Society & Social Values

90 Results

 

Difficulties for Women Bridging Racial, Generational, and Global Divides

A symposium at Harvard Business School delved into "intersectionality"—the seemingly obvious yet complex idea that gender interacts with other axes of inequality such as race, age, class, and ethnicity. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

The Surprising Link Between Language and Corporate Responsibility

Research by Christopher Marquis shows that a company's degree of social responsibility is affected by a surprising factor—the language it uses to communicate. Open for comment; 14 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.

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. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Private Sector, Public Good

What role, if any, does business have in creating social good? A new seminar series at Harvard Business School tackles this complex question. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Redrawing the Lines: Did Political Incumbents Influence Electoral Redistricting in the World’s Largest Democracy?

Most democratic countries undergo a process of redrawing their electoral boundaries every few years, usually with the goal of equalizing population sizes across constituencies. While this is important in maintaining the principle of one-person, one-vote, there is concern that the redistricting process can be influenced by political incumbents to create safe seats, where incumbents are unlikely to face strong electoral challenges ("gerrymandering"). In this paper the authors study this issue in the context of India, the world's largest democracy. India redrew the boundaries of national and state electoral constituencies in 2008 after a gap of three decades. Examining the influence of political incumbents on this redistricting process, the authors find that, by and large, the process achieved its primary goal of equalizing population sizes across constituencies. More importantly, the redistricting process does not appear to have been influenced by incumbent politicians to a great extent, although there is some evidence that the constituencies of specific politicians (advisory committee members) were less likely to undergo unfavorable changes. Overall, the redistricting process did not make a large difference to either the advantage enjoyed by the incumbent party or the electoral prospects of incumbent politicians. An important policy conclusion of the study is that it is possible to implement politically neutral redistricting plans in a developing country, provided that a non-political body is in charge of the process, and that the process is transparent and inclusive of all relevant stakeholders. Read More

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.

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.

From Green Users to Green Voters

Does the diffusion of technology affect voting patterns? Technology is usually not aligned with a specific ideology or political party. Indeed, to the extent that technology raises living standards, all parties tend to favor technology diffusion. However, in some cases, voters may associate a political party with a specific technology. Green parties, for example, advocate for the diffusion of green energy technologies and pursue policies that foster the diffusion of green energies. This paper finds a significant effect of photovoltaic (PV) adoption on the increase in the share of votes for Germany's Green Party. In particular, the increase in the diffusion rate of PV systems between 1998 and 2009 led to an increase in the fraction of green votes of 1 percent, which represents 25 percent of the actual increase in the voting rate experienced by the Green Party between 1998 and 2009. Read More

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.

Firm Competitiveness and Detection of Bribery

Bribery is widespread around the world, illegal, detrimental to economic progress and social stability, and at the same time it can have clear economic benefits for a firm. While the benefits of bribery for a firm, through acquisition of contracts or avoidance of government bureaucracy, are intuitive and well documented, the costs after detection are less well understood. In this paper the author examines how the impact on firm competitiveness from the detection of bribery varies with the identity of the initiator, the method bribery was detected, and the firm's response after detection. All three dimensions are significantly associated with the impact on firm competitiveness. In addition, the data suggest that the most significant impact is on employee morale, followed by business relations and reputation, and then regulatory relations. Read More

To Buy Happiness, Purchase an Experience

Michael Norton explains why spending money on new experiences yields more happiness than spending it on new products. Closed for comment; 16 Comments posted.

Learning from Double-Digit Growth Experiences

Double-digit growth in real GDP is defined as a compound annual growth rate of 10 percent or more over a period of eight years or longer. This paper was written as a policy memorandum for the Government of Liberia, which seeks rapid growth in order to reach middle-income status by 2030. For Liberia, current IMF forecasts predict growth in real GDP on the order of 6 to 7 percent per year. The comparative analysis of this paper asks: In what ways do countries growing real GDP at double-digit rates differ from countries growing real GDP at rates of 6-7 percent? Overall, the findings suggest that Liberia is reasonably well positioned to become another country with double-digit growth. Yet as the analysis shows, countries that have attained double-digit growth are not unequivocally a group that one should strive to join. The ultra-rapid growers whose growth has been driven by resources, aid, or remittances have not generally conducted the sorts of reforms to the legal, regulatory, and governance environment that could have generated high growth without such unearned income. They have also not generally invested their rents well in infrastructure or human capital. Moreover, post-conflict double-digit growers have found it difficult to reform or invest well. Read More

