First Look

March 6, 2007

Men who work in physically risky jobs—think construction workers—sometimes act invulnerable to prove their manliness to themselves and each other. But the failure to use caution and to express occasional feelings of vulnerability can have nasty consequences for health and safety on the job. It doesn't have to be so. Offshore oil rigs might seem a typical place for stoking hypermasculine displays, but as Professor Robin Ely and colleague Debra E. Meyerson found out, organizational work practices there allow men to admit physical limitations and vulnerabilities and so improve conditions for everyone. Read our story on this research. Also new this week: a Harvard Business Review article by strategy expert Pankaj Ghemawat on three distinct types of international strategy; and cases on the challenges of launching a start-up in China and on the future of Internet television.
— Martha Lagace

Working Papers

Unmasking Manly Men: The Organizational Reconstruction of Men's Identity


This paper presents a case study of offshore oil platforms—a workplace that has traditionally rewarded men for masculine displays of prowess and interactions centered on proving masculinity—in which such displays and interactions were absent. We use this case to develop theory about how organizational features, such as work practices and norms, can disrupt conventional masculine identity-construction processes. In this case, organizational features designed to enhance safety and effectiveness had the unintended effect of changing how men enacted their masculine identities at work. Interview and participant observation data show that the major reorientation was away from seeking to garner masculinity credentials and towards seeking to learn how to perform their jobs more safely and effectively. The latter required that workers engage in mutual expressions of vulnerability: they acknowledged their physical limitations, learned from their mistakes, and attended to their own and others' emotions. As a result, these men expressed a broader repertoire of personal qualities, including qualities that run counter to conventionally masculine scripts. Our findings point to the mutability of masculine identity as a social status achievement and to how organizations can disrupt such tendencies and stand to gain in the process.

Slippery Slopes and Misconduct: The Effect of Gradual Degradation on the Failure to Notice Others' Unethical Behavior


Four laboratory studies show that people are more likely to accept others' unethical behavior when ethical degradation occurs slowly rather than in one abrupt shift. In the studies, participants served in the role of watchdogs charged with catching cheating in a series of trials. The cheating they observed increased either gradually or abruptly; people were more likely to overlook cheating that increased gradually. Our studies also provide evidence as to why people accept cheating by others. Our results indicate that the effect is due at least in part to the failure to notice that unethical behavior is occurring when the change is gradual rather than abrupt.

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Coerced Confessions: Self-Policing in the Shadow of the Regulator


As part of a recent trend toward more cooperative relations between regulators and industry, novel government programs are encouraging firms to monitor their own regulatory compliance and voluntarily report their own violations. In this study, we examine how regulatory enforcement activities influence organizations' decisions to self-police. We created a comprehensive dataset for the "Audit Policy," a United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) program that encourages companies to self-disclose violations of environmental laws and regulations in exchange for reduced sanctions. We find that facilities are more likely to self-disclose if they were recently subjected to one of several different enforcement measures and if they were provided with immunity from prosecution for self-disclosed violations.

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Cases & Course Materials

Austin, Blakeley, & Cambridge, LLC.

Harvard Business School Case 207-098

The founding partners of ABC, LLC, one of the leading private equity firms in the world, are trying to understand why some of the other top firms in the business, such as KKR and Apollo, have been tapping the public equity markets for their own funds, and whether they should do the same. They are also pondering how to monetize their own stake in the firm, and whether taking the firm itself public may be a viable option.

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Brazil Under Lula: Off the Yellow BRIC Road

Harvard Business School Case 707-031

Covers President Lula's challenges to reduce "Brazil cost" and grow like other BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). Experts agreed that for Brazil to grow like other BRIC countries, the Brazilian government would have to reduce the cost of doing business in the country ("Brazil cost"). At the same time, President Lula's challenge is to develop programs that accelerate growth without undermining the progress achieved in reducing inequality and poverty. Can the Brazilian government reverse inequality and grow at the same time? What development strategy should Lula follow in his second term? Does Brazil belong in BRIC? What do these countries have in common?

