Richard E. Walton

Wallace Brett Donham Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus

Richard Walton joined Harvard in 1968 and currently teaches courses in general management and organization. He has also taught in executive programs in Asia and Europe. He consults with many leading American corporations and is a Director of Champion International Corporation.

The author of eight books and more than six dozen articles, his recent interests have included social innovations that elicit high employee commitment, enhance business performance, and promote human development. He has been active as an architect of theses innovations and as a researcher. Several recent books by Professor Walton treat issues central to the competitiveness of business firms.

One book, Innovating to Compete: Lessons for Diffusing and Managing Change in the Workplace (1987), presents a general framework explaining the innovative capability of a national industry. It is based on an analysis of work innovations - flexibility and participation - in the maritime industry. These shipboard innovations reduce crew sizes and help shipowners compete for deep-sea shipping trade. The study compares and explains the innovation records over the past 20 years in eight traditional maritime countries: Norway, Holland and Japan, which were high innovators; Sweden, West Germany and the U.K., which were moderate innovators; and Denmark and the U.S., which were low innovators.

Another book, Up and Running: Integrating Information Technology and the Organization (1989), presents a practical theory for effective implementation of advanced information technology in plants, offices, and executive suites. It uses the experiences of such diverse organizations as AT&T, IBM, GE, Shell Oil, Rolls Royce, DEC, Eastman Kodak, Thorn EMI, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and ten others, to provide concrete illustrations of the variety of ways in which information technology (IT) and organization dynamics can impinge upon one another, both positively and negatively, depending upon implementation choices.

Professor Walton's latest book, Strategic Negotiations: A Theory of Change in Labor-Management Relations (1994) with Robert McKersie and Joel Cutcher-Gershenfeld proposes a theory of strategic negotiation. By strategic negotiation we refer to the importance of the transformation involved -- major revisions in the social contract between management and labor as well as in the collective bargaining agreement. The book presents this theory and uses it to analyze thirteen case histories of negotiated change drawn from three industries which offer especially instructive contrasts -- pulp and paper, auto supply and railroads.

  1. Managing Workplace Reforms and Organization-Wide Transformations

    by Richard E. Walton

    Richard E. Walton is studying (with doctoral candidate Scott Hamlin and research associate Kathleen Scharf) the development and diffusion of new forms of union-management partnership together with other new practices in the steel industry. To test and elaborate his theory of social systems capabilities for innovative change, set forth in his book Innovating to Compete, Walton and his colleagues are comparing records of change since 1980 in twelve mills belonging to four large integrated producers. Their study will examine how corporate executives and union leaders in this major U.S. industry are attempting to transform work systems in response to strong competitive pressures. Their findings will be reported in the forthcoming book Forging Partnerships in American Steel. Walton is also studying (with Richard Ault and Mark Childers) a particularly instructive decade-long change process in a major pulp and paper company - Champion International Paper Corporation. The effort is transforming the corporation from one end of the value chain to the other, dramatically affecting every employee group, from machine operators to technology professionals. It has involved significant change in structures and mindsets, from the mill floor to the executive suite, and has paid off handsomely in both economic and human terms, making Champion one of the foremost contemporary exemplars of corporatewide transformation. Walton plans a book that documents, analyzes, and draws lessons from Champion's experience.