A Roadmap for Afghanistan’s Economic Future

Most discussions about the immediate future of Afghanistan center on security. A consideration just as important, says Professor Tarun Khanna, is rebuilding the embattled country's economy. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

How to Do Away with the Dangers of Outsourcing

The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh should be a warning to companies that embrace outsourcing, says Professor Ranjay Gulati. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

The Power of Rituals in Life, Death, and Business

Experimental research by Michael I. Norton, Francesca Gino, and colleagues proves multiple benefits of using rituals. Not only do they have the power to alleviate grief, but they also serve to enhance the experience of consuming food—even something as mundane as a carrot. Closed for comment; 21 Comments posted.

Faculty Symposium Showcases Breadth of Research

Faculty present their latest research on the human tendency toward dishonesty, the use of crowdsourcing to solve major scientific problems, and the impact of private equity investments. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

How CEOs Sustain Higher-Ambition Goals

At a recent conference, executives underscored the importance of employee engagement, contributing to the community, and creating sustainable environment strategies. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

First Look: March 19

When daily deals misfire on merchants … Lessons of war for negotiators … The unexpected effect of electronic monitoring of criminals. Read More

Altruistic Capital: Harnessing Your Employees’ Intrinsic Goodwill

Everyone comes to the table with some amount of "altruistic capital," a stock of intrinsic desire to serve, says professor Nava Ashraf. Her research includes a study of what best motivates hairdressers in Zambia to provide HIV/AIDS education in their salons. Closed for comment; 20 Comments posted.

New Agenda for Corporate Accountability Reporting

Professor Karthik Ramanna explains three ways to make corporate accountability reports potentially more useful to constituencies that include shareholders, communities, bondholders, and customers. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Self-Serving Altruism? When Unethical Actions That Benefit Others Do Not Trigger Guilt

Not a day goes by without the revelation of unethical behavior by a politician, movie star, professional athlete, or high-ranking executive. This paper asks: Is a person's willingness to cross ethical lines influenced by the presence of others who may benefit? Research by Francesca Gino, Shahar Ayal, and Dan Ariely. Findings show that cheating is motivated by potential benefits to others. The authors analyze the results of three experiments to suggest that the potential benefits which dishonesty may create for others not only help people justify their own bad behavior but also serve as a self-serving motivator for it. Focusing on the social utility of others, people more freely categorize their own actions in positive terms and avoid negative updating of their moral self-image. As a result, people feel less guilty about their dishonest behavior when others-in addition to themselves-can benefit from them. Among the implications: Team settings might be conducive to dishonest behavior among group members, and thus might not be ideal to foster learning. Read More

Off and Running: Professors Comment on Olympics

The most difficult challenge at The Olympics is the behind-the-scenes efforts to actually get them up and running. Is it worth it? HBS professors Stephen A. Greyser, John D. Macomber, and John T. Gourville offer insights into the business behind the games. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

How Short-Termism Invites Corruption--And What to Do About It

A long-term time horizon is most sensible where a business or investor has some edge and when short-term risks associated with a longer-term strategy are hedged and opportunity costs minimized. However, when perverse, short-term incentives artificially encourage executives to ignore high-yielding, long-term opportunities, then the costs of short-termism set in. The recent financial crisis suggests that the rise of short-termism has been especially troublesome in the finance industry. In this paper, Malcom Salter starts by analyzing a case involving the mortgage-banking desk at Citigroup because it can help us think about how short-termism-the collapsed time horizon of both business decision makers and investors-not only sabotages an enterprise's reputation and value, but also invites individual and institutional corruption. He then examines the key drivers of short-termism in contemporary business, and their potential effects on the behavior of both executives and their organizations. He concludes by proposing mechanisms to deter the corrupting effects of short-termism, including changes in both business and public policy. Read More

Occupy Wall Street Protestors Have a Point

The concerns of the Occupy Wall Street movement are not far different from what business leaders have told professors Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine. Closed for comment; 16 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.

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

Income Inequality: What’s the Right Amount?

