Gary P. Pisano

Harry E. Figgie, Jr. Professor of Business Administration

Unit: Technology and Operations Management


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Gary Pisano is the Harry E. Figgie Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. He has been on the Harvard faculty for 25 years. During this time, his research, teaching, and consulting has focused on technology strategy, the management of innovation, organizational learning, manufacturing and outsourcing strategy, and the management of intellectual property. His work on these issues spans a range of science and technology based industries including aerospace, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, health care, nutrition, computers, software, telecommunications, and semiconductors.

Pisano is the author of over 70 articles and case studies. His "Restoring American Competitiveness" (co-authored with Willy Shih) won the McKinsey Award for best article published in Harvard Business Review in 2009. He is also co-author of the award winning article, "Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management" (Strategic Management Journal, 1997), the most-cited publication in economics and business from 1995-2005. His article "How to Capture Value from Innovation: Shaping Intellectual Property and Industry Architecture" (California Management Review) was a finalist for the 2008 Accenture Award. He has also written case studies on such companies as Amazon, BMW, Fiat-Chrysler, IBM, Intel, Jet Blue, Merck, Eli Lilly, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Teradyne, Flextronics, Virgin Group, and VF Brands. He is the author of six books including The Development Factory; Operations, Strategy, and Technology (with co-authors Robert Hayes, David Upton, and Steve Wheelwright); Science Business: The Promise, The Reality and The Future of Biotech and, most recently, Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance (co-author Willy Shih).

Professor Pisano has served as an advisor to senior executives at leading companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia.  In addition, Pisano has served on the Board of Directors and Advisory Boards of a number of start-up companies. He speaks widely at industry conferences and to senior executive audiences. Professor Pisano holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and B.A. in economics from Yale University

Featured Work



  1. Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance

    For years—even decades—in response to intensifying global competition, American companies decided to outsource their manufacturing operations in order to reduce costs. But we are now seeing the alarming long-term effect of those choices: in many cases, once manufacturing capabilities go away, so does much of the ability to innovate and compete. Manufacturing, it turns out, really matters in an innovation-driven economy. In Producing Prosperity, Harvard Business School professors Gary Pisano and Willy Shih show the disastrous consequences of years of poor sourcing decisions and underinvestment in manufacturing capabilities. They reveal how today's undervalued manufacturing operations often hold the seeds of tomorrow's innovative new products, arguing that companies must reinvest in new product and process development in the U.S. industrial sector. Only by reviving this "industrial commons" can the world's largest economy build the expertise and manufacturing muscle to regain competitive advantage. America needs a manufacturing renaissance—for restoring itself and for the global economy as a whole. This will require major changes. Pisano and Shih show how company-level choices are key to the sustained success of industries and economies, and they provide business leaders with a framework for understanding the links between manufacturing and innovation that will enable them to make better outsourcing decisions. They also detail how government must change its support of basic and applied scientific research and promote collaboration between business and academia. For executives, policymakers, academics, and innovators alike, Producing Prosperity provides the clearest and most compelling account yet of how the American economy lost its competitive edge—and how to get it back.

    Keywords: competitive advantage; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Production; Competitive Advantage; Transformation; Innovation and Invention; Manufacturing Industry; United States;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Willy Shih. Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2012. View Details
  2. Science Business: The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech

    Why has the biotechnology industry failed to perform up to expectations—despite all its promise? In Science Business, Gary P. Pisano answers this question by providing an incisive critique of the industry. Pisano not only reveals the underlying causes of biotech's problems, he offers the most sophisticated analysis yet on how the industry works. And he provides clear prescriptions for companies, investors, and policymakers seeking ways to improve the industry's performance. According to Pisano, the biotech industry'’s problems stem from its special character as a science-based business. This character poses three unique business challenges: 1) how to finance highly risky investments under profound uncertainty and long time horizons for R&D, 2) how to learn rapidly enough to keep pace with advances in drug science knowledge, and 3) how to integrate capabilities across a broad spectrum of scientific and technological knowledge bases. The key to fixing the industry? Business models, organizational structures, and financing arrangements that place greater emphasis on integration and long-term learning over shorter-term “monetization” of intellectual property. Pisano maintains that all industry players——biotech firms, investors, universities, pharmaceutical companies, government regulators——can play a role in righting the industry. The payoff? Valuable improvements in health care, and a shinier future for human well-being.

    Keywords: Science; Business Ventures; Biotechnology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. Science Business: The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2006. View Details

Journal Articles

  1. Beyond Magic Bullets: True Innovation in Health Care

    The molecular medicine revolution—based on advances in fields such as genomics and network modeling in the decade since the human genome sequence was completed—has changed the way we think about, study, and approach the development of novel therapies. However, these advances in knowledge have so far not been reflected in substantial medical progress in many areas. The problem is not due to a lack of resources or incentives, but a model of innovation that too often fragments efforts by treatment modality (drugs, devices, diagnostics, and clinical treatment). We may improve individual technologies of health care, but fail to provide integrated solutions. In this paper, we argue that innovation in health care needs to go "beyond the pill" and systematically integrate combinations of treatments. We discuss the implications of this approach for organizational and business models in the pharmaceutical industry.

    Keywords: Integration; Business Model; Organizational Structure; Health Care and Treatment; Innovation and Invention; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Narayan, Vaibhav A., Marco Mohwinckel, Gary Pisano, Michael Yang, and Husseini Manji. "Beyond Magic Bullets: True Innovation in Health Care." Nature Reviews: Drug Discovery 12, no. 2 (February, 2013): 85–86. View Details
  2. Does America Really Need Manufacturing?

    Too many U.S. companies base decisions about where to locate production largely on narrow financial criteria. They don't consider whether keeping manufacturing at home makes more sense strategically or take into account the impact it might have on their ability to innovate. The result has been an exodus of manufacturing from America, which has weakened the capabilities that domestic firms need to keep inventing high-quality, cost-competitive products. One problem is that it's hard to tell when moving production far from R&D will do damage. To make that determination, we say that executives need to examine two things. The first is modularity, or the degree to which product design can be separated from manufacturing. When modularity is low, product designs can't be clearly specified and design choices affect manufacturing processes in subtle, difficult-to-predict ways (and vice versa). The second is the maturity of the manufacturing process. Immature processes are ripe for innovation, but over time opportunities for improvement become incremental. Viewed through the modularity-maturity lens, relationships between manufacturing and innovation fall into four quadrants: pure product innovation, pure process innovation, process-embedded innovation, and process-driven innovation. In the first two quadrants, locating design near production isn't critical, but separating the two functions is risky in the third and fourth quadrants. This framework will help business leaders make better sourcing decisions and reinvigorate America's innovation-driven economy.

    Keywords: Production; Geographic Location; Innovation and Invention; Competitive Advantage; Product Design; Risk Management; Manufacturing Industry; United States;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Willy C. Shih. "Does America Really Need Manufacturing?" Harvard Business Review 90, no. 3 (March 2012). View Details
  3. Why Leaders Don't Learn from Success

    We argue that for a variety of psychological reasons, it is often much harder for leaders and organizations to learn from success than to learn from failure. Success creates three kinds of traps that often impede deep learning. The first is attribution error or the tendency to see superior performance as rooted in one's actions rather than other factors (such as luck). The second is that success feeds overconfidence bias, which can then blind leaders to potential future problems and opportunities for innovation. The third is a tendency to fail to probe the root causes of success. Whereas post-mortems after failure are becoming a norm in many organizations, such soul searching rarely occurs after success. This causes leaders and their organizations to miss opportunities to develop deep causal knowledge that can lead to greater long-term improvements. We suggest a number of concrete actions leaders can take to help themselves and their organizations avoid the success-breeds-failure trap.

