity and how many jobs are at stake? Official statistics are nearly silent, and private-sector researchers vary widely in their estimates of the number of U.S. jobs that have moved offshore, will move offshore, or could move offshore. In an effort to address this gap in prior literature, Princeton economist Alan Blinder released an innovative working paper in 2007 in which he personally reviewed more than 800 occupations in the United States, assessed the "offshorability" of each, and used the evaluations to estimate the total number of U.S. jobs that might be offshorable. Here, HBS research associate Troy Smith and Professor Jan W. Rivkin describe an online exercise that allowed 152 teams of HBS MBA students, collectively, to recreate Blinder's study and to develop insights about the future of offshoring. Read More

HBS Cases: Reforming New Orleans Schools After Katrina

The New Orleans public school system, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is now getting a boost from charter schools—today about half of the city's 80 schools are charter schools, says HBS lecturer and senior researcher Stacey M. Childress. She explains what New Orleans represents for entrepreneurial opportunities in U.S. public education. Read More

Starbucks’ Lessons for Premium Brands

After building a great franchise offering a unique customer experience, Starbucks diluted its brand when it overexpanded and offered too many new products. Harvard Business School professor John Quelch thinks the trouble began when the company went public. Read More

Innovation Corrupted: How Managers Can Avoid Another Enron

The train wreck that was Enron provides key insights for improving corporate governance and financial incentives as well as organizational processes that strengthen ethical discipline, says HBS professor emeritus Malcolm S. Salter. His new book, Innovation Corrupted: The Origins and Legacy of Enron's Collapse, is a deep reflection on the present and future of business. Read More

Bank Structure and the Terms of Lending to Small Businesses

Access to "soft information" and the greater sensitivity of decentralized banks to the local institutional environment can have both positive and negative consequences for small firms. Hence there may be a dark side to decentralized bank lending in certain instances. This paper argues that the same ability of decentralized banks to act on soft information also makes them more responsive to the local environment when setting terms of their loans. While this can be beneficial for small businesses in competitive markets, it also implies that the organizational structure of decentralized banks might allow them to better exploit their market power in concentrated banking markets by restricting credit or charging higher interest rates from small businesses. Read More

Accounting Information as Political Currency

The study of accounting and the political process has long been viewed through the political cost hypothesis, the basic premise of which is that firms manage earnings in order to extract first-order benefits (or avoid first-order costs) from regulators. This paper develops and tests a distinct, yet likely, complementary hypothesis: Firms manage reported earnings in order to supply first-order benefits to regulators. Focusing on Democratic and Republican candidates in congressional races in 2004, Ramanna and Roychowdhury test whether the management of accounting information is in some circumstances akin to a political contribution from firms to politicians: in other words, whether accounting information can be used as political currency. The authors predict and find that identified corporate donors to candidates in closely watched races in 2004 managed information related to outsourcing, a hot-button issue in those races. Read More

Evaluating the Impact of SA 8000 Certification

The Social Accountability 8000 Standard (SA 8000), along with other types of certification standards and corporate codes of conduct, represents a new form of voluntary "private-governance" of working conditions in the private sector, initiated and implemented by companies, labor unions, and nongovernmental activist groups cooperating together. There is an ongoing debate about whether this type of governance represents real and substantial progress or mere symbolism. This paper reviews prior evaluations of private codes of conduct governing workplace conditions, including Ethical Trading Initiative's Base Code, Nike's Code of Conduct, and Fair Trade certification. The authors then discuss several best practices that should be employed in future evaluations of such codes of conduct. Read More

Coming Clean and Cleaning Up: Is Voluntary Disclosure a Signal of Effective Self-Policing?

This paper demonstrates some of the benefits and limitations of industry self-policing programs. Many self-regulation programs are operated exclusively by the private sector, often in the hope of garnering goodwill with consumers or staving off more stringent government regulation. Less well known are voluntary self-regulation programs operated by government regulators seeking innovative approaches to further regulatory objectives and to stretch shrinking agency budgets. Little is known about the effects of these programs, or how they might contribute to the overall effectiveness of a regulatory regime. Michael Toffel and Jodi Short seek to determine whether the self-policing required under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Audit Policy affects the behavior of regulators and participating facilities and the relationship between them. Specifically, the researchers examine whether self-policing is associated with improved environmental performance at these facilities and whether regulators reduce their scrutiny over self-policing facilities. Read More

Testing Strategy with Multiple Performance Measures Evidence from a Balanced Scorecard at Store24

To what extent do balanced scorecards provide useful information for testing and validating an organization's strategy? Numerous case studies of balanced scorecard implementations document their use in translating organizational strategies to objectives and measures, communicating strategic objectives to employees, evaluating the performance of business units, and aligning the incentives of employees across business units and functions. There has been comparatively little research, however, on the potential learning and feedback role of balanced scorecards. Analyzing balanced scorecard data from Store24—a privately held convenience store retailer in New England—during the implementation of an innovative but ultimately unsuccessful strategy, this study investigates whether, when, and how information about problems with the firm's strategy was captured in the multiple performance measures of its balanced scorecard. Read More

Going Negative in Political Advertising

Companies rarely run negative ads against competitors, but political candidates often do. Why the difference? It's a byproduct of our political system's winner-take-all approach, says professor John Quelch. Read More

Connecting School Ties and Stock Recommendations

School connections are an important yet underexplored way in which private information is revealed in prices in financial markets. As HBS professor Lauren H. Cohen and colleagues discovered, school ties between equity analysts and top management of public companies led analysts to earn returns of up to 5.4 percent on their stock recommendations. Cohen explains more in our Q&A. Read More