Summing Up Comments were large in number and broad of opinion reflecting on Professor Jim Heskett's question, Does income inequality promote or stunt economic growth? Is there a "right" right amount of income disparity? Closed for comment; 67 Comments posted.

Only Capitalists Can Save Capitalism

Capitalism appears to be going through a crisis of confidence, evident in everything from Occupy Wall Street to middle-class riots across the globe. The fix? Capitalists themselves. An interview with the authors of Capitalism at Risk, Joseph L. Bower, Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard, and Lynn S. Paine. Open for comment; 9 Comments posted.

The Organization of Firms Across Countries

Economists have been paying increasing attention to the role that culture plays in a firm's overall performance. This paper focuses on how trust—a key cultural factor—affects firms' decision-making process, size, and productivity. Research was conducted by Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University, Rafaella Sadun of the Harvard Business School, and John Van Reenen of the London School of Economics. Read More

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

Market Interest in Nonfinancial Information

During the past two decades, there have been many ideas for improving business reporting of nonfinancial information such as on a company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. Using data from Bloomberg, authors Robert G. Eccles, Michael P. Krzus, and George Serafeim provide insights into market interest in nonfinancial information at a level of granularity not available until now. They identify exactly what information is of greatest interest, contrasting both the global and U.S. market across the full spectrum of ESG information and for each component of ESG, as well as Carbon Disclosure Project metrics. They also show variation in interest across asset classes and firm types, and present preliminary explanations for these differences. Read More

High Ambition Leadership

Higher-ambition business leaders skillfully integrate both economic and social value. Professor Emeritus Michael Beer explains what makes them special, and how you can learn what they know, in his new book, Higher Ambition: How Great Leaders Create Economic and Social Value. Q&A plus book excerpt. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Who Is Governing Whom? Senior Managers, Governance and the Structure of Generosity in Large U.S. Firms

Analyzing several Fortune 500 firms over the period of 10 years, Christopher Marquis and Matthew Lee discuss the factors that influence corporate philanthropy, using the subject to theorize about and test how structural features of organizations help senior leaders to shape firm strategy. Read More

Rupert Murdoch and the Seeds of Moral Hazard

Harvard Business School faculty Michel Anteby, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, and Robert Steven Kaplan explore the moral, ethical, and leadership issues behind Rupert Murdoch's News of the World fiasco. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

Are You a Level-Six Leader?

Asking the question, whom do you serve? is a powerful vector on which to build a useful typology of leadership. Visiting professor Modesto Maidique offers a six-level Purpose-Driven Model of Leadership ranging from Sociopath to Transcendent. Closed for comment; 78 Comments posted.

Fame, Faith, and Social Activism: Business Lessons from Bono

Many executives struggle to balance work, family, and community, but for rock star Bono the effort is spread across the globe. In the HBS case "Bono and U2," professor Nancy F. Koehn discusses key business lessons to be learned from the famous band. Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

The Institutional Logic of Great Global Firms

In practice, many large firms are now realizing the importance of humanism in corporate management. But in academia, much of management theory is still stuck on the ideas of early industrialization - focusing solely on the idea that the only real value is financial value. In this paper, Rosabeth Moss Kanter discusses how social logic guides the practices of many high-performing companies. Kanter suggests that such successful practices should provoke the creation of new economic theory, which will in turn provoke other firms to take note. She puts forth several propositions to make the case. Read More

Signing at the Top: The Key to Preventing Tax Fraud?

In filling out self-reported documents such as tax forms, we declare the information truthful with our signature, but usually we sign at the end of the form. Researchers Francesca Gino and Lisa Shu discuss whether governments and companies can bolster honesty simply by moving the honesty pledge and signature line to the top of the form, before people encounter the opportunity to cheat. Closed for comment; 4 Comments posted.

