First Look

November 22, 2011

Branding West Point

For a long time, the United States Military Academy at West Point, founded in 1802, had managed to escape a major branding initiative. However, increasing competition for students and faculty in higher education forced the school to consider a brand management plan. In the new case study "The U.S. Military Academy at West Point," Anat Keinan looks at decision points around the recent move, noting that "numerous stakeholders, tradition, the competitive environment, and resource constraints all factor into the decision-making process."

Doubling Down On Social Media At Sephora

Sephora is a rising retailer of beauty products, and to keep the momentum going Julie Bornstein (HBS MBA '97), senior vice president of Sephora Direct, is preparing to persuade her bosses to double her digital marketing budget. "Bornstein must justify the need for the additional funding, determine how best to allocate the money across the various platforms, and establish effective ways to measure return on investment for digital marketing spending," according to the case, "Sephora Direct: Investing in Social Media, Video, and Mobile." Written by Elie Ofek and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld, the study can provide students with a grounding in the strategic and tactical issues around social and digital marketing.

What Promotes Female Entrepreneurship In India?

Encouraging women in business is important on several fronts, notes a new working paper by Ejaz Ghani, William R. Kerr, and Stephen O'Connell. "Simply put, empowering half of your potential workforce has significant economic benefits beyond promoting gender equality." Their recent research looks at factors that spur female entrepreneurship in India's manufacturing and services sectors, finding this trend increases in areas where there is already high female ownership. Read Local Industrial Structures and Female Entrepreneurship in India.

— Sean Silverthorne


Competing through Business Models

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

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Resources or Power? Implications of Social Networks on Compensation and Firm Performance


Using a sample of 4,278 listed U.K. firms, we construct a social network of directorship-interlocks that comprises 31,495 directors. We use social capital theory and techniques developed in social network analysis to measure a director's connectedness and investigate whether this connectedness is associated with their compensation level and their firm's overall performance. We find connectedness is positively associated with compensation and with the firm's future performance. The results do not support the view that executive and outside directors use their connections to extract rents. Rather the company compensates these individuals for the resources these better connections provide to the firm.

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Ethical Discrepancy: Changing Our Attitudes to Resolve Moral Dissonance


Routine and persistent acts of dishonesty prevail in everyday life, yet most people resist shining a critical moral light on their own behavior, thereby maintaining and oftentimes inflating images of themselves as moral individuals. We overview the psychology that accounts for behaviors inconsistent with ethical beliefs and describe how people reconcile their immoral actions with their ethical goals through the process of moral disengagement. We then examine how the mind selectively forgets information that might threaten this moral self-image. We close with an attempt to identify strategies to close the gap between the unethical people we are and the ethical people that we strive to be.

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Working Papers

Local Industrial Structures and Female Entrepreneurship in India


We analyze the spatial determinants of female entrepreneurship in India in the manufacturing and services sectors. We focus on the presence of incumbent female-owned businesses and their role in promoting higher subsequent female entrepreneurship relative to male entrepreneurship. We find evidence of agglomeration economies in both sectors, where higher female ownership among incumbent businesses within a district-industry predicts that a greater share of subsequent entrepreneurs will be female. Moreover, higher female ownership of local businesses in related industries (e.g., those sharing similar labor needs, industries related via input-output markets) predict greater relative female entry rates even after controlling for the focal district-industry's conditions. The core patterns hold when using local industrial conditions in 1994 to instrument for incumbent conditions in 2000-2005. The results highlight that the traits of business owners in incumbent industrial structures influence the types of entrepreneurs supported.

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Cases & Course Materials

The Wen Group

John A. Davis and Matthew G. Pillar
Harvard Business School Case 812-034

Three brothers who own and lead a second-generation family business in Hong Kong encounter problems of nepotism and governance and endure considerable conflict. The case asks how to resolve these family and business issues.

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Exeter Group, Inc. (B)

Robert G. Eccles, Das Narayandas, and Kerry Herman
Harvard Business School Supplement 412-035

This case presents a brief description of the decisions the company made regarding whether or not to pursue each of the four projects that are the basis of the (A) case.

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The U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Anat Keinan
Harvard Business School Case 512-012

The case examines an iconic institution's decision on whether or not to undertake a branding initiative. Founded in 1802, West Point has played a key role in America's history. It is one of the nation's oldest institutions of higher learning and is well known for producing prominent military, political, and business leaders. In the increasingly competitive environment of higher education, the Director of Strategic Communications at the U.S. Military Academy is faced with a decision on whether or not to invest resources in a rebranding effort. Over the course of the school's history, several distinct logos have come into existence and little uniformity or guidance for use exists. Data from a recent consumer survey offers some insight for the decision maker to contemplate, as does the school's recent appearance on the cover of Forbes' magazine as the number one undergraduate institution in the nation. Numerous stakeholders, tradition, the competitive environment, and resource constraints all factor into the decision-making process.

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Orientation to Leadership Intelligence Days, 2011

Joshua D. Margolis and Anthony J. Mayo
Harvard Business School Module Note 412-057

An abstract is unavailable at this time.

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Sephora Direct: Investing in Social Media, Video, and Mobile

Elie Ofek and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld
Harvard Business School Case 511-137

Julie Bornstein, senior vice president of Sephora Direct, is seeking to double her budget for social media and other digital marketing initiatives for 2011. A number of digital efforts implemented in the past two years seem to be bearing fruit, and there is a desire to intensify Sephora's social media, online video, and mobile presence. Bornstein must justify the need for the additional funding, determine how best to allocate the money across the various platforms, and establish effective ways to measure return on investment (ROI) for digital marketing spending . She must also take into account that the funding requested will likely come at the expense of Sephora's traditional marketing programs. Importantly, Bornstein needs to begin thinking about a cohesive long-term strategy that clearly identifies the role digital platforms play and how they help Sephora maintain its leadership position in the prestige beauty care space. The constant emergence of new players, such as Groupon and Shop Socially, the growing power of social media platforms such as Facebook, and the way consumer behavior and user generated content are rapidly evolving in a digital era, make her task all the more challenging.

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The K-Dow Petrochemicals Joint Venture

Guhan Subramanian, James K. Sebenius, Phillip Andrews, and Rhea Ghosh
Harvard Business School Case 912-002

In 2007, the Dow Chemical Company and the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation announced plans to launch a multibillion-dollar joint venture. Later known as K-Dow Petrochemicals, it would be one of the largest manufacturers of chemicals and plastics in the world. Analysts widely hailed the planned joint venture as a game-changing deal for both companies. Shortly after the announcement, cable network CNBC requested an interview with Andrew Liveris, Dow's CEO, about this massive transaction. Liveris needed to decide how to respond. This case provides a brief background on the industry, both companies, and plans for the joint venture as of January 2008.

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Anne Riley: Laid Off

Sandra J. Sucher and Phillip Andrews
Harvard Business School Case 612-008

This case describes the experience of Anne Riley, a 28-year-old private equity analyst, who was laid off in 2008. The case explores the emotions she felt throughout the process and how she handled the experience.

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