Joseph B. Fuller

Professor of Management Practice

Joseph Fuller is a Professor of Management Practice in General Management. He currently teaches the General Management Processes and Action course in the second year of the MBA program and formerly headed The Entrepreneurial Manager course in the program’s first year. A 1981 graduate of the school, Joe was a founder and first employee of the global consulting firm, Monitor Group, now Monitor-Deloitte. He served as the Chief Executive Officer of its commercial consulting operations from 1994 to 2006 and remained a Senior Advisor to firm until its acquisition by Deloitte in 2012. During his three decades in consulting, Fuller worked with senior executives and policymakers on a wide variety of issues related to corporate strategy and national competitiveness. He has particularly deep experience in industries with a heavy reliance on technology, such as life sciences, ICT and the defense and aerospace industries. He is currently researching the evolution of the role of the CEOs and the C-suite in public companies.

Joe is a member of the faculty group leading the school's ongoing project on U.S. competitiveness. His research has probed the "skills gap" and investigates the paradox that many employers have chronic difficulty filling jobs while millions of Americans remain unemployed, underemployed, or have left the workforce. He was the principal author of Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America's Middle Skills, a white paper that investigates the labor market for jobs requiring more than a high school degree and less than a four year college education. He also co-authored Managing the Talent Pipeline: A New Approach to Closing the Skills Gap in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. His current research focuses on the future of work more broadly, including mechanisms employers can use to address the skills gap and the implications of changing demographics and the growth of the gig economy for companies.

Joe has spoken before numerous management conferences and has written extensively. His work has appeared in Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, CEO, and The Journal of Applied Corporate Finance magazines, as well as The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Washington Post, Politico, The Atlantic, The Hill, The International Herald Tribune, China Daily, India’s Business Standard, and Brazil’s EXAME.  His white papers, Just Say No To Wall Street and What’s a Director to Do?, written in collaboration with Professor Michael Jensen are used in the curriculums of dozens of MBA programs worldwide.

Mr. Fuller is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College and a member of the Executive Committee of the Harvard College Fund. He is a director of PVH Corporation and a former member of HBS’s Board of Dean’s Advisors and of the boards of Merrimac Industries and SM&A. 


  1. Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America's Middle Skills

    Joseph B. Fuller, Jennifer Burrowes, Manjari Raman, Dan Restuccia and Alexis Young

    The market for middle-skills jobs—those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree—is consistently failing to clear. That failure is inflicting a grievous cost on the competitiveness of American firms and on the standard of living of American workers. How can business lead the charge to close the gap?

    Keywords: Business or Company Management; Human Capital; Education; Competency and Skills; Macroeconomics; United States;


    Fuller, Joseph B., Jennifer Burrowes, Manjari Raman, Dan Restuccia, and Alexis Young. "Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America's Middle Skills." Report, U.S. Competitiveness Project, Harvard Business School, November 2014. (This report was authored jointly by Accenture, Burning Glass Technologies, and Harvard Business School.) View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. La-Z-Boy (A)

    Joseph B. Fuller and Natalie Kindred

    Kurt Darrow, CEO of La-Z-Boy furniture, must decide whether to continue an overhaul of the company's strategy in the face of a collapse in demand during the great recession. Having pared back La-Z-Boy's portfolio of brands and manufacturing network, he intends to reposition the company as a branded retailer of furniture and home fashions. Just as management is poised to implement a new strategy that involves a heavy investment in brand advertising, a complete overhaul of the retail organization and a fundamentally new manufacturing system, the industry experiences a catastrophic downturn. Should he continue to invest in a highly speculative strategy or rein in investment and preserve cash?

    Keywords: retail; manufacturing; organizational transformations; reorganization; furniture industry; corporate strategy; home fashion; turnaround; portfolio rationalization; globalization of supply chain; brand repositioning; Business Growth and Maturation; Brands and Branding; Competitive Strategy; Vertical Integration; Retail Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Consumer Products Industry; United States;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Natalie Kindred. "La-Z-Boy (A)." Harvard Business School Case 317-034, October 2016. View Details
  2. Mahindra Lifespace Developers' Venture into Affordable Housing

    Joseph B. Fuller and Monica Baraldi

    Mahindra Lifespace Developers Limited (MLDL) was the infrastructure and real estate arm of the Mahindra Group, an Indian conglomerate with revenues of $16.5 billion in 2014. Employing 400 experts in land acquisition, design, project management, sales and marketing, and financial structuring, MLDL in 2011 had begun to explore India’s affordable housing space, establishing an ambitious goal of eventually managing 10 projects with 15,000 residential units at any given time. In 2013, MLDL began debating potential locations. MLDL Managing Director Anita Arjundas and her commercially oriented team chose Mumbai and Chennai as preferred sites for the first two pilot projects. At the time, the two cities were highly industrialized locations with significant demand for affordable housing.