    Keywords: Learning; Innovation and Management; Leadership; Failure; Success; Performance Evaluation; Prejudice and Bias;


    Gino, Francesca, and Gary P. Pisano. "Why Leaders Don't Learn from Success." Harvard Business Review 89, no. 4 (April 2011): 68–74. View Details
  4. The Evolution of Science-Based Business: Innovating How We Innovate

    Science has long been connected to innovation and to business. As early as the late 19th century, chemical companies, realizing the commercial potential of science, created the first industrial research laboratories. During much of the 20th century, large-scale business enterprises like DuPont, GE, Westinghouse, IBM, Kodak, Xerox (PARC), and AT&T (Bell Laboratories) created in-house labs capable of first-rate basic scientific research. In recent decades, however, the connection between science and business has begun to change in important ways. While the corporate lab declined, new "science-based businesses" in sectors like biotech, nanotech, and energy emerged. Universities also became active players in the commercialization of science. In short, science has become a business. This essay examines the institutional and organizational challenges created by this convergence of science and business through a Chandlerian lens. It highlights three fundamental challenges of science-based businesses: 1) managing and rewarding long-term risk, 2) integrating across technical disciplines, and 3) learning. Whereas these challenges were once managed inside the boundaries of corporate R&D labs-under the auspices of Chandler's visible hand-today the invisible hand of markets increasingly governs them. An assessment of this form of governance against the requirements of science-based businesses suggests a gap and a need for organizational innovation.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Governance; Innovation and Management; Risk Management; Research and Development; Science-Based Business; Commercialization;


    Pisano, Gary P. "The Evolution of Science-Based Business: Innovating How We Innovate." Special Issue on Management Innovation--Essays in the Spirit of Alfred D. Chandler Industrial and Corporate Change 19, no. 2 (2010): 465–482. View Details
  5. Restoring American Competitiveness

    For decades, U.S. companies have been outsourcing manufacturing in the belief that it held no competitive advantage. That's been a disaster, maintain Harvard professors Pisano and Shih, because today's low-value manufacturing operations hold the seeds of tomorrow's innovative new products. What those companies have been ceding is the country's industrial commons—that is, the collective operational capabilities that underpin new product and process development in the U.S. industrial sector. As a result, America has lost not only the ability to develop and manufacture high-tech products like televisions, memory chips, and laptops but also the expertise to produce emerging hot products like the Kindle e-reader, high-end servers, solar panels, and the batteries that will power the next generation of automobiles. To rebuild the commons and restore its wealth-generating machine will require government and industry in the U.S. to make two drastic changes: First, the government must change the way it supports basic and applied scientific research to promote the broad collaboration with business and academia needed to tackle society's big problems. Second, corporate management practices and governance structures must be overhauled so they no longer exaggerate the payoffs and discount the dangers of outsourcing production and cutting investments in R&D. Restoring the ability of enterprises to develop and manufacture high-tech products in America is the only way the country can hope to pay down its enormous deficits and raise its citizens' standard of living.

    Keywords: Competitive Advantage; Value; Production; Innovation and Invention; Product Development; Government and Politics; Social Issues; Management Practices and Processes; Investment; Research and Development; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Competency and Skills; Service Industry; United States;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Willy C. Shih. "Restoring American Competitiveness." Harvard Business Review 87, nos. 7-8 (July–August 2009). (

    Winner of McKinsey Award. First Place For the best articles published each year in the Harvard Business Review presented by McKinsey & Company​

    .) View Details
  6. Which Kind of Collaboration Is Right for You?

    Nowadays, virtually no companies innovate alone. Firms team up with a variety of partners, in a wide number of ways, to create new technologies, products, and services. But what is the best way to leverage the power of outsiders? To help executives answer that question, Pisano, of Harvard Business School, and Verganti, of Politecnico di Milano, developed a simple framework focused on two questions: Given your strategy, how open or closed should your network of collaborators be? And who should decide which problems to tackle and which solutions to adopt? There are four basic modes of collaboration, say the authors. An elite circle is a closed network with a hierarchical governance: One company selects the participants, defines the problem, and chooses the solution. For instance, Alessi, an Italian home-products company, invited 200 outside experts in postmodern architecture to contribute ideas for new home-product designs. An innovation mall is hierarchical but open: Anyone can post a problem or propose solutions in it, but the company posting the problem chooses the solution. An example is, an eBay-like site where companies post scientific challenges. An innovation community is open and decentralized: Anyone can propose problems, offer solutions, and decide which ideas to use - as happens in the open-source software community Linux. A consortium is a private group of participants that operate as equals and jointly select problems, decide how to conduct work, and choose solutions. IBM has set up a number of consortia with other companies to develop next-generation semiconductor technologies. No one approach is superior; each involves strategic trade-offs. When choosing among modes, firms must weigh their advantages and challenges, and assess which will work best with their strategy, capabilities, structure, and assets.

    Keywords: Cost vs Benefits; Framework; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Partners and Partnerships; Social and Collaborative Networks; Strategy;


    Verganti, Roberto, and Gary P. Pisano. "Which Kind of Collaboration Is Right for You?" Harvard Business Review 86, no. 12 (December 2008). View Details
  7. Toward a Theory of Behavioral Operations

    Human beings are critical to the functioning of the vast majority of operating systems, influencing both the way these systems work and how they perform. Yet most formal analytical models of operations assume that the people who participate in operating systems are fully rational or at least can be induced to behave rationally. Many other disciplines, including economics, finance, and marketing, have successfully incorporated departures from this rationality assumption into their models and theories. In this paper, we argue that operations management scholars should do the same. We highlight initial studies that have adopted a "behavioral operations perspective" and explore the theoretical and practical implications of incorporating behavioral and cognitive factors into models of operations. Specifically, we address three questions: 1) What is a behavioral perspective on operations? 2) What might be the intellectual added value of such a perspective? 3) What are the basic elements of behavioral operations research?

    Keywords: Management Systems; Operations; Mathematical Methods; Behavior; Cognition and Thinking; Perspective; Theory;


    Gino, Francesca, and Gary P. Pisano. "Toward a Theory of Behavioral Operations." Manufacturing & Service Operations Management 10, no. 4 (fall 2008): 676–691. View Details
  8. How to Capture Value from Innovation: Shaping Intellectual Property and Industry Architecture

    Capturing value from innovation requires innovators to figure out how to blunt inroads into the profit stream by imitators, customers, suppliers, and other providers of complementary products and services. In making strategic decisions around technology commercialization, managers often assume that the intellectual property environment and the architecture of the industry are beyond their control. This need not be so. Shows how managers can shape both the appropriability regime and the architecture of the industry in ways that can benefit the innovator by blunting the actions of others who may endeavor to tap into the stream of profits generated by innovation. Even small firms can play important roles. Tools include putting information into the public domain, helping to shape standards, and promoting modularity.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Intellectual Property; Knowledge Management; Knowledge Sharing; Industry Structures; Standards; Commercialization; Value;


    Pisano, Gary P., and David J. Teece. "How to Capture Value from Innovation: Shaping Intellectual Property and Industry Architecture." 50th Anniversary Special Issue on Leading Through Innovation. California Management Review 50, no. 1 (fall 2007): 278–296. View Details
  9. Profiting from Innovation and the Intellectual Property Revolution

    Keywords: Profit; Innovation and Invention; Intellectual Property;


    Pisano, Gary. "Profiting from Innovation and the Intellectual Property Revolution." Commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the publication of David Teece's article, "Profiting from Innovation", in Research Policy. Research Policy 35, no. 8 (October 2006): 1122–1130. View Details
  10. Learning How and Learning What: Effects of Tacit and Codified Knowledge on Performance Improvement Following Technology Adoption

    Keywords: Learning; Knowledge; Performance; Technology;


    Edmondson, Amy, Gary P. Pisano, Richard Bohmer, and Ann Winslow. "Learning How and Learning What: Effects of Tacit and Codified Knowledge on Performance Improvement Following Technology Adoption." Decision Sciences 34, no. 2 (spring 2003): 197–223. View Details
  11. A Research Agenda for Bridging the 'Quality Chasm'

    Keywords: Research; Quality;


