Strategy

220 Results

 

Negotiation and All That Jazz

In his new book The Art of Negotiation, Michael Wheeler throws away the script to examine how master negotiators really get what they want. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

When Do Alliances Make Sense?

Analyzing drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico, John Beshears explores a question as old as business itself: When does it pay to make an alliance? Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Book Excerpt: ‘Can China Lead?’

Creativity and innovation can be nurtured in different educational and institutional settings, but does China have a good institutional framework for innovation? An excerpt from Can China Lead? Open for comment; 0 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

Tommy Koh: Background and Major Accomplishments of the ’Great Negotiator, 2014

Tommy Koh is a diplomat, professor, and international lawyer currently serving as Ambassador-at-Large for the Government of Singapore. He will be the 2014 recipient of the Harvard Program on Negotiation's "Great Negotiator Award." In this paper, the authors discuss Koh's life, career, and major accomplishments as a negotiator. They summarize several of his most significant negotiations to date, exploring his successes at forging creative, lasting solutions to complex challenges and disputes. The authors discuss Koh's leadership in establishing the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (USSFTA), developing and ratifying a charter for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), resolving territorial and humanitarian disputes in the Baltics and Asia, and successfully leading two unprecedented global megaconferences: the Third U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea and the U.N. Conference on the Environment and Development, also known as the Earth Summit. As part of the 2014 Great Negotiator Awards program, negotiation faculty and students will analyze several of these experiences in much greater depth in order to extract their most valuable lessons for theory and practice. Read More

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.

D’O: Making a Michelin-Starred Restaurant Affordable

Under the leadership of Chef Davide Oldani, the Italian restaurant D'O balances Michelin-star-level quality with affordable prices. In the following story and video, Professor Gary Pisano explains how Oldani does it. Open for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Is Top-Down Resource Allocation on the Rise?

Summing Up Respondents to this month's column provided Jim Heskett possible explanations for greater reliance on top-down resource allocation processes while arguing that a blend of influences from the top and bottom of an organization are still important for best results. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Missing the Wave in Ship Transport

Despite a repeating boom-bust cycle in the shipping industry, owners seem to make the same investment mistakes over time. Can other cyclical industries learn the lessons of the high seas? Research by Robin Greenwood and Samuel G. Hanson. Open for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Blockbuster! Why Star Power Works

Anita Elberse discusses her new book on the benefits of a blockbuster strategy—investing big money into a few top products. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Is Leadership an Increasingly Difficult Balancing Act?

Summing Up: Do we long for the days of the conventional authority figure? Jim Heskett sums up this month's column. Closed for comment; 19 Comments posted.

Do Mergers Hurt Product Quality?

Albert W. Sheen finds that while mergers lead to product price decreases, they generally have little effect on product quality over time. Closed for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Applying Random Coefficient Models to Strategy Research: Testing for Firm Heterogeneity, Predicting Firm-Specific Coefficients, and Estimating Strategy Trade-Offs

Textbooks generally define firm strategy as a set of decisions focused on managing organizational trade-offs in order to achieve long-term competitive advantage. Although strategy models theorize why the same actions by different firms lead to different effects on firm performance, empirical work typically estimates the average effect of an action across firms. The authors discuss how Random Coefficient Models (RCMs) can close the gap between theoretical and empirical research in strategy. Among other advantages to using RCMs, researchers can make a critical distinction between firm actions (or explanatory variables) that are statistically significant and those that are strategically significant. Read More

How Relevant is Long-Range Strategic Planning?

Summing Up: Jim Heskett's readers argue that long-range planning, while necessary for organizational success, must be adaptable to the competitive environment. What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 32 Comments posted.

The Impact of Patent Wars on Firm Strategy: Evidence from the Global Smartphone Market

Patents and patent enforcement strategies have become an essential part of firms' competitive strategies: They are used as isolating mechanisms to protect intellectual property or as defense mechanisms to help obtain access to external innovations. Using data from the global smartphone market, the authors of this paper investigate the effect of escalated patent litigations—the so-called patent war—on firm strategy. The smartphone industry is a classic example of a business ecosystem, as participants in this industry are highly interconnected and this interconnectivity means that effects on some ecosystem participants are likely to extend to affect the rest. The authors' findings show that the efficacy of patent enforcement systems across markets plays a significant role in firm strategy during patent wars, and ultimately shapes the global competitive landscape. As the patent war intensifies, smartphone vendors, even those not directly involved in patent litigations, gradually shift their business foci to markets with weaker intellectual property (IP) rights protection. This shift, however, is attenuated for vendors with stronger technological capabilities and is more pronounced for vendors whose home markets have weak IP systems. Together, these changes shape the competitive landscape for platform competition. Read More

Waves in Ship Prices and Investment

Dry bulk shipping is a highly volatile and cyclical industry in which earnings, investment, and returns on capital appear in waves. In this paper, the authors develop a model of industry capacity dynamics in which industry participants have trouble forecasting demand accurately and fail to fully anticipate the effect that endogenous supply responses will have on earnings. The authors estimate the model using data on earnings, secondhand prices, and investment in the dry bulk shipping industry between 1976 and 2011. Findings show that returns to owning and operating a ship are predictable and closely related to industry-wide investment in capacity. High current ship earnings are associated with higher ship prices and higher industry investment, but predict low future returns on capital. Conversely, high levels of ship demolitions-a measure of industry disinvestment-forecast high returns. 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.

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.

How Numbers Talk to People

In their new book Keeping Up with the Quants, Thomas H. Davenport and Jinho Kim offer tools to sharpen quantitative analysis and make better decisions. Read our excerpt. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Can LEGO Snap Together a Future in Asia?

Using scenario planning, executives at LEGO Group played through a possible strategy shift in Asia. Thanks to a new case study by professor Anette Mikes, students can make their own decisions. Closed for comment; 5 Comments posted.

Marketplace or Reseller?

Intermediaries can often choose to operate as a marketplace, as a reseller, or as a hybrid having some products offered under each of the two different modes. For example, Alibaba.com, eBay.com, Premium Outlets, and Simon Malls act as marketplaces, in which suppliers sell directly to buyers via a platform. In contrast, retailers like 7-Eleven, Eastbay.com, Lowes, and Zappos.com resell the products they purchase from suppliers to buyers. A hybrid mode is also possible: For example, the largest electronics retailer in the United States, Best Buy, has taken a step towards the marketplace mode by allowing Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft to launch their own ministores within Best Buy stores. What economic tradeoffs drive an intermediary to adopt one mode over the other, or both? In this paper, the authors provide a new style of modeling intermediaries' strategic positioning decisions and a theory of which products an intermediary should offer in each mode. They also present a guide to how intermediaries should optimally position themselves between the two different modes. Managerial implications not only apply to an intermediary choosing between positioning itself as a pure reseller or a pure marketplace, but to hybrid modes in which the intermediary needs to determine how many products (and in the case of diverse products, which products) to offer in each mode. Read More

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.

Breaking Through a Growth Stall

Many companies get stuck on a plateau, unable to grow and burning through cash at a frightening rate. Frank V. Cespedes discusses how focusing on the right customers can generate growth again. Open for comment; 3 Comments posted.

Three-Dimensional Strategy: Winning the Multisided Platform

Done right, companies competing as a multi-sided platform often win with higher percentage profit margins than those enjoyed by traditional resellers. The problem is that a winning strategy is far from self-evident. Professor Andrei Hagiu explains the potential and the pitfalls for life as an MSP. Closed for comment; 2 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. Open for comment; 24 Comments posted.

Should Managers Bother Listening to Predictions?

Summing Up Should we use predictions at all when planning for the future? Jim Heskett's readers offer a variety of opinions. What do YOU think? Closed for comment; 38 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.

10 Reasons Customers Might Resist Windows 8

Has Microsoft become too innovative? Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a leader in the field of change management, discusses reasons that people might not rush to embrace Windows 8. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

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.

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.

Investment Incentives in Proprietary and Open-Source Two-Sided Platforms

While proprietary and open-source software have coexisted since the early days of the computing industry, competition between these two modes of development has intensified dramatically following the surge of the Internet in the mid-1990s. This paper provides a first step to better understand incentives to invest in proprietary and open platforms. Specifically, the authors examine a model of a proprietary and an open-source two-sided platform to study equilibrium investment in platform quality. Their analysis provides answers to three important questions: (1) How are the incentives to invest in platform quality affected by the degree of platform openness? (2) Which of these two modes of governance leads to investment closer to the social optimum? And (3), how are incentives to invest in platform quality moderated by competition between proprietary and open two-sided platforms? Comparing monopoly platforms reveals that for a given level of user and developer adoption, investment incentives are stronger in proprietary platforms. However, open platforms may receive larger investment because they may benefit from wider adoption, which raises the returns to quality investment. The authors also find that proprietary platforms may benefit from higher investment in competing open platforms when developers multi-home, a result that helps explain why a proprietary platform such as Microsoft has chosen to contribute to the development of Linux. Read More

Book Excerpt: ‘The Strategist’

It's time for CEOs to start reclaiming strategy as a key executive responsibility, argues Cynthia A. Montgomery in her new book, The Strategist. Open for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Are You a Strategist?

Corporate strategy has become the bailiwick of consultants and business analysts, so much so that it is no longer a top-of-mind responsibility for many senior executives. Professor Cynthia A. Montgomery says it's time for CEOs to again become strategists. Closed for comment; 43 Comments posted.

