First Look

July 31, 2018

Of special interest among new research papers, case studies, articles, and books released this week by Harvard Business School faculty:

Practical advice for advisors

When we are called upon to provide advice to others, it can affect our state of mind. Francesca Gino and Hayley Blunden contribute a chapter to a recently released book, The Oxford Handbook on Advice, which takes a look at the psychological consequences of serving in an advisor role, plus provides practical strategies advisors can use to achieve their goals. How the Other Half Thinks: The Psychology of Advising.

A focus on company culture

WeWork—and American company that provides shared workspaces and other services to entrepreneurs, freelancers, and businesses—was expanding globally in 2017 when co-founder Miguel McKelvey became concerned about the culture of the company. A case study written by Jeffrey Rayport, Sarah Gulick, and Matthew Preble explores the company’s creation of a culture operations team to not only help guide the company internally but potentially provide a “product” to external enterprises. WeWork.

India's ambitious health insurance program

In February, India’s government announced that it would provide public health insurance coverage to 500 million citizens, making it the world’s largest insurance program. In an upcoming article in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Tarun Khanna and colleagues make recommendations for a federated patient-centric health information system while exploring the technical challenges of meeting this goal in a country where health data is mostly not digitized. Reimagining Health Data Exchange: An Application Programming Interface-Enabled Roadmap for India.

A complete list of new research and publications from Harvard Business School faculty follows.

— Dina Gerdeman
  • forthcoming
  • Journal of Medical Internet Research

Reimagining Health Data Exchange: An Application Programming Interface-Enabled Roadmap for India

By: Balsari, Satchit, Alexander Fortenko MD, MPH, Joaquin A. Blaya PhD, Adrian Gropper MD, Malavika Jayaram LLM, Rahul Matthan LLM, Ram Sahasranam, Mark Shankar MD, Suptendra N. Sarbadhikari PhD, Barbara Bierer, Kenneth D. Mandl MD, Sanjay Mehendale MD, MPH, and Tarun Khanna

Abstract—In February 2018, the Government of India announced a massive public health insurance scheme extending coverage to 500 million citizens, in effect making it the world’s largest insurance program. To meet this target, the government will rely on technology to effectively scale services, monitor quality, and ensure accountability. While India has seen great strides in informational technology development and outsourcing, cellular phone penetration, cloud computing, and financial technology, the digital health ecosystem is in its nascent stages and has been waiting for a catalyst to seed the system. This National Health Protection Scheme is expected to provide just this impetus for widespread adoption. However, health data in India are mostly not digitized. In the few instances that they are, the data are not standardized, not interoperable, and not readily accessible to clinicians, researchers, or policymakers. While such barriers to easy health information exchange are hardly unique to India, the greenfield nature of India’s digital health infrastructure presents an excellent opportunity to avoid the pitfalls of complex, restrictive, digital health systems that have evolved elsewhere. We propose here a federated, patient-centric, application programming interface (API)–enabled health information ecosystem that leverages India’s near-universal mobile phone penetration, universal availability of unique ID systems, and evolving privacy and data protection laws. It builds on global best practices and promotes the adoption of human-centered design principles, data minimization, and open standard APIs. The recommendations are the result of 18 months of deliberations with multiple stakeholders in India and the U.S., including individuals from academia, industry, and government.

Publisher's link:

  • forthcoming
  • Handbook of Behavioral Economics: Foundations and Applications

Behavioral Household Finance

By: Beshears, John, James J. Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte C. Madrian

Abstract—This chapter provides an overview of household finance. The first part summarizes key facts regarding household financial behavior, emphasizing empirical regularities that are inconsistent with the standard classical economic model and discussing extensions of the classical model and explanations grounded in behavioral economics that can account for the observed patterns. This part covers five topics: consumption and savings, borrowing, payments, asset allocation, and insurance. The second part addresses interventions that firms, governments, and other parties deploy to shape household financial outcomes: education and information, peer effects and social influence, product design, advice and disclosure, choice architecture, and interventions that directly target prices or quantities.

Publisher's link:

  • 2018
  • The Oxford Handbook of Advice

How the Other Half Thinks: The Psychology of Advising

By: Blunden, Hayley, and Francesca Gino

Abstract—This chapter integrates research on advice interactions, motivations for advising, and the psychological consequences of serving in an advisor role to develop a more comprehensive perspective on the psychology of advising. By connecting this work, which spans various methodologies and theoretical foundations, it advances current thinking on advice giving in two primary ways. First, in examining the diversity of motivations for advice giving, it extends the set of advice-exchange outcomes to be considered beyond those previously emphasized. Second, it highlights previously unexplored aspects of the advisor role that are likely to impact the advice-giving experience. The chapter concludes by providing recommendations for advisors and identifying areas ripe for future research to illuminate the advisor side of the advice-exchange process.

Publisher's link:

  • forthcoming
  • Journal of Economic Geography

Knowledge Integrators and the Survival of Manufacturing Clusters

By: Buciuni, Giulio, and Gary P. Pisano

Abstract—Over the past two decades, the greater prevalence of global supply chains has had contrasting effects on Western manufacturing clusters. While some of them dwindled, others proved resilient. Contributing to the recent literature on co-located clusters and clusters' linkages, we focus on the impact of lead firms’ strategies on the competitiveness of a pair of “twin” clusters located in Northeast Italy. Our findings suggest that production remains “sticky” when leading firms pursue “process-embedded” innovation by integrating global market and local technical knowledge. We refer to this type of firm as a Knowledge Integrator and discuss how its strategy supports the competitiveness of localized suppliers.

Publisher's link:

  • Harvard Business School Case 218-069

Goldman Sachs: Making an Imprint in Impact Investing

Goldman Sachs acquired Imprint Capital Advisors, a small firm that specialized in advising clients on environmental/social/governance (ESG) and impact investments. The founders sold Imprint with the belief that joining a global financial firm would help to scale impact investing, if not bring it into the mainstream. The case is set two years after the acquisition. It describes impact investing, the founding of Imprint, its evolution from serving foundations and home offices to financial institutions, and its sale to and integration within Goldman Sachs. The founders consider the past two years and whether the acquisition has, in fact, helped to scale ESG/impact investing.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 219-005

Investing in the 21st Century: Return, Risk and Impact

No abstract available.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 712-489

RC Strategy—Global Strategy Module

Conceptual note that describes effective global strategy.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 118-053

Kaiser Permanente Colorado: Primary Care Plus

A gerontologist in Kaiser Permanente’s Colorado region is concerned with the high and growing cost of treating the elderly population. She introduces a new care model, Primary Care Plus, using an interdisciplinary team of a primary care doctor, palliative care specialist, nurse coordinator, clinical pharmacy specialist, and behavioral and social service specialists. The team focuses on the highest-risk patients to see if the new, proactive care model can improve patient, family, and provider satisfaction and lower Kaiser Permanente’s total cost of care for this patient segment.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 518-089

Maersk: Betting on Blockchain

In March 2018, international shipping giant Maersk is getting ready to debut a trade digitization platform. Maersk hopes the platform will help streamline global trade since shipping goods internationally is an extraordinarily complicated and inefficient process. Maersk intends for stakeholders throughout the supply chain to utilize the platform, including its competitors. Blockchain, made famous through cryptocurrency, will power part of the project. Executives at Maersk believe that blockchain technology can provide much needed transparency to the global supply chain. Maersk plans to launch the blockchain trade platform as an independent joint venture with IBM. The team at Maersk wonders if this joint venture is the right organization to operate the blockchain project. What challenges will the project face?

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  • Harvard Business School Case 818-101


WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey was concerned about the culture of his rapidly expanding global venture. In particular, he wanted to ensure that WeWork continued to be a great place to work, both because he cared about WeWork's people and because a better work experience was core to the company’s brand. In the summer of 2017, he had made a presentation to the company at an all-hands meeting. In it, he proposed the creation of a culture operations team, and he announced that he would take the title of chief culture officer to lead it. In this case, which describes the founding and growth of WeWork from 2010, we encounter McKelvey planning for his new role with co-founder Adam Neumann and envisioning a “culture OS” that he and Neumann would use to lead the organization internally—and to offer as a “product” to scaled enterprises externally.

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  • Harvard Business School Case 118-007

Knowledge Sharing at REMA 1000 (A)

A year after Norwegian grocery chain REMA 1000 adopted Workplace, Facebook’s enterprise social network, Chief Human Resource Officer Tore Høylie is asked to evaluate its impact on company culture and communication. Almost 90% of the workforce is engaged with the platform, which they use to communicate with colleagues across the decentralized chain of independent outlets. Franchisees use the site to communicate with their employees and share ideas for improving sales. However, there are some concerns that the site is overloaded with information and difficult to navigate. Some employees say important information gets easily lost amid a sea of irrelevant posts. Høylie must figure out how to improve the way employees interact with the platform. Or should REMA 1000 just abandon it?

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  • Harvard Business School Case 118-072

Knowledge Sharing at REMA 1000 (B)

Supplement to HBS No. 118-007, "Knowledge Sharing at REMA 1000 (A)." Chief Human Resources Officer Tore Høylie was proud of REMA 1000 (REMA)’s strong employee engagement with Workplace, Facebook’s corporate social media platform; however, some users complained that the corporate social network had disrupted hierarchical structures and that the site was overloaded with information. To begin to remedy these problems, Høylie’s team modified the group architecture and issued guidance for platform use.

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After years of growth, the Swiss watch industry faced an existential crisis. Exports to the U.S., their primary market, had dropped by more than two thirds over the past five years. Swiss watches were being disrupted by high-quality and affordable American products. The Swiss had to figure out how to respond. No matter the outcome, the year 1876 would prove to be pivotal.

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