Spring 2015 Reunion Presentations

During the 2015 Spring Reunions, HBS faculty members, industry leaders and non-HBS scholars will present their most recent research on a wide range of topics.

To view presentation materials from prior reunions, please visit past reunion presentations pages: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Session 1: 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Aligning Strategy and Sales
Frank V. Cespedes, MBA Class of 1973 Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

For most companies, the most expensive part of implementation is aligning sales and other go-to-market efforts with their strategies and goals. Yet, research indicates a big gap between strategy and field execution in sales. On average, companies deliver only about 50 percent of the financial performance that their strategies and sales forecasts promise. That’s a lot of wasted money and managerial effort. This session will focus on tools to help close that gap and improve selling and strategy in an organization. Cespedes will outline what research for his new book, Aligning Strategy and Sales: The Choices, Systems, and Behaviors That Drive Effective Selling (Harvard Business Review Press), can say about improving performance in this area. He will also leave attendees with diagnostics that they can use when they return to their organizations.

The Next Harvard: Planning for Transformation
Angela Quinn Crispi (MBA 1990), Executive Dean for Administration

Harvard and HBS are undertaking one of the largest real estate developments in the City of Boston. This interactive discussion will showcase these evolving plans. Learn how Harvard’s vision for Allston will create a campus of the next century, putting HBS, long recognized as one of the most renowned campuses in higher education, at the center of the University’s master plan. Hear how the HBS campus has evolved over the past five years and which innovations are planned for the next five as it designs the campus of the future.

Terror at the Taj Bombay: Customer-Centric Leadership
Rohit Deshpandé, Sebastian S. Kresge Professor of Marketing

Join a case discussion about the bravery and resourcefulness shown by the rank-and-file employees of the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower luxury hotel during the terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai, India, on November 26, 2008. Excerpts from the “Terror at the Taj” multimedia case will be shown during the session, featuring video interviews with hotel staff and executives combined with security footage of the attack, which create a documentary-like account of the events that took place. The case also covers the hotel’s history, its approach to training, and the “guest is God” philosophy inherent in Indian culture. Why did the Taj employees stay at their posts, jeopardizing their safety in order to save hotel guests? And is this level of loyalty and dedication something that can be replicated and scaled elsewhere? Note: The Terror at the Taj Bombay case discussion will be based on a video case shown live in the classroom; no pre-reading or viewing is required.

Women in Technology Startups and Venture Capital: What We Know and What We Should Do
Paul A. Gompers, Eugene Holman Professor of Business Administration and Chair, MBA Elective Curriculum

This talk will explore the issues around women in technology startups and venture capital. Professor Gompers will explore his research on how personal background affects individual career success in technology startups and venture capital. This work highlights the importance of diversity in organizational success.

Big Data – Big Deal or Big Hype?
Sunil Gupta, Edward W. Carter Professor of Business Administration and Chair, General Management Program

Big data has become a buzz world in the industry. The proponents like to think of it as the new oil for the digital economy. Critics wonder if it is snake oil. Gartner predicted that by 2017 almost 60% of big-data projects would fail to go beyond piloting and experimentation. Wired magazine noted that almost 70% of enterprise project money is spent on aggregating, sorting, and optimizing data before a single penny of value is created. So what is the future of big data and where it may be valuable? In this presentation we will discuss this question.

Leadership: The Power of Thinking and Acting Like an Owner
Robert Steven Kaplan, Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration; Senior Associate Dean, External Relations; and Faculty Chair, The Harvard Business School Campaign

What is leadership? How do you reach your leadership potential?

HBX Business Education Reimagined for the Digital Age
Jana Kierstead, Executive Director, HBX and Bharat N. Anand, Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration

HBX is a new online education platform that offers interactive learning experiences in keeping with Harvard Business School’s mission to educate leaders. Participants will learn about HBS’s strategy for creating a unique learning environment from Executive Director Jana Kierstead and HBX Faculty Chair Bharat Anand. They will provide a deep-dive into the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program, a primer on the fundamentals of business; and Courses, which are specialized offerings that allow learners to engage with leading-edge ideas from HBS faculty. And, they will introduce HBX Live, a one-of-a-kind digital classroom that will enable learners worldwide to connect in real time. Platform demonstrations will illustrate the technology and teaching elements that make HBX unique.

Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovations in Education
John Jong-Hyun Kim, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Prosperity and competitiveness of nations are closely linked to educational outcomes of its citizens; individual educational performance, as early as third grade, can predict life outcomes. The United States spends more than $600 billion each year in providing public education to more than 50 million children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Despite concerted reform efforts matched with a more than doubling in spending in real terms over the past three decades, performance of US students has not improved. This session will explore how entrepreneurs are applying business practices and technology innovations to transform K–12 education to lead to higher performance.

Consumers, Corporations, and Public Health: The Case of 23andMe
John A. Quelch, Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration

In November 2013, the Food and Drug Administration sent a strongly worded cease and desist letter to 23andMe, a pioneer in direct-to-consumer genetic testing. The case is a metaphor for the increasing tension between public-health regulators and innovative entrepreneurs. As they contend with ever-escalating healthcare costs (now 18 percent of US GDP), consumers are encouraged to take more responsibility for their own health. But public-health officials are concerned about the quality of information consumers may purchase and the possibility that they may act on the information in ways that do themselves more harm than good. The 23andMe case is one of many in Professor Quelch’s new course, Consumers, Corporations, and Public Health, that is offered jointly to MPH as well as MBA students.

The Market for Smaller Firms
Richard S. Ruback, Willard Prescott Smith Professor of Corporate Finance, and Royce G. Yudkoff, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Smaller firms sell for substantially lower multiples than larger firms in similar businesses. These smaller firms—with transaction values below $10 million—typically sell for four times EBITDA, multiples that are half to a third as large as those for comparable larger companies. These low multiples seem to provide enormous opportunities for potential buyers. The magic of small-firm investing is surely these low multiples. This talk will offer some thoughts about the market for smaller firms and the dynamics that result in the low multiples for smaller firms.

The Basis for Optimism
William A. Sahlman (MBA 1975), Dimitri V. D’Arbeloff – MBA Class of 1955 Professor of Business Administration

This talk focuses on the challenges confronting the United States and other countries and the entrepreneurial actors who are hard at work finding solutions. If K‒12 education is failing in the United States, entrepreneurs are designing new systems that are less costly and more effective. If climate change threatens life as we know it, entrepreneurs are searching for scalable, clean, low-cost alternatives to hydrocarbons. That’s the basic duality participants will discuss.

The Future of Energy in a Changing World
Daniel P. Schrag, Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, and Director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment

Concerns about climate change and about conventional air pollution have motivated a worldwide effort to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. How much progress has been made? Remarkable improvements in the cost of renewable energy have occurred over the past decade, but the largest innovation has been in hydrocarbon extraction, specifically through improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. How is the world energy system likely to develop over the coming decades, in the face of serious environmental challenges? A variety of strategies will be discussed for meeting the world’s energy needs with the smallest possible impact on the atmosphere.

Corporate Governance 2.0
Guhan Subramanian, H. Douglas Weaver Professor of Business Law at HBS; Joseph Flom Professor of Law and Business at Harvard Law School

Good corporate governance has been hindered by a patchwork system of regulation, a mix of public and private policymakers, and the lack of an accepted metric for what constitutes successful corporate governance. The nature of the debate does not help either: shrill voices, a seemingly unbridgeable divide between shareholder activists and managers, conflicts of interest, and staked-out positions that crowd out thoughtful discussion. This session will present three core principles of “corporate governance 2.0”: (1) boards have the right to manage the company for the long term; (2) boards should install mechanisms to ensure that the best possible people are in the boardroom; and (3) boards should give shareholders an orderly voice. In the accompanying Harvard Business Review article, these principles are applied to current hot-button topics, such as staggered boards, term limits, age limits, exclusive forum provisions, and proxy access.