Location Choices Under Strategic Interactions

How do firms decide their location when expanding geographically? This paper explores how strategic interaction among competitors affects firms' geographic expansion across time and markets. HBS professor Juan Alcacer builds a model in which two firms that differ in their capabilities enter sequentially into two markets with different potentials for profit. The model is solved using game theory under three learning scenarios that capture the ability of a firm to transfer its capabilities across markets: no learning, local learning, and global learning. Three equilibrium strategies emerge: accommodate, marginalize, and collocate. Alcacer identifies how these strategies are more or less likely to emerge depending on three parameters: initial relative firm capabilities, relative market profitability, and learning rates. For managers, the paper illustrates different ways that firms can use location choices across time and geographic markets as a tool to enhance or preserve their competitive position within an industry. Read More

Creating an R&D Strategy

This note by Gary P. Pisano provides a framework for designing an R&D strategy. It starts with the simple notion that a strategy is a system approach to solving a problem. An R&D strategy is defined a coherent set of interrelated choices across decision concerning: organizational architecture, processes, people, and project portfolios. To illustrate the framework, we use examples of three pharmaceutical companies and examine how their different R&D strategies were rooted in different assumptions about the core driver of R&D performance. This suggests that the very first question to be answered in strategy development is: What's our shared understanding of the root cause of the problem we are trying to solve? Read More

The Importance of Teaming

Managers need to stop thinking of teams as static groups of individuals who have ample time to practice interacting successfully and efficiently, says Amy Edmondson in her new book, Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy. The reason: Today's corporate teams band and disband by the minute, requiring a more dynamic approach to how teams absorb knowledge. Closed for comment; 10 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.

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.

Platform Competition Under Partial Belief Advantage

In platform competition in a two-sided market, a platform's ability to attract consumers depends not only on the consumers' beliefs regarding its quality, but also on consumers' beliefs regarding the platform's ability to attract the other side of the market. For example, in the market for smart-phones the recent introductions of Apple's iPhone 4S with the improved operating system, and Samsung's Galaxy II with the improved Android 4, open a new round in the competition between the two platforms. The ability of each platform to attract users depends not only on its perceived quality, but also on users' beliefs regarding the number new applications developed for the platform. Likewise, the ability to attract application developers to the platform depends on their beliefs regarding the number of users that will join the platform. In a competitive market, some platforms may enjoy more favorable beliefs of the market (about their ability to attract ``the other side) than other platforms. Such a belief advantage may be source of a competitive advantage. In this paper, the authors look at how the belief advantage helps the platform to compete in the market, and also how a platform may create the belief advantage. The authors find that the degree of the platform's belief advantage affects its decision regarding its business model (whether to subsidize buyers or sellers), as well as the access fees and the size of the platform. Moreover, the paper looks into the optimal advertising strategy that leads to creating belief advantage. This paper contributes to scholarship on economics and business strategy. Read More

Expectations, Network Effects and Platform Pricing

In markets with network effects, the value that users gain from platforms depends on the number of other users of the same type who join the same platform (direct network effects) or the number of users of a different type that join (cross-group network effects). Examples include social networks like Facebook or Google+, payment systems like PayPal or Visa, videogame systems like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, smartphone platforms like Apple's iPhone or Google's Android, etc. Users typically rely on the media, market reports, or word of mouth to form expectations about the total number of other users that join a given platform. However, most of the time these users are unable to calculate the effect of platforms' prices on adoption by other users. In other words, they do not take price into account when forming expectations. To analyze platform profits, Andrei Hagiu and Hanna Hałaburda model different degrees of user sophistication in forming price expectations in markets with network effects. They show that firms have different preferences regarding the average sophistication of their user base depending on market structure. Read More

The Impact of Modularity on Intellectual Property and Value Appropriation

Distributed innovation in open systems is an important trend in the modern global economy. In general, distributed innovation in open systems is made possible by the modularity of the underlying product or process. Carliss Y. Baldwin and Joachim Henkel provide a systematic analysis of value appropriation in closed and open modular systems, with implications for managers. Modular systems are made up of components that are highly interdependent within sub-blocks, called modules, and largely independent across those sub-blocks. Despite the technical benefits of modularity, history shows that it is not always straightforward for firms to capture value in a modular system. The paper argues that strategies for capturing value in an open, modular system must be formulated at the module level. But modularity is not a single strategy: it is rather a large set of strategic options and related tactics that can be deployed in different ways depending on the interplay of countervailing forces. Read More

Location, Location, Location: The Strategy of Place

Business success in one geographic location doesn't necessarily follow a company to a new setting. Professor Juan Alcácer discusses the importance of taking a long-term strategic view. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

The Most Common Strategy Mistakes

In a new book, Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy, Joan Magretta distills Porter's core concepts and frameworks into a concise guide for business practitioners. In this excerpt, Porter discusses common strategy mistakes. Open for comment; 36 Comments posted.

Charitable Giving When Altruism and Similarity Are Linked

Harvard Business School professor Julio J. Rotemberg looks at what makes people decide to contribute to a charity. He focuses on two psychological factors: that people feel better about themselves when other people agree with them, and that people tend to be more charitable to other like-minded people. 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 New Challenge of Leading Financial Firms

Running a financial organization, never easy to begin with, has quickly become one of the most difficult leadership challenges that an executive can undertake, requiring mastery of talent management, change management, and ethics. An interview with Professor Boris Groysberg, who teaches a new HBS Executive Education program on the subject with Professor Paul M. Healy. Open for comment; 13 Comments posted.

Multi-Sided Platforms

Research in multi-sided platforms (MSPs) studies how payment networks bring together cardholders and retailers, shopping malls bring together shoppers and retailers, and video game systems bring together gamers and game developers. Andrei Hagiu and Julian Wright propose a new definition of MSPs that aims to capture what makes eBay, shopping malls, Yellow Pages directories, and dating websites different from "regular" firms such as a bakery or car dealership, as well as how to characterize less clear-cut examples. They also discuss the economic trade-offs that determine where organizations choose to place themselves on the continuum between MSPs and resellers, or between MSPs and input suppliers. 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.

Quantity vs. Quality: Exclusion by Platforms with Network Effects

Many well-known platforms regulate access and transactions even though excluded users would be willing to pay the "price of admission." For example, Apple routinely excludes certain application developers from its highly popular iPhone store, and videogame console manufacturers such as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo restrict access to a select set of game developers. Exclusion is oftentimes a necessary strategic instrument, which allows platforms to trade off the quantity versus the "quality" of users. Andrei Hagiu's paper builds a simple strategic model that formalizes the choices of possible exclusion policies and discusses the potential gains and losses of exclusion. Read More

First-Party Content, Commitment and Coordination in Two-Sided Markets

Two-sided platforms face a challenging coordination problem that consists of attracting both buyers and sellers. Participation by both depends on their expectations of participation on the other side of the market. To improve such coordination, many platforms provide "first-party content," such as games (e.g. Microsoft's Halo on Xbox), objective search results (Google and Bing) or, in the case of Amazon and eBay, product information and payment systems. First-party content makes participation more attractive to one side (typically, users), independently of the presence of sellers. Importantly, first-party content may be either a complement or a substitute for third-party sellers' products. For instance, Halo is a substitute for games provided by Electronic Arts on the Xbox; on the other hand, the Xbox Live online playing system is a complement. Similarly, Amazon's shipping services complements its third-party sellers' offerings, but the products Amazon sells under its own name compete with them. Professors Hagiu and Spulber examine the incentives that two-sided platforms have to invest in first-party content in order to coordinate adoption by both sides. The authors show that the incentives for firms to use first-party content depend crucially on the nature of buyers' and sellers' expectations and the relationship between first-party content and third-party seller participation (complements or substitutes). Read More

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.

Managing Political Risk in Global Business: Beiersdorf 1914-1990

After the outbreak of World War 1, management of political risk became a central concern for firms, especially those operating internationally. These risks were on many levels, from expropriation to exchange controls and other economic policies. German firms, which had flourished during the second industrial revolution of the late nineteenth century, and enthusiastically expanded internationally, found themselves especially exposed to such risks. Focusing on one such firm, Beiersdorf, a German-based pharmaceutical and skin care company (and, during the Nazi years, a so-called Jewish business), the authors examine corporate strategies of political risk management during the twentieth century, especially the volatile years of Nazi Germany. The history of Beiersdorf highlights areas of managerial discretion. Faced by the worst of all worlds, the firm survived and was able, albeit at great cost, to rebuild its business. Read More

Signaling to Partially Informed Investors in the Newsvendor Model

Why might firms make operational decisions that purposefully do not maximize expected profits? This model looks at the question by developing scenarios using the example of inventory management in the face of an external investor. The research was conducted by Vishal Gaur of Cornell University, Richard Lai of the University of Pennsylvania, and Ananth Raman and William Schmidt of Harvard Business School. Read More

So We Adapt. What’s the Downside?

Summing Up Jim Heskett's readers ponder the question of whether the virtues of adaptability in a chaotic world undermine an organization's ability to commit. Closed for comment; 28 Comments posted.