    Keywords: corporate entrepreneurship; Housing; business conglomerates; social entrepreneurship; Business Conglomerates; Business Startups; Development Economics; Developing Countries and Economies; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Social Entrepreneurship; Housing; Emerging Markets; Business and Government Relations; Human Needs; Social Issues; Urban Development; Real Estate Industry; India;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Monica Baraldi. "Mahindra Lifespace Developers' Venture into Affordable Housing." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 317-029, August 2016. View Details
  3. Intrapreneurship at DaVita Healthcare Partners

    Joseph B. Fuller and Matthew Preble

    DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. (DaVita) is one of the U.S.'s leading dialysis providers, a process whereby persons with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) are connected to a machine that performs the functions of a healthy kidney. Kent Thiry, DaVita's CEO, has expanded the company's scope of activities since he first arrived in 1999. He initially focused on consolidating the company's dialysis business, which included acquiring the company's primary U.S. competitor, before expanding into related businesses such as pharmacy services for people with ESRD. In the 2010s, Thiry again broadened DaVita's scope by moving into primary care via the acquisition of Health Care Partners (HCP, a company that owned medical practices and health care facilities) and by forming Paladina Health (Paladina), a company that sells primary care services to self-insured employers. Thiry's strategic decisions reflect several considerations, including his belief that value- and performance-based reimbursement will become the norm in the U.S. health care system, a commitment to extending DaVita's ability to execute on its mission, and DaVita being excessively reliant on a single medical condition for revenue. The latter concern is partially explained by DaVita running out of logical growth vehicles within kidney care/dialysis (i.e., there are no more sizeable competitors or companies to buy) and, in the longer term, the potential reduction in ESRD patients due to innovations in the treatment of the underlying problems (e.g., diabetes) that lead to ESRD.

    Keywords: Intrapreneurship; entrepreneurial organizations; startup management; Startup; strategic planning; strategic positioning; corporate strategy; corporate entrepreneurship; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Corporate Strategy; Business Startups; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Health Industry; United States;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Matthew Preble. "Intrapreneurship at DaVita Healthcare Partners." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 317-020, August 2016. (Revised August 2016.) View Details
  4. Mahindra Tool: Project Economics

    Joseph B. Fuller and Christopher Payton

    The case describes Mahindra Lifespace Developers’ (MLDL), a unit of Indian conglomerate Mahindra and Mahindra, foray into the affordable housing segment. MLDL sees a huge opportunity in selling apartments to the burgeoning population of urban workers, which is badly underserved. Hoping to draw on skills developed in building higher end residential projects and industrial parks, MLDL aims to have fifteen projects of one thousand units each under construction when it reaches scale. MLDL’s CEO, Anita Arjundas, launches two projects to test the business hypothesis. The results are discouraging. What lessons can she draw from the results? Were the tests sufficiently definitive for her to alter her strategy and endure what she describes as a “bitter defeat.” The case provides a vehicle for discussing how to develop and assess tests in high fixed costs, long lead time environments. It also describes a large corporation’s efforts to develop a major new, entrepreneurial business and the challenges involved in implementation. The case also touches on interesting issues of a leading company's role in addressing a glaring societal need.

    Keywords: corporate entrepreneurship; Housing; business conglomerates; social entrepreneurship; Business Conglomerates; Business Startups; Development Economics; Developing Countries and Economies; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Social Entrepreneurship; Housing; Emerging Markets; Business and Government Relations; Human Needs; Social Issues; Urban Development; Real Estate Industry; India;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Christopher Payton. "Mahindra Tool: Project Economics." Harvard Business School Spreadsheet Supplement 317-701, July 2016. View Details
  5. Terrapin Laboratory

    Joseph B. Fuller and Andrew Otazo

    This teaching plan accompanies the case "Terrapin Laboratory," HBS No. 315-098. That case describes the formation and rapid growth of a drug testing company. The company needs to decide whether to enter the painkiller testing market, in addition to growing its drug treatment center business. The associated teaching materials provide students the opportunity to weigh the attractiveness of alternative mechanisms for financing the company’s expansion.