Accounting Information as Political Currency

Corporate donors that gave at least $10,000 to closely watched races in the U.S. congressional elections of 2004 were more likely to understate their earnings, say Harvard Business School's Karthik Ramanna and MIT colleague Sugata Roychowdhury. Such "downward earnings management" may have functioned as a political contribution. In this Q&A, Ramanna explains how accounting and politics influence each other. Read More

Negotiating with Wal-Mart

What happens when you encounter a company with a great deal of power, like Wal-Mart, that is also the ultimate non-negotiable partner? A series of Harvard Business School cases by James Sebenius and Ellen Knebel explore successful deal-making strategies. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Bank Accounting Standards in Mexico: A Layman’s Guide to Changes 10 Years after the 1995 Bank Crisis

Mexico was the first emerging market compelled to reformulate the financial reporting of its banks as a result of a financial crisis. In the last decade, Mexico has undergone a process of internationalization of its banking industry. Today, more than 80 percent of the equity of Mexican banks belongs to internationally active bank corporations. This internationalization demands more transparent regulation, including standardized accounting rules and better disclosure of information. The case of Mexico can therefore serve as an example of the relevance of these changes, as well as of their scope and limitations. This paper attempts to clarify the nature and structure of the new accounting standards, and explains how they have affected financial statements and their interpretation. Read More

The Gap in the U.S. Treasury Recommendations

U.S. Treasury recommendations for strengthening the regulation of the financial system are a good start but fall short, says Harvard Business School professor emeritus Dwight B. Crane. Here's his suggestion for bringing regulation into the 21st century. Read More

Where Does it Go? Spending by the Financially Constrained

Despite widespread interest by academics, businesspeople, and policymakers, much is unknown about the financial behavior of low-income individuals, particularly those who rarely or ever use banks. Do credit constrained consumers spend money more quickly than less constrained consumers? Do they spend the money in different manners (card-based merchant transactions versus cash ATM withdrawals)? Do credit constrained consumers have different spending patterns than the less constrained—do they buy different goods and services? This working paper provides preliminary data on spending patterns by over 1.5 million refund recipients, all of whom used either a loan or a settlement product to receive refund money faster than the IRS processes would have otherwise allowed. The results should inform the view of policymakers, financial service professionals, scholars, and consumer advocates. Read More

The Matchmaker of the Modern Economy

In the wake of World War II, Georges Doriot helped found the world's first public venture capital firm, American Research and Development. Doriot (1899–1987) was also a professor at Harvard Business School for 40 years. Our book excerpt from Creative Capital: Georges Doriot and the Birth of Venture Capital (HBS Press) describes how ARD first came to "marry" investors and innovators. Read More

The Debate over Taxing Foreign Profits

Corporate tax policy has suddenly become a hot topic in the U.S., including the issue of whether current tax laws encourage American firms to outsource jobs to other countries. Harvard Business School professor Mihir Desai makes a case for exempting foreign profit from taxes if proper safeguards are put in place. Read More

Four Companies that Conquered America

Any self-respecting global company needs to compete in the United States, but many have floundered on its shores. Professor John Quelch spotlights the strategies of four that succeeded: Royal Bank of Scotland, IKEA, ING, and Dyson. Read More

JetBlue’s Valentine’s Day Crisis

It was the Valentine's Day from hell for JetBlue employees and more than 130,000 customers. Under bad weather, JetBlue fliers were trapped on the runway at JFK for hours, many ultimately delayed by days. How did the airline make it right with customers and learn from its mistakes? A discussion with Harvard Business School professor Robert S. Huckman. Read More

The Lessons of Business History: A Handbook

Compiling a handbook on the current thinking in any area of study seems daunting enough, but the just-published Oxford Handbook of Business History carries an even larger mission: bring the lessons of business history to current research in other disciplines and to the practice of business management itself. A Q&A with coeditor Geoffrey Jones. Read More

Podcast: Revisiting Rental Housing

The subprime loan debacle, which has caused thousands of families to lose their homes, has cast light on another housing crisis in the U.S.: the lack of affordable rentals. In this podcast Harvard Business School professor Nicholas Retsinas discusses how this situation came to be, and his new book, Revisiting Rental Housing. Read More

Consumer Demand for Prize-Linked Savings: A Preliminary Analysis

Prize-linked savings (PLS) products are savings vehicles that may appeal to people with little savings and little interest in traditional savings products. PLS products offer savers a return in the form of the chance to earn large prizes, rather than in more traditional forms of interest or dividend income or capital appreciation. The probability of winning is typically determined by account balances, and the aggregate prize pool can be set to deliver market returns to all savers. Prize-linked assets are offered in over twenty countries around the world—including the U.K., Sweden, South Africa, and many Latin American and Middle Eastern countries—but are not available in the United States, where state laws and federal regulations make the offering of prize-linked programs problematic. This working paper provides a first look into demand for a PLS product in the United States. Read More

The Small World of Investing: Board Connections and Mutual Fund Returns

How does information flow in security markets, and how do investors receive information? In the context of information flow, social networks allow a piece of information to flow along a network often in predictable paths. HBS professors Lauren Cohen and Christopher Malloy, along with University of Chicago colleague Andrea Frazzini, studied a type of dissemination through social networks tied to educational institutions, examining the information flow between mutual fund portfolio managers and senior officers of publicly traded companies. They then tested predictions on the portfolio allocations and returns earned by mutual fund managers on securities within and outside their networks. Read More

Does Democracy Need a Marketing Manager?