The Impact of Forward-Looking Metrics on Employee Decision Making

In marketing, the use of the customer lifetime value (CLV) metric encourages a focus on long-term customer relationships over short-term sales. This paper examines a situation in which a European bank introduced CLV data to its customer-facing employees, while still maintaining the incentives linked to short-term profitability; the goal was to discover whether and how these employees would modify their mortgage sales decisions. Research was conducted by Pablo Casas-Arce of Universitat Pompeu Fabra, and F. Asís Martínez-Jerez and V.G. Narayanan of Harvard Business School. Read More

When Smaller Menus are Better: Variability in Menu-Setting Ability and 401(k) Plans

Economists love menus, which can be used to help understand people's choices. For example, do we prefer more choices (larger menu) or fewer (shorter menu)? But the menu itself has to be pre-selected. Research by David Goldreich (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto) and Hanna Halaburda (Harvard Business School) focuses on the menu setter's decisions about what to include, and how large a menu to construct in the context of 401(k) plan choices. Read More

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.

What Do CEOs Do?

If time is money, as the old adage goes, then a CEO's schedule is especially important to a firm's financial success. This raises a fair question: What do CEOs do all day? To that end, researchers followed the activities of 94 CEOs in Italy over the course of a pre-specified week, enlisting the CEOs' personal assistants to track their bosses' activities with time-use diaries. Research was conducted by Raffaella Sadun of Harvard Business School, Luigi Guiso of the European University Institute, and Oriana Bandiera and Andrea Prat of the London School of Economics. Read More

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

Platform Competition under Asymmetric Information

Research by Hanna Halaburda (Harvard Business School) and Yaron Yehezkel (Tel Aviv University) shows how pricing, profits, and market efficiency are affected in two-sided markets, such as with smartphone and video game platforms, when users and developers do not know the utility or costs associated with the platform until they join. Read More

Schumpeterian Competition and Diseconomies of Scope: Illustrations from the Histories of Microsoft and IBM

Firms dominant in one era are often less successful in new technological eras, despite being able to exploit economies of scope and other incumbent advantages. What leads to this Schumpeterian creative destruction? Researchers Timothy Bresnahan (Stanford), Shane Greenstein (Northwestern), and Rebecca Henderson (Harvard Business School) look to IBM and Microsoft for an answer. Read More

Marketplace Institutions Related to the Timing of Transactions

Certain markets face the problem of "unraveling," in which competition for good talent leads a firm to make job offers earlier and earlier, without sufficient knowledge about any given applicant—and in which applicants are forced to decide whether to accept a job before they really know much about working for that firm. Harvard Business School professor Alvin E. Roth discusses how this issue affects the labor markets for new lawyers and gastroenterology fellows, as well as the market for postseason college football bowls. Read More

How Firm Strategies Influence the Architecture of Transaction Networks

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

Naivete and Cynicism in Negotiations and Other Competitive Contexts

In business and in life, it's important to strike a smart balance between naïveté and cynicism. Act too naïvely, and someone is bound to take advantage of you. Skew cynical, and you may miss out on new opportunities with good people. This paper discusses the decision errors inherent in leaning too far in either direction. Research was conducted by Chia-Jung Tsay, Lisa. L. Shu, and Max H. Bazerman of Harvard Business School. Read More

How Should Management Deal With “Anonymous”?

Summing Up When it comes to the leaky Web, Jim Heskett's readers say assume the worst and act accordingly. (New forum on February 3.) Closed for comment; 33 Comments posted.

Sharpening Your Skills: Doing Business in Emerging Markets

Going global is one thing, targeting emerging economies quite another. In this collection from our archives, HBS faculty discuss strategy development, government relations, exploiting local opportunities, and risk management when dealing in emerging economies. Read More

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution

Successful business strategy lies not in having all the right answers, but rather in asking the right questions, says Harvard Business School professor Robert Simons. In an excerpt from his new book, Seven Strategy Questions, Simons explains how posing these questions can help managers make smart choices. Read More

Connecting Goals and Go-To-Market Initiatives

In some respects, developing strategy is the easy part. Executing that strategy in alignment with strategic priorities is where real mastery of management takes place. Harvard Business School senior lecturer Frank V. Cespedes shows how it is done. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

When Does a Platform Create Value by Limiting Choice?

Platforms such as video games and smartphones need to attract users, and the best way to do so is to offer more and more applications. Is there ever a point where a platform should limit the variety available? Researchers Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Hanna Halaburda observe that in many situations users enjoy consuming applications together. When such consumption complementarities are present, users may benefit if the platform limits choice. With fewer applications to choose from, it is easier for users to take full advantage from shared consumption. 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

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach to Execution

Faculty Research Symposium 2010: Business managers who fail to make tough strategic choices doom their organizations to eventual failure. Read More

It Pays to Hire Women in Countries That Won’t

South Korean companies don't hire many women, no matter how qualified. So multinationals are moving in to take advantage of this rich hiring opportunity, according to new research by professor Jordan Siegel. Read More

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

HBS Introduces Marketing Analysis Tools for Managers

The tools can help managers inform decisions on market analysis, breakeven analysis, customer lifetime value, profit and pricing, and analyzing the competitive environment. Interview with Tom Steenburgh. 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

The Effect of Market Leadership in Business Process Innovation: The Case(s) of E-Business Adoption

The connection between market leadership and the adoption of new technologies is central to understanding how firms maintain or gain competitive advantage over time. One key determinant of firm openness to either product or process innovation is how radical or incremental a particular change is for the organization. Using the context of IT-enabled business processes for e-buying and e-selling, a setting that offers a complementary view to studies that have focused on R&D expenditure and patents as measures of innovation, HBS professor Kristina McElheran sheds light on whether, when, and why market leaders might be more likely to adopt new innovations. This study represents the first robust, multi-industry evidence that market leaders are far more likely to adopt incremental rather than radical business process innovations. Read More

Yes, You Can Raise Prices in a Downturn

If you and your customers understand the value represented in your pricing, you can—and should—charge more for delivering more. An interview on "performance pricing" with researchers Frank Cespedes, Benson P. Shapiro, and Elliot Ross. Read More

Business Model Innovation and Competitive Imitation

When and why should an entrant adopt a new business model when the innovation could be imitated by an incumbent? In this paper, HBS professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and University of Southern California professor Feng Zhu examine the desirability, or lack thereof, of business model innovations when they cannot be protected, opening the door to competitive imitation. Issues of competing through new business model design become more important given the increasing number of opportunities for business model configurations enabled by technological progress, new customer preferences, and deregulation. Read More

From Russia with Love: The Impact of Relocated Firms on Incumbent Survival

The relocation of the machine tool industry from the Soviet-occupied zone of postwar Germany to western regions is a unique laboratory for studying the impact of industrial structures on incumbent survival. Typically, geographic agglomerations of similar firms offer benefits to each member firm by reducing the transportation costs for material goods, specialized workers, and industry knowledge among the firms. Of course, tight geographic concentration comes with countervailing costs as firms compete for local inputs. In this paper, HBS professor William R. Kerr and coauthors study the impact of increased local concentration on incumbent firms by considering postwar Germany, when the fear of expropriation (or worse) in the wake of World War II prompted many machine tool firm owners to flee to western Germany, where they reestablished their firms. Read More

The Hard Work of Measuring Social Impact

Donors are placing nonprofits on the hot seat to measure social performance. Problem is, there is little agreement on what those metrics should be. Professor Alnoor Ebrahim on how nonprofit managers should respond. Read More

Platforms and Limits to Network Effects

Why do platforms that restrict choice and charge higher prices seem to prosper alongside platforms offering cheap or free unlimited choice? In the online dating market, for example, eHarmony deliberately limits the number of candidates available to its customers. Headhunters show only a few candidates to the companies, and even fewer companies to the candidates. In the housing market, brokers limit the number of houses they show to potential buyers and sellers. In this paper, HBS professors Hanna Halaburda and Mikolaj Jan Piskorski challenge conventional understanding of platform competition and network effects by describing a two-sided matching environment and studying the indirect network effects in this environment. They show that the interplay between more choice and more competition influences the strength of network effects and attractiveness of a platform. Some agents may opt for a platform with few choices to avoid higher levels of competition. The researchers' model helps explain why platforms that limit their choice set coexist (and thrive) alongside platforms that offer greater choice. Read More

How Do You Weigh Strategy, Execution, and Culture in an Organization’s Success?

Summing up: Respondents who ventured to place weights on the determinants of success gave the nod to culture by a wide margin, says HBS professor Jim Heskett. (Online forum now closed. Next forum opens July 2.) Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.

What Is the Future of MBA Education?