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Brightcove and the Future of Internet Television

Harvard Business School Case 707-457

Brightcove, a technology and services provider to content owners in the Internet television field, aimed to become a media distribution company in its own right. On October 30, 2006, it relaunched its Website—and, in effect, its business. With its new, consumer-facing home page, and with new offerings for advertisers and affiliates as well as video publishers, Brightcove sought to build a four-sided business (or "platform") around the rapidly expanding online video industry. Simultaneously, CEO Jeremy Allaire was completing a major funding round that would enable the company to make strategic investments in some or all of several categories: technology, media distribution infrastructure, international expansion, and acquisitions. As Allaire and his fellow executives weighed those options, they confronted competitive threats in multiple quarters, but particularly from YouTube, a hugely popular video-sharing site that online search giant Google had recently acquired. Covers Brightcove's vision for its multi-sided business, its technology offering and early business model, its efforts to shift to a new model based on media distribution, and its chief competitors in that market space.

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The Case of the Unidentified Industries - 2006 (TN)

Harvard Business School Note 207-097

No abstract available.

The Chad-Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project (D)

Harvard Business School Supplement 207-087

Supplements the (A) case.

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The Challenges of Launching a Start-up in China:

Harvard Business School Case 307-075

After graduating from Harvard Business School in June 2006, Ken Pao and Bill Li were ready to fully commit to the Internet start-up they had been working on since they first stepped foot on the business school campus. They moved to Beijing, rounded out their management team, received venture capital investment, developed joint-venture partnerships, and set key milestones to create a full-impact product launch for their social networking Web site catering to the college market. On the day of their launch, they faced a setback from China's Ministry of Education and were forced back to square one. Discusses the pluses and minuses of partnering with China's government ministries, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, and the numerous opportunities available to entrepreneurship in China today.

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Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.: The 'Talk to Chuck' Advertising Campaign

Harvard Business School Case 507-005

Schwab management is evaluating the success of the recently launched "Talk to Chuck" advertising campaign. This campaign aims to differentiate Schwab in the cluttered financial services marketplace. Test market results facilitate discussion of advertising objectives, message strategy, media selection, and performance measures.

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Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola and Nigeria's Manufacturing Sector

Harvard Business School Case 407-027

Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola was an important contributor to Nigeria's manufacturing sector, creating a multimillion-dollar conglomerate including three factories, a retail franchise, a cattle ranch, a 5,000-acre plantation, a sawmill, and an exporting business before the end of British colonial rule in 1960. Seizing business opportunities as he saw demand, Odutola moved between markets at every opportunity, creating companies servicing a diverse variety of needs. Odutola's keen, unwavering interest in improving the infrastructure of Nigeria allowed him to enjoy a successful career in business and politics, despite the vastly fluctuating political landscape of Nigeria. From British rule through civil war and subsequent coups and countercoups, Odutola remained a popular leader for his commitment to promoting Nigerian business ventures. Elevated to Prime Minister of his tribe—the Ijebu-Ode—in 1956, and later selected as the first President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Odutola campaigned for manufacturing interests and consulted with government officials about national fiscal policy. As a statesman and as a business leader, Odutola worked tirelessly to improve the infrastructure of his country.

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China and the WTO: What Price Membership?

Harvard Business School Case 707-032

China has been a member of the WTO for more than five years. Its implementation of requirements has been a mixed bag. While China's growth is still spectacular, many institutional problems remain. And there is a new problem—a spectacular trade asymmetry with the United States.

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Fulton County School System: Implementing the Balanced Scorecard

Harvard Business School Case 107-029

Illustrates the adaptation and implementation of a private sector management tool, the Balanced Scorecard, to a public school district. As part of a continuous improvement initiative, the Director of Planning and Policy facilitates the development of a strategy map and scorecard for the district. She then helps cascade the scoreboard down to individual school scorecards, and up to the school board, where it is used to monitor and guide the district's accomplishments. The implementation, however, hits some problems when the superintendent resigns, followed by high turnover among his replacements. Enables a discussion of the role of centralization versus decentralization in setting school objectives and accountability, issues that arise when introducing performance management into public school districts, and the role for leadership and governance in driving improvements in school achievement.

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How Media Choices are Changing Online Advertising

Harvard Business School Note 707-458

What is the response by advertisers as media consumption moves to the digital medium? Provides an overview of online advertising in mid-2006 and discusses the impact of an increasingly fractured media landscape and its accompanying expanding advertising options.