It's more than coincidence that we feel more association with our favorite consumer brands than with our elected politicians or government institutions. Can the power of marketing be used to promote public participation in politics? Harvard Business School professor John A. Quelch and research associate Katherine E. Jocz discuss their new book, Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Democracy. Plus: book excerpt. Read More

Cost of External Finance and Selection into Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are, on average, significantly wealthier than people who work in paid employment. Research shows that entrepreneurs comprise fewer than 9 percent of households in the United States but they hold 38 percent of household assets and 39 percent of the total net worth. This relationship between personal wealth and entrepreneurship has long been seen as evidence of market failure, meaning that talented but less wealthy individuals are precluded from entrepreneurship because they don't have sufficient wealth to finance their new ventures. Nanda studied how changes in the cost of external finance affected the characteristics and likelihood of individuals becoming entrepreneurs. He finds that market failure accounts for only a small fraction of the relationship between personal wealth and entrepreneurship in advanced economies such as the U.S. Read More

If Marketing Experts Ran Elections

Most Americans seem indifferent about the political process, judging by lackluster voter turnout historically, although the primaries so far seem to be bucking the trend. Professor John Quelch discusses what politicians can learn from consumer marketing. Read More

Mapping Polluters, Encouraging Protectors

Where are the biggest polluters? And what is your company doing to protect the environment? A new Web site—both a public service and a research tool—posts managers' data in real time, allowing a balanced view of industrial environmental performance. HBS professor Michael W. Toffel and senior research fellow Andrew A. King explain. Read More

Does Judgment Trump Experience?

It's a question as relevant for business as for the U.S. presidential campaign, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. If "judgment capability" is a function of experience, what kind of experience is important? Does plenty of experience really improve judgment? Online forum now CLOSED. Closed for comment; 111 Comments posted.

Six Steps for Reinvigorating America

In the early stages of the 21st century, America has lost its way both at home and in the world, argues Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. In her new book, America the Principled, she details 6 opportunities for America to boost its economic vitality and democratic ideals. Q&A plus excerpt. Read More

How Marketing Hype Hurt Boeing and Apple

In his latest blog entry, professor John Quelch looks at the examples of Boeing and Apple to investigate why shareholders have little patience for companies that hype high but deliver low. Read More

The Changing Face of American Innovation

Chinese and Indian scientists and engineers have made an unexpectedly large contribution to U.S. technology formation over the last 30 years, according to new research by HBS professor William R. Kerr. But that trend may be ebbing, with potentially harmful effects on future growth in American innovation. Read More

Why Global Brands Work

Japanese automakers create single products and brands for worldwide consumption, while Ford customizes products for local markets. You know who won. Why do global brands work? What makes them work? Professor John Quelch provides some answers. Read More

Businesses Beware: The World Is Not Flat

With apologies to Thomas Friedman, managers who believe the hype of a flat world do so at their own risk, says HBS professor Pankaj Ghemawat. National borders still matter a lot for business strategists. While identifying similarities from one place to the next is essential, effective cross-border strategies will take careful stock of differences as well. A Q&A and book excerpt follow. Read More

The Causes and Consequences of Industry Self-Policing

The corporate confession is a paradox, as described in this paper aimed at managers, policymakers, and citizens. Why would a firm that identifies regulatory compliance violations within its own operations turn itself in to regulators, rather than quietly fix the problem? Economic intuition suggests that firms will self-disclose violations only when the cost of doing so is less than the expected cost of hiding violations. However, while the cost of doing so can be increased regulatory scrutiny, there is often almost no expected cost of hiding violations. To explore the complex behavior of corporate self-disclosure, Short and Toffel conducted a large-scale analysis in the context of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Audit Policy. They investigated what factors lead organizations to self-disclose violations that went undiscovered by regulators, and asked whether these self-disclosing organizations were obtaining any unofficial regulatory benefits above and beyond formal penalty mitigation. They also evaluated whether self-policing promotes the regulatory objective of improving compliance records. Read More

The FDA: What Will the Next 100 Years Bring?

With the possible exception of the Internal Revenue Service, no other governmental agency touches the lives of more Americans than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which ensures the safety of $1.5 trillion worth of consumer goods and medicines. Harvard Business School professor Arthur A. Daemmrich discusses the impact and challenges of the agency and his new book, Perspectives on Risk and Regulation: The FDA at 100. Read More

Building Sandcastles: The Subprime Adventure

The early days of the subprime industry seemed to fulfill a market need—and millions of renters became homeowners as a result. But rapidly escalating home prices masked cracks in the subprime foundation. HBS professor Nicolas P. Retsinas, who is also director of Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, lays out what went wrong and why. Read More

The Ethnic Composition of U.S. Inventors

The contributions of immigrants to U.S. technology formation are staggering. While the foreign-born account for just over 10 percent of the U.S. working population, they represent 25 percent of the U.S. science and engineering workforce and nearly 50 percent of those with doctorates. Even looking within the Ph.D. level, ethnic researchers make an exceptional contribution to science as measured by Nobel Prizes, election to the National Academy of Sciences, patent citation counts, and so on. The magnitude of these ethnic contributions raises many research and policy questions: 4 examples are debates regarding the appropriate quota for H1-B temporary visas, the possible crowding out of native students from the science and engineering fields, the brain-drain or brain-circulation effect on sending countries, and the future prospects for U.S. technology leadership. This paper describes a new approach for quantifying the ethnic composition of U.S. inventors with previously unavailable detail. Read More