Why get an MBA degree? Transformations in business and society make this question increasingly urgent for executives, business school deans, students, faculty, and the public. In a new book, Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads, Harvard Business School's Srikant M. Datar, David A. Garvin, and Patrick G. Cullen suggest opportunities for innovation. Q&A with Datar and Garvin plus book excerpt. Read More

One Report: Better Strategy through Integrated Reporting

Stakeholders expect it. And smart companies are doing it: integrating their reporting of financial and nonfinancial performance in order to improve sustainable strategy. HBS senior lecturer Robert G. Eccles and coauthor Michael P. Krzus explain the benefits and value of the One Report method. Plus: book excerpt from One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy. Read More

Multinational Strategies and Developing Countries in Historical Perspective

HBS professor Geoffrey Jones offers a historical analysis of the strategies of multinationals from developed countries in developing countries. His central argument, that strategies were shaped by the trade-off between opportunity and risk, highlights how three broad environmental factors determined the trade-off. The first was the prevailing political economy, including the policies of both host and home governments, and the international legal framework. The second was the market and resources of the host country. The third was competition from local firms. Jones explores the impact of these factors on corporate strategies during the three eras in the modern history of globalization from the nineteenth century until the present day. He argues that the performance of specific multinationals depended on the extent to which their internal capabilities enabled them to respond to these external opportunities and threats. The paper highlights in particular the changing nature of political risk faced by multinationals. The era of expropriation has, for the moment, largely passed, but multinationals now experience new kinds of policy risk, and new forms of home country political risk also, such as the Alien Tort Claims Act in the United States. 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

When Open Architecture Beats Closed: The Entrepreneurial Use of Architectural Knowledge

Entrepreneurial firms rich in knowledge but poor in other resources can use superior architectural knowledge of a technical system to gain strategic advantage over larger and better endowed rivals. This paper presents a model and provides examples showing that architectural knowledge can be applied strategically to change a firm's scope and boundaries, make innovations more or less autonomous, and change the span of problems it must solve. Read More

Local R&D Strategies and Multi-location Firms: The Role of Internal Linkages

While geographic co-location has obvious benefits for firm innovation, it can also have serious drawbacks. HBS professor Juan Alcácer and Ross School of Business professor Minyuan Zhao explore how firms tap into the rich resources of technology clusters while protecting the value of their innovations. To understand R&D dynamics in a cluster, the scholars argue, we must recognize that a firm located in a particular cluster may also be part of an extended network, with its operations strategically integrated across multiple locations and multiple business lines. Read More

One Strategy: Aligning Planning and Execution

Strategy as it is written up in the corporate playbook often becomes lost or muddled when the team takes the field to execute. In their new book, Professor Marco Iansiti and Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky discuss a "One Strategy" approach to aligning plan and action. Read More

Conceptual Foundations of the Balanced Scorecard

This article documents the precursors of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC) strategic performance management tool and describes the evolution of the BSC since its introduction in 1992 in the Harvard Business Review. During the last 15 years, the BSC has been adopted by thousands of private, public, and nonprofit enterprises around the world. HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan, who created the concept and tool with David Norton, explains the roots and motivation for their original article as well as subsequent innovations that connect it to a larger management literature. Read More

A Reexamination of Tunneling and Business Groups: New Data and New Methods

"Tunneling" refers to efforts by firms' controlling owner-managers to take money for themselves at the expense of minority shareholders. Looking at emerging economies in general and at India in particular, HBS professor Jordan I. Siegel and doctoral student Prithwiraj Choudhury argue for a simultaneous analysis of corporate governance and strategic activity differences in order to reveal the quality of firm-level corporate governance. The development of rigorous methodology in corporate governance is not merely an academic issue but has enormous real-world consequences. It is critical that scholars gain deeper empirical and theoretical insights into the question of whether these business groups serve primarily as theft devices for the controlling owners, or whether they serve primarily as a positive force that enables the creation of scale and scope efficiencies. Read More

A Golden Opportunity for Ford and GM

With Toyota caught in a downshift, competitors should make aggressive moves to capitalize, says HBS professor Bill George. For starters, they need to improve their auto lineups for the long term. He explains how Ford and GM can best navigate the industry landscape ahead. Read More

The Mirroring Hypothesis: Theory, Evidence and Exceptions

In its simplest form, the mirroring hypothesis suggests that the organizational patterns of a development project, such as communication links, geographic collocation, and team and firm membership, correspond to the technical patterns of dependency in the system under development. According to the hypothesis, independent, dispersed contributors develop largely modular designs, while richly interacting, collocated contributors develop highly integral designs. Yet many development projects do not conform to the mirroring hypothesis. HBS doctoral graduate Lyra Colfer and professor Carliss Y. Baldwin synthesize observations from a large number of cases that violate the hypothesis to explain when and how development organizations can "break the mirror." Read More

The Outside-In Approach to Customer Service

Is your enterprise resilient or rigid? In this Q&A, HBS professor Ranjay Gulati, an expert on leadership, strategy, and organizational issues in firms, describes how companies can evolve through four levels to become more customer-centric. Plus: book excerpt from Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business. Read More

Does Product Market Competition Lead Firms To Decentralize?

There is a widespread sense that over the last two decades firms have been decentralizing decisions to employees further down the managerial hierarchy. Economists have developed a range of theories to account for delegation, but there is less empirical evidence, especially across countries. This has limited the ability to understand the phenomenon of decentralization. Nicholas Bloom, HBS professor Raffaella Sadun, and John Van Reenen assembled a new data set on about 4,000 firms across 12 countries in Europe, North America, and Asia, and then measured the delegation of authority from central headquarters to local plant managers. Read More

Competing Ad Auctions

Joining ad platforms can attract substantial regulatory attention: In November 2008, the Department of Justice planned to file antitrust charges to stop the proposed Google-Yahoo transaction. More recently, in September 2009, the Department of Justice sought additional information from Microsoft and Yahoo about their proposed partnership. At first glance it might seem paradoxical to claim that the Google-Yahoo transaction is undesirable, for advertisers and for the economy as a whole, while the Microsoft-Yahoo transaction offers net benefits. But that conclusion is entirely possible. HBS professor Benjamin G. Edelman and doctoral candidates Itai Ashlagi and Hoan Soo Lee explore competition among ad platforms that offer search engine advertising services. In addition, the authors evaluate possible transactions among ad platforms—building tools to predict which transactions improve welfare and which impede it. Read More

Optimal Auction Design and Equilibrium Selection in Sponsored Search Auctions

Reserve prices may have an important impact on search advertising marketplaces. But the effect of reserve prices can be opaque, particularly because it is not always straightforward to compare "before" and "after" conditions. HBS professor Benjamin G. Edelman and Yahoo's Michael Schwarz use a pair of mathematical models to predict responses to reserve prices and understand which advertisers end up paying more. Read More

Mixing Open Source and Proprietary Software Strategies

Open source and proprietary software development used to be competing strategies. Now software firms are experimenting with strategies that mix the two models. Researcher Gaston Llanes discusses recent research into these "mixed source" strategies. 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

State Owned Entity Reform in Absence of Privatization: Reforming Indian National Laboratories and Role of Leadership

Is privatization necessary? In India and across emerging markets, state-owned entities (SOEs) continue to make up a large proportion of industrial sales, yet they lag behind private counterparts on performance measures. But SOEs may be able to significantly improve performance even in the absence of property rights, according to HBS doctoral candidate Prithwiraj Choudhury and professor Tarun Khanna. As they document, 42 Indian state-owned laboratories started from a base of negligible U.S. patents, yet in the period 1993-2006 (during which the Indian government launched an ambitious privatization program), the labs were granted more patents than all domestic private firms combined. The labs then licensed several of these patents to multinationals, and licensing revenue increased from 3 percent to 15 percent as a fraction of government budgetary support. Findings are relevant to firms and R&D entities around the world that depend on varying degrees of government budgetary support and government control, especially in emerging markets like India, where SOEs control up to one-third of all industrial activity. Read More

From Strategy to Business Models and to Tactics

Drivers such as globalization, deregulation, or technological change, just to mention a few, are profoundly changing the competitive game. Scholars and practitioners agree that the fastest-growing firms in this new environment appear to have taken advantage of these structural changes to compete "differently" and innovate in their business models. However, there is not yet agreement on what are the distinctive features of superior business models. This dispute may have arisen, in part, because of a lack of a clear distinction between the notions of strategy, business model, and tactics. HBS professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Joan Enric Ricart present an integrative framework to distinguish and relate the concepts of business model, strategy, and tactics. Read More

Strategies to Fight Ad-sponsored Rivals

Many companies choose to finance themselves using ad revenues and offer their products or services—from newspapers to software applications, television programs, and online search—free to consumers. Yet the emergence of ad-sponsored entrants in various industries poses significant threats to the incumbents in these markets whose business models are often based on subscriptions or fees charged to their customers. Faced with the threat from ad-sponsored entrants, incumbents must choose strategies to respond. HBS professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and University of Southern California professor Feng Zhu create an analytical framework to establish guidelines for incumbent firms facing these issues. The researchers consider four alternative business models: pure-subscription-based; pure-ad-sponsored; mixed-single-product; and mixed-product-line-extension. Analysis shows that the optimal strategic and tactical choices change dramatically in the presence of an ad-sponsored rival. This is the first study to provide a comprehensive analysis of the competition between a free ad-sponsored entrant and an incumbent that has the option of choosing different business models. Read More

Why Are Web Sites So Confusing?

