Health & Society

34 Results

 

Don’t Take ‘No’ for an Answer: An Experiment with Actual Organ Donor Registrations

More than 10,000 people in the United States die each year while waiting for an organ transplant. Policymakers and some economists who have tried to increase the rates of organ transplantation have focused on changing the registration question—usually asked when people renew their driver's license—from a simple opt-in to one in which potential donors have the opportunity to make an active "yes" or "no " choice. The authors provide the first concrete evidence of whether active choice affects registration decisions about organ donation. Somewhat surprisingly, the results suggest that not only does active choice not increase registration, it may decrease the transplantation rate by suggesting to next-of-kin that unregistered donors actively chose not to donate. At the same time, however, experimental results suggest other ways to increase the rates of organ donor registration. For example, people are 22 times more likely to add themselves to the registry than remove themselves from the registry, even though they had been asked previously about organ donor registration. This suggests the effectiveness of making a repeated appeal for organ donor registration. In addition, giving people more information about organ donation increases registration rates. Read More

Climbing Down from the Ivory Tower

Nava Ashraf explains why it makes sense for field researchers to co-produce knowledge with the people they study and serve. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Are Electronic Cigarettes a Public Good or Health Hazard?

A new case study by John Quelch charts the growing popularity of electronic cigarettes and how tobacco companies and regulators are responding. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

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.

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.

The Need for (Long) Chains in Kidney Exchange

It is illegal in the U.S. and in most of the world to buy or sell organs for transplantation. Kidney exchange arises because a healthy person has two kidneys and can donate one to a person in need of a transplant. But a donor and his or her intended recipient may be incompatible. An incompatible patient-donor pair can exchange with another pair, or with more than one other pair, in a cycle of exchanges among patient-donor pairs that allows each patient to receive a kidney from a compatible donor. In addition, sometimes exchange can be initiated by an altruistic donor who does not designate a particular intended patient, and in that case a chain of exchanges need not form a closed cycle. This paper seeks to understand why such longer chains have become increasingly important in practical kidney exchange. The answer has to do with the growing percentage of patients for whom finding a compatible donor is difficult. These "highly sensitized" patients are those for whom finding a transplantable kidney is difficult, even from a donor with the same blood type, because of tissue-type incompatibilities. This paper shows that highly sensitized patients are the ones to benefit from longer cycles and chains, and that this does not harm low-sensitized patients. 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.

India’s Ambitious National Identification Program

The Unique Identification Authority of India has been charged with implementing a nationwide program to register and assign a unique 12-digit ID to every Indian resident—some 1.2 billion people—by 2020. In a new case, Professor Tarun Khanna and HBS India Research Center Executive Director Anjali Raina discuss the complexities of this massive data management project. Closed for comment; 30 Comments posted.

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.

Experimental Researcher Helps Improve Health Care in Zambia

In seven years of field work in Zambia, Africa, professor Nava Ashraf's work is helping get low-cost health care products and services to the people who need them most. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Do Not Trash the Incentive! Monetary Incentives and Waste Sorting

Many cities encourage residents to sort their domestic trash into separate bins, for the sake of recycling some of it and thus reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. The problem is that sorting waste is not a fun activity, and not everyone is willing to do it. Using data from 95 municipalities in Italy, this paper discusses whether and how monetary incentives can encourage people to sort their trash. Research was conducted by Alessandro Bucciol of the University of Verona and the University of Amsterdam, Natalia Montinari of the University of Padua and the Max Planck Institute of Economics, and Marco Piovesan of Harvard Business School. 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

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.

Operational Failures and Problem Solving: An Empirical Study of Incident Reporting

Operational failures occur within organizations across all industries, with consequences ranging from minor inconveniences to major catastrophes. How can managers encourage frontline workers to solve problems in response to operational failures? In the health-care industry, the setting for this study, operational failures occur often, and some are reported to voluntary incident reporting systems that are meant to help organizations learn from experience. Using data on nearly 7,500 reported incidents from a single hospital, the researchers found that problem-solving in response to operational failures is influenced by both the risk posed by the incident and the extent to which management demonstrates a commitment to problem-solving. Findings can be used by organizations to increase the contribution of incident reporting systems to operational performance improvement. 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.