    Fernandopulle, Rushika, Timothy Ferris, Arnold Epstein, Barbara McNeil, Joseph Newhouse, Gary Pisano, and David Blumenthal. "A Research Agenda for Bridging the 'Quality Chasm'." Health Affairs 22, no. 2 (March–April 2003): 178–190. View Details
  12. Organizational Differences in Rates of Learning: Evidence from the Adoption of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

    Keywords: Organizations; Learning; Health Care and Treatment; Health Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Richard Bohmer, and Amy C. Edmondson. "Organizational Differences in Rates of Learning: Evidence from the Adoption of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery." Management Science 47, no. 6 (June 2001): 752. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Learning New Technical and Interpersonal Routines in Operating Room Teams: The Case of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery

    Keywords: Groups and Teams; Health Care and Treatment; Practice; Competency and Skills; Training; Health Industry;


    Edmondson, Amy C., Richard Bohmer, and Gary Pisano. "Learning New Technical and Interpersonal Routines in Operating Room Teams: The Case of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery." In Research on Managing Groups and Teams: Technology. Vol. 3, edited by B. Mannix, M. Neale, and T. Grifith, 29–51. Stamford: JAI Press, 2000. View Details
  2. In Search of Dynamic Capabilities: The Origins of R&D Competence in Biopharmaceuticals

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Research and Development; Pharmaceutical Industry; Biotechnology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "In Search of Dynamic Capabilities: The Origins of R&D Competence in Biopharmaceuticals." Chap. 5 in The Nature and Dynamics of Organizational Capabilities, edited by G. Dosi, Richard Nelson, and Sidney Winter, 129–154. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. View Details
  3. The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Revolution in Molecular Biology: Interactions Among Scientific, Institutional, and Organizational Change

    Keywords: Science-Based Business; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Transformation; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Henderson, Rebecca, Gary P. Pisano, and Luigi Orsenigo. "The Pharmaceutical Industry and the Revolution in Molecular Biology: Interactions Among Scientific, Institutional, and Organizational Change." In Sources of Industrial Leadership: Studies of Seven Industries, edited by David Mowery and Richard Nelson. Cambridge University Press, 1999. View Details
  4. Collaborative Product Development and the Market for Know-How: Strategies and Structures in the Biotechnology Industry

    Keywords: Product Development; Innovation Strategy; Knowledge Management; Industry Structures; Biotechnology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Paul Mang. "Collaborative Product Development and the Market for Know-How: Strategies and Structures in the Biotechnology Industry." In Research on Technological Innovation, Management, and Policy. Vol. 4, edited by Richard S. Rosenbloom and Robert A. Burgelman. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1989. View Details
  5. Collaborative Arrangements and Global Technology Strategy: Some Evidence from the Telecommunications Equipment Industry

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Innovation Strategy; Communication Technology; Agreements and Arrangements; Cooperation; Telecommunications Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., and David Teece. "Collaborative Arrangements and Global Technology Strategy: Some Evidence from the Telecommunications Equipment Industry." In Research on Technological Innovation, Management, and Policy. Vol. 4, edited by Richard S. Rosenbloom and Robert A. Burgelman. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1989. View Details
  6. Joint Ventures and Collaborative Arrangements in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry

    Keywords: Joint Ventures; Cooperation; Communication Technology; Telecommunications Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Michael Russo, and David Teece. "Joint Ventures and Collaborative Arrangements in the Telecommunications Equipment Industry." In International Collaborative Ventures in U.S. Manufacturing, edited by David Mowery. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company, 1988. View Details
  7. Joint Ventures and Collaboration in the Biotechnology Industry

    Keywords: Joint Ventures; Cooperation; Biotechnology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., W. Shan, and David Teece. "Joint Ventures and Collaboration in the Biotechnology Industry." In International Collaborative Ventures in U.S. Manufacturing, edited by David Mowery. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Publishing Company, 1988. View Details

Working Papers

  1. The Organizational and Geographic Drivers of Absorptive Capacity: An Empirical Analysis of Pharmaceutical R&D Laboratories

    Scholars and practitioners alike now recognize that a firm's capacity to assimilate and use know-how from external sources—what Cohen and Levinthal (1990) called "absorptive capacity"—plays a central role in innovation performance. In recent years, a common strategy pursued by companies to increase their absorptive capacity has been to locate new R&D facilities in close geographic proximity to technology "hotspots" like Cambridge, Massachusetts, or the San Francisco Bay Area. Such a strategy is predicated on the assumption that geographic proximity facilitates absorption. Unfortunately, more than two decades after the publication of Cohen and Levinthal's landmark piece on absorptive capacity, precious little is known about how different organizational strategies and managerial practices—including location choices—actually impact a firm's ability to exploit external sources of know-how. A key barrier to empirical progress on this front has been a lack of direct measures of absorption. In this paper, we develop a novel measure of absorptive capacity that attempts to directly track the influence of external sources of know-how on the internal R&D activities of individual laboratories. We then use this measure to examine laboratory level differences in absorptive capacity and the degree to which a lab's geographic proximity to a given knowledge base influences its absorptive capacity. To identify patterns of absorption, we exploit a quasi-natural experiment that has occurred in the pharmaceutical industry over the past two decades. Since 1989, a number of major pharmaceutical companies (Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, etc.) have chosen to locate new laboratories in one or more major life science hotspots (Massachusetts, the San Francisco Bay Area, and San Diego County). Because these are de novo green-field labs, we have an unusual opportunity to study how the capabilities of the lab evolved over time and whether those capabilities were influenced by the technological activities of the surrounding local scientific and technological ecosystems. Our sample includes 39 R&D laboratories (at varying degrees of distance from three major life sciences hotspots—Massachusetts, San Diego County, and the San Francisco Bay Area). Our findings indicate that geographic proximity is a significant predictor of how much know-how a lab absorbs from a given hotspot. The importance of geographic proximity is also shown to be increasing over time. However, our results also show significant residual variance at both the individual laboratory and company levels, suggesting an important role of managerial practices and policies in driving absorption. The latter finding was consistent with our field interviews of R&D executives from laboratories involved in our study. The study provides further evidence of the geographically bounded nature of knowledge.

    Keywords: Geographic Location; Industry Clusters; Knowledge Acquisition; Pharmaceutical Industry; San Francisco; San Diego; Massachusetts;


    Lazzeri, Francesca, and Gary P. Pisano. "The Organizational and Geographic Drivers of Absorptive Capacity: An Empirical Analysis of Pharmaceutical R&D Laboratories." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-098, April 2014. View Details
  2. Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance

    Research on learning has primarily focused on the role of doing (experience) in fostering progress over time. In this paper, we propose that one of the critical components of learning is reflection, or the intentional attempt to synthesize, abstract, and articulate the key lessons taught by experience. Drawing on dual-process theory, we focus on the reflective dimension of the learning process and propose that learning can be augmented by deliberately focusing on thinking about what one has been doing. We test the resulting dual-process learning model experimentally, using a mixed-method design that combines two laboratory experiments with a field experiment conducted in a large business process outsourcing company in India. We find a performance differential when comparing learning-by-doing alone to learning-by-doing coupled with reflection. Further, we hypothesize and find that the effect of reflection on learning is mediated by greater perceived self-efficacy. Together, our results shed light on the role of reflection as a powerful mechanism behind learning.

    Keywords: learning by thinking; reflection; knowledge creation; learning; self-efficacy; Perception; Performance; Learning; Knowledge; Cognition and Thinking; India;


    Di Stefano, Giada, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats. "Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-093, March 2014. View Details
  3. Collaborative Architectures for Innovation

    Collaborative innovation has become a hot topic in innovation today. Scholars, consultants, and the business press all urge companies seeking to boost innovative performance to become more "collaborative." Too often, however, companies fail to distinguish among the various choices they face with respect to alternative modes of collaboration. Collaborative innovation can take a wide variety of forms, each with profound implications for innovative performance and the value a firm can capture from innovation. Building on a number of case studies, this paper presents a simple framework for categorizing different collaborative modes. The framework is based on the notion that there are two critical dimensions along which collaborative efforts can be characterized. The first dimension relates to the degree to which the collaborative network is "open" verses "closed." The second dimension relates to the degree to which the governance structure for collaboration is "hierarchical" verses "flat." While discussions of collaborative innovation often take the position that "open" networks are superior to "closed" networks, and that "flat" governance structures are superior to "hierarchical" structures, our framework provides a more nuanced view of the trade-offs. The choice among alternative collaborative modes should be driven by a number of factors including characteristics of the technology, the capabilities of the firm, and the distribution of competences in the environment. We develop a set of guidelines for helping firms choose among collaborative models and discuss critical enabling conditions required for each to work in practice. In the final section of the paper, we discuss how firms can "mix and match" multiple modes of collaboration into coherent "architectures" that lie at the heart of innovation strategy.

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Governance Controls; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Social and Collaborative Networks;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Roberto Verganti. "Collaborative Architectures for Innovation." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-105, June 2008. View Details
  4. Team Learning Trade-Offs: When Improving One Critical Dimension of Performance Inhibits Another


    Bohmer, Richard M.J., Ann B. Winslow, Amy C. Edmondson, and Gary P. Pisano. "Team Learning Trade-Offs: When Improving One Critical Dimension of Performance Inhibits Another." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 05-047, January 2005. View Details
  5. Learning How and Learning What: Effects of Tacit and Codified Knowledge on Performance Improvement Following Technology Adoption


    Edmondson, Amy C., Ann B. Winslow, Richard M.J. Bohmer, and Gary Pisano. "Learning How and Learning What: Effects of Tacit and Codified Knowledge on Performance Improvement Following Technology Adoption." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 02-063, November 2002. View Details
  6. Learning New Technical and Interpersonal Routines in Operating Room Teams: The Case of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery


    Edmondson, Amy C., Richard M.J. Bohmer, and Gary Pisano. "Learning New Technical and Interpersonal Routines in Operating Room Teams: The Case of Minimally Invasive Cardiac Surgery." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 00-003, July 1999. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Pfizer's Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI)

    In 2010, Pfizer established four small research units in New York, Boston, San Francisco, and San Diego located close to several premier Academic Medical Centers (AMCs), or hospitals with adjoining medical schools. The goal of these units was to redesign collaboration with Pfizer and academic medical researchers with the purpose of developing new, innovative drug candidates for testing in patients. Project teams consisted of Pfizer scientists and academics working side-by-side to reduce the time needed to bring a therapeutic drug from the lab to a patient's bedside. This case explores the academic collaboration model developed by Pfizer. What were the strengths of and challenges facing this model? How would the model evolve in the future? And how would new, similar collaboration models surfacing at other major pharmaceutical companies pose a threat to the Pfizer model?

    Keywords: pharmaceutical industry; drug development; academic collaboration; Research and Development; innovation; translational research; Management; Operations; Problems and Challenges; Research; Science; Technology; Strategy; Biotechnology Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; North and Central America; Europe; Asia;


    Pisano, Gary, James Weber, and Kait Szydlowski. "Pfizer's Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI)." Harvard Business School Case 615-024, September 2014. View Details
  2. Chef Davide Oldani and Ristorante D'O

    This case examines the unique business model of Ristorante D'O, a high end gourmand restaurant located near Milan, Italy. Founded by Chef Davide Oldani, D'O offers meals at approximately one-third the price of other Michelin starred restaurants. Oldani has made this business model profitable by making a conscious set of operating strategy choices (menu, meal design, service process, lay-out, reservation process) that reduce waste and inefficiency, while preserving quality. The case enables students to understand how cost-quality trade-offs can be altered through creative operating strategies, and sufficient data are available to analyze the operating model in depth. A second focal point of the case concerns Oldani's choices for growth. The wait list for D'O is currently 18 months. He can presumably open another D'O at a different location. At the time of the case, however, he is considering opening a new restaurant in the same vicinity as D'O that would operate at an even lower price point. Case debate can center around whether this new restaurant format makes sense from a strategic point of view, and, in particular, whether the capabilities and know-how acquired in operating D'O are applicable to the new restaurant. The deeper issue in the case concerns how businesses based on the creative talent of an individual (like Chef Oldani) can grow, without losing what makes them special.

    Keywords: Business Model; Expansion; Creativity; Competitive Strategy; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Milan;


    Pisano, Gary, Alessandro Di Fiore, Elena Corsi, and Elisa Farri. "Chef Davide Oldani and Ristorante D'O." Harvard Business School Case 613-080, January 2013. (Revised October 2013.) View Details
  3. Innovation and Growth at Actelion Ltd.

    In late 2010, Jean-Paul Clozel, CEO of the Swiss biotech pharmaceuticals firm Actelion, looks back on a successful decade. The small venture that he had started with a few of his scientist colleagues in the late 1990s to discover novel medicine in a research-driven organisation had grown into one of Europe's largest biotech firms by revenues. Their success was mainly founded on their orphan indication drug Tracleer, which Actelion sold and marketed worldwide. However, Tracleer's looming patent expiry in a few years and recent late-stage pipeline setbacks had put the company under pressure from investors. While Clozel was confident in their ability to deliver future drugs that could secure further growing revenue streams, he wondered how to maintain their entrepreneurial culture that he saw as a prerequisite for this--particularly their lean hierarchy and researchers' freedom to follow innovation where it led them--in a company of more than 2,400 people which continued to grow.

    Keywords: Business Model; Talent and Talent Management; Innovation and Management; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Product Development; Organizational Culture; Research and Development; Biotechnology Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Switzerland;


    Pisano, Gary P., Daniela Beyersdorfer, and Ruth Dittrich. "Innovation and Growth at Actelion Ltd." Harvard Business School Case 611-065, March 2011. (Revised February 2012.) View Details
  4. Amazon Web Services

    Considers the development of Amazon Web Services (AWS), a division of, Inc., specializing in the provision of web-based storage and computing services to web developers. The case focuses on the issues facing Andy Jassy, the head of AWS, in 2008 as AWS faces increased competition from established technology giants, such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM. Students are asked to consider whether entry into web services by Amazon, which had established its brand in retail, represented a prudent move by the company. The case provides an opportunity to highlight the benefits of AWS's variable pricing for developers and to determine where overlaps exist between Amazon's core retailing business and AWS. Students are also provided with an opportunity to discuss operational diversification and its limits within the AWS context.

    Keywords: Price; Market Entry and Exit; Service Operations; Competition; Diversification; Retail Industry; Web Services Industry;


    Huckman, Robert S., Gary P. Pisano, and Liz Kind. "Amazon Web Services." Harvard Business School Case 609-048, October 2008. (Revised February 2012.) View Details
  5. Warner Bros. Entertainment

    Examines the process used by a major motion picture studio to develop and select movie projects. Warner Bros.' strategy is to focus its efforts on a small number of major "event" films (i.e., films with the potential to generate gross box office receipts of $300 million or more). This strategy—which has worked for the past two years—entails risks. The studio is now asking how it can better manage these risks and, specifically, how it can improve its odds of success.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Film Entertainment; Risk Management; Product Development; Strategic Planning; Projects; Sales; Motion Pictures and Video Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld. "Warner Bros. Entertainment." Harvard Business School Case 610-036, November 2009. (Revised August 2011.) View Details
  6. Fiat-Chrysler Alliance: Launching the Cinquecento in North America

    Fiat ended its 27-year absence in the North American automobile market when the first Cinquecento (500)—a very small, iconic Italian car that had strong sales in Europe—was delivered on March 10, 2011. The Italian automaker re-entered the market through an alliance with Chrysler, the American automaker Fiat acquired in April 2009. For Laura Soave, Chrysler Group's head of Fiat Brand North America, the first delivery marked a watershed in a journey that began 12 months before when she first took responsibility for re-launching the Fiat brand in North America. As the first product of the Fiat-Chrysler alliance, the outcome of the Cinquecento launch would indicate how the integration of operations, and in particular the sharing of technology, platforms, components, manufacturing plants, and distribution networks would drive the long-term health of both Fiat and Chrysler. This case looks at the various strategic and operational challenges Soave faced throughout the process.

    Keywords: Product Launch; Product Positioning; Mergers and Acquisitions; Partners and Partnerships; Globalization; Operations; Growth and Development Strategy; Integration; Auto Industry; North America; Europe;


    Pisano, Gary P., Phillip Andrews, and Alessandro Di Fiore. "Fiat-Chrysler Alliance: Launching the Cinquecento in North America." Harvard Business School Case 611-037, May 2011. (Revised July 2011.) View Details
  7. JetBlue Airways: Managing Growth

    Considers the situation facing David Barger, President and CEO of JetBlue Airways, in May 2007 as he addresses the airline's need to slow its growth rate in the response to increasing fuel costs and the effects of major operational crisis for the airline in February 2007. In 2005, JetBlue-typically viewed as a low-cost carrier (LCC)-made a move that is often considered antithetical to the LCC model. Specifically, JetBlue moved from a single aircraft type (i.e., the Airbus 320, or A320) to a fleet with two types of aircraft by adding the smaller Embraer 190, or E190. Students are initially asked to consider the impact of this decision on JetBlue's operations strategy and business model. They are then asked to consider how the reductions in aircraft capacity growth should be spread across the two plane types. This discussion hinges not only on issues of aircraft efficiency but also on those of operational focus and the ultimate competitive priorities of the airline as a whole.

    Keywords: Growth and Development Strategy; Growth Management; Operations; Performance Capacity; Performance Efficiency; Competitive Strategy; Air Transportation Industry;


    Huckman, Robert S., and Gary P. Pisano. "JetBlue Airways: Managing Growth." Harvard Business School Case 609-046, October 2008. (Revised June 2011.) View Details
  8. MorphoSys AG: The Evolution of a Biotechnology Business Model

    In the biotech world, the 18-year-old Munich-based company MorphoSys was a rarity: it was profitable. The company achieved this profitability not by developing and selling its own drugs, but by licensing access to its proprietary library of human antibodies. Recently, the company decided to deviate from this model, and attempt to develop its own proprietary products. The case allows analysis of "license vs. vertically integrate" business model decisions, and can be used to teach principles of business model design and the functioning of markets for know-how.

    Keywords: Business Model; Profit; Intellectual Property; Rights; Risk Management; Market Platforms; Product Development; Business and Shareholder Relations; Vertical Integration; Biotechnology Industry; Munich;


    Pisano, Gary P., Ryan Johnson, and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "MorphoSys AG: The Evolution of a Biotechnology Business Model." Harvard Business School Case 611-046, March 2011. View Details
  9. JetBlue Airways: Valentine's Day 2007 (A)

    Describes an operational crisis for JetBlue Airways during an ice storm in the eastern United States in February 2007 and chronicles the airline's immediate response. Provides detail concerning the history of the airline from its founding in 1999 through the February 2007 crisis, which forced the airline to cancel more than 1,000 flights over the course of six days. In addition, discusses the initial response to the crisis by CEO David Neeleman and his management team. Students are provided with the opportunity to evaluate this response in terms of its impact on customer relations, growth prospects, and ongoing operations for JetBlue.

    Keywords: Customer Relationship Management; Crisis Management; Growth Management; Management Teams; Service Delivery; Air Transportation Industry; Eastern United States;


    Huckman, Robert S., Gary P. Pisano, and Virginia Fuller. "JetBlue Airways: Valentine's Day 2007 (A)." Harvard Business School Case 608-001, August 2007. (Revised June 2010.) View Details
  10. Flextronics International, Ltd.

    Describes Flextronics' evolution from providing outsourced manufacturing services for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the electronics industry to developing entire unbranded products for purchase by OEMs. In 2001, Flextronics began a development program that yielded several unbranded cell phones that--even by the admission of several OEMs--delivered performance comparable to that of branded products at a significantly lower cost. Nonetheless, as of early 2003, no major OEM had yet agreed to purchase any of these phones from Flextronics. As chairman and CEO of Flextronics, Michael Marks must decide how aggressively to pursue full product development.

    Keywords: Growth and Development Strategy; Product Development; Production; Service Operations; Performance Effectiveness; Electronics Industry; Manufacturing Industry;


    Huckman, Robert S., and Gary P. Pisano. "Flextronics International, Ltd." Harvard Business School Case 604-063, November 2003. (Revised April 2010.) View Details
  11. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals: Spurring Scientific Creativity with Metrics

    Describes the reorganization of the drug discovery organization at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and focuses on the decisions to: (1) centralize decision-making within drug discovery and (2) institute numerical metrics--jointly affecting all R&D scientists--for the progression of compounds through the Wyeth pipeline. Highlights issues concerning the degree to which scientific activity can be evaluated via numerical metrics, the extent to which R&D can be structured as a process, and the degree to which decision-making should be centralized in commercial R&D activities.

    Keywords: Decision Making; Measurement and Metrics; Business Processes; Organizational Structure; Research and Development; Science-Based Business; Creativity; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Huckman, Robert S., Gary P. Pisano, and Mark Rennella. "Wyeth Pharmaceuticals: Spurring Scientific Creativity with Metrics." Harvard Business School Case 607-008, February 2007. (Revised April 2010.) View Details
  12. Merger Integration at Bank of America: The TrustWeb Project

    This case explores project management in a large organization through the eyes of a young project manager, Mike Morris. Morris is tasked with leading a project within the overall merger integration effort at Bank of America. Morris encounters difficulties with managing stakeholders, setting requirements, and reporting progress.

    Keywords: Experience and Expertise; Management Skills; Business Processes; Projects; Business and Stakeholder Relations; Banking Industry; United States;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Bradley R. Staats. "Merger Integration at Bank of America: The TrustWeb Project." Harvard Business School Case 610-054, February 2010. (Revised April 2010.) View Details
  13. Amyris Biotechnologies: Commercializing Biofuel

    In 2009, Amyris Biotechnologies was building a plant in Brazil that used synthetic biology to convert sugarcane into both renewable fuels and renewable chemicals. The Amyris' marketing team was investigating the commercial interest for both types of products, while the research and development team and the operations group were building processes that could accommodate both as well. CEO John Melo hoped to have commercial product available in 2011; however, he realized that pursuing both chemicals and fuels added even more complexity to a business that was already executing multiple development steps in parallel. The case looks at the various strategic and operational decisions facing Melo as he planned the company's optimal commercialization strategy.

    Keywords: Renewable Energy; Chemicals; Risk Management; Product Marketing; Product Development; Production; Environmental Sustainability; Commercialization; Biotechnology Industry; Brazil;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Alison Berkley Wagonfeld. "Amyris Biotechnologies: Commercializing Biofuel." Harvard Business School Case 610-031, February 2010. View Details
  14. VF Brands: Global Supply Chain Strategy

    This case examines VF Brands global supply chain strategy. Historically, VF has used a combination of in-house manufacturing and traditional arms-length sourcing arrangements. At the time of the case, the company is considering a third approach to supplier relations that involves much closer cooperation and partnerships. The goal of this "third way" approach is to create a sourcing relationship that combines some of the virtues of vertical integration with the flexibility of sourcing. Such arrangements are increasingly discussed in the operations literature and in practice. This case provides students an opportunity to do an in-depth analysis of such an arrangement and develop an understanding of the trade-offs involved.

    Keywords: Global Strategy; Logistics; Supply Chain Management; Partners and Partnerships; Cooperation; Vertical Integration; Apparel and Accessories Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Pamela Adams. "VF Brands: Global Supply Chain Strategy." Harvard Business School Case 610-022, November 2009. View Details
  15. Tenova: Mining for Growth in an Economic Crisis

    In December 2008, Gianluigi Nova, CEO of Tenova SpA, a technology and equipment supplier to the metals and mining industry, had to choose between two options. The first was to continue growing in the company's core business: equipment for the steel production. The second option offered growth in a related, but nearly new business for Tenova: the equipment for mining, mineral processing, and extractive metallurgy. They only had a small presence in this market. Yet, Nova had to cope with the worldwide economic crisis whose destructive power hit every area of the metals and mining industry. Nova had to decide which option offered the best opportunity to grow in the worst economic crisis since 1929.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Financial Crisis; Leadership; Crisis Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Market Entry and Exit; Diversification; Industrial Products Industry; Mining Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Elena Corsi, and Elisa Farri. "Tenova: Mining for Growth in an Economic Crisis." Harvard Business School Case 610-021, August 2009. (Revised September 2009.) View Details
  16. Columbus Tubing: Steel is Real

    Columbus Tubing must choose to improve an old technology (steel) or to develop a new material (carbon fiber). The decision must take into account a complicated context: increased demand for the "old" steel products made in Italy, increasing power of carbon fiber manufacturing partners in Asia, growing wage rates in Asia, and high wage rates in Italy. Two plans have been presented to the CEO, Antonio Colombo. The first is to push development of all of the company's technologies, perhaps even seeking new markets for them. The second is to rationalize operations and to redirect R&D resources to marketing of stylish, lower-tech bicycles. The company's future hangs in the balance.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Resource Allocation; Production; Research and Development; Technology; Bicycle Transportation; Asia; Italy;


    Snow, Daniel C., Gary P. Pisano, Elena Corsi, and Gudrun Urfalino Kristinsdottir. "Columbus Tubing: Steel is Real." Harvard Business School Case 609-042, September 2008. (Revised August 2009.) View Details
  17. Radical Collaboration: IBM Microelectronics Joint Development Alliances

    IBM's "Radical Collaboration" model has been an innovative approach to meeting the challenges of the huge R&D and capital investments that are needed to stay competitive in the global semiconductor industry. This model has required a rethinking of what is proprietary, and what is shared, and where do the boundaries of cooperation end and competition begin. IBM and its partners have managed to stay competitive at, for example, the 45 nm node, at a far lower cost than firms that "go it alone," and there is a large benefit from a larger funnel of ideas and diverse points of view. It also reshapes what firms can use to build competitive advantage, or it necessitates a rethinking at least.

    Keywords: Cost Management; Investment; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Problems and Challenges; Alliances; Networks; Partners and Partnerships; Research and Development; Competitive Advantage; Semiconductor Industry;


    Shih, Willy, Gary Pisano, and Andrew A. King. "Radical Collaboration: IBM Microelectronics Joint Development Alliances." Harvard Business School Case 608-121, February 2008. (Revised November 2008.) View Details
  18. Intel Corporation: 1968-1997

    Traces Intel's history and strategy from 1968 to 1997. Examines the company's decision to exit DRAMS and its entry into microprocessors. Focuses on how the company managed to achieve and sustain its competitive advantage in microprocessors, and the threats it faces in the future.

    Keywords: Market Entry and Exit; Competitive Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Hardware; Corporate Strategy; Industry Structures; Technology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., David J. Collis, and Peter K. Botticelli. "Intel Corporation: 1968-1997." Harvard Business School Case 797-137, May 1997. (Revised May 2008.) View Details
  19. Discovering the Future: R&D Strategy at Merck

    Given explosive growth in technologies for drug discovery, how does Merck remain competitive in an industry that is fragmented and continues to consolidate?

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Research and Development; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "Discovering the Future: R&D Strategy at Merck." Harvard Business School Case 601-086, February 2001. (Revised July 2006.) View Details
  20. Ducati Corse: The Making of a Grand Prix Motorcycle

    Examines the product development strategy and processes of the Ducati motorcycle racing team during the 2003-2004 Grand Prix seasons. Invites discussion of appropriate design and development strategies to facilitate learning across product generations. Specifically, examines the trade-offs inherent in an "integral" vs. "modular" approach to product design and the impact on learning. Also enables students to explore the behavioral aspects of development strategy and, in particular, the impact of initial success on perceptions of competence and risk taking.

    Keywords: Design; Business Strategy; Product Marketing; Knowledge Use and Leverage; Motorcycle Industry; Italy;


    Gino, Francesca, and Gary P. Pisano. "Ducati Corse: The Making of a Grand Prix Motorcycle." Harvard Business School Case 605-090, June 2005. (Revised June 2006.) View Details
  21. Vertex Pharmaceuticals: R&D Portfolio Management (A)

    Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a drug discovery company that recently decided to pursue a vertically integrated business model, chose to build up its clinical development and commercial capabilities and infrastructure. For the first time in its history, Vertex will select two drug candidates from its internal research portfolio of four projects to develop on its own, without the help of strategic partners. CEO Joshua Boger and President Vicki Sato are grappling with which two projects to select. Focuses on how to select projects and how to manage the process of portfolio selection.

    Keywords: Research and Development; Investment Portfolio; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Lee Fleming, and Eli Strick. "Vertex Pharmaceuticals: R&D Portfolio Management (A)." Harvard Business School Supplement 604-101, June 2004. (Revised June 2006.) View Details
  22. Teradyne Corporation: The Jaguar Project

    Teradyne, a leading manufacturer of semiconductor test equipment, embarked on a multiyear effort to improve its product development capabilities and to implement more formalized project management approaches. Examines the development of a new-generation tester that involved significant hardware and software design. For this, the company decided to implement new approaches to project management and project teams. Invites discussion of the effectiveness of these approaches and the general lessons for the management of product development.

    Keywords: Projects; Management; Product Development; Hardware; Software; Groups and Teams; Business or Company Management; Research and Development; Problems and Challenges; Semiconductor Industry; United States;


    Gino, Francesca, and Gary P. Pisano. "Teradyne Corporation: The Jaguar Project." Harvard Business School Case 606-042, September 2005. (Revised May 2006.) View Details
  23. Istituto Clinico Humanitas (A)

    Istituto Clinico Humanitas is a newly built private hospital, south of Milan, Italy, that has attained unusual profitability while treating public system patients. The hospital was built and is managed by Techosp, a subsidiary of Techint, a global engineering and consulting firm. Techosp created a design and management system that emphasizes optimizing patient throughput and utilization of all of the hospital's facilities. Physicians are all fully employed and have a significant financial incentive to maximize efficiency. The executive team is now considering whether to affiliate with the University of Milan medical school and, in effect, become Italy's first private academic medical center. The general manager must consider the effect of this affiliation on the hospital's performance.

    Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Management Systems; Infrastructure; Managerial Roles; Integration; Performance; Health Industry; Milan;


    Bohmer, Richard M.J., Gary P. Pisano, and Ning Tang. "Istituto Clinico Humanitas (A)." Harvard Business School Case 603-063, September 2002. (Revised April 2006.) View Details
  24. Life Sciences Revolution, The: A Technical Primer

    For more than two decades, scientific advances have been driving profound changes in drug discovery and the drug industry itself. This case provides an overview and description of these technical and scientific advances. Written for the nonscientific reader, it may be used as companion reading for other case materials that require basic knowledge of the tools, techniques, and approaches used in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

    Keywords: Science; Technological Innovation; Technology; Pharmaceutical Industry; Biotechnology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Clarissa Ceruti, and Stephanie Oestreich. "Life Sciences Revolution, The: A Technical Primer." Harvard Business School Case 602-118, January 2002. (Revised August 2002.) View Details
  25. In vivo to in vitro to in silico: Coping with Tidal Waves of Data at Biogen

    Biogen is a successful biotech company facing a critical juncture. CEO John Mullen ponders how technological changes introduced into the research function will shape larger corporate decisions. This world in which biotechnology companies operated had changed dramatically over the past few years. Parts of biology were rapidly evolving from being an individualistic, wet lab, bench-science driven field toward one where scientists manipulated huge amounts of data and divided up research steps into a factorylike production process. At the same time, the cost of developing a drug and bringing it to market had ballooned, from an estimated $231 million in 1991 to $802 million in 2000. Biogen was conservative in adopting new genomics tools. This case describes how the company decided to bring in house the latest genomics in silico tools and applied them to the discovery and research phase for drug development. The company also then restructured its research strategy. As the new tools and early-phase research began to bear fruit, Mullen realized that they implied significant changes down the road for other parts of Biogen.

