First Look

October 6, 2009

Free time is a precious and rare commodity for 24/7 professional service providers like consultants, IT specialists, and lawyers. What if you could slot free time into your hyperbusy schedule—and your firm was in favor?

A study highlighted this month in Harvard Business Review explains how set periods of free time allow individual workers to recharge, ultimately benefiting them, their firms, and their clients. The idea is not to take time only when a free moment magically presents itself, but to build openings right into your schedule and stick to the plan. Buy-in from firm leadership is key.

"[O]ur research over the past four years in several North American offices of the Boston Consulting Group suggests that it is perfectly possible for consultants and other professionals to meet the highest standards of service and still have planned, uninterrupted time off," write HBS professor Leslie A. Perlow and coauthor Jessica L. Porter in the article, ""Making Time Off Predictable—and Required."

— Martha Lagace


Does Foreign Direct Investment Promote Growth? Exploring the Role of Financial Markets on Linkages


Do multinational companies generate positive externalities for the host country? The evidence so far is mixed varying from beneficial to detrimental effects of foreign direct investment (FDI) on growth, with many studies that find no effect. In order to provide an explanation for this empirical ambiguity, we formalize a mechanism that emphasizes the role of local financial markets in enabling FDI to promote growth through backward linkages. Using realistic parameter values, we quantify the response of growth to FDI and show that an increase in the share of FDI leads to higher additional growth in financially developed economies relative to financially under-developed ones.

Mergers That Stick

An abstract is unavailable.

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The Optimal Taxation of Height: A Case Study of Utilitarian Income Redistribution


Should the income tax include a credit for short taxpayers and a surcharge for tall ones? The standard Utilitarian framework for tax analysis answers this question in the affirmative. Moreover, a plausible parameterization using data on height and wages implies a substantial height tax: a tall person earning $50,000 should pay $4,500 more in tax than a short person. One interpretation is that personal attributes correlated with wages should be considered more widely for determining taxes. Alternatively, if policies such as a height tax are rejected, then the standard Utilitarian framework must fail to capture intuitive notions of distributive justice.

Making Time Off Predictable—and Required

An abstract is unavailable.

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CEMEX (B): Cementing Relationships (2004-2007)

Harvard Business School Supplement 308-023

Supplements the (A) case.

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CEMEX's Foundations for Sustainability

Harvard Business School Case 308-024

An abstract is unavailable.

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Competing Through Business Models (D)

Harvard Business School Note 710-410

This note was prepared to aid students in the EC course "Competing through Business Models."

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Harvard Business School Case 309-113

In 2008, Daqi was one of the largest Internet portals for user-generated content and the leading word-of-mouth marketing provider in China. Grace Zhou, Daqi's CEO, was contemplating the risks and benefits of expanding Daqi's services into three new content areas—news, music, and popular bloggers. Each potential area of Daqi's expansion offered extensive benefits, such as major growth opportunity, as well as risks, including private lawsuits, government censorship, and significant capital investments. The case focuses on how Zhou must weigh the pros and cons of expansion in each of these three areas, as well as the potential of a merger.

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David Neeleman: Flight Path of a Servant Leader (A)

Harvard Business School Case 409-024

David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue, is forced to confront a crisis in customer confidence following operational difficulties on February 14, 2007. This becomes a vital test of his leadership.

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Indian Railways: Building a Permanent Legacy?

Harvard Business School Case 710-008

An abstract is unavailable.

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Urban Decay: A Great Idea

Harvard Business School Case 310-032

Casual discussions of ideas for a new business can have unintended legal consequences and expectations about founder status and ownership shares may diverge widely. Using facts from a litigated case, the concept of inadvertent formation of a partnership is explored.

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Western Union: Our World, Our Family®

Harvard Business School Case 410-050

In 2006, Western Union spun-off from its former parent, First Data Corporation, and began the process of defining itself as a stand-alone organization. Part of that effort was the creation of a strategic corporate social responsibility program called Our World, Our Family. The case tracks Western Union's earlier CSR initiatives and how they resulted in the creation Our World, Our Family. Key elements of the case focus on understanding the Western Union business model focused on financial remittances, and how its corporate citizenship efforts bring value to the company by satisfying the diverse needs of Western Union's stakeholders.

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