01 Dec 1999

Covering the Issues

Seventy-five Years of Bulletin Reporting
by Susan Young, Deborah Blagg, and Garry Emmons


As the Bulletin celebrates its 75th birthday, this is a good time to reflect on the principal topics the magazine has covered over the years. In paging through 75 years of Bulletins, we found a remarkable amount of ink given to matters that continue to be top priorities at HBS today: ethical standards and social responsibility, technology, globalization, the School's Soldiers Field campus, and the essential contributions that women are making in the business world. While a lot has changed at HBS in 75 years, it is remarkable to learn that many of the School's current priorities and institutions - like the Bulletin itself - are enduring outgrowths of its solid foundation.

Women in the Bulletin

While the first women in the Bulletin sold cigarettes in colorfully drawn advertisements in the 1930s, an occasional article would broach the subject of women (or "girls") in business. A woman banker, for instance, who authored "A New World for Women" in 1936, concluded, "It is inevitable that more and more women will occupy places of responsibility in our country's banks." Indeed, the Bulletin provides a window on the transition from an era when the idea of women earning business degrees was unheard of to a time when women shape decision-making at the highest corporate levels.

With the arrival of women students in the 1950s, when the School partnered with the Radcliffe Management Training Program, Associate Professor Elizabeth Abbott Burnham penned a 1953 piece on the nascent collaboration, noting that there is a "proven demand for women in business." A year later, Bulletin readers learned that HBS would "provide most of the faculty and instructional material and will be responsible for the [Radcliffe] Program's educational policy." (As the program evolved, the name was changed to the Harvard-Radcliffe Program in Business Administration.)

Despite contrary indicators such as a 1954 cartoon "On Having a Wife in Business" that listed this situation's pros ("Wife has trouble finding time to spend money") and cons ("Busy wife produces no cakes, pies"), the tide was slowly turning by the end of the 1950s. A 1959 article informed readers that women would be allowed to attend the School as second-year MBA students and doctoral candidates. "It is conceivable that a few young women would see good reason for continuing their business education," noted the Bulletin, "and it does not seem wise to bar them from doing so in view of the expanding possibilities for girls in industry."

Coeducation became a reality in 1963, as reported in a straightforward, low-key manner in the pages of the Bulletin. Less than a year later, Cecilia Bessell (MBA '65) explained that she had entered the MBA Program "with the hope of obtaining the same goals, satisfactions, and rewards as the men." A 1966 article by Judith S. Chadwick (MBA '65) addressed some of the difficulties those first women students encountered, including recruitment, overcoming stereotypes, and the lack of campus facilities. In a 1969 announcement of the first woman to be named a Baker Scholar, a School official commented, "I must confess that to a mere man she's almost frighteningly intelligent and perceptive."

In the 1970s, as the number of alumnae grew, women became a more regular part of the Bulletin. A note in 1972 mentioned that "Harvard has the largest number of women students in any of the major business schools." By 1975, the magazine reported that two hundred women were enrolled at the School and that the Women Students Association was holding an annual Career Day, aiding the Admissions Office in recruiting women, and lobbying for updating the School's literature "to reflect the fact that MBAs are not all men."

By the 1980s women were a fully integrated part of the School, and the pages of the Bulletin reflected this new era. As the number of women in the MBA Program approaches 50 percent, Bulletin reportage today centers on accomplishment rather than gender.

- Susan Young

Technology at HBS

Chronicling 75 years of Bulletin coverage of technology highlights the drama and accelerating pace of change that advancements in this area have inspired. Prior to the development of computers, Bulletin coverage of technology centered on areas such as aviation, energy, and automation. A 1928 article on radio, for example, noted that "with the exception of aviation, no other industry has so swiftly passed from the stage of obscurity and of experimentation to become an indispensable part of our modern life."

As computer technology emerged in the 1950s, initial reactions in the Bulletin were mixed. "One of the most dramatic developments in the business world is the growth of automatic data processing," wrote a faculty member in 1955, who also predicted that "the impression of growth is all out of proportion with the real facts." Penning a 1957 cover story titled "These Machines Are Morons," an AMP graduate highlighted the difficulties of the ten-year process of converting from punch cards to the latest technology - the Univac.

By the early 1960s there was less skepticism and more support for technological innovation. A 1961 article covering a conference on "Technological Planning on the Corporate Level" asserted that "the accelerating rate of change - our expanding technology - is the single most important factor with which business managers must be concerned at present or in the future." Two years later, an article charting the history of computerization and noting that the School had recently purchased its own data-processing equipment concluded with a prophetic question, "Is individual privacy to become the world's rarest commodity and costliest luxury?" The Bulletin's second full-color cover donned the announcement that in 1964 the School became the proud owner of an IBM 1401 computer.