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Lou Pritchett: Negotiating the P&G Relationship with Wal-Mart (A)

Harvard Business School Case 907-011

Describes several internal and external negotiations in the 1980s that led to a significant and growing partnership between Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Wal-Mart. From the perspective of Lou Pritchett, P&G's Vice President of Sales and Customer Development, the unfolding negotiations are described, starting with a canoe trip Pritchett took with Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. Provides insight into various negotiating situations as well as key lessons learned from early efforts to help P&G and Wal-Mart forge a more integrated supplier-retailer partnership.

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Opportunity International: Measurement and Mission

Harvard Business School Case 307-067

After a "first career" in business, HBS graduate Christopher Crane becomes CEO of a worldwide microfinance network. The organization's twin challenges are: 1) developing metrics to give it an accurate picture of its situation and impacts, and 2) generating rapid growth. Students learn how non-financial metrics are integral to Opportunity International's mission but are difficult to define and measure; tailored metrics are necessary for demonstrating success to donors and for strategic planning. Also, the organization is committed to helping as many people out of poverty as quickly as possible, but donations and repayments are not enough to fuel rapid growth; other financial tools are needed. Explores the challenges of measuring non-financial success and considers the trade-offs of continuing as a non-profit versus converting to a for-profit entity. Students will gain skills relevant to growing an organization that is mission-driven but financially constrained, and that has a complex array of international stakeholders.

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Sonoco Products Co. (C)

Harvard Business School Supplement 407-063

Supplements the (A) case.

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The Tale of the Lynx (A)

Harvard Business School Case 807-112

The founders of Lynx Solutions have survived major challenges within their board of directors, the firing of Lynx's founder-CEO and departure of its successor CEO, and a crisis sparked by media allegations that it had been spying on its users. Now that the company is finally becoming profitable, the two remaining founders are embroiled in exhausting fights over how aggressively the company should try to grow, and those fights are threatening to derail Lynx's recent success.

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Tom Muccio: Negotiating the P&G Relationship with Wal-Mart (B)

Harvard Business School Supplement 907-013

Supplements the (A) case.

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Yale University Investments Office: August 2006

Harvard Business School Case 807-073

The Yale Investments Office must decide whether to continue to allocate the bulk of the university's endowment to illiquid investments—hedge funds, private equity, real estate, and so forth. Considers the risks and benefits of a different asset allocation strategy. Highlights the choice between different subclasses, e.g., between venture capital and leveraged buyout funds.

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Accounting: Text and Cases


The 12th edition of Accounting: Text and Cases covers both financial and managerial accounting as well as broader managerial issues. Chapters 1-14 cover financial accounting, while Chapters 15-21 cover management accounting, and Chapters 22-28 focus on broader issues of control and corporate strategy. The approximately 120 cases that make up most of the end of chapter material are a combination of classic Harvard-style cases and extended problems, with 10 completely new cases added to the 12th edition. Accounting: Text and Cases is a product of lifelong dedication to the discipline of accounting, and users of the book benefit from a breadth of experience that is sure to enrich your course and your students.

Managing Differences: The Central Challenge of Global Strategy


This article includes a one-page preview that quickly summarizes the key ideas and provides an overview of how the concepts work in practice, along with suggestions for further reading.

The main goal of any international strategy should be to manage the large differences that arise at the borders of markets. Yet executives often fail to exploit market and production discrepancies, focusing instead on the tensions between standardization and localization. In this article, Pankaj Ghemawat presents a new framework that encompasses all three effective responses to the challenges of globalization. He calls it the AAA Triangle. The As stand for the three distinct types of international strategy. Through Adaptation, companies seek to boost revenues and market share by maximizing their local relevance. Through Aggregation, they attempt to deliver economies of scale by creating regional, or sometimes global, operations. And through Arbitrage, they exploit disparities between national or regional markets, often by locating different parts of the supply chain in different places—for instance, call centers in India, factories in China, and retail shops in Western Europe. Ghemawat draws on several examples that illustrate how organizations use and balance these strategies and describes the trade-offs they make as they do so. Because most enterprises should draw from all three As to some extent, the framework can be used to develop a summary scorecard indicating how well the company is globalizing. However, given the tensions among the strategies, it's not enough simply to tick off the corresponding boxes. Strategic choice requires some degree of prioritization—and the framework can help with that as well. While it is possible to make progress on all three strategies, companies usually must focus on one or two when trying to build competitive advantage.

Diagnosing and Dissolving Our 'Translation Gap'


No abstract available.