How to Revive Health-Care Innovation

Simple solutions to complex problems lead to breakthroughs in industries from retailing to personal computers to printing. So let's try health care, too. According to HBS professor Clayton M. Christensen and coauthors of The Innovator's Prescription, such disruption to an industry might look like a threat, but it "always proves to be an extraordinary growth opportunity." Book excerpt. Read More

Dirty Work, Clean Hands: The Moral Psychology of Indirect Agency

When powerful people do morally questionable things, they rarely interact directly with their putative victims. Mobsters have hit men. CEOs have vice presidents, lawyers, and accountants. More specifically, the powerful are likely to carry out their intentions through the actions of other agents, with varying degrees of explicit direction and control. This working paper describes four studies that explore the effects of such "indirect agency" on moral judgment. Read More

The Value of Environmental Activists

With decidedly non-profit goals leading them on, how do environmental protection groups such as Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund create value? Can it be measured? A Q&A with Harvard Business School professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and case writer Jordan Mitchell. 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

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

I’ll Have the Ice Cream Soon and the Vegetables Later: Decreasing Impatience over Time in Online Grocery Orders

How do people's preferences differ when they make choices for the near term versus the more distant future? Providing evidence from a field study of an online grocer, this research shows that people act as if they will be increasingly virtuous the further into the future they project. Researchers examined how the length of delay between when an online grocery order is completed and when it is delivered affects what consumers order. They find that consumers purchase more "should" (healthy) groceries such as vegetables and less "want" (unhealthy) groceries such as ice cream the greater the delay between order completion and order delivery. The results have implications for public policy, supply chain managers, and models of time discounting. 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

Improving Public Health for the Poor

Microfinance may offer a window on new methods for widening access to healthcare for the poor, says Harvard Business School's Michael Chu. He and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health have embarked on a new project to serve this critical sector. Bringing together public healthcare and market forces "could have huge impact," he says. Read More

Male Circumcision and AIDS: The Macroeconomic Impact of a Health Crisis

The AIDS epidemic is a humanitarian disaster that has struck sub-Saharan Africa with particular severity, but its macroeconomic impact is much less certain. Though conflicting theories abound, empirically-based studies on the link between HIV prevalence rates and economic growth have shown no consensus. Given the significant medical evidence that male circumcision can reduce the risk of contracting HIV in Africa, tribal circumcision practices provide an "experimental" setting to test the impact of the AIDS epidemic on the overall economy. Read More

Competition the Cure for Healthcare

Michael Porter is considered by many the world's foremost authority on competition and strategy. He discusses the need for fundamental reform in the way the United States delivers healthcare. Q&A. Read More

Implementing New Practices: An Empirical Study of Organizational Learning in Hospital Intensive Care Units

How do hospital units, as complex service organizations, successfully implement best practices? Practices involve people and knowledge; people must apply knowledge to particular situations, so changing practices requires changing behavior. This study is a starting point for healthcare organizations to improve work practices. The researchers drew from literature on best practice transfer, team learning, and process change and developed four hypotheses to test at highly specialized hospital units that care for premature infants and critically ill newborns. Read More

Deep Links: Business School Students’ Perceptions of the Role of Law and Ethics in Business

The researchers spent more than a year eliciting twelve MBA students' thoughts and feelings about the role of law in starting and running a U.S. business. This research offers new insights into the ongoing debate about how best to educate the business leaders of tomorrow. More than a standalone course in business law or ethics, it would be wise for educators to use an approach that treats the role of law and business in the broader context of societal needs and norms. Read More

The Hidden Market for Babies

Surrogates. Fertility clinics. Egg donors. Adoption. It's time to recognize (and perhaps regulate) the huge market being created by reproductive technologies, says HBS professor Debora L. Spar. She discusses her new book, The Baby Business. 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 Business Case for Diabetes Disease Management

Diabetes is a tough disease to tackle. A case-study discussion led by HBS professor Nancy Beaulieu asked why it is so complex for business and society, and what might be done to curb its incidence. Read More

The Business of Babies

The demand for babies by infertile couples and other would-be parents is huge—and little discussed. HBS professor Debora L. Spar looks at the market realities. Read More

How Businesses Can Respond to AIDS

Partnerships among business, government, and advocacy groups are crucial to halting AIDS. A report from an influential conference at Harvard Business School. Read More

AIDS in Africa—What’s the Solution?

The tragedy of AIDS has the potential to decimate society—and of course workforces, too. African-based experts in health care and the pharmaceutical industry traded ideas for alleviating this scourge in a session moderated by Harvard Business School Professor Debora L. Spar. Read More

Cross-Sector Collaboration: Lessons from the International Trachoma Initiative

Alliances between for-profit and nonprofit organizations are evolving from arms-length relationships into strategic partnerships. A study of the collaboration between the Clark Foundation and Pfizer, Inc. reveals what it takes to make them work. Read More