During the 1970s, Bulletin articles reported the automation of Baker Library's holdings, the inclusion of cases on computer technology in the curriculum, the popularity of a student computer club, and the use of an interactive computer system to help place students in jobs. A 1979 article announced two new elective courses: Introduction to Computing for Managers and Management in a Computerized Environment.

Personal computers made their debut at HBS in 1982 when the School rented 75 PCs for participants in the Program for Management Development. The Bulletin noted that the new technology enabled "a quick consensus on the numbers and allow[ed] a focus on the real issues of a case." In 1985, a Bulletin cover story reported on personal computer use as a requirement of the MBA Program, one small but important sign, the piece declared, that the PC had "come of age."

Over the past decade, the magazine has covered the School's frequent technology conferences, campus upgrades, curriculum adaptations (such as multimedia cases), teleseminars, and student events (such as the annual Cyberposium). Recent Bulletins have profiled the vast array of alumni who are involved in high technology - from those working with Internet startups, to those working against the Y2K problem. Advances in technology "bring the world into the classroom in even more powerful ways," noted Dean Kim B. Clark in the Bulletin in 1997. "The future holds enormous promise."

- Susan Young

Ethics and Social Responsibility

When Dean Kim B. Clark reiterated the School's commitment to a values-based curriculum in the October 1999 Bulletin, he was carrying on a deep-rooted HBS tradition.

Wallace B. Donham, the School's Dean from 1919 to 1942, often championed this topic in early Bulletins, including in this excerpt from his 1927 campus dedication speech: "Especially it is necessary," Donham stated, "that we fix for business the foundation stones of the specialized ethics which are characteristic of all professions." A few years later, in 1929, General Electric chairman Owen D. Young ad-dressed the complexities of achieving that goal: "[I]f you ask me to apply the golden rule to a bank rate, I find it amazingly difficult to do."

In 1935, a special edition of the magazine carried the text of a major HBS report to Harvard's Board of Overseers outlining the School's plan to "enlarge its activities so as to be of still more service to the country" by expanding instruction in public aspects of business. Articles during World War II and beyond appealed to reader interest in the interplay of business and government in a rapidly changing world. Over six hundred graduates and guests came to campus for a 1948 alumni conference on "Responsibility for Business Leadership," which was covered extensively in the magazine.

In the early 1950s, Stanley F. Teele, who would serve as Dean from 1955 to 1962, described changes in the first-year curriculum aimed at instilling in students "the instinctive acceptance of responsi-bility . . . for the problems of the community in which the student operates." He asserted, "We must help make men develop open-mindedness plus the capacity to make value judgments."

Several Bulletin authors considered the sometimes contentious relationship between profit motive and business responsibility in the politically tumultuous 1960s. "Is profit really our goal?" asked Harry L. Smith (36th AMP) in a 1960 article. "I, for one, don't think so. . . . Our stubborn insistence on this point . . . accounts for much of our trouble with American society today." Articles on the social and ethical aspects of cases in the marketing curriculum and the results of a poll of business leaders' views on President Lyndon Johnson's antipoverty programs also appeared in this decade.

Coverage of School- and alumni-sponsored community outreach programs were featured in the early 1970s, including several pieces on volunteer consulting projects. In addition, in a special 1979 Bulletin essay on "Ethics in Business Education," Dean Lawrence E. Fouraker stated, "Personal integrity and social sensitivity are implicit in the idea of professionalism. . . . Nor has the School ever doubted that the concept of professionalism includes the components of social responsibility and accountability."

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Bulletin detailed a broad initiative launched under Dean John H. McArthur to incorporate ethical considerations into all areas of the curriculum. In the early 1990s, the magazine ran a two-part series that summarized the work of numerous faculty in making social responsibility and ethics an integral part of every HBS course. "Ethical issues arise in almost every facet of business," stated HBS professor Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr., in a 1991 article. "You can't really understand some of them unless you understand the marketing issues, financial issues, and production issues in the context of which these problems arise. Therefore, the material must be integrated throughout the required and elective curriculum and beyond the classroom as well." It is a vibrant initiative that will no doubt continue well into the next century.

- Deborah Blagg

Campus Development

The Bulletin and the HBS campus have grown up together on the banks of the Charles. A February 1926 article described the development of "a separate educational unit across the river [with] living accommodations for one thousand students, small houses for instructors and unmarried members of the Faculty, students and faculty clubhouses, dining halls, administrative offices, classrooms, research laboratories, recreational facilities, and a large and exceedingly well-equipped business library." Housed since its 1908 inception in Harvard Yard, HBS would at last have its own home. In a burst of activity, most of the campus was designed and erected between 1925 and 1926.