Just as bread and milk are often found at far-away ends of the supermarket, Web sites that match consumers with certain products have an incentive to steer users to products that yield the highest margins. The result: a compromise between what users want and what produces the most revenues, say HBS professor Andrei Hagiu and Toulouse School of Economics researcher Bruno Jullien. A look inside the world of search. Read More

Mixed Source

As most managers know, commercial firms may benefit from participating in open source software development by selling complementary goods or services. Open source has the potential to improve value creation because it benefits from the efforts of a large community of developers. Proprietary software, on the other hand, results in superior value capture because the intellectual property remains under the control of the original developer. While the straightforward rationale for "mixed source" (a combination of the two) is appealing, what does it mean for a business model? Under what circumstances should a profit-maximizing firm adopt a mixed source business model? How should firms respond to competitors' adoption of mixed source business models? And what are the right pricing structures under mixed source compared with the proprietary business model? In this paper the researchers analyze a model where firms with modular software must decide which modules to open and which to keep proprietary. Findings can be directly applied to the design of optimal business strategies. Read More

Culture Clash: The Costs and Benefits of Homogeneity

Culture clash is often considered a major cause for the failing of mergers and acquisitions, and for this reason it is an important consideration for corporate strategy. Although less publicized, culture clash has also plagued alliances and long-term market relationships. It provides a unique lens on the performance effects of corporate culture itself, and thus culture's potential to generate a competitive advantage. This paper develops an economic theory of the costs and benefits of corporate culture—in the sense of shared beliefs and values—in order to study the effects of culture clash in mergers and acquisitions. Read More

Corporate Social Responsibility in a Downturn

Financial turmoil is not a reason to scale back on CSR programs—quite the opposite, says HBS professor V. Kasturi "Kash" Rangan. As a marketing scholar Rangan is optimistic about strategic CSR efforts that provide value in communities and society. Q&A 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

Principles that Matter: Sustaining Software Innovation from the Client to the Web

Despite the current strength and promise of the Internet software market, the future pace of growth and innovation is not assured. The principles of choice, opportunity, and interoperability were important in the growth of PC software and in the overall health of the information technology ecosystem, and these same principles will shape competition in Internet software, according to HBS professor Marco Iansiti. Given the unprecedented speed at which this industry is developing, consumers and the industry should watch carefully as different companies compete. Choice, opportunity, and interoperability should serve as an important lens, particularly when focused on companies with especially large footprints in the new markets. 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

Business Summit: Enterprise Risk Management

Risk management is a key to sustained firm growth, says professor Robert S. Kaplan. Key ingredients to a successful risk management program include the proper culture, clear parameters, discipline, measurement, and accountability. Read More

Monopolistic Competition Between Differentiated Products With Demand For More Than One Variety

How and when is price competition most significant among firms? This paper develops a theoretical framework for studying price competition between multiple firms. Two examples of markets that fit the description for study are software applications and videogames: There are thousands of software applications as well as games, and different users are interested in different applications and/or games. A given software or game user's tastes may overlap with another's, yet they may have nothing in common with a third's. Thus, although there is a sense in which competition is localized (any given firm competes only with firms whose brands are similar to its own), it is not clear how the fact that consumers are generally interested in purchasing multiple products affects the type of competition waged among firms. Read More

Quantity vs. Quality and Exclusion by Two-Sided Platforms

It is common for two-sided platforms to deny participation to some potential customers, who would otherwise be willing to pay the platforms' access and/or transaction fees. Videogame console manufacturers such as Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, for example, restrict access to a select set of game developers and exclude many others by including security chips in their consoles, even though the latter would also be willing to pay the per-game royalties levied by the manufacturers. Apple routinely excludes certain application developers from its highly popular iPhone store. Professor Andrei Hagiu builds a simple model formalizing profit-maximizing two-sided platforms' choice of exclusion policies, which is fundamentally determined by a tradeoff between quality and quantity. Read More

Capitalizing On Innovation: The Case of Japan

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

Broadening Focus: Spillovers and the Benefits of Specialization in the Hospital Industry

What is the optimal scope of operations for firms? This question has particular relevance for the US hospital industry, because understanding the effects of focus and spillovers might help hospitals determine how they should balance focusing in a single clinical area with building expertise in related areas. While some scholars argue that narrowing an organization's set of activities improves its operational efficiency, others have noted that seemingly unfocused operations perform at a high level and that a broader range of activities may in fact increase firm value. This study by HBS doctoral student Jonathan Clark and professor Robert Huckman highlights the potential role of spillovers—specifically complementary spillovers—in generating benefits from focus at the operating unit level. 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

Applying the Care Delivery Value Chain: HIV/AIDS Care in Resource Poor Settings

The prevention and treatment of a complex disease such as HIV/AIDS in resource‐poor settings presents enormous challenges. Many of the social and economic factors that make populations living in these settings vulnerable to HIV/AIDS such as poverty, malnutrition, and political instability conspire to create barriers to effective care delivery. Understanding how interventions are related to each other and how local socioeconomic factors influence them is critical to effective program design. The Care Delivery Value Chain (CDVC) looks at care as an overall system, not as a series of discrete interventions, and describes the activities required to deliver care, illustrating their sequence and organization. Government agencies, philanthropic organizations, and non‐governmental organizations can use the framework to improve HIV/AIDS care delivery. 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

Marketing After the Recession

This downturn has likely changed people's buying habits in fundamental ways. Professor John Quelch discusses why marketers must start planning today to reach consumers after the recession. Read More

Platform Competition, Compatibility, and Social Efficiency

The last three decades have witnessed unprecedented growth in network industries such as video games, computers, credit cards, media, and telecommunications. These industries are often organized around physical or virtual platforms that enable distinct groups of agents to interact with one another, and are commonly referred to as two-sided markets or markets with two-sided platforms. An operating systems developer such as Microsoft, for example, provides a software platform that makes possible the completion of value-creating transactions between independent software vendors and users. A key attribute of the market that determines the intensity and scope of network effects is whether or not competing platforms are compatible. The effects of platform (in)compatibility on market outcomes, however, have largely been ignored by the literature on markets with two-sided platforms. This paper develops an explanation of why markets with two-sided platforms are often characterized by incompatibility with one dominant player that may choose to subsidize access to one side of the market. Read More

Unravelling in Two-Sided Matching Markets and Similarity of Preferences

Hiring policy is one of the most important determinants of a firm's success. The hiring process calls for collecting information in order to choose the best individual from among the candidates. In certain markets, however, firms hire workers long before all the pertinent information is available. Those early matches often turn out to be inefficient when the job starts. This phenomenon of contracting long before the job begins, and before relevant information is available, is called unravelling. Unravelling has been recognized as a serious problem in numerous markets, and measures designed to preclude it (such as centralized clearinghouses and enforcement of uniform hiring) have not always been successful. In order to provide insights for designing better measures to prevent unravelling in markets prone to it, this paper examines a two-sided matching market populated by firms on one side and workers on the other. 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

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

Parallel Search, Incentives and Problem Type: Revisiting the Competition and Innovation Link

The innovation process is fraught with uncertainty. Managers often do not know ahead of time the ideal mix of individuals and skills needed to solve innovation-related problems. One way around this uncertainty is to have multiple paths, approaches, or designs explored at once. The "parallel search" principle can be used inside the firm just as it may be used more generally by pursuing "open innovation". However, having too many searchers attempting to solve the same problem can undercut the benefits if it leads to less effort and investment. The authors study the outcomes of 645 software development contests, conducted by a software outsourcing vendor, involving over 9,000 coders, to understand the relationship between parallel search and increasing competition and innovation. Read More

Platform Rules: Multi-Sided Platforms as Regulators

Using case studies of Facebook, Tokyo's Roppongi Hills "mini-city," Harvard Business School, and TopCoder, a vendor of outsourced software products, Boudreau and Hagiu explore how multi-sided platforms (MSPs) regulate an industry ecosystem. An MSP is a platform that enables interactions between multiple groups of surrounding consumers and complementors. As the authors demonstrate, the regulatory role played in these cases by MSPs was pervasive and at the core of their business models. That regulatory role goes beyond price-setting and includes imposing rules and constraints, creating inducements, and generally shaping behaviors. These various non-price instruments essentially solve problems that could otherwise lead to market failure. The authors' analytical framework suggests a two-step approach for a platform owner: (1) maximize value created for the entire ecosystem, and (2) maximize the value extracted. "Platform Rules" is a chapter in the forthcoming book Platforms, Markets and Innovation, Gawer, A. (ed) (2009), Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA, U.S.: Edward Elgar. Read More

Opening Platforms: How, When and Why?

It is crucial for firms that create and maintain platforms to select optimal levels of openness. Decisions to open a platform entail tradeoffs between adoption and appropriability, and opening a platform can spur adoption by harnessing network effects, reducing users' concerns about lock-in, and stimulating production of differentiated goods that meet the needs of user segments. At the same time, opening a platform typically reduces users' switching costs and increases competition among platform providers, making it more difficult for them to appropriate rents from the platform. This paper describes research on factors that motivate managers to open or close mature platforms. Read More

The Architecture of Platforms: A Unified View

Product and system designers have long exploited opportunities to create families of complex artifacts by developing and recombining modular components. An especially common design pattern is associated with the concept of a platform, which Baldwin and Woodard define as a set of stable components that supports variety and evolvability in a system by constraining linkages among the other components. In this paper, the authors shed light on the relationships between platforms and the systems in which they are embedded to better understand and explain firms and industries where platforms play an important role. Read More

How Economics May Lead to Better Football Games

When economists watch football games they see more than flying pigskin and stadiums overflowing with fans. In the case of U.S. college football, Harvard Business School professor Alvin E. Roth along with Guillaume R. Fréchette and M. Utku Ünver studied the timing of team selection for championship bowls. What they found: Good teams are much better matched up than they used to be, and there are implications beyond sports. Q&A with Al Roth. Read More

Competing Complements

Over the last two decades, an increasing number of industries have evolved from vertical integration to more horizontal structures where firms design and manufacture components that are later assembled by third parties for the final customer. In these horizontal industries, firms may be "complementors," rather than customers, suppliers, or competitors. Classic examples of complementors include Intel and Microsoft. Similar complementor relationships arise in industries such as communications, consumer electronics, automobiles, and health care. In these industries, complementor analysis may be as important as competitor analysis. The authors of this paper introduce competition into one side of complementor analysis, and suggest implications for managers, public policy, and the development of theory. Read More

Strategy Execution and the Balanced Scorecard

Companies often manage strategy in fits and starts, with strategy execution lost along the way. A new book by Balanced Scorecard creators Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton aims to make strategy a continual process. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Balanced Scorecard in Action

Introduced by Harvard Business School professor Robert Kaplan and colleague David Norton, the Balanced Scorecard has been used by thousands of organizations to align business activities with the strategy. Read More

What Should Employers Do about Health Care?