The Consequences of Mandatory Corporate Sustainability Reporting

The number of firms reporting sustainability information has grown significantly in the past decade, both due to voluntary actions and to mandates from several national governments and stock exchange authorities. In this paper, London Business School's Ioannis Ioannou and Harvard Business School's George Serafeim investigate whether mandatory sustainability reporting has any effect on a company's tendency to engage in socially responsible management practices. Read More

How ‘Political Voice’ Empowers the Powerless

Women in India often are targets of verbal abuse, discrimination, and violent crimes—crimes that are underreported. Fortunately, an increase in female political representation seems to be giving female crime victims a voice in the criminal justice system, according to new research by Harvard Business School professor Lakshmi Iyer and colleagues. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Searching for Better Practices in Social Investing

Social change requires innovation, not just in organizational practices but in funding practices, as well. This was a key message at "Social Investing: Emerging Trends in a Changing Landscape," a recent panel discussion at Harvard Business School in which several professional philanthropists explored how best to support social change. Open for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Testing Coleman’s Social-Norm Enforcement Mechanism: Evidence from Wikipedia

Harvard Business School professor Mikolaj Jan Piskorski and doctoral candidate Andreea Gorbatai look to the editing process on Wikipedia to test and validate the well-accepted (but little-verified) theory of sociologist James Coleman that social norm violations decline as network density increases. Support for Coleman's mechanism would alert us to the importance of punishments for norm violations and rewards for such punishments, and thus help us to design social systems in which norms are observed. Open for comment; 4 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.

Friends in High Places

Research supports the old adage that says it's not what you know; it's whom you know--especially when it comes to the voting behavior of US politicians. In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, Harvard Business School professors Lauren Cohen and Christopher Malloy study the congressional voting record from 1989 to 2008. They show that personal connections among Congress members reliably affect how they will vote on pending legislation. 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.

Prosocial Spending and Well-Being: Cross-Cultural Evidence for a Psychological Universal

Can money buy happiness? Apparently it can--if that money is spent on someone else. New research shows that people around the world gain emotional benefits from using their financial resources to benefit others. The research, which included data from 136 countries, was conducted by Lara B. Aknin, Elizabeth W. Dunn, Christopher P. Barrington-Leigh, and John Helliwell, University of British Columbia; Robert Biswas-Diener, Centre of Applied Positive Psychology; Imelda Kemeza, Mbarara University of Science & Technology; Paul Nyende, Makerere University; Claire Ashton-James, University of Groningen; and Michael I. Norton, Harvard Business School. 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.

Multinational Firms, Labor Market Discrimination, and the Capture of Competitive Advantage by Exploiting the Social Divide

Women and ethnic minorities are frequently discriminated against in the labor markets of both developed and emerging economies, particularly in opportunities for management positions. Multinationals entering such markets must decide whether to aggressively hire and promote the excluded group, thus reaping the benefits of their underutilized talent, or conform to local practice and avoid provoking some bigoted policymakers, executives, purchasers, and/or supply agents. In this paper, HBS professor Jordan Siegel, Lynn Pyun, and B.Y. Cheon find that multinationals gain significant competitive opportunities by scanning the host-market social landscape, identifying social schisms in the labor market, and exploiting such schisms by actively hiring and promoting members of the excluded group to positions of management responsibility. 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 Market for Human Cadavers in All but Name?

A shortage of cadavers has hampered medical education and training, a market that entrepreneurs are stepping forward to address. HBS professor Michel Anteby argues that scholars must learn more about the market dynamics of this uncomfortable subject in order to inform political debate. Read More

Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior

Helping others takes countless forms and springs from countless motivations, from deep-rooted empathy to a more calculated desire for public recognition. Social scientists have identified a host of ways in which charitable behavior can lead to benefits for the giver, whether economically via tax breaks, socially via signaling one's wealth or status, or psychologically via experiencing well-being from helping. Charitable organizations have traditionally capitalized on all of these motivations for giving, with a recently emerging focus on highlighting the mood benefits of giving—the feelings of empowerment, joy, and inspiration that giving engenders. Indeed, if giving feels good, why not advertise the benefits of "self-interested giving," allowing people to experience that good feeling while increasing contributions to charity at the same time? HBS doctoral candidate Lalin Anik, Professor Michael I. Norton, and coauthors explore whether organizations that seek to increase charitable giving by advertising the benefits of giving are making claims supported by empirical research and, most importantly, whether such claims actually increase donations. Read More

Are Retention Bonuses Worth the Investment?

There is a time and place for retention bonuses but they should be used sparingly, wrote many respondents to this month's column, says Professor Jim Heskett. Others challenged the value of bonuses, and suggested compelling alternatives. (Online forum now closed; next forum begins October 2.) Closed for comment; 42 Comments posted.

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

Business Summit: Ethics in Globalization

It is impossible to regulate against greed and ethical shortcomings. What can be done is to force greater transparency and accountability. Read More

Business Summit: Lawrence Summers on Market Capitalism’s Historic Opportunity

Confronting today's economic challenges represents an historic opportunity to save capitalism from itself, and in doing so, to create more prosperity and improve the lives of more people, says Lawrence Summers. Read More

It Is Okay for Artists to Make Money…No, Really, It’s Okay

When art and commerce are mentioned in the same sentence, many people become bad tempered or think something needs fixing. This paper argues that more artists ought to make more money more often. HBS professor Robert Austin and theater dramaturg Lee Devin identify and undermine three fallacies about art and commerce, and suggest that it is necessary to carry on a more careful and less emotional conversation about the tensions between art and business and to overcome a general aversion to business common among artists and their patrons. They also stress the need to develop better theories about how art and commerce can achieve integration helpful to both. 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

Dishonest Deed, Clear Conscience: Self-Preservation through Moral Disengagement and Motivated Forgetting

Why do people engage in unethical behavior repeatedly over time? In Everybody Does It! (1994), Thomas Gabor documents the pervasive immorality of ordinary people. Challenging the stereotype that only criminals violate the law, Gabor describes the numerous transgressions of everyday life and suggests that the excuses people make for their dishonest behavior parallel the justifications criminals make for their crimes. This common tendency of people to justify and distance themselves from their unethical behavior has captured the attention of several psychologists, and a long stream of research has documented differences in the way people think about their own ethical behavior and that of others. Harvard Business School's Lisa Shu and Max Bazerman, with colleague Francesca Gino, show that seemingly innocuous aspects of the environment can promote the decision to act ethically or unethically. Read More

Can Housing and Credit be “Nudged” Back to Health?

Did human frailty cause this crisis? Several thinkers have come forward with a suggestion for improvements to fiscal policy that are based on fostering better decisions while preserving consumer choice, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. What should be done? What do you think? (Online forum now closed. Next forum begins January 7.) Closed for comment; 38 Comments posted.

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

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

Using Financial Innovation to Support Savers: From Coercion to Excitement

This paper acknowledges the wide range of solutions to the problem of low family savings. Families, and of particular interest to the authors, low-income families, save for a wide variety of purposes, including identifiable reasons such as education and retirement and others that are more broad, like rainy days or emergencies. Given societal pressures to consume, and given the diversity among people, it is unlikely that there is a single solution to the savings problem. Yet a number of programs described by Tufano and Schneider have great promise in supporting household savings. Tufano and Schneider discuss each program from the perspectives of would-be savers as well as from that of other key stakeholders. Read More

Innovative Ways to Encourage Personal Savings

Saving money doesn't need to be so difficult. According to HBS professor Peter Tufano, "The most interesting ideas—indeed the oldest—try to make savings a fun or satisfying experience." As Tufano describes in this Q&A, different solutions appeal to different people. Here's what government policy, the private sector, and nonprofits can do. Read More

No Harm, No Foul: The Outcome Bias in Ethical Judgments

Too often, workers are evaluated based on results rather than on the quality of the decision. Given that most consequential business decisions involve some uncertainty, the upshot is that organizations wind up rewarding luck rather than wisdom. From a rational decision-making perspective, people's decisions should be evaluated based on the information the decision maker had available to him or her at the time, and not based on the ultimate results. This paper tests predictions about this effect, known as the outcome bias, in two studies in which participants were asked to consider various ethically questionable behaviors. Participants were also given information about the outcome of such behaviors and were asked to rate the ethicality of the described actions with or without the outcome information. The findings extend prior research in psychology and ethics. Read More

A House Divided: Investment or Shelter?

For decades Americans viewed their homes as a safe harbor, a place to put down roots. But the last decade saw the rise of housing as an investment opportunity. What comes next? asks Harvard Business School professor Nicolas P. Retsinas, director of Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. Read More

One Laptop per Child

The One Laptop per Child initiative wants to develop and distribute $100 laptops to poor children around the world. Despite eager observers and exciting breakthroughs technologically, it has found the path to customers more rocky than anticipated. Marketing has some answers, as a new case study details. Q&A with HBS professor John Quelch. Read More

Teaching The Moral Leader

In The Moral Leader course at Harvard Business School, students exchange their business management case studies to discuss some of the great protagonists in literature. Professor Sandra Sucher discusses how we all can find our own definition of moral leadership. Read More

Climate Change Puts Heat on GMs

Ready or not, companies are being swept up in the increasing public debate over global climate change. How should firms respond? A case study exploring how financial service giant UBS thinks through the issues has students coming down on different sides. Read More

Are Elite Business Schools Fostering the Deprofessionalization of Management?