The Excess Burden of Government Indecision

Virtually all U.S. policymakers, budget analysts, and academic experts agree that the United States faces a very serious, if not a grave, long-term fiscal problem. Yet few policymakers will publicly say how or when they would fix it, perhaps because they fear being the bearer of bad news and getting voted out of office. Delaying the resolution of fiscal imbalances incurs two costs, however. First, it leaves a larger bill for a smaller number of people to pay. Second, and of primary interest to this research, it perpetuates uncertainty, leading economic agents to make suboptimal saving, investment, and other decisions, and reducing welfare. This research identifies and measures this "excess burden" of government indecision and finds that it is economically significant. Read More

Mattel: Getting a Toy Recall Right

Mattel has been criticized heavily for having to recall not once but twice in as many weeks 20 million toys manufactured in China. But Mattel also deserves praise for stepping up to its responsibilities as the leading brand in the toy industry. Harvard Business School professor John Quelch examines what Mattel did right. Read More

The Dark Side of Trust

It has been well documented that strong trust between a buyer and supplier provides many advantages, such as increased productivity. But according to new research coauthored by HBS professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee, trusting relationships can also have a negative side that managers must take into account. Read More

The Evolution of Apple

Apple's continuing development from computer maker to consumer electronics pioneer is rich material in a number of Harvard Business School classrooms. Professor David Yoffie discusses his latest case study of Apple, the 5th update in 14 years, which challenges students to think strategically about Apple's successes and failures in the past, and opportunities and challenges in the future. Read More

Podcast: Rupert Murdoch and the Wall Street Journal

Media baron Rupert Murdoch's bid to acquire Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal is one step closer to fruition. In this interview, Professor Bharat N. Anand discusses the proposed deal and pressures facing the newspaper business. Read More

The Persuasive Appeal of Stigma

Are minority groups more persuasive when their conversations with majority groups are conducted face-to-face? Interracial interactions are among the most perilous social occasions in contemporary America, full of opportunities for things to go awry. People in stigmatized groups, for instance, may worry that members of majority groups hold prejudiced attitudes that can lead to discriminatory or offensive behavior. Members of majority groups, for their part, may fear coming across as biased or racist. While psychology has traditionally explored the damaging effects of such interactions on social exchange, new findings contribute to the growing recognition that stigma may be a two-sided construct, marked with a host of costs but occasional benefits. This study demonstrates the persuasive power of stigmatized individuals and shows how self-presentational concerns may change attitudes. Read More

HBS Cases: Beauty Entrepreneur Madam Walker

She may have been the first self-made African American millionaire. Born of emancipated slaves, Madam C.J. Walker traveled from the cotton fields to business fame as a purveyor of hair-care products that offered beauty and dignity. Harvard Business School's Nancy F. Koehn and Katherine Miller explain what motivated her triumph. Read More

Leveling the Executive Options Playing Field

Harvard Business School professor Mihir A. Desai recently presented testimony to a U.S. Senate subcommittee looking at the subject of executive stock options. His theme: A "dual-reporting system" makes it difficult for investors and tax authorities to learn the real numbers. Read More

Is Health Care Making You Better—or Dead?

Professor Regina Herzlinger has been studying the U.S. health care system for decades, advocating for consumer-driven reform as the best remedy. But the slow pace of change, which she attributes to a fat-cat network of insurers, policymakers, hospitals, and even employers, has her fed up. Her new book, Who Killed Health Care? adopts the emotional language of a manifesto in demanding change to make health care more responsive to customers, affordable to those in need, and a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship. Read More

Health Care Under a Research Microscope

Perhaps no industry has caught the research attention of Harvard Business School faculty as much as health care. Researchers are investigating business-focused solutions on everything from improving team work among surgical teams to developing market motivations that increase the use of water purification in poor villages. Read More

What Causes Industry Agglomeration? Evidence from Coagglomeration Patterns

Most industries exhibit some degree of geographic concentration. Although many theories attempt to explain this agglomeration, empirical tests of these theories are difficult as they all predict similar outcomes within individual industries. This study considers how industries coagglomerate—that is, which industry pairs locate together—to form a tractable analysis. The authors specifically study the relative importance of proximity to suppliers and customers, to firms using similar labor, and the sharing of ideas for explaining agglomeration. Read More

Strategy-Proofness versus Efficiency in Matching with Indifferences: Redesigning the NYC High School Match

One of the goals of school matching systems is to limit the extent to which students and parents feel it necessary to "game the system" to be accepted at a favored school. Several years ago, the authors of this paper assisted the New York City Department of Education in redesigning the way it matched over 90,000 students entering public high schools each year. The situation in New York City is a hybrid: Some schools actively rank potential students, others have no preferences, and still others fall in between. This paper concentrates on the welfare considerations and incentives that arise in school choice due to the fact that many students are regarded by schools as equivalent. The research develops and expands on economic theory demanded by the design of school choice mechanisms. Read More

Media Markets and Localism: Does Local News en Español Boost Hispanic Voter Turnout?