Companies that cut health care costs without improving the overall value of care eventually pay a price in terms of employee absenteeism and chronic ailments. According to Harvard University professor and strategy expert Michael E. Porter and coauthors, the best way to truly reduce health care costs is to improve quality. 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

Exploring the Duality between Product and Organizational Architectures: A Test of the Mirroring Hypothesis

Products are often said to "mirror" the architectures of the organization from which they come. Is there really a link between a product's architecture and the characteristics of the organization behind it? The coauthors of this working paper chose to analyze software products because of a unique opportunity to examine two different organizational modes for development, comparing open-source with proprietary "closed-source" software. The results have important implications for development organizations given the recent trend toward "open" approaches to innovation and the increased use of partnering in research and development projects. Read More

Finding Missing Markets (and a disturbing epilogue): Evidence from an Export Crop Adoption and Marketing Intervention in Kenya

Why do farmers continue to grow crops for local markets when crops for export markets are thought to be much more profitable? Answers may include missing information about the profitability of these crops, lack of access to the necessary capital to make the switch possible, lack of infrastructure necessary to bring the crops to export outlets, high risk of the export markets, lack of human capital necessary to adopt successfully a new agricultural technology, and misperception by researchers and policymakers about the true profit opportunities and risk of crops grown for export markets. Ashraf and colleagues conducted an experimental trial with DrumNet, a social enterprise of Pride Africa, a nongovernmental organization, to evaluate whether a package of services can help farmers adopt, finance, and market export crops, and thus earn more income. This experiment was motivated by a recent push in development to build sustainable interventions that help complete missing markets. Read More

On Best-Response Bidding in GSP Auctions

Keyword auctions have become a critical source of revenue for Google and Yahoo!, among others. This new form of advertising has provided a new way for advertisers to reach customers. But advertisers also face the complex task of optimizing bids to increase their exposure while avoiding unnecessary costs. HBS professor Benjamin Edelman and colleagues analyzed a class of bidding strategies that attempt to increase advertiser utility under limited assumptions about other players' behavior. Under a strategy they call Balanced Bidding (BB), advertisers converge to the advertiser-preferred equilibrium—achieving stability of bids and reducing advertisers' costs relative to other possible outcomes. Read More

How Sustainable Is Sustainability in a For-Profit Organization?

Online forum now closed. For managers, sustainability can mean the integration and intersection of social, environmental, and economic responsibilities. The concept is admirable, says Jim Heskett, but does it also confuse managers entrusted with the bottom line? How should they make trade-offs? Jim sums up reader responses. Closed for comment; 77 Comments posted.

Billions of Entrepreneurs in China and India

Entrepreneurship in both China and India is rising dramatically and thriving under quite different conditions. HBS professor Tarun Khanna explains what it all means in this Q&A about his new book, Billions of Entrepreneurs: How China and India Are Reshaping Their Futures and Yours. Plus: book excerpt. Read More

The Impact of Component Modularity on Design Evolution: Evidence from the Software Industry

What factors should influence the design of a complex system? And what is the impact of choices on both product and organizational performance? These issues are of particular importance in the field of software given how software is developed: Rarely do software projects start from scratch. The authors analyzed the evolution of a commercial software product from first release to its current design, looking specifically at 6 major versions released at varying periods over a 15-year period. These results have important implications for managers, highlighting the impact of design decisions made today on both the evolution and the maintainability of a design in subsequent years. Read More

Competition in Modular Clusters

The last 20 years have witnessed the rise of disaggregated "clusters," "networks," or "ecosystems" of firms in a number of industries, including computers, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals. In these clusters, different firms design and produce the various components of a complex artifact (such as the processor, peripherals, and software of a computer system), and different firms specialize in the various stages of a complex production process. This paper considers the pricing behavior and profitability of these so-called modular clusters. Baldwin and Woodard isolate the offsetting price effects in a model, and show how they might operate in large as well as in small clusters. Read More

Sharpening Your Skills: Operations Management

Can lean production methods be used in service industries? How can operations be used to competitive advantage? These are several of the questions answered in this month's Sharpening Your Skills on the topic of operations management. Read More

Dynamics of Platform Competition: Exploring the Role of Installed Base, Platform Quality and Consumer Expectations

What factors drive platform success, long-run market structure, and market efficiency? Conventional wisdom suggests that for a new platform to be successful, either it must make its technology compatible with the incumbent, or its technical advantage must offer so much value to consumers that it exceeds the combination of functionality, installed base, and complementary goods value offered by the incumbent. Zhu and Iansiti develop a dynamic model to examine the evolution of platform-based markets. They find that a huge quality advantage may not be necessary for an entrant to be successful. Using data from the video game industry, they find support for their theoretical predications. Read More

Recognizing the New: A Multi-Agent Model of Analogy in Strategic Decision-Making

Firms must discover and pursue viable strategic positions particularly during times of change, in the early phases of a new industry, or after a discontinuity of some sort. At these times, the context of choice is typically hard to interpret: Among other reasons, knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships is unavailable or difficult to obtain, the nature of industry participants is ambiguous, and opportunities are ill-defined. What underlies the intelligence of strategic choice in these settings? This paper argues that recognition is essential to such choices for both individuals and groups. Recognition refers to a class of cognitive processes through which a problem or situation is interpreted associatively in terms of something that has been experienced before. The paper models recognition processes in groups of decision-makers and shows how a few select group-level characteristics might improve recognition outcomes. 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

Dealing with the ‘Irrational’ Negotiator

"Negotiators who are quick to label the other party 'irrational' do so at great potential cost to themselves," say HBS professors Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman. Their new book, Negotiation Genius, combines expertise in psychology with practical examples to show how anyone can improve dealmaking skills. In this excerpt, Malhotra and Bazerman describe what to do when the other party's behavior does not make sense. Read More

Strategic Interactions in Two-Sided Market Oligopolies

Strategic interactions and the logic of competitive advantage in 2-sided markets are fundamentally different than in traditional, 1-sided markets. For instance, an investment that decreases a firm's costs may increase the profits of its competitors and decrease the profits of the firm undertaking the investment. Such surprising effects arise because of the possibility that 2-sided platforms may end up subsidizing the participation of 1 side. There are also important implications for antitrust scholars: tying and other practices that may appear as harming competition in 1-sided markets can in fact benefit competitors in 2-sided markets. Read More

Modularity, Transactions, and the Boundaries of Firms: A Synthesis

For the last 30 years economists have used the concepts of "transaction," "transaction cost," and "contract" to illuminate a wide range of phenomena, including vertical integration; the design of employment, debt, and equity contracts; and the structure of industries. These concepts are now deeply embedded in the fields of economics, sociology, business, and law. Theories explain how to choose between different forms of transactional governance. But why does a transaction occur where it does? Without this answer, the forces driving the location of transactions in a system of production remain largely unexplored. This paper explains the location of transactions (and contracts) in a system of production. It also presents a theory of technological change that predicts changes in the location of transactions and therefore in the structure of industries. Read More

Diversification of Chinese Companies: An International Comparison

Many observers have argued that Chinese managers are particularly quick to diversify their enterprises. Fueled by robust economic growth and the scant enforcement of intellectual property rights that could serve as barriers to entry, Chinese companies appear to be aggressively expanding into new industries whenever economic opportunities appear to beckon. There is much anecdotal evidence to support this view. But because the Chinese economy is extraordinarily large and dynamic, it is difficult to know whether anecdotes reflect an underlying trend toward greater diversification. This paper provides systematic evidence about the scope of Chinese companies, and compares the data with the evolution of firm scope in 8 other large economies. Read More

Why Do Intermediaries Divert Search?

