Background Note | HBS Case Collection | November 2004 (Revised April 2005)

Math for Strategists

by Tarun Khanna and Jan W. Rivkin


Great strategists rely heavily on numbers as they go about their work. Offers an overview of the high- and low-brow quantitative tools that students encounter during the Strategy course. The class explores high-brow tools in detail; the focus here is on low-brow calculations. Such calculations come up often in class but because they seem so simple, they get little airtime or explanation. From past class experience, roughly 20% of the students in each section come into the course with the intuition and experience to do these simple calculations themselves. The other 80% understand the calculations after they see them and grasp their value, but don't spot the opportunities to do the math themselves, before class.

Keywords: Mathematical Methods; Strategy;


Khanna, Tarun, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Math for Strategists." Harvard Business School Background Note 705-433, November 2004. (Revised April 2005.)