The increased integration of markets for news and entertainment means that more viewers can watch shows that better match their preferences, whether that means American football, Japanese anime, or Mexican soap operas. But is there an attendant risk to civic society, as some scholars claim? Do locally engaged citizens turn into passive viewers? The explosion in the U.S. of local television news in Spanish provides an ideal stage for probing these questions. This paper tests whether the presence of local television news affects local civic engagement in the form of voter turnout. Read More

Incorporating Price and Inventory Endogeneity in Firm-Level Sales Forecasting

Benchmarking and forecasting firm level performance are key activities for both managers and investors. Retailer performance can be tracked using a number of metrics including sales, inventory, and gross margin. For operational reasons, the sales, inventory, and gross margin for a retailer are interrelated. Retailers often use inventory and margin to increase sales; and sales, conversely, provide input to the retailer's decisions on inventory and margins. Inventory and margin also influence each other. This research uses firm-level annual and quarterly data for a large cross-section of U.S. retailers listed on NYSE, AMEX, or NASDAQ to construct a model that examines the interrelationships among sales per store, inventory per store, and margin. Read More

Learning from Failed Political Leadership

Strategic independence and better leadership assessment—these are the critical issues for both business and government in the future, says Professor D. Quinn Mills. In this Q&A he describes key lessons from his new book, Masters of Illusion, coauthored with Steven Rosefielde. A book excerpt follows. Read More

Handicapping the Best Countries for Business

India? South Africa? Russia? Which are the best countries for a firm to invest in? In a new book, Professor Richard Vietor looks at the economic, political, and structural strengths and weaknesses of ten countries and tells readers how to analyze the development of these areas in the future. Read our Q&A and book excerpt. Read More

Government’s Misguided Probe of Private Equity

The U.S Department of Justice has begun an inquiry into potentially anti-competitive behavior on the part of leading private equity firms. Professor Josh Lerner looks to history to underscore why this move carries the prospect of damaging what is actually an incredibly competitive industry that creates much value. Read More

What Is the Government’s Role in U.S. Healthcare?

Healthcare will grab ever more headlines in the U.S. in the coming months, says Jim Heskett. Any service that is on track to consume 40 percent of the gross national product of the world's largest economy by the year 2050 will be hard to ignore. But are we addressing healthcare cost issues with the creativity they deserve? What do you think? Closed for comment; 66 Comments posted.

Capital Rules: The Tensions of Global Finance

With the start of the new decade, most global financial powers are rethinking a previously powerful trend toward liberalizing global finance. In his new book Capital Rules, Professor Rawi Abdelal charts the intellectual, legal, and political history of financial globalization, and the tensions facing today's world economy. Read an excerpt. Read More

The Power of the Noncompete Clause

Noncompete clauses seem nearly universal—and not just in technology companies. But the effect is especially strong on specialist and "star" inventors, according to new research by Harvard Business School's Matt Marx, Deborah Strumsky, and Lee Fleming. Marx reflects on the business and career implications in this Q&A. Read More

Do Corporate Social Responsibility Ratings Predict Corporate Social Performance?

Ratings of corporations' environmental activities and capabilities influence billions of dollars of "socially responsible" investments as well as consumers, activists, and potential employees. But how well do these ratings predict socially responsible outcomes such as superior environmental performance? Companies can enhance their environmental image in one of two ways: by reducing or minimizing their impact on the environment, or by merely appearing to do so via marketing efforts or "greenwashing." This study evaluates the predictive validity of environmental ratings produced by Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini Research & Analytics (KLD), and tests whether companies that score high on KLD ratings generate superior environmental performance or whether highly rated firms are simply superior marketers of the factors that these rating agencies purport to measure. The data analysis examines all 588 large, publicly-owned companies in the United States that were both regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and whose social performance was rated by KLD at least once during 1991-2003. This paper may be the first to examine the predictive validity of social or environmental ratings. Read More

Do Employment Protections Reduce Productivity? Evidence from U.S. States

Business leaders and policymakers often claim labor market rigidities reduce productivity and competitiveness by altering production choices from their unconstrained best. These theories are tested using the adoption of employment protection regulations by U.S. state courts over the last three decades. Consistent evidence is found following the introduction of the employment regulations that 1) firm production choices are altered, 2) firm employment turnover declines, and 3) firm productivity declines. Entrepreneurship rates also decline in the states after the court decisions. The interpretation of the results, however, is somewhat clouded by very large employment growth that follows the regulations too. Read More

Noncompetes and Inventor Mobility: Specialists, Stars, and the Michigan Experiment

Two years ago, Microsoft and Google wrangled publicly when Google hired away a star Microsoft employee who had signed an agreement not to compete against Microsoft for one year after leaving the company. Managers enjoy a love/hate relationship with such "noncompete" covenants depending on whether they are gaining or losing talent. This study, which looks at Michigan's inadvertent reversal of its enforcement policy in the mid-1980s, is the first to apply longitudinal analysis to the question of noncompete enforcement. Given the importance of mobility for knowledge spillovers and entrepreneurship, the evidence has implications for day-to-day behavior, careers, business, and policy. Read More

Behavioral Decision Research, Legislation, and Society: Three Cases

Insights about how people make decisions have enormous importance for society and public policy, yet often behavioral decision findings are overlooked or dismissed in favor of arguments based on sometimes-simplistic economic theory. This is particularly true in Washington, D.C., where Bazerman provided expert testimony in government cases on auditor bias, pharmaceutical company collusion, and big tobacco, respectively. His experiences highlight the barriers to the use of the most appropriate social science under the existing legal and legislative frameworks. In this article that is based on analysis and opinion, he tells what happened and reflects on the need for social sciences, in addition to economics, to be brought to the legal and policy-making domains. Read More

The Immigrant Technologist: Studying Technology Transfer with China

Immigrants account for almost half of Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers in the U.S., and are prime drivers of technology development. Increasingly, however, Chinese technologists and entrepreneurs are returning home rather than staying in the U.S. to pursue opportunities. Professor William Kerr discusses the phenomena of technology transfer and implications for U.S.-based businesses and policymakers. From New Business. Read More

The Challenge of Managing National Security

What can we learn from mistakes made in managing national intelligence before 9/11? Professor Jan Rivkin discusses the difficulties of integrating a highly differentiated organization, and the dangers of overcentralizing decision making. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

Who Rises to Power in American Business?