    Keywords: Business growth; entrepreneurial management; entrepreneurship; growth strategy; Market entry; venture capital; Venture Capital; Market Entry and Exit; Entrepreneurship; Health Testing and Trials; Growth and Development Strategy; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Andrew Otazo. "Terrapin Laboratory." Harvard Business School Teaching Plan 316-183, June 2016. View Details
  6. Hello Alfred: Come Home Happy

    Joseph B. Fuller and Carin-Isabel Knoop

    On a mission to "automate the on-demand economy," Harvard Business School classmates Marcela Sapone and Jessica Beck launched Hello Alfred in 2013 to provide subscribers with an "Alfred" to complete various chores for a monthly fee. In early 2016, the company has built an infrastructure, including a mobile app, to develop Alfreds' routes and respond to customer requests in conjunction with other service providers, for example grocery delivery services, in what the founders describe as their "B2B2C" business model. Alfred won the coveted TechCrunch San Francisco Disrupt Cup in 2014, and by April 2015 had secured $12.5 million in seed and Series A funding. The founders must determine the best growth strategy for Alfred. Should they expand Alfred beyond their present operating cities, New York and Boston, or should they focus on their current markets? Should they increase public visibility to attract more customers, or should they enroll landlords in Alfred and reach consumers in that way?

    Keywords: on-demand economy; sharing economy; technology startup; technology; growth strategy; Business Startups; Business Growth and Maturation; Entrepreneurship; Mobile Technology; Strategic Planning; Service Industry; United States; Boston; Cambridge; New York (city, NY); California;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Carin-Isabel Knoop. "Hello Alfred: Come Home Happy." Harvard Business School Case 316-154, March 2016. (Revised June 2016.) View Details
  7. HourlyNerd

    Jill Avery and Joseph Fuller

    HourlyNerd, a two-sided marketplace platform for matching freelance consultants with small companies looking for help, struggles to define a growth plan for the future. The company, started as a class project in HBS' FIELD 3 course, is assessing three growth paths: shifting their target from small and medium sized businesses to enterprise customers, expanding into new verticals to become the Amazon of freelance labor, and transforming its business model from a marketplace to software-as-a-service (SaaS). Each of the three paths was risky and required financial and human resource investment. Could and should the fledgling startup change its business model? Could they fundamentally change the way companies purchased consulting services? Or, should the founders play it safe by remaining focused on executing their original business model -- a proven winner?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; Startup; lean startup; two sided markets; venture capital; Entrepreneurship; Strategy; Business Startups; Venture Capital; Consulting Industry; United States;


    Avery, Jill, and Joseph Fuller. "HourlyNerd." Harvard Business School Case 316-134, January 2016. (Revised November 2016.) View Details
  8. Jim Sharpe: Operational Cash Flow Tool

    Joseph B. Fuller, Shikhar Ghosh and Christopher Payton

    In this exercise, you will examine the cash flow implications of different operating model assumptions and the effect that this has on financing decisions.

    Keywords: Cash Flow; Financing and Loans;


    Fuller, Joseph B., Shikhar Ghosh, and Christopher Payton. "Jim Sharpe: Operational Cash Flow Tool." Harvard Business School Exercise 816-070, February 2016. View Details
  9. Intuit: Turbo Tax PersonalPro - A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs

    Shikhar Ghosh, Joseph Fuller and Michael Roberts

    The case tells the story of a product manager within Intuit who develops an idea for a new product that spans two of the company's existing business units—professional tax software, sold to accountants, and the consumer focused TurboTax product. The new product —TurboTax Personal Pro—connects consumers with professional accountants online, allowing them to have their taxes prepared by a professional. The cycle of product development transpires within the larger, corporate context of Intuit, where founder Scott Cook has been attempting to transform the enterprise into a leaner, more innovative company. The case describes in detail the lean startup methods used by the new product team, and how their attempts bump up against the existing, entrenched systems and processes of the larger enterprise.

    Keywords: Business Units; Business or Company Management; Software; Accounting; Product Development; Financial Services Industry;


    Ghosh, Shikhar, Joseph Fuller, and Michael Roberts. "Intuit: Turbo Tax PersonalPro - A Tale of Two Entrepreneurs." Harvard Business School Case 816-048, September 2015. (Revised March 2016.) View Details
  10. Hövding: The Airbag for Cyclists

    Joseph B. Fuller and Emilie Billaud

    In 2012, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, co¬founders of the Hövding company, reflect on the evolution of their venture and the way forward. Since 2005, Haupt and Alstin had been working on a new type of bicycle helmet—an "airbag for cyclists." What had begun as a thesis had grown into a seven-year journey of research and development, including raising over $10 million of venture capital. The product had been granted Europe's CE certification in 2011 and had been launched simultaneously in Sweden and Norway. Yet, a year later, the company had still not reached the break¬even point. To help them establish a commercialization strategy, the Hövding board had prevailed upon the founders to hire a professional CEO. But surrendering management control was an emotional process for Haupt and Alstin, while the CEO struggled to assert his leadership and build the company's commercial capabilities. Should Haupt and Alstin collaborate with their CEO despite their misgivings, or should they step away from the company they had dedicated seven years to building?