The Roots of the Debate over Tax Reform
Matthew C. Weinzierl, Associate Professor of Business Administration

Fundamental tax reform is overdue in the United States. While the outlines of a compromise seem clear, agreement remains elusive. Associate Professor Weinzierl studies the roots of this stalemate, and in this interactive discussion participants will explore some of the underlying tensions driving the current debate. They may even come to appreciate the other side of the debate a bit better.

Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs
David B. Yoffie, Max and Doris Starr Professor of International Business Administration

Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs were masters of strategy, who led Microsoft, Intel, and Apple to become the world’s most valuable companies during their tenures. Based on more than 20 years of research, Professor Yoffie argues that these three CEOs shared a powerful, common approach to strategy, which he describes through five rules: (1) look forward and then reason back; (2) make big bets, but without betting the company; (3) build platforms and ecosystems, rather than just stand-alone products; (4) exploit both leverage and power, or “judo” and “sumo” tactics; and (5) drive execution by shaping the organization around the CEO’s “personal anchor.” This session is based on Professor Yoffie’s book Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs, coauthored with Michael Cusumano (Harper Collins).

Session 2: 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Capitalist Dilemma and How Will You Measure Your Life
Clayton M. Christensen, Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration

Professor Christensen loves to tackle questions, from How does one live a happy, meaningful, purpose-filled life to What are patterns in the economic recovery cycle? Using a set of theories as lenses to the world, he routinely asks his students to share what they see through these lenses. He continues the conversation and shares insights from these conversations here. He’ll talk about his current research looking at the economy along with how this same research applies to family relationships, aligning resources with priorities, and how he has chosen to measure his life.

Design Thinking and Innovative Problem Solving
Srikant M. Datar, Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Accounting

In their book, Rethinking the MBA: Business Education at a Crossroads (Harvard Business Review Press), Professors Srikant Datar and David Garvin and researcher Patrick Cullen identified creative and innovative thinking as an essential skill for managers operating in a world of rapidly evolving product and business models and ever-increasing complexity. In this talk, Professor Datar will describe how managers can develop design thinking and innovative problem-solving skills. These skills include the ability to gain deep insights about users (the core of design thinking); to define and reframe problems; and to overcome fixedness in thinking to generate, develop, and implement novel and effective solutions. Professor Datar will also discuss how managers can build innovative organizations, identify innovative individuals, form innovative teams, and nurture innovative cultures.

Google, Facebook, and the End of Anonymity
John A. Deighton, Harold M. Brierley Professor of Business Administration, and Benjamin G. Edelman, Associate Professor of Business Administration

The automobile changed the physical world. The Internet is changing the mental world. First came Google, which put a dent in human ignorance, and then Facebook, which did the same for loneliness. Do these virtues come at a cost? They alter the line between private life and life in the marketplace; they change the balance of information between buyers and sellers; they change what it means to be alone. This session will report on research that finds that US firms spend $156 billion to buy marketing services grounded in microdata about individual consumers. Are marketers getting value for this spending? Are consumers?

Strategic Marketing Management: Betting on Blockbusters and Superstars
Anita Elberse, Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration

Big bets on blockbusters and superstars are commonplace in the business of entertainment, but such strategies increasingly pervade other consumer-goods sectors, too, including fashion, electronics, luxury goods, beverages, and apparel. That’s why managers in a wide range of industries can benefit from understanding successful strategies in show business. Drawing on a decade's worth of research on the creative industries, Professor Elberse will describe which strategies give leaders in film, television, music, publishing, and sports an edge over their rivals. Along the way, she will reveal why the search for the next blockbuster often is so costly, why superstars can earn unimaginable sums, how digital technologies are transforming the entertainment landscape—and what the key lessons are for managers across a wide range of other industries.

Can China Lead?
William C. Kirby, Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration; T. M. Chang Professor of China Studies

Europe led the world in the 19th century. The United States was the dominant power of the 20th century. What are the prospects for the 21st century being the “Chinese Century?” The question of whether China can sustain its remarkable emergence of the past 35 years is the subject of Professor Kirby’s new book, Can China Lead? Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth, coauthored with Regina M. Abrami and F. Warren McFarlan (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014). Looking at entrepreneurship, education, and politics, Professor Kirby will talk in this session about the challenges and opportunities for China and for the United States; and he will assess the prospects for reform in the light of the first years of President Xi Jinping’s leadership.

Family Feud at Market Basket
Jay W. Lorsch, Louis E. Kirstein Professor of Human Relations

During the summer of 2014, a boardroom conflict at Market Basket, a chain of New England supermarkets, exploded into public view after CEO Arthur T. Demoulas was fired by the board, led by his archnemesis and cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas. His dismissal set off protests throughout the organization, by employees who saw Arthur S. and his side of the family as “greedy corporate sharks” more concerned about their own wealth than the welfare of employees and customers. Each day brought new headlines and TV updates. Because of the high-profile nature of the crisis, the actions by the board of directors were being carefully scrutinized and directors were under increasing pressure to get Market Basket back on track. Professor Lorsch will explore what caused this Greek tragedy to unfold in Boston, how the board and management reacted, and what the lessons are for company boards.

Tour of HBX Live Studio at WGBH
Youngme Moon, Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration

HBX Live! is a one-of-a-kind virtual classroom that allows students to interact in real time with faculty and alumni from around the world, much as they would in a traditional Aldrich classroom. HBS has partnered with the public broadcasting company WGBH to create a state-of-the-art space that will allow engagement with up to 60 participants at a time. Join Professor Moon for a tour of the studio where faculty go to teach and the control room where production is managed, and hear about how and why this unique learning platform was built.

Tour is limited to 50 participants.

From “Mad Men” to “Math Men” – The Programmatic Revolution in Advertising
Jeffrey F. Rayport, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

Department store magnate John Wanamaker is famous for saying, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” Marketing guided by big data, analytics, and algorithmic intelligence is changing the game for major brands. Marketers can now determine exactly how well their advertising is performing, in real time, down to the individual ad impression. While so-called programmatic buying, selling, and targeting of advertising at scale has only recently taken hold, it is poised to become the dominant way in which leading brands achieve their goals. This revolution in marketing automation, which resembles the technology-driven transformation of the capital markets two decades ago, signals that programmatic techniques are poised to enter the mainstream. When that happens, major media, including television and even print, will become IP-addressable. And any conventional notions about marketing as usual will go out the window. In this talk, we’ll explore what this means for marketers and brands – and the future of our culture.

High-Growth Entrepreneurship and the Importance of Strategy
Steven S. Rogers, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

This will be an interactive session featuring a comprehensive discussion about high-growth vs. lifestyle entrepreneurship. Participants will also use the entrepreneurship spectrum to identify the numerous ways in which people can pursue entrepreneurship, including via startup or acquisition. The topic of strategic thinking will be covered throughout the session, with a focus on why successful entrepreneurs have seemingly mastered this skill set and corporate executives have not.

Real Estate and Capital Markets
Arthur I. Segel, Poorvu Family Professor of Management Practice

Participate in a discussion on real estate valuation and the capital markets today, using a short case involving New York City, which will be handed out in class (no pre-reading required). Professor Arthur Segel will also provide a brief update on current real estate programming for MBA students.

Seven Strategy Questions: A Simple Approach for Better Execution
Robert Simons, Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration

Executing strategy requires tough choices. Unfortunately, many managers avoid choosing in the mistaken belief that they can have it all. Instead of focusing on one primary customer, they try to serve many different types of customers. Instead of instilling values that prioritize the interests of shareholders, customers, and employees, they develop lists of aspirational attributes. Instead of focusing on what could cause their strategy to fail, they build complex scorecards with an overload of measures. The result: disappointing performance and declining market position. To guard against these risks, Professor Simons will review the seven strategy questions that all executives (and directors) should ask to ensure that business leaders are making the tough choices that ensure successful strategy execution and winning in highly competitive, global markets.

What It Takes to BE(come) a World-Class Leader: Authentic Leader(ship) Development
Scott A. Snook (MBA 1987), MBA Class of 1958 Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

This session will be an interactive discussion that draws on Senior Lecturer Snook’s 30-plus years of experience as a leader, teacher, and researcher. Using a series of short video vignettes and personal stories, Snook will argue that success is as much about who you are as it is about what you know and what you can do. Drawing from the emerging fields of positive psychology and authentic leader development, Snook will demonstrate the potential of this novel approach by introducing participants to a wide range of interesting characters, including The Happy Greeter, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Simon Cowell, and Michael Jordan. Based on his experience teaching the highly popular HBS course Authentic Leadership Development, Snook will lead participants through a reflective exercise designed to help them experience what it feels like to actually BE(come) more authentic.

Wealth: A Nice Problem to Have
Howard Stevenson (MBA 1965), Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus

HBS boasts many wealthy graduates, many self-made. Many people think that money solves all problems—and it certainly can help—but it creates other challenges. Professor Stevenson’s experiences as the first president and a cofounder of Baupost, a $26 billion investment fund, and with his family’s investment partnership affords him some special insights. At the request of his children, Professor Stevenson has been trying to capture what he has learned about wealth in a “book” for the family. In this seminar, he will share his latest thinking about wealth, which he defines as the accumulation of a pool of assets that give choice; philanthropy; spending; and investing. He also will counter common wisdom on the particularly thorny issue of wealth and families, and offer some suggestions for raising wealthy children.

Session 3: 2:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
Behavioral Insights to Be a More Effective Organization
Max H. Bazerman, Jesse Isidor Straus Professor of Business Administration

The growth of behavioral economics, decision research, controlled field experiments, and nudging has created a new set of levers for executives to create more effective organizations. HBS, and Harvard more broadly, are at the center of this revolution. As cochair of Harvard’s Behavioral Insights Group (along with Professor Iris Bohnet, of the Harvard Kennedy School), Professor Bazerman helps organize the dozens of Harvard researchers working in this area, and coordinate with the emerging Behavioral Insight Teams around the globe. This talk will overview Harvard’s role in this field, and offer a number of specific examples that may be of use to executives attending the session.

Product Management 101
Thomas R. Eisenmann, Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration

Great product managers (PMs) can have a tremendous impact on a technology company’s performance. PMs define a product, then lead a cross-functional team responsible for its development, launch, and ongoing improvement. The elective course Product Management 101 aims to prepare MBAs for this demanding and crucial role by using a learning-by-doing approach. Over the course of a year, PM101 students conduct research on user needs for a software application, specify functional requirements, recruit and supervise programmers, and then manage the application’s launch. Professor Eisenmann will describe the challenges and rewards of designing and delivering a course that eschews the traditional HBS case method and instead relies solely on its complement, the field method. He also will discuss how PM101 fits into broader efforts underway at HBS to better prepare students for entrepreneurial careers.

Restarting America’s Job Creation Engine: How Business Leaders Can Help Close that Skills Gap
Joseph B. Fuller, Senior Lecturer of Business Administration

The jobs market in the United States offers a number of paradoxes. Employers complain about the unavailability of skilled workers, while millions remain unemployed, underemployed, or have withdrawn from the workforce. Middle-skills jobs have attracted particular attention. By some estimates these jobs account for about half of the labor force. Historically, they represented a reliable path to the middle class. But many of those jobs have been automated out of existence, relocated offshore, or have seen their wages stagnate. In this session, Senior Lecturer Fuller will discuss research on the role of businesses in closing middle-skills gaps. He will explain why the traditional definition of “middle skills” is inadequate and present a unique view of jobs data. He will argue that by adopting a broad-based focus on US competitiveness, employers, educators, and policymakers can address the skills gap and eroding standards of living.

Digital Innovation and Transformation: What Are Nest, WhatsApp, and SnapChat Really Worth and What Does It Mean for the Rest of Us?
Marco Iansiti, David Sarnoff Professor of Business Administration

The ubiquity of digital connectivity is creating new giants and transforming old industries. This session will focus on the changes driven by digital innovation, and its implications for business value creation and capture. Participants will discuss emerging business and operating models, and their foundations in technology and economics. The content will draw from Digital Innovation and Transformation, a new Elective Curriculum course introduced this past spring.

Innovating Our Way Out of Traffic Jams: Leadership to Reinvent Transportation and Infrastructure
Rosabeth M. Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration

The sorry state of American infrastructure affects businesses and everyday lives: commuters stuck in traffic congestion; delayed goods at higher cost; human suffering from collapsing bridges or train derailments; public transit that fails in severe weather or fails to connect poor neighborhoods to jobs; and other weaknesses compared to international competitors. Drawing from her just-published book, MOVE: Putting America's Infrastructure Back in the Lead, Professor Kanter will take a sweeping look across modes of transportation and changing industries to illuminate the roots of the current system mess and where the leadership will come from to initiate dramatic improvement. Among the important players are visionary civic leaders, app-creating technology entrepreneurs, established companies getting on the Big Data bus, and investors seeing the potential of sector change. Success stories include the Port of Miami Tunnel routing ever-larger cargo trucks off city streets; projects untangling Chicago's notorious "grade crossing" to separate rail and streets; or creative airline pilots using tablets and Next Gen software to help cope with bad weather. Bringing infrastructure into the 21st century can net "quintuple wins" in health/safety, efficiency/cost-saving, productivity, cleaner air, and economic growth opportunities. It takes combining innovation with collaboration—in short, leadership.

Private Equity at a Crossroads: What’s Next?
Josh Lerner, Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking

Both the buyout and venture capital industries face unprecedented challenges today. After an orgy of investments in the mid-2000s, private equity funds suffered a hangover of epic proportions. In recent quarters, however, the portfolios of the private equity funds have recovered in a manner that has surprised even the most optimistic observers. Meanwhile, venture capital, after a prolonged drought, has experienced new life—and even the repeat of bubble-like behavior, according to some observers. But all is not rosy: many of the investors on which these funds have traditionally depended, such as endowments and pensions, have increasingly looked to bypass funds and to instead pursue direct investments into private firms. This talk will explore this unsettled and often mysterious territory and offer some surprising predictions about the future of these sectors.

Case Discussion—Leadership Lessons from Chobani: Growing a Live and Active Culture
Joshua D. Margolis, James Dinan and Elizabeth Miller Professor of Business Administration

Join a case discussion about the surprising rise of Greek-yogurt maker Chobani, as participants try to unravel the puzzle of how its founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, reinvigorated the dairy aisle and transformed the yogurt category. Through a series of video excerpts from the multimedia case about Chobani and its leader, participants will uncover the leadership lessons that apply beyond startups and yogurt, and consider how he should address the challenges that lie ahead. Note: The Chobani case discussion will be based on a video case shown live in the classroom; no pre-reading or viewing is required.

Finding Huck Finn: Reclaiming Childhood from a River of Electronic Screens
Michael Rich, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard School of Public Health

Today’s children are growing up in a world transformed by interactive media. How can parents and others who care for children tell if these media are helping or hurting them? How can they make sure that the media environment supports children’s health and development? As Mediatrician and director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Rich offers research-based, balanced answers to these and other urgent questions about parenting in the digital age.

Urbanization and the Future of China
Meg Rithmire, Assistant Professor of Business Administration, Hellman Faculty Fellow

Urbanization in China during the past 30 years has been both a construction project and a process of human migration of historically unparalleled scale, yet has proceeded without private property rights over land and despite restricted citizenship for rural-to-urban migrants. Assistant Professor Rithmire will make sense of the contradictions of the Chinese urban project and the possible futures of Chinese capitalism.

The 5 Best Investments in Education
Jim Ryan, Dean of Harvard Graduate School of Education

The challenges facing education, though daunting, are not insurmountable. To be sure, far too many students lack access to a high-quality education, and still others are unable to achieve their full potential. Our classrooms and systems were designed for the 19th century, while technology evolves at a dizzying pace. But a growing evidence base points to five investments that hold great promise for improving educational opportunities and outcomes for students in the U.S. and around the world. Join Dean Ryan as he makes the case for what works in education and how Harvard can capitalize on this unique moment in our country’s history to make transformational progress for millions of young people.

Global Sourcing, Industrial Competitiveness, and the Future of Regional Clusters
Willy C. Shih, Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration

Building on earlier work on industrial competitiveness, Professor Shih will discuss one of his current projects looking at the future of regional clusters. In today’s global market for knowledge and ideas, the breadth of knowledge needed to sustain competitiveness requires firms increasingly to source capabilities from wherever they can find them. This means that the long-term health of regional clusters depends on the extent to which they can attract talent and invest in leading-edge capabilities, and foster cross-boundary collaboration that stays ahead of technological convergence.

The Wise Leader: How CEOs Can Learn Practical Wisdom to Help Them Do What’s Right for Their Companies – and Society
Hirotaka Takeuchi, Professor of Management Practice

Business now demands a new kind of leader—one who will make judgments knowing that everything is contextual, make decisions knowing that everything is changing, and take actions knowing that everything depends on doing so in a timely fashion. This will have to see what is good, just, and right for society (keeping a higher purpose in mind) while being grounded in the details of the ever-changing front line (realizing “God is in the details”).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Session 1: 10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
How Biology Has Changed the Global Economy, Is Transforming the World's Largest Businesses, and Will Change Even the Human Species
Juan Enriquez (MBA 1986), Managing Director, Excel Venture Management

We have had 26 species of humans and are now beginning to birth the 27th. As we modify viruses and bacteria to compute, vaccinate, retrovirally treat, or crowd out harmful pathogens, we begin to take direct and deliberate control over the evolution of various species. We are doing the same with bacteria, plants, animals, and ourselves. This changes man from a humanoid that is aware of and modifies its environment into a species that directly and deliberately guides evolution. And this is changing everything, including our life span, religions, ethics, the power of various countries, and, not least, businesses and industries.

Transforming America’s Schools: How Business Leaders Can Help
Allen S. Grossman, MBA Class of 1957 Professor of Management Practice, Retired

The time has come for America’s business leaders to reconsider how they work with educators to support public schools. Trends are converging to create fresh opportunities, greater need, and a unique moment for business involvement. In this session, Allen Grossman will discuss current research—conducted with the Gates Foundation and BCG as part of HBS’s project on US competitiveness—on business’s role in education. The work highlights how business can move from “checkbook philanthropy” toward lasting impact on student outcomes. He will also describe specific ways that alumni can get involved in local public schools.

Can China Lead?
F. Warren McFarlan (MBA 1961), Baker Foundation Professor and Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus

The question of whether China can sustain its remarkable emergence of the past 35 years is the subject of Professor McFarlan’s HBS Press book Can China Lead: Reaching the Limits of Power and Growth, coauthored with Regina M. Abrami and William C. Kirby and published in 2014. Looking at the subject through the lenses of a historian, a political economist, and a general management scholar, respectively, the book’s answer is that it will be very hard. In particular, in 2015 a set of economic and political forces have come into play, which clouds prospects for both internal growth and opportunities for foreign companies.

Thin Political Markets: The Soft Underbelly of Capitalism
Karthik Ramanna, Associate Professor of Business Administration

“Thin political markets” are the processes through which some of the most complex and critical institutions of our capitalist system are determined—e.g., our accounting-standards infrastructure; rules for bank-capital adequacy; actuarial standards; and auditing practice. In thin political markets, corporate special interests are largely unopposed because of their own expertise and the general public’s low awareness of the issues. This enables the special interests to structure the “rules of the game” in self-serving ways. On one level, this behavior embodies the capitalist spirit articulated by Milton Friedman: “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” But the ethics of profit-seeking behavior are premised on the logic of competition and, as this session will demonstrate, this logic breaks down in thin political markets. The result is a structural flaw in the determination of critical institutions of the capitalist system, which, if ignored, can undermine the legitimacy of the system. Ramanna will provide some ideas on how to fix the problem.

What Great Service Leaders Know and Do: Creating Breakthroughs in Service Firms
Leonard A. Schlesinger (DBA 1979), Baker Foundation Professor

In their recently completed book by the same title, Professor Schlesinger and coauthors and fellow HBS professors James L. Heskett (emeritus) and W. Earl Sasser posit the following: that management has within its control the authority, and, they think, the responsibility, to improve service quality and productivity while increasing job satisfaction and employee engagement. The book explores ways in which that can be achieved.