    Keywords: Change; Decisions; Product Development; Research and Development; Expansion; Technology; Biotechnology Industry;


    Enriquez-Cabot, Juan, Gary P. Pisano, and Gaye Bok. "In vivo to in vitro to in silico: Coping with Tidal Waves of Data at Biogen." Harvard Business School Case 602-122, April 2002. View Details
  26. BMW: The 7-Series Project (A)

    Explores BMW's decision about how to manufacture prototype vehicles. Historically, BMW's prototypes were handcrafted by highly skilled artisans in the company's shop. A proposal has been made to alter the process so that prototypes are made in a way that can better uncover potential problems that may arise during final production. While the new approach is expected to make production start-up of new models smoother and reduce quality problems, there is some concern within the company that it will lead to less flexibility to change (and improve) designs during the development cycle. Explores different ways of competing on quality in a luxury product segment and how the product development process affects each of these. A second objective is to examine the notion of a prototyping strategy and the role prototyping plays in linking development strategy and manufacturing strategy.

    Keywords: Product Development; Research and Development; Design; Production; Strategy; Quality; Decision Making; Auto Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Germany;


    Pisano, Gary P. "BMW: The 7-Series Project (A)." Harvard Business School Case 692-083, February 1992. (Revised January 2002.) View Details
  27. CIBA Vision: The Daily Disposable Lens Project (A)

    Examines CIBA Vision's decision on whether to launch a major new R&D initiative to develop a low-cost, daily disposable contact lens, and how to organize such a project should it proceed. One group of executives favors setting up a small, autonomous project team organizationally and geographically isolated from the company's existing R&D operations. This approach will enable focus, but poses serious issues concerning future integration.

    Keywords: Product Development; Operations; Research and Development; Decision Making; Production; Strategy; Management; Organizational Design; Globalization; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "CIBA Vision: The Daily Disposable Lens Project (A)." Harvard Business School Case 696-100, March 1996. (Revised January 2002.) View Details
  28. BMW: The 7-Series Project (B)

    Describes the decision made on the 7-Series project with respect to prototyping and its impact on quality.

    Keywords: Research and Development; Quality; Auto Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Germany;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Sharon L. Rossi. "BMW: The 7-Series Project (B)." Harvard Business School Case 695-013, September 1994. (Revised January 2002.) View Details
  29. Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (B): Cardiac Care Improvement

    Explores the challenges confronting the CEO at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in the wake of radical changes in the health care environment. As pressures have risen for cost containment in health care, the hospital has embarked on a series of reengineering efforts to reduce costs, while maintaining the quality of care. The CEO is now evaluating the results of these efforts and considering alternative strategies for improvement.

    Keywords: Consolidation; Health Care and Treatment; Mergers and Acquisitions; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Management Teams; Operations; Innovation and Invention; Cost Management; Health Industry; Massachusetts;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Maryam Golnaraghi. "Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (B): Cardiac Care Improvement." Harvard Business School Case 696-063, April 1996. (Revised June 2001.) View Details
  30. ITT Automotive: Global Manufacturing Strategy (1994)

    ITT Automotive is in the process of developing a new-generation antilock brake system (ABS), designated the MK-20. The case focuses on the level of automation to be used in the production of this new system, and whether all plants should use the same process technology. Due to intensifying cost pressure and rapidly growing demand for lower-cost ABS, the development team and senior management (based in Frankfurt, Germany) strongly favor using a single, highly automated production process in the four plants scheduled to produce the MK-20 (located in Germany, Belgium, and the United States). Managers at the company's two plants in the United States favor using less automation technology in order to allow greater flexibility for improving process technology over time.

    Keywords: Technology; Innovation Strategy; Production; Product Development; Globalized Firms and Management; Performance Productivity; Manufacturing Industry; Auto Industry; Belgium; Germany; United States;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Sharon L. Rossi. "ITT Automotive: Global Manufacturing Strategy (1994)." Harvard Business School Case 695-002, August 1994. (Revised May 2001.) View Details
  31. Heartport, Inc.

    Heartport, an entrepreneurial medical device maker, has introduced several innovative systems for conducting less-invasive cardiac surgery. Despite initially high expectations, the company has struggled to get its technology adopted by cardiac surgeons. The company's newest CEO, the third in less than four years, must figure out how to turn around the fledgling company. This case describes Heartport's method of performing minimally invasive cardiac surgery as well as rival techniques for treating cardiovascular disease. Describes the evolution of the company, its product strategy, and its fortunes over the period 1991-99.

    Keywords: History; Product Positioning; Knowledge Acquisition; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Technology Adoption; Health Care and Treatment;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Shoshana Dobrow. "Heartport, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 600-020, March 2000. View Details
  32. HydroCision, Inc.

    Examines the market-entry strategy of a medical device company.

    Keywords: Markets; Strategy; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Joshua D. Hamermesh, Richard Atsuhiko Kondo, Karen J. Nowiszewski, and Erik James Wordelman. "HydroCision, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 699-176, May 1999. (Revised September 1999.) View Details
  33. Eli Lilly and Co.: Manufacturing Process Technology Strategy--1991

    Outlines the evolution of Lilly's corporate manufacturing strategy over the past decade. The corporate vice president of manufacturing must decide on the next phase of Lilly's strategy for the early 1990s, as well as to what extent and what role process development will play. Provides data outlining three different points in the product development process at which manufacturing process development might be initiated. Using learning curve concepts and data, students can estimate the economic costs and benefits (as well as organizational issues and challenges) associated with each. Illustrates process improvement's substantial impact in a capital-intensive industry, describes possible roles of manufacturing process technology in an industry that has viewed product R&D as its primary competitive advantage, illustrates phases through which manufacturing can evolve in pursuit of comparative advantage, and introduces students to a challenging and changing industry.

    Keywords: Cost vs Benefits; Management Practices and Processes; Industry Structures; Product Development; Production; Research and Development; Competitive Advantage; Corporate Strategy; Manufacturing Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., Steven C. Wheelwright, and Jonathan West. "Eli Lilly and Co.: Manufacturing Process Technology Strategy--1991." Harvard Business School Case 692-056, December 1991. (Revised October 1998.) View Details
  34. Sustaining Superior Performance: Commitments and Capabilities

    Presents evidence on the unsustainability of many competitive advantages, reviews the typical threats to the sustainability, and discusses ways in which those threats can be combatted.

    Keywords: Competitive Advantage;


    Ghemawat, Pankaj, and Gary P. Pisano. "Sustaining Superior Performance: Commitments and Capabilities." Harvard Business School Background Note 798-008, July 1997. View Details
  35. Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (A)

    Focuses on the decision confronting senior administrators at the Brigham and Women's Hospital: whether to enter into an affiliation with the Massachusetts General Hospital. Requires students to analyze the complex institutional changes in the health environment and to determine how the proposed affiliation might influence the hospital's chances for successfully carrying out its core missions.

    Keywords: Consolidation; Health Care and Treatment; Mergers and Acquisitions; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Management Teams; Health Industry; Massachusetts;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Maryam Golnaraghi. "Partners HealthCare System, Inc. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 696-062, February 1996. (Revised April 1997.) View Details
  36. State Street Bank and Trust Company: New Product Development

    Portrays the dilemma faced by Marsh Carter, CEO and chairman of the board of State Street Bank, in May 1995. For the past decade, the bank earned continually expanding earnings through its rapidly growing custody business. Now, as that business matures and custodial fees erode, Carter is seeking to expand the bank's presence in higher value-added financial services. Developing these will require the bank to build new sets of organizational capabilities to leverage and integrate skills located in different divisions of the bank.