Business leaders in the United States have usually been white men who were blessed with the right religion, family, or education. But "outsiders" have also created their own paths to leadership, a trend on the rise today. Paths to Power is the first book in fifty years to exhaustively analyze the demographics of leadership and access in business in the U.S., and how the face of American leadership might be changing. A Q&A with Anthony J. Mayo. Read More

India Needs to Encourage Trade with China

Although India and China have increased bilateral trade over the last five years, the amount is far less than what would be expected. Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna says India has primarily itself to blame. From The Economic Times. Read More

CEO Succession: The Case at Ford

When Ford Motor Company looked to replace Bill Ford as CEO, it turned not to another auto industry insider but instead to Boeing's Alan Mulally. We talk with Harvard Business School professor Joseph L. Bower to better understand Ford's move and the larger issues of CEO succession. Read More

Science Business: What Happened to Biotech?

After thirty years the numbers are in on the biotech business—and it's not what we expected. The industry in aggregate has lost money. R&D performance has not radically improved. The problem? In a new book, Professor Gary Pisano points to systemic flaws as well as unhealthy tensions between science and business. Read More

Andy Grove: A Biographer’s Tale

Podcast: For Harvard Business School professor Richard S. Tedlow, Intel co-founder Andy Grove is one of the most important and intriguing CEOs in American business history. In this interview, Tedlow discusses his new biography, Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American with Jim Aisner. Read More

The History and Influence of Andy Grove

In a soon-to-be-released biography, Harvard Business School professor Richard S. Tedlow profiles one of the most influential business leaders of our time—Intel's Andy Grove. Tedlow discusses his research on the Silicon Valley legend and how Grove altered much more than the chip industry. Read More

Will the “Long Tail” Work for Hollywood?

The "long-tail phenomenon" is well documented: Amazon.com makes significant profits selling many low-volume books. But can the long tail work for video sales as well? A new working paper by professors Anita Elberse and Felix Oberholzer-Gee suggests that it may not bring the same benefits to Hollywood. Read More

U.S. Tops Business Competitiveness Index 2006

The United States and Germany continue to top an annual review of the business competitiveness of 121 countries, which is compiled by Professor Michael Porter's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School. While India climbed in the rankings, China fell. Read More

Scale without Mass: Business Process Replication and Industry Dynamics

Over the past ten years there's been a clear link between IT investment and productivity growth in the U.S. economy. But what impact has IT had on competition? This paper identifies several recent changes in the competitive dynamics of U.S. industries and shows that they are associated with IT intensity; the more IT and industry has, the greater the changes. Using case studies, previous research, and a simple model, the authors offer a theory that explains these patterns in the data. They argue that IT allows the rapid spread of business process innovations, which in turn leads to more turbulent and concentrated industries. Read More

How Europe Wrote the Rules of Global Finance

Following decades of liberalization, controls on cross-border capital movements are again being discussed by financial institutions, governments, and policymakers around the globe. Professor Rawi Abdelal discusses implications and the historical roles of Europe and the United States in promoting the flow of capital across national borders. Read More

Corporate Governance and Networks: Bankers in the Corporate Networks of Brazil, Mexico, and the United States circa 1910

Brazil today looks like a typical case in which business groups and close relations between companies and banks play an important role to overcome information and monitoring problems. This was not always the case. To study how the development of financial markets can change the interaction between banks and corporations, Musacchio compared the importance of interlocking boards of directors between corporations and banks in Brazil, Mexico, and the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. This paper and previous research support Musacchio's hypothesis that financial markets in Brazil were sustained by an institutional framework that protected investors, enforced credit contracts, and promoted regular financial disclosure of company accounts. The development of bond and stock markets, and the relatively good corporate governance practices in Brazil before 1930, made connections with bankers less necessary. Read More

Reinventing the Dowdy Savings Bond

Families with low and moderate incomes have difficulty saving money—many can't even open bank accounts. To help these families plan for the future, professor Peter Tufano proposes minor changes to the U.S. savings bonds program. Read More

Using Competition to Reform Healthcare

In their new book, HBS Professor Michael Porter and Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg argue that the very structure of U.S. healthcare must be redesigned to create value and effective competition throughout the system. An excerpt from Redefining Health Care: Creating Value-Based Competition on Results. Read More

Writing the Case for Public School Reform

Professor David Thomas discusses his case studies on how the School District of Philadelphia is recruiting and retaining teachers and improving its human resources department. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

American Auto’s Troubled Road

Harvard Business School faculty dissect where U.S. auto makers went wrong, and how they might again get on the road to growth. From HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

The China Dilemma for U.S. Firms: Comply, Resist, or Leave?

If you were an advisor to the senior managements of these companies doing business in China, what would you propose that they do? Closed for comment; 34 Comments posted.

Unilever: Transformation and Tradition

In a new book, professor Geoffrey Jones looks at Unilever's decades-old transformation from fragmented underperformer to focused consumer products giant. This epilogue summarizes the years 1960 to 1990. Read More

The Geography of Corporate Giving

Where a company is headquartered influences the types of social programs it supports, such as housing assistance, disease research, and the arts, according to new research by professor Christopher Marquis and his coauthors. Is social spending too confined by geography? Read More

How Can Start Ups Grow?

For new ventures a lack of resources makes growth difficult to come by—just ask those nine out of ten fledgling firms that fail. Professor Mukti Khaire says the key may be in acquiring intangible resources such as legitimacy, status, and reputation. Read More

Is Less Becoming More?