A number of temporary structures were built during World War II to accommodate participants in the School's military training programs, but it wasn't until the 1950s that the next major construction push took place. Much thought and care went into the design of Aldrich Hall, as the Bulletin reported in 1951: "We now have a plan which promises to satisfy the somewhat divergent demands of instructor-to-student relationship, the juxtaposition of students to stimulate class discussion, and the proper vision of chalkboard and screen. For implementing the case method of instruction we believe that the new classrooms will be nearly ideal." Kresge Hall, readers learned, was not intended to be "an amusement nor a recreational center; rather, it should stimulate cultural inquiry and development." Both buildings received much coverage after they were dedicated in the summer of 1953.

When plans for a new round of construction were announced in 1965 - paving the way for the dedications of Dillon House (1965), Humphrey House (1966), Cotting House (1968), and McCollum Center (1969) - the Bulletin noted that "the decision to construct [these new buildings] at this particular time stemmed from an increasingly acute shortage of faculty and staff space."

In the 1970s, Kresge was enlarged, Mellon and McCulloch Halls were renovated, and Cumnock Hall, dedicated in 1975, became the 25th building on campus. The following year, the Bulletin announced the building of Soldiers Field Park, a new residence area with one-bedroom apartments renting for $260-$300. A 1977 Bulletin feature titled "Five Decades at Soldiers Field" marked the 50th birthday of the campus. "Looking at the HBS campus today with its 25 buildings and park-like setting, it's hard to visualize the tract as it was. . . . Before the dam was built at the lower end of the Charles River, some of this area had been a tidal marsh."

In the 1980s, the Bulletin reported on renovations of many of the original buildings, the opening of Shad Hall, and the 1986 creation of a new master plan that would "evaluate the current uses and future needs of the HBS campus."

The 1990s started with a bang when Morgan Hall was completely renovated and expanded and The Class of 1959 Chapel was built. After 75 years on the campus beat, this year the Bulletin covered the dedication of a new Executive Education facility named for Dean John H. McArthur and the groundbreaking for the Spangler Center, the new campus center. The continual expansion and upgrading of the campus can even be seen in this issue, with the announcement of a new classroom building scheduled for completion in 2001.

- Susan Young

The Bulletin on International Business

With only a few years under its belt, the fledgling Bulletin found itself thinking the unthinkable - and perhaps pondering its own mortality - as the world staggered from the Crash of 1929 toward the abyss of the Depression. Emblazoned on the magazine's December 1931 cover was the phrase "The End of Capitalism," the title of an article based on a talk by HBS professor J. Anton de Haas to the School's International Club. Declaring that "the international world is in a terrible condition," de Haas expressed "doubt as to the future of capitalism" but saw the bleak times as a possible "golden age" during which spirit-ual advances might overtake the forces of materialism.

Throughout the 1930s, Bulletin articles dealt gamely with a dark side of business barely imaginable to most of the magazine's current readership - bank runs, depression, New Deal programs, and the resuscitation of a critically ill world economy. To the Bulletin's credit, its concern went beyond U.S. shores to include substantial coverage of the international business situation, as well as lengthy, analytical articles on individual countries such as Japan, Russia, and China. Then came even darker premonitions - HBS professor Deane Malott wrote in 1935 that Hitler's government "dominates through the medium of fear," and Professor Philip Cabot warned of widespread conflict in "The Crisis Which Confronts the Nation" in 1940.

Even while reporting on HBS and alumni contributions to the World War II effort, the Bulletin's long-term focus was on getting back to business as usual, with articles such as "Business, Global War, and the Future" in 1943 and the "Postwar Outlook for Business" in 1944.

In the 1950s and 1960s, scores of articles - frequently authored by HBS professors - dealt with overseas postwar recovery and economic and development issues in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Indeed, prescient Bulletin editor Dan Fenn pushed the subject on an indifferent audience ("Our surveys indicate alumni aren't much interested in matters international"), insisting that an international component was "a new dimension being added to business today and, in the process, the jobs of managers are being changed" (1960). And so the magazine regularly ran articles with an international outlook, such as "Advices from Abroad" (1953), which solicited the views of foreign-born and overseas HBS alumni on U.S. business and trade practices. A 1954 interview with Dean Donald K. David detailed his findings about European business after a three-month trip throughout England and the Continent. The Bulletin reported on HBS collaboration with several countries in establishing schools of management overseas and continued its coverage of individual countries in both the industrialized and the developing world.

In recent decades, the Bulletin's focus on international developments has intensified as it reports on the School's new Global Initiative, the establishment of HBS research centers worldwide, sweeping curriculum changes to reflect increasing globalization, and the activities and views of overseas alumni.

Now more than ever, just as it can truly be said that the sun never sets on HBS alumni, so too does the Bulletin's global reach extend further than ever before.

- Garry Emmons


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