(Previously titled "Designing a Two-Sided Platform: When to Increase Search Costs?") Conventional wisdom holds that at the most fundamental level, market intermediaries exist in order to reduce search and transaction costs among the parties they serve and that they are more valuable the larger the cost savings they generate. This would seem to be true of both traditional, brick-and-mortar intermediaries (retailers, shopping malls, brokers, magazines, market exchanges) and "new economy" ones (Amazon, eBay, iTunes, Yahoo), all of which connect buyers and sellers of goods or services. However, many intermediaries, while providing the relevant information, seem at some stage of the process to do the opposite of reducing search costs—and by purposeful design rather than by accident. Retail stores, for instance, stack the products they carry so that the most sought-after items are hard to find and thereby induce consumers to walk along aisles carrying other products. This paper challenges the conventional wisdom that intermediaries create value by reducing search and transaction costs. It proposes a model that sheds light on the economic motivations that in some contexts may lead intermediaries to make it harder for the parties they serve—consumers and third-party sellers—to find each other. Read More

Exclusivity and Control

Music, television shows, movies, Internet and mobile content, computer software, and other forms of media often require a consumer to join a platform in order to access or utilize the media. This affiliation may take the form of a subscription to a distribution channel or purchase of a hardware device. One of the primary means of differentiation and competition between platforms for consumer adoption is the acquisition of premium or quality content. However, whether or not certain content is exclusive to one platform or is present on multiple platforms varies significantly from industry to industry. One can even view Apple's exclusive U.S. provision of the iPhone to AT&T as even more variation in the degree of exclusivity across industries. Why is it that some forms of content are available only on one platform, while others are distributed through several or all platforms available—that is, they "multihome"? This paper analyzes industry propensity for exclusivity and presents a model of platform competition. The key driving force is the nature of the relationship between the content and the platforms: outright sale (all control rights, particularly over content pricing, are transferred from the content provider to the platform) or affiliation (the content provider maintains control rights over pricing). 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

Managing Proprietary and Shared Platforms: A Life-Cycle View

The challenges facing platform managers vary systematically depending on (1) whether the platform is proprietary or shared and (2) the stage of platform development. This article summarizes the results of a multiyear research project on platform strategies, including interviews with 30 companies. It describes 3 stages of the platform life cycle—platform design, network mobilization, and platform maturity—and reviews in depth the strategic decisions and management issues for each stage. Read More

Platform Envelopment

Established platform providers can be difficult to displace. This paper explores a path to platform leadership change that does not rely on breakthrough innovation or Schumpeterian creative destruction: a phenomenon the authors call "platform envelopment." In practical terms, envelopment entails one platform provider adding another platform's functionality to its own, and then offering a multiplatform bundle. Eisenmann and his colleagues describe a variety of envelopment attacks based on the relationship between the attacker's platform and its target's, and then discuss the economic and strategic motivations for each attack type. Read More

Multi-Sided Platforms: From Microfoundations to Design and Expansion Strategies

The term "platform" is increasingly popular among executives today. Platforms, and multi-sided platforms (MSPs) in particular, serve the needs of interdependent constituents. Although MSPs have existed for centuries in the form of matchmakers and village markets, information technology has increased tremendously the opportunities for building larger, more powerful, and more valuable platforms. At the same time, by expanding the potential scope of platforms, information technology has also increased the number and complexity of factors, both economic and technical, that drive the strategic design of MSPs. Surprisingly, few companies rigorously analyze the underlying drivers of their MSPs, and the emerging business and economics literature on two-sided markets has not been very helpful in this direction, either. This article provides a general framework to help organize managerial thinking about MSPs. Read More

Merchant or Two-Sided Platform?

With ever more sophisticated logistics and the rise of information technologies, intermediaries and market platforms have become increasingly ubiquitous and important agents in the digital economy. While market intermediation is not a new phenomenon, the digital economy has revealed that there can be two polar types of intermediaries: "merchants," which acquire goods from sellers and resell them to buyers, and "two-sided platforms," which allow affiliated sellers to sell directly to affiliated buyers. As examples, retailers like Walmart.com and Amazon.com are (mostly) merchants; eBay is a pure two-sided platform; and Apple's iTunes digital music store exhibits both merchant and platform features. This research is a first pass at delineating the economic tradeoffs between the merchant and two-sided platform modes. Read More

Ambidexterity as a Dynamic Capability: Resolving the Innovator’s Dilemma

Can organizations adapt and change—and if so, how does this occur? There are two major camps in the research on organizational change: those that argue for adaptation, and those that argue that as environments shift, inert organizations are replaced by new forms that better fit the changed context. There are data to support both arguments. This paper discusses the idea and practicality of ambidexterity and shows how the ability to simultaneously pursue emerging and mature strategies is a key element of long-term success. 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

The Speed of New Ideas: Trust, Institutions and the Diffusion of New Products

Does trust confer competitive advantage in terms of time, money, and productivity? Previous research indicates that it does. This study shifts perspective slightly and asks whether trust can also act as a barrier to entry. In other words, are trusted suppliers protected from competition if buyers are reluctant to try new products and services offered by other suppliers? Oberholzer-Gee and Calanog explored the link between levels of trust and the decision to adopt a new product using a field experiment on the diffusion of an innovative floor drain for the plumbing market. Read More

The Demise of Cost and Profit Centers

The Balanced Scorecard has proven to be a general and powerful performance management framework for units previously treated as profit and investment centers. The management control literature, however, identifies other organizational forms for decentralized units, including standard cost centers, revenue centers, and support units treated as discretionary expense centers. Starting from the example of a classic teaching case, Empire Glass Company, Kaplan explains how strategy maps and the Balanced Scorecard transform cost, revenue, and discretionary expense centers into strategic business units in their own right. Read More

Organizational Response to Environmental Demands: Opening the Black Box

How and why do organizations respond differently to pressures from different stakeholders? This question is central to organizational theory and feeds into strategic management research as well. Delmas and Toffel develop and test a model that describes why organizations respond differently to similar stakeholder pressures. They suggest that differences in how organizations distribute power across their internal corporate departments lead their facilities to prioritize different institutional pressures and thus adopt different management practices. Read More

Architectural Innovation and Dynamic Competition: The Smaller “Footprint” Strategy

To study dynamic competition, Baldwin and Clark build upon a design principle in computer architecture known as Amdahl's Law. The authors show that firms can study the underlying cause-and-effect relationships in a complex architecture in order to identify "bottlenecks." Firms may then redesign the interfaces of key components to make them more modular. They can then outsource more activities without sacrificing performance or cost. As a result, firms can offer competitive products or services, while investing less, and so enjoy an "invested capital advantage" over competitors. Baldwin and Clark explain how the strategy works and then model its impact on competition through successive stages of industry evolution. Read More

Optimal Value and Growth Tilts in Long-Horizon Portfolios

Long-term investors look for portfolio strategies that optimally trade off risk and reward, not in the immediate future, but over the long term. It is unrealistic to expect long-term investors to adopt an "invest and forget" strategy, but creating a portfolio strategy that adjusts asset allocations in response to changing risk premia, interest rates, and expected inflation remains a challenge in finance. Jurek and Viceira have devised a solution method that aims at a practical implementation of dynamic portfolio choice models with realistically complex investment opportunity sets. They have applied their method to study the role of value stocks and growth stocks in the portfolios of long-term investors, and have found that long-term investors might want to tilt their portfolios away from value stocks despite the fact that the average return on value stocks is larger than the average return on growth stocks (the so-called "value premium"). Their findings provide support for the idea that the superior performance of value stocks might reflect simply that they are riskier than growth stocks at long horizons. Read More

Managing Alignment as a Process

"Most organizations attempt to create synergy, but in a fragmented, uncoordinated way," say HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan and colleague David P. Norton. Their new book excerpted here, Alignment, tells how to see alignment as a management process. Read More

The Office of Strategy Management

Many organizations suffer a disconnect between strategy formulation and its execution. The answer? HBS professor Robert S. Kaplan and colleague Andrew Pateman argue for the creation of a new corporate office. Read More

When Benchmarks Don’t Work

Benchmarks have their virtues, but professor Robert S. Kaplan argues they should be saved for surveys of commoditized processes or services. From Balanced Scorecard Report. Read More

What Really Drives Your Strategy?

For better or worse, why do so many companies veer off their strategic plan? Look for a disconnect between strategy and how resources are allocated, say Harvard Business School’s Joseph L. Bower and Clark G. Gilbert. Read More

Identify Emerging Market Opportunities

Yes, you understand your company needs to compete in emerging markets. But which country is the best fit for you? A Harvard Business Review excerpt by Tarun Khanna, Krishna G. Palepu, and Jayant Sinha. Read More

Wintel: Cooperation or Conflict

Industries are becoming more horizontal. Products that used to be designed and manufactured by a single firm are now produced by different companies that must coordinate activities. Here, the authors detail the relationship between Intel and Microsoft (both integral to PCs) and, using a mixed-duopoly model, analyze the dynamics of cooperation verses competition. They find that costs associated with complementary R&D, conflicts of interest in pricing, and the possibility of competitors all factor in the decision of when to cooperate or compete. Read More

Hold or Fold? Sizing Up Business Risk

According to Eileen C. Shapiro and HBS professor Howard H. Stevenson, three key elements help you size up an option: your satisfaction to date, predictions about likely results, and future intentions. A book excerpt from Make Your Own Luck. Read More

Creating the Office of Strategy Management

Organizations often fail to execute their strategy—failure rates may range as high as 60 to 90 percent. Successful companies align their key management processes for effective strategy execution. Creating a new corporate-unit level, the Office of Strategy Management (OSM), may help align management processes to strategy. The authors explain, among other topics, OSM core processes, desirable OSM processes, integrative processes, and positioning the OSM. Read More

Why Do Managers Fail to Act on Their Predictions?

Important trends are identified as part of nearly every strategic planning exercise. But the efforts to address them too often stop there. How come? Closed for comment; 15 Comments posted.