    Keywords: Product Development; Finance; Problems and Challenges; Management Teams; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Strategy; Banking Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P., and Maryam Golnaraghi. "State Street Bank and Trust Company: New Product Development." Harvard Business School Case 696-087, March 1996. (Revised April 1996.) View Details
  37. BMW: The 7-Series Project (A), Teaching Note

    Teaching Note for (9-692-083).

    Keywords: Projects; Competency and Skills; Production; Quality; Product Development; Growth and Development Strategy; Decisions; Management Practices and Processes; Luxury; Auto Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "BMW: The 7-Series Project (A), Teaching Note." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 692-094, March 1992. (Revised April 1995.) View Details
  38. Eli Lilly and Co.: The Flexible Facility Decision--1993

    In 1993, Eli Lilly is preparing to build manufacturing capacity for three new pharmaceutical products that it expects to launch in 1996. Management wrestles with a decision of whether to add specialized manufacturing capacity or flexible capacity. This question touches off a broad debate within the company about which strategy to follow for future facilities decisions. This case presents two alternatives (flexible and specialized plants) and describes the benefits and costs associated with each.

    Keywords: Debates; Cost vs Benefits; Decisions; Investment; Goals and Objectives; Product Launch; Production; Corporate Strategy; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "Eli Lilly and Co.: The Flexible Facility Decision--1993." Harvard Business School Case 694-074, March 1994. (Revised April 1994.) View Details
  39. Nucleon, Inc.

    Nucleon is a small biotechnology company whose first potential product is about to enter clinical testing. Before Nucleon can begin clinical trials, however, its management must decide how and where to manufacture the product. Three options are being contemplated: 1) build an in-house pilot plant, 2) contract production to a third-party, 3) license the development, manufacturing, and marketing rights to a corporate partner. Allows discussion of a number of manufacturing strategy issues relevant to R&D-intensive entrepreneurial firms. A key issue is the strategic value of in-house manufacturing to a company that competes largely on very distinctive and specialized R&D capabilities.

    Keywords: Factories, Labs, and Plants; Entrepreneurship; Health Testing and Trials; Rights; Product Development; Production; Partners and Partnerships; Research and Development; Biotechnology Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "Nucleon, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 692-041, November 1991. (Revised April 1994.) View Details
  40. Monsanto's March into Biotechnology (A)

    Very early in the history of biotechnology (about 1979), Monsanto made a major commitment to move into this field. This case recounts the history from the point of view of the eminent scientist hired to head up corporate R&D. He took Monsanto from a very traditional agricultural chemicals technology base to one of the world's finest biotechnology centers and oversaw the purchase of Searle Pharmaceuticals. Raises a number of issues: How can a company move into a totally new technology? What are the advantages and disadvantages of sourcing technology from small firms and universities? How should research be organized? Emphasizes the very long-term view that Monsanto took in justifying their huge investment.

    Keywords: History; Transition; Biotechnology Industry; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry;


    Pisano, Gary P. "Monsanto's March into Biotechnology (A)." Harvard Business School Case 690-009, January 1990. (Revised October 1993.) View Details
  41. Applichem (A) (Abridged)

    Applichem manufactures the same chemical product in four plants, each of which is located in a different country. The company has completed a major study comparing the productivity and performance of these plants. Using the data from the study, students must decide which, if any, plants to close. The case requires students to think about the relevant metrics for comparing the performance of plants that operate very differently and in different countries. An important issue is the distinction between physical measures of productivity and financial measures of performance. Finally, the case allows students to think about what management might do to ensure that productivity improvements are shared across the plant network.

    Keywords: Business or Company Management; Management Practices and Processes; Performance Productivity; Performance Efficiency; Performance Evaluation; Strategy; Judgments; Factories, Labs, and Plants; Business Exit or Shutdown; Chemical Industry;


    Hammond, Janice H., and Gary P. Pisano. "Applichem (A) (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 694-030, August 1993. View Details
  42. American Connector Company (A)

    American Connector Co. is forced to reexamine operations at its Sunnyvale plant when a Japanese competitor announces plans to build an "ultimate" plant in the United States. Case examines issues related to benchmarking a competitor's manufacturing capabilities and productivity. Allows students to compare two companies' manufacturing strategies and their implications for productivity and flexibility.

    Keywords: Production; Infrastructure; Competitive Strategy; Global Strategy; Policy; Strategic Planning; Performance Productivity; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Performance Effectiveness; Sunnyvale; Japan;


    Pisano, Gary P. "American Connector Company (A)." Harvard Business School Case 693-035, October 1992. (Revised December 1992.) View Details
  43. American Connector Co. (B)

    Presents a plant manager's proposal to improve operations at American Connector Co. The plan attempts to imitate operations at DJC Corp., a successful Japanese competitor. Requires students to consider how changes in manufacturing impact productivity, flexibility, and overall strategy.

    Keywords: Change; Production; Performance Productivity; Strategy; Japan; Sunnyvale;


    Pisano, Gary P. "American Connector Co. (B)." Harvard Business School Supplement 693-049, October 1992. View Details
  44. Whistler Corp. (A)

    Describes the circumstances surrounding Whistler Corp.'s decision whether or not to continue manufacturing operations in the United States. The company had been experiencing severe problems in its domestic manufacturing operations and was thus unable to compete with suppliers from the Far East. A pilot project organized by a consulting firm suggests a number of changes that could drastically improve the firm's manufacturing competitiveness. Management must decide whether these changes should be implemented or whether all products should be procured from offshore sources.

    Keywords: Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Production; Problems and Challenges; Competitive Strategy; Apparel and Accessories Industry; United States;


    Pisano, Gary P. "Whistler Corp. (A)." Harvard Business School Case 690-011, February 1990. (Revised July 1992.) View Details


Other Publications and Materials

    Research Summary

  1. International Competitiveness in High Technology and Science Based Sectors

    This research project examines shifts in competitive capabilities of companies and countries in high technology and science based businesses.  It is particularly concerned with the potential loss of such capabilities in various industrial sectors in the US.  This research conducted in collaboration with Professor Willy Shih of Harvard Business School seeks to understand how management behavior and decisions and institutional factors shape investments in scientific and technological capability.  This project builds upon our earlier work ("Restoring American Competitiveness" Harvad Business Review, July-August 2009) where we argued that the US economy was losing its competitive edge innovation due to the growth in outsourcing of manufacturing and increasingly of R&D.  The current research project is aimed at deepening our understanding of such issues as:

    1. How does location, and in particular, geographic proximity to suppliers or customers, matter to innovative capabilities?  

    2. What role does manufacturing competence play in a firm's capacity for innovation?  When does outsourcing of manufacturing damage a firm's ability to innovate?

    3.  How do institutional factors (e.g. capital market, corporate governance,  immigration policies, government funding of R&D, etc.) influence innovation performance? 

    This results from this research will be published in a book (expectation 2011).  

  2. Understanding the Drivers and Limits of Corporate Growth

    Perhaps no issues garners more attention of senior executives and Boards of Directors than growth.  Yet, the underlying factors shaping and limiting corporate growth are poorly understood.  Empirically, we know that some corporations grow much faster than others over long periods of time. Some appear to have done a better jobg managing growth than others.  But there is little consensus, and even less evidence, concerning the strategies companies can adopt to maintain desired growth rates.  This research examines the underlying economics of corporate growth, and seeks to shed light on some issues as:

    1. Are their limits to the growth of organizations, and, if so, what governs those limits?

    2. Why do some firms grow faster (and longer) than others?   

    3. Are some growth strategies more effective than others?  Are some organizational and governance structures more conducive to sustained growth than others? 


    This research is currently undertaken through a series of case studies on specific companies. The case study research will be supplemented with larger scale empirical analysis from growth patterns of US and European companies.

    1. First Place winner of the McKinsey Award with Willy C. Shih for the best article in the Harvard Business Review during 2009 for the paper "Restoring American Competitiveness."

    2. Winner of the 2003 Strategic Management Journal Best Paper Prize for "Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management" (with David Teece and Amy Shuen, August 1997).