A New Wave of Digital Disruption Models
Thales S. Teixeira, Assistant Professor of Business Administration

In recent years, a new wave of digital disruption has been taking over the Internet. It is characterized by business models focusing on the separation of consumption activities that traditionally went together, such as content and advertising, or browsing and purchasing products. In this talk, I will show how a variety of firms, both incumbents and startups, are using digital technologies to break the bonds between (i.e., decouple) activities that consumers want to do and what they previously had to do. Examples in industries such as retailing, telecom, education, transportation, and media will be discussed.

Session 2: 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Why Is There Any Life in the Universe at All?
Charles R. Alcock, Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Professor of Astronomy

The early universe did not offer promising opportunities for life to develop. At the most elementary level, we think life needs a warm place and a mixture of chemical elements, neither of which was present as the universe expanded after the Big Bang. The universe cooled as it expanded and was for a few million years at hospitable temperatures, after which it became very cold and profoundly dark. We are now investigating the developments that led to the first stars, the chemical elements, and the circumstances that would permit life to develop here on Earth and elsewhere.

The Low Risk Anomaly: Implications for Investment, Asset Allocation, and Corporate Finance
Malcolm P. Baker, Robert G. Kirby Professor of Business Administration, Unit Head, Finance

One of the basic principles of finance is that, in competitive and efficient markets, investors earn higher average returns only by taking greater risks. Asset classes follow this pattern: Stocks have returned more than bonds, and bonds have returned more than cash. But, within the stock market, the pattern is reversed. Low-risk stocks, whether measured by volatility or market beta, have outperformed high-risk stocks, on average, in 80 years of US stock market history and in 30 years of international data. Drawing on his research, Professor Baker will describe the behavioral and institutional explanations for this anomaly and discuss the potential implications for investment, asset allocation, and corporate finance.

Leadership – a System, Not a Person
Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

Barbara Kellerman is a contrarian. On the subject of leadership, about which she has written extensively, she takes positions different from those of her colleagues. Here she will talk about what she has come to call the leadership system. Her systemic approach deviates deliberately from the relentless leader-centrism that dominates our leadership discourse. Kellerman argues for a more complete conception of how change is created. It includes three parts, each of equal importance: (1) leaders; (2) followers; and (3) contexts. Kellerman will explore the implications of this systemic approach to leadership primarily at home, but also abroad. She will conclude her comments with brief remarks on how her systemic approach sheds light on the leadership gap—between women and men.

Rethinking Nuclear: How Can We Change the World’s Cumulative Carbon Emissions Soon Enough?
Joseph B. Lassiter, Senator John Heinz Professor of Management Practice in Environmental Management, and Ray Rothrock (MBA 1988), Partner Emeritus, Venrock and Chairman & CEO, RedSeal

Today’s existing nuclear power alternatives as well as renewables are currently forecast by the EIA and IEA to be losing the race with fossil fuels worldwide and are expected to continue do so for the forecast future. A new suite of nuclear power alternatives that is capable of competing economically with fossil fuels (coal in Asia and natural gas in the United States) is needed, but time is of the essence if we want to keep cumulative, worldwide CO2 emissions from reaching what could well be threatening levels.

An Evolutionary Perspective on the Health Care Crisis
Daniel E. Lieberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University

One major cause of today’s health care crisis is a phenomenon known as the epidemiological transition: as more of us are living longer, more of us are suffering from debilitating and costly chronic, non-infectious diseases. Most experts in medicine and public health consider this transition an inevitable by-product of progress. If you are less likely to die young from infectious diseases and malnutrition, then you are more likely to die old from diseases such as cancer or heart disease. Professor Lieberman will show, however, that an evolutionary perspective suggests otherwise. Although most chronic, non-infectious diseases become more common with age, they are not caused by aging but instead are “mismatch conditions” caused by the human body being inadequately or incompletely adapted to modern environments, with the two main culprits being too little physical activity and too much sugar. Professor Lieberman will also show how an evolutionary perspective on these diseases provides vital new ways of thinking about how to treat and prevent them.

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