Four Ways to Create Lasting Change

Managers and employees often dismiss change initiatives as the new flavor of the month. In this Q&A, Professor Michael A. Roberto and Senior Researcher Lynne C. Levesque discuss new techniques to make change stick. Read More

Start to Measure Your E-commerce Success

After the dot-com fallout, surviving companies needed to sharpen strategy and analyze metrics much better. Visiting professor Marc J. Epstein shows how to put metrics to work. Read More

The Innovator’s Battle Plan

Great firms can be undone by disruptors who analyze and exploit an incumbent’s strengths and motivations. From Clayton Christensen’s new book Seeing What’s Next. Read More

Bringing History into International Business

International Business scholars often talk about history, but rarely take it seriously. The first generation of International Business scholars placed a high priority on evolutionary and historical perspectives and methodology, but little work these days grapples with the history of International Business or uses historical data to explore an issue. Jones and Khanna discuss new avenues for researching business groups in history and in contemporary emerging markets, resource-based and path-dependent theories of the firm, and foreign direct investment and development over time. Read More

Mapping Your Board’s Effectiveness

To be effective, board members must understand their company’s strategy. Professor Robert S. Kaplan offers methods for using the Balanced Scorecard and strategy maps to increase board power. From Strategy & Innovation. Read More

Strategy for Small Fish

Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and eBay provide ecosystems in which other companies thrive or fail. But what are effective strategies for a small fish in a big pond? An excerpt from The Keystone Advantage by HBS professor Marco Iansiti and Roy Levien. Read More

A Diagnostic for Disruptive Innovation

You have three potential innovations, but resources to develop just one. Here are diagnostics to help you make the best decision. From Strategy & Innovation newsletter. 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 to Avoid a Price Increase

Consumers hate price increases, but what is a company to do when material costs skyrocket? One answer: Think small. Professor John Gourville considers the alternative in this Q&A. Read More

Racial Diversity Pays Off

Diversity has been a buzzword in organizations for at least fifteen years. How much is really known about its effects on performance? HBS professors Robin Ely and David Thomas investigate. Read More

Rethink the Value of Joint Ventures

Why are joint ventures losing favor with transnational companies? Professor Mihir A. Desai discusses research that suggests globalization makes go-it-alone strategies pay off. Read More

Operations and the Competitive Edge

Many managers expect operations organizations to fulfill only a support role. But an effective operations strategy can give you a competitive advantage. An interview with professor Robert Hayes. Read More

Creating Value in Your Business Ecosystem

The metaphors of keystones and ecology help you think about your business environment, say professor Marco Iansiti and consultant Roy Levien. A Harvard Business Review excerpt. Read More

Got a New Strategy? Now Make it Happen

Many strategies never take off for lack of honest discussion, say Harvard Business School's Michael Beer and co-author Russell A. Eisenstat. A Harvard Business Review excerpt. Read More

Mapping Your Corporate Strategy

From the originators of the Balanced Scorecard system, Strategy Maps is a new book that explores how companies can best their competition. A Q&A with Robert S. Kaplan. Read More

Does Your HQ Operation Fit With Corporate Strategy?

Is a lean headquarters operation the key to success? How should headquarters design fit with corporate strategy? New research from professor David J. Collis has surprising answers. Read More

Globalization: The Strategy of Differences

Should your global strategy optimize scale or exploit differences? HBS professor Pankaj Ghemawat suggests a mix-and-match strategy in this excerpt from Harvard Business Review. Read More

Is “the Innovator’s Solution” to Sustained Corporate Growth an Unnatural Act?

In their new book, The Innovator’s Solution, HBS professor Clayton Christensen and co-author Michael E. Raynor propose four guidelines for developing a "disruptive growth engine." The problem: According to the authors, few organizations have been able to achieve more than one disruptive technology in their lifetimes. Why is it so difficult? Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Don’t Get Buried in Customer Data—Use It

Don't blame your CRM technology. Be smarter about collecting and using your data, says Jean Ayers in this article from Harvard Management Update. Read More

4+2 = Sustained Business Success

HBS professor Nitin Nohria along with William Joyce and Bruce Roberson studied 160 companies to look for common management practices that succeed. A hint: Business basics matter. Read More

What Your Competition is Telling You

Your competitors, closely analyzed, can help you influence your own customers and help grow the market for your products and services. Here’s how. Read More

Pay-for-Performance Doesn’t Always Pay Off

Paying your employees more for hitting specific targets may backfire, according to HBS professor Michael Beer. As he learned in his study of thirteen pay-for-performance plans at Hewlett-Packard, the unspoken contract may make or break these programs. Read More

Three Steps for Crisis Prevention

Can you predict a business disaster? In this Harvard Business Review excerpt, professors Michael D. Watkins and Max H. Bazerman outline the keys for disaster prevention: recognition, prioritization, and mobilization. Read More

Putting the Project Puzzle Together

How can you maximize the potential of your project portfolio? Read our interview with F. Warren McFarlan, a Harvard Business School professor. Plus: An excerpt from Connecting the Dots: Aligning Projects with Objectives in Unpredictable Times, a new book by McFarlan and Cathleen Benko. Read More

Commodity Busters: Be a Price Maker, Not a Price Taker

Too many businesses are price takers, not price makers. That means they are willing to lower prices to capture market share or to sign up a marquee customer. But Harvard Business School professor Benson P. Shapiro says don't let your ego get in the way of good business sense. Here are seven steps toward naming your own price. Read More

New Cluster Mapping Project Helps Companies Locate Facilities

A company's decision on where to locate a facility must take more into account than simple labor costs, says Harvard Business School professor Michael E. Porter. The new Cluster Mapping Project, developed at Porter's Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, reveals detailed patterns of growth, resources, and competitiveness in forty-one regional clusters in the United States. Read More

Partnering and the Balanced Scorecard

Created in 1992, the Balanced Scorecard has become an effective tool for managing strategy. Now authors Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton propose using it to communicate values and vision to employees and partners. The payoff? Better strategic relationships with partners. Read More

Want a Happy Customer? Coordinate Sales and Marketing

In today's hyper-competitive world, your sales and marketing functions must yoke together at every level—from the core central concepts of the strategy to the minute details of execution. Harvard Business School professor Benson Shapiro on creating the customer-centric team. Read More

Use the Psychology of Pricing To Keep Customers Returning

When to charge for a product or service can be more important than how much to charge, says Harvard Business School professor John Gourville. If you want to build long-term loyalty with customers, you better understand the difference. Read More

Is Performance-Based Pricing the Right Price for You?

Not every industry or company can benefit from performance-based pricing. But where there is a fit, PBP can be a powerful tool that merges the interests of buyers and sellers, says Harvard Business School professor Benson Shapiro. Read More

Going Green Makes Good Business Sense

Green can be good, says HBS professor Forest L. Reinhardt. In a recent reunion session for alumni, he outlined how environmentally-minded company policies can make good strategic sense for business. Here are some strategies you might consider. Read More

Reinventing the Industrial Giant

It's not easy to transform a trusty but ailing old stalwart. In an excerpt from their book, Changing Fortunes: Remaking the Industrial Corporation, HBS professor Nitin Nohria and co-authors Davis Dyer and Frederick Dalzell discuss how General Motors and Kodak are attempting precisely that. Read More

Disruption: The Art of Framing

Your chief competitor creates a breakthrough technology. Should you frame that event inside your company as a threat or opportunity? The answer in this Harvard Business Review excerpt by HBS professors Clark Gilbert and Joseph L. Bower just may surprise you. Read More

How To Make Restructuring Work for Your Company

A bungled corporate restructuring can turn a good idea into disaster. In an excerpt from his new book, HBS professor Stuart Gilson outlines the keys for a successful corporate makeover. Plus: Gilson Q&A. Read More

How to Compete Like a Judo Strategist

Movement, balance, and leverage: Savvy executives use these principles to compete every day. In this excerpt from their new book Judo Strategy: Turning Your Competitors' Strength to Your Advantage, HBS professor David B. Yoffie and research associate Mary Kwak reveal five techniques of the masters. Read More

RealNetworks, CNET, and Judo Strategy

Both companies successfully outmaneuvered bigger competitors to lead their markets. But can they still win when the rules have changed? Read More

Good News, Not Blues, For the Inner City

What's located at the crossroads of a sophisticated infrastructure—containing airports, railroads, and ports—and boasts a large potential workforce of consistently underemployed people? A typical inner city, of course. And, says Harvard University Professor Michael E. Porter; inner cities are already rewriting the map of competitive advantage. Read More

Can Japan Compete? [Part Two]

In this, the second part of a two-part interview, HBS professor Michael Porter expands upon the message of his new book, Can Japan Compete?, and on the value of clearly defined strategies and open competition. Read More

Can Japan Compete? [Part One]

Not long ago, Japan was considered a competitive powerhouse with exemplary business practices that were admired and often copied, particularly in the West. What went wrong? In a new book, HBS professor Michael Porter and two coauthors take a closer look. [ Part 1 ] Read More

The Strategy-Focused Organization

In the ten years since it was introduced, Robert Kaplan's and David Norton's Balanced Scorecard has become not just a measurement tool but a means of putting strategy at the center of a company's key management processes and systems. Read More

Riding the Internet Fast Track

On the Internet Express, getting big fast is the strategy of choice. But is it right for everyone? HBS Professor Thomas R. Eisenmann looks at key factors that can help a company decide. Read More