Summing Up. The founders of top business schools wanted to make management a profession similar to law, medicine, and theology. But the results look different, according to a new book, From Higher Aims to Hired Hands, by HBS professor Rakesh Khurana. Now Jim Heskett asks: How, and to what extent, are business schools themselves contributing to the situation? Forum now closed. Closed for comment; 70 Comments posted.

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

Repugnant Markets and How They Get That Way

Repugnance is different in different places and at different times, says Harvard economist Alvin E. Roth in this Q&A. As someone who designs and builds new markets, he marvels at how society decides whether a transaction is "good" or "bad"—even when such transactions are very much alike. Read More

Teaching the Next Generation of Energy Executives

A new generation of energy industry managers will make decisions that affect the quality of life for hundreds of millions of people. At Harvard Business School, students in professor Forest Reinhardt's Energy course are learning the complexities and realities of developing and implementing strategy in such a complex environment. Read More

How Property Ownership Changes Your World View

When Argentine squatters were granted property title it changed the way they viewed the world. HBS professor Rafael Di Tella discusses his research into how property ownership affects our beliefs and also our attitudes toward capitalism. Read More

Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets

While some kinds of transactions are repugnant at certain times and places, they are considered perfectly acceptable in other situations. This essay examines a wide range of examples, including the buying and selling of kidneys for transplantation. Repugnance has important consequences for the transactions and markets we see. Read More

The Business of Global Poverty

Nearly half of the planet's population subsists on $2 a day or less. What role should business play as the world confronts what may be the most explosive socioeconomic challenge of the new century? Read More

What a U.N. Partnership with Big Business Could Accomplish

If the world's large corporations really are the greatest drivers of wealth creation, it only seems reasonable that their capabilities and resources can be focused on global poverty, says professor emeritus George C. Lodge. Here's the case for a partnership between business, the United Nations, and NGOs. Read More

Business and the Global Poor

Companies have more or less ignored 80 percent of the world's population—the global poor. The new book Business Solutions for the Global Poor, created from research and a conference at Harvard Business School, shows how both business and societal interests can be served at the base of the economic pyramid. A Q&A with co-editor V. Kasturi Rangan. Read More

How Do We Respond to the “Dependency Ratio” Dilemma?

Without knowing it, we have already heard a great deal about "dependency ratios." We can expect to hear a lot more, both at the level of nations and individual firms. What is the answer to a dilemma that we are going to be confronting more and more frequently? Closed for comment; 34 Comments posted.

The Real Wal-Mart Effect

Critics are lining up to take shots at Wal-Mart's treatment of workers and a host of other alleged knocks against society. But the critics miss one big point, says Pankaj Ghemawat: Wal-Mart's overall impact benefits the economy and lower-income consumers. Read More

Enron Jury Sent the Right Message

Although the actions of Enron's executives were in many areas neither clearly legal nor illegal, jurors sent an unambiguous message that all executives should heed: Truth telling and ethical discipline are the cornerstone values in corporate governance. 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

Global Poverty Needs a Global Answer

A World Development Corporation could help business, government, and non-governmental organizations collaborate more effectively to ease global poverty, believes George C. Lodge, HBS professor emeritus. He discusses recent developments. 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

Enron’s Lessons for Managers

Like the Challenger space shuttle disaster was a learning experience for engineers, so too is the Enron crash for managers, says Harvard Business School professor Malcolm S. Salter. Yet what have we learned? 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

Five Questions for Debora L. Spar

HBS Working Knowledge editor Sean Silverthorne conducted an email interview with Debora L. Spar about her new book, Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Invention, Chaos and Wealth. Read More

Three Countries, Three Choices in Post-Soviet Eurasia

The experience of three states of the former Soviet Union in the shadow of post-Soviet Russia, says HBS Professor Rawi Abdelal, shows that nationalism plays a far greater role in economic policy than has generally been recognized. Read More