Addressing U.S. Competitiveness

"Our ambition at HBS is to engage deeply with the most important questions facing society, and one of those questions concerns the future competitiveness of the United States as a business location and its influence on the rest of the world." With these words, Dean Nitin Nohria announced the launch of the U.S. Competitiveness Project in December 2011.

The Project is a comprehensive, multiyear effort that harnesses the research of HBS faculty and the experience of faculty and alumni. The goal is to generate ideas and actions that will improve the nationís competitiveness, defined as the extent to which U.S. firms are able to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for Americans.

With a faculty team of nearly a dozen, including co-chairs Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin, the Project contends that a series of long-term, structural issues is challenging the nationís ability to compete, and that business must be a leader in developing solutions. The Project has analyzed the results of an in-depth survey of the opinions and experiences of 10,000 HBS alumni who live and conduct business around the world. The respondents saw the underlying American business environment as strong in critical areas, yet not keeping pace with other economies, especially emerging ones. They cited as weaknesses the tax code, political system, K-12 education system, macroeconomic policies, legal framework, regulations, infrastructure, and workforce skills.

The March 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review was devoted to competitiveness, with articles including "The Looming Challenge to U.S. Competitiveness," co-authored by Porter and Rivkin; "The Incentive Bubble," by David Moss; and "Does America Really Need Manufacturing?," by Gary Pisano and Willy Shih. The Project has also convened leaders in a series of events around the nation, and it hosts an ongoing digital forum that attracts thoughtful posts by HBS faculty, as well as the Schoolís alumni and other business leaders.

Paths Forward

To develop actionable steps toward greater U.S. competitiveness, HBS is sponsoring the Paths Forward event series to bring together leaders in economic centers across the country. The inaugural event took place in New York City in March 2012, with more than 600 participants from academia, policymaking, technology, health care, manufacturing, labor, and the nonprofit sector. In June, a second event focused on business and government in Washington, D.C., with more than 400 participants. Additional events were scheduled for Charlotte, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Chicago.


Focus On Business History

HBS launched the Business History Initiative in December 2011 to integrate renowned activities in this important area of scholarship and teaching and to propel the future development of the field. Before the end of the fiscal year, the Initiative had sponsored two conferences and launched an ambitious oral history program.

One conference, Natural Resources and Government-Business Relations: Tin in the Global Economy, examined the role of the versatile metal in the globalization of the world economy after 1850. The other was devoted to innovation in the teaching of business history. This conference collected nearly 200 syllabi and published them online in a guide to business history courses worldwide. HBS is also seeking to amass data for writing the business history of the future through the Emerging Markets Oral History project. Initiated to document the progress of business in the developing world, where few government and corporate archives exist, the project will capture the first-person stories of the entrepreneurs behind significant enterprises over the last four decades.

The Initiative builds on a long tradition at HBS, which established the first endowed professorship in business history in 1927 and pioneered its teaching with The Coming of Managerial Capitalism course. In 1954, HBS began publishing the Business History Review, which has its roots in a Baker Library publication started in 1926, making it the first academic journal in the field. The Review is co-edited by Geoffrey Jones, the Initiativeís faculty chair, and Walter Friedman, its director.


New Faculty

Six new tenure-track professors joined Harvard Business School in 2012: