Growing up in Israel, a country which has one of the highest rates of patents, scientific publications and start-ups per capita, I could not help but be intrigued and fascinated by the phenomena of innovation. In my career as a corporate strategy consultant, innovation at the organizational level particularly sparked my interest. I found that in most cases the creativity that is initiated by individuals and teams across the organization was eventually lost in the system and management's innovation initiatives were hardly ever adopted in the daily life of the organization. This made me eager to understand how large organizations need to behave in order to encourage and benefit from innovation; What are the optimal structures, incentive systems, culture and work processes for enhancing innovation? As my career progressed, it had become clear to me that only a deep understanding of this topic by conducting my own research could truly satisfy my curiosity.
My research interests
Recently, there has been a strong trend toward "open innovation" inspired by the "open source" social movement. It has been influencing academic perspectives as many large organizations are experimenting with "open innovation" tools and platforms. The implementations vary from software companies using open source code to president Obama's "open government" initiative that encourages governmental R&D agencies to use open innovation award based contests. It is unclear how this shift will influence the traditional way of conducting R&D and advancing science and technology. Since it is a nascent phenomenon from the organizational perspective, there is little research on this topic. I am therefore conducting a pioneering field study that explores how large and mature technology based organizations experience these various open innovation processes, how they interact with the existing cultural meanings systems and finally how they influences the organizations' innovative performance.
The Management Program
The program is a perfect fit for my research interests. Its flexibility enables students to tailor their doctoral experience to their research interest. There are required courses which provide exposure to the various fields in management literature, but in addition I was able to choose classes from the Harvard sociology department and MIT Sloan business school in order to o gain a richer perspectives about qualitative methods. Another advantage is the extraordinary access to organizations and field sites for research. I entered the program knowing I wanted to conduct field work and knew how difficult it is to gain access to key organizations. The access that the faculty at HBS has is phenomenal and their willingness to help me and offer their contacts in industry has been instrumental to my success.
The HBS Experience
I love the freedom to explore my interests and let curiosity lead my day and schedule. My days here combine doing my own research and participating in intellectually captivating seminars. The doctoral and academic seminars are unique and create a very collaborative and collegial environment. Above everything else here, I love being exposed to all the ideas explored by fellow students and faculty, I feel lucky to be a part of the rich intellectual community. The conversations with people here are always engaging, everyone is on a journey of personal and professional growth full of motivation and aspirations. In this environment and community nothing is stagnant, everything is dynamic, moving fast and inspiring to those fortunate enough to participate. Perhaps most importantly the caliber of work conducted here truly pushes you to attain new heights.
Advice for prospective HBS doctoral students?
The doctoral program at HBS is very entrepreneurial. You pave your own path and everyone encourages you to do so. However, sometimes the demands from classes and deadlines lead you to forget this freedom and you find yourself in a reactive mindset. Remember that it is not about classes or meeting short-term deadlines, it's a marathon and therefore it's crucial to find the research passion that will fuel this long journey.