Americans these days have a lot more choices in products and services. But do consumers and suppliers suffer from choice overload? If so, what does this abundance mean for companies? Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Homers: Secrets on the Factory Floor

Homers are things you make for personal use while on company time. Professor Michel Anteby says that although the practice might be illegal, some companies secretly endorse it. Here's why. Read More

What’s the Future of Globally Organized Labor?

There’s an ongoing story of fragmentation in the union movement in North America. Will the concept of cooperation and individual sacrifice for the common good work in a global labor market populated by large multinational employers? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Advertising and Expectations: The Effectiveness of Pre-Release Advertising for Motion Pictures

This research examines how advertising affects market-wide sales expectations for pre-release movies. The authors use data on advertising expenditures and an online stock market simulation, The Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX), to track more than 280 movies released between 2001 and 2003. Their findings show that advertising affects the updating of market-wide expectations prior to release, and that this effect is stronger the higher the product quality. Read More

What are the Lessons of New Orleans?

The response by public officials to the Hurricane Katrina disaster will be analyzed for years. Can lessons learned in the private sector instruct us in minimizing the suffering and damage from inevitable future calamities? Closed for comment; 44 Comments posted.

Reinventing Savings Bonds

At one point in American history, savings bonds were an important tool families used to build assets and get ahead. While times have changed, this function of savings bonds may be even more important now, especially for the 41 million low- and moderate-income American households. Tufano and Schneider lay out a case for why savings bonds should be reimagined to help millions of Americans build assets now. Read More

Promoting a Management Revolution in Public Education

Public school districts are difficult to lead and manage, and the idea of applying business principles to school reform is popular. But is it practical? This paper describes the work of Harvard's Public Education Leadership Program as it helps school districts grapple with performance challenges, including student achievement that compares unfavorably with other countries, and a significant performance gap between white and minority students. Complicating the picture: The concept of managing for accountability is new in education. The authors studied the effects of improved management on public school student performance by comparing fifteen large urban school districts with similar peer districts. Read More

Restoring a Global Economy, 1950–1980

In his recent book Multinationals and Global Capitalism, professor Geoffrey Jones dissects the influence of multinationals on the world economy. This excerpt recalls the rebuilding of the global economy following World War II. Read More

Why IT Matters in Midsized Firms

What does IT actually contribute to a business? Is IT a commodity like electricity or is it a crucial element of competitive advantage? In a study of over 600 medium-sized global firms to analyze the business benefits that IT can enable, the authors found that IT capability was key to profitable business growth. This was true in both the U.S. product and services sectors as well as in Germany and Brazil. Read More

Is There an “Efficient Market” in CEO Compensation?

There appears to be little or no relationship between the size of American CEO compensation awards and actual corporate performance. Will change come from the increased level of competition among global companies with significantly different approaches to the compensation of senior managers? Closed for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique?

Business leadership is at the core of Asian economic development, says HBS professor D. Quinn Mills. As he explained recently in Kuala Lumpur, the American and Asian leadership styles, while very different, also share important similarities. Read More

Is a “Level Playing Field” a Good Thing?

There is a lot of talk these days about a level playing field, sparked in part by Thomas L. Friedman's bestseller, The World is Flat. But what is a level playing field in the world today, and does everyone play by the same rules? Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

The Rise of Innovation in Asia

Asian countries are no longer just a place to get cheap labor or programming skills. Innovation is on the rise. A report from the Harvard Business School Asia Business Conference. Read More

The Motion Picture Industry: Critical Issues in Practice, Current Research & New Research Directions

This paper reviews research and trends in three key areas of movie making: production, distribution, and exhibition. In the production process, the authors recommend risk management and portfolio management for studios, and explore talent compensation issues. Distribution trends show that box-office performance will increasingly depend on a small number of blockbusters, advertising spending will rise (but will cross different types of media), and the timing of releases (and DVDs) will become a bigger issue. As for exhibiting movies, trends show that more sophisticated exhibitors will emerge, contractual changes between distributor and exhibitors will change, and strategies for tickets prices may be reevaluated. Read More

Public Pension Reform: Does Mexico Have the Answer?

Mexico may have found a formula for avoiding most of the misfortunes that could arise when individuals invest their own funds. What's the right way to support an aging workforce? And why is it that a concept—life-long security—that should bring comfort to all of us is so distasteful to address in public? Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

The U.S. Patent Game: How to Change It

Innovators and society are paying too high a price in the current patent system, says a new book by Adam B. Jaffe and Harvard Business School’s Josh Lerner. A book excerpt and Q&A with Lerner. Read More

Solving the Health Care Conundrum

Executive summary of a presentation on reforming health care made by Professor Michael Porter at a Harvard Business School Publishing Virtual Seminar. Read More

Michael Porter’s Prescription For the High Cost of Health Care

The troubled U.S. health care system needs a brave, new kind of competition, say HBS professor Michael E. Porter and the University of Virginia’s Elizabeth Olmsted Teisberg. A Harvard Business Review excerpt. Read More

How Much Is Enough?

A new book by Laura Nash and Howard Stevenson, Just Enough, suggests four dimensions for looking at personal success: happiness, achievement, significance, and legacy. Is this a useful way for hardworking managers to gauge their sense of self-worth? Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

How Corporate Responsibility is Changing in Asia

Expectations are changing on the role multinational corporations play in improving the Asian communities in which they serve. Read More

How Should We Think About the Exportation of Jobs?

It looks like productivity increases in the U.S. are accommodating growth with little increase in the number of jobs. Doesn’t it suggest that the jobs that people do hold must be getting better? Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Why Europe Lags in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

Governmental, cultural and academic differences are hurting Europe’s chances of gaining on the U.S. Can anything be done? Read More

Lessons from a Nasty Trade Dispute

Even if the World Trade Organization rules in favor of your country’s government, it may not mean the end of a business dispute. HBS professors Rawi Abdelal and Laura Alfaro explain why. Read More

Making Money Making Movies

HBS professor Anita Elberse talks about the state of the international motion picture industry, movie piracy, and how to capture screens in foreign markets. Read More

Gaps in the Historical Record: Development of the Electronics Industry

There is plenty of history to be written about the birth of consumer electronics and the computer, says HBS professor emeritus Alfred D. Chandler Jr. Read More

HBS Cases: Developing the Courage to Act

Professor David A. Garvin offers a rare inside glimpse at how the case method is used by both faculty and students in classrooms at Harvard Business School. Read More

Corporate Transparency Improves For Foreign Firms in U.S. Markets

International companies that interact with U.S. markets are more transparent in their dealings, say Harvard Business School doctoral candidate Suraj Srinivasan. Read More

Will American Brands Be a Casualty of War?

Does your U.S. brand play well overseas? If so, heed the words of Harvard Business School professor John Quelch: A swelling anti-American tide could wash away the international popularity of U.S. brands. Read More

Setting the Stage: A Young Scholar at HBS

Rohit Daniel Wadhwani, the Harvard-Newcomen Fellow in Business History for the 2002-03 academic year, discusses his research work and his experiences as a Fellow at Harvard Business School in this interview with Laura Linard. Read More

Enterprising Women—a History

In conjunction with the major exhibit "Enterprising Women: 250 Years of American Business," the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study recently presented a two-day program entitled Women, Money and Power. Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn participated in the conference's opening panel—an informal discussion and reflection on the exhibit and its major themes. Read More

The Role of Government When All Else Fails

A new book by Harvard Business School professor David A. Moss explores government's under-appreciated role as risk manager in everything from disaster relief to Social Security. How did this role evolve into something today that touches on almost every aspect of economic life? Read More

Foreign Multinationals in the U.S.: A Rocky Road

Why do many of the world’s leading multinationals experience managerial and performance problems in the United States? The answers, as offered by Harvard Business School professor Geoffrey G. Jones, provide lessons for all companies operating on foreign soil. Read More

Are Consumers the Cure for Broken Health Insurance?

"The health insurance system in the United States is broken, and business is paying the price," says HBS professor Regina E. Herzlinger. In this excerpt from Harvard Business Review, she describes how consumers may just be the cure. PLUS: Q&A with the author. Read More

Alfred Chandler on the Electronic Century

Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Alfred D. Chandler Jr. examines the development of two pivotal industries in post-World War II America—the consumer electronics and computer industries. Read More

Lessons from the Rubble

In the wake of the deadly terrorist attack, America has begun to learn some lessons it should have already learned about the New Economy, the role of government, and how the country is viewed elsewhere, says HBS professor Debora Spar. Read More

Why dot.coms Will Rise Again

Think dot.coms are down for the count? Think again. Dot.coms will exert an ever-greater impact on business, according to HBS professors F. Warren McFarlan and Dorothy A. Leonard. Read More

Gurus in the Garage

A new breed of advisors, known as mentor capitalists, has seeded Silicon Valley with knowledge and expertise. Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap explain why this new kind of mentoring has flourished in the Valley. Read More

The State of the Markets

Technology is bringing about vast changes in worldwide financial markets, generating improvements in efficiency, speed and economies of scale. But as technological change continues to occur, attention must also be paid to changes in the role that regulation plays, said industry leaders in a panel on "Technology and the Future of the Financial Markets." Read More

Presentation Round-Up

This round-up of other panels and presentations at the IS2K conference includes a look at the emerging "e-service" model, the future of the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure, and a discussion of "Genes on the Web." Read More

Putting Health Care Consumers in the Driver’s Seat

Amid rising costs, changing attitudes and increasing dissatisfaction with the existing health care system, the development of consumer-driven health care is a given: the question, according to participants in an HBS conference chaired by Professor Regina A. Herzlinger, is not If, but When. Read More

Growing Pains: Prescriptions for U.S. Health Care

The health care industry may look seriously ill, says HBS Professor Clayton M. Christensen, but it's merely suffering the growing pains of a natural evolution as technology forces change at both the high and low ends of the market. Read More

The Future of the Venture Capital Cycle

Despite many success stories and a rapid rise to prominence, the venture capital industry remains a mystery to most, and questions about its sustainability persist. In this excerpt from their pathbreaking book The Venture Capital Cycle, HBS Professors Paul Gompers and Josh Lerner look toward the future of this misunderstood financial intermediary. Read More

Companies, Cultures and the Transformation to the Transnational

Often overlooked in the move into the international arena, a comapny's heritage can have a major impact on how it adapts to the new environment. In this excerpt from the second edition of their pioneering book Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution, HBS Professor Christopher A. Bartlett and Sumantra Ghoshal examine one aspect of that heritage: the influence on a company of its nation's history, infrastructure and culture. Read More

It Came in the First Ships: Capitalism in America

The Virginians in Jamestown, the Puritans in Massachusetts Bay, the Quakers in Pennsylvania and other early settlers of what later became the United States all brought with them elements of capitalism, precursors of the future nation's market-driven direction. In this excerpt from his article "American Capitalism" in Creating Modern Capitalism: How Entrepreneurs, Companies, and Countries Triumphed in Three Industrial Revolutions, HBS Professor Thomas K. McCraw looks at the early years of capitalism on the North American continent. Read More