    Keywords: Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Transition; Leadership; Conflict Management; Bicycle Industry; Sweden; Europe;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Emilie Billaud. "Hövding: The Airbag for Cyclists." Harvard Business School Case 315-056, February 2015. (Revised September 2016.) View Details
  11. MuMaté Tool: Evaluating Financing Alternatives

    Joseph B. Fuller

    "MuMaté Tool: Evaluating Financing Alternatives" walks students through the considerations in allocating equity amongst the members of a startup's founding team. This exercise is designed to be used in conjunction with: Shikhar Ghosh, Joseph B. Fuller, Thomas E. Eisenmann, Alex Godden, and Andrew Sandoe "MuMaté: Funding Growth," HBS No. 814-063.

    Keywords: Partners and Partnerships; Business Startups; Equity;


    Fuller, Joseph B. "MuMaté Tool: Evaluating Financing Alternatives." Harvard Business School Spreadsheet Supplement 315-701, February 2015. View Details
  12. Loki Capital Management

    Joseph B. Fuller, Shikhar Ghosh and Matthew Preble

    In December 2013, Michael Kane was preparing to launch his start-up's first hedge fund. While pleased with the development of the business, he wanted to address a few lingering issues before going any further. He debated whether or not to fire the company's chief operating officer (COO), Peter Jansen, who was becoming increasingly difficult to work with. While Jansen brought valuable skills and experience to the company, Kane wondered if the two could continue working together. If Jansen was fired, how should he be compensated for the work he had already done? Was he entitled to a share of the company's equity? Kane also had to decide how to raise the necessary working capital for his company. He had an offer from one hedge fund seeding firm which would both take care of his working capital needs and provide money for the fund, but he wondered whether the company's terms—including taking half of the fund's profits—were too onerous. Alternatively he could raise the working capital from family, friends and an interested investor, but he would have to court a large number of limited partners in order to build the fund's assets. Lastly, Kane debated how to split his company's equity between the members of the founding team.

    Keywords: hedge fund; hedge funds; equity split; fundraising; investor clientele; Team building; human resource management; Human Capital; Human Resources; Equity; Financial Services Industry; United States;


    Fuller, Joseph B., Shikhar Ghosh, and Matthew Preble. "Loki Capital Management." Harvard Business School Case 814-049, March 2014. (Revised February 2015.) View Details
  13. GenapSys: Business Models for the Genome

    Richard G. Hamermesh, Joseph B. Fuller and Matthew Preble

    GenapSys, a California-based startup, was soon to release a new DNA sequencer that the company's founder, Hesaam Esfandyarpour, believed was truly revolutionary. The sequencer would be substantially less expensive—potentially costing just a few thousand dollars—and smaller than other sequencers, many of which were large devices costing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. GenapSys' device, named GENIUS, could also quickly generate large amounts of data, as it was capable of sequencing an entire human genome in less than eight hours. At this price, GenapSys' device would be attractive to customers that had been unable to afford sequencers, such as smaller laboratories or hospitals, and even expand the market to include industries such as agriculture and biofuels.

    As GenapSys came closer to releasing its product, Esfandyarpour and his Senior Director of Operations and Strategy, Leila Rastegar (HBS '11), sat down to decide which of three business models they would choose to bring this device to market. In the first model, the company would sell sequencers at a higher price to those entities which already purchased sequencers, primarily major research labs and pharmaceutical firms, but position its machine as a faster alternative to existing technologies. In the second model, GenapSys would sell its sequencer at a lower price but charge more for the cartridges necessary to run a sample, and earn its primary revenue from these cartridges. The third model would see GenapSys sell its device at or around cost, but use the data customers generated to create a proprietary database of genetic information. Customers could pay to access the database for research, to create genetic tests, or for many other purposes. GenapSys would also build an online store with the genetic tests customers created.

    Esfandyarpour's and Rastegar's decision would determine GenapSys' customer base and financial position for the coming years, and also impact development and capital needs of the firm. Which was the right model to bring the device to market and have a meaningful impact?

    Keywords: DNA Sequencing; life sciences; business model; innovation & entrepreneurship; Health Care and Treatment; Genetics; Business Strategy; Biotechnology Industry; Pharmaceutical Industry; Technology Industry; Health Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry; United States;


    Hamermesh, Richard G., Joseph B. Fuller, and Matthew Preble. "GenapSys: Business Models for the Genome." Harvard Business School Case 814-050, January 2014. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  14. Intrapreneurship at DaVita HealthCare Partners

    Joseph B. Fuller, David J. Collis and Matthew G. Preble

    Josh Golomb, president and general manager of DaVita Rx (Rx), was about to meet with Kent Thiry, CEO of Rx's corporate parent, DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc. (DaVita), in August 2013. The two would discuss whether Golomb should lead a new DaVita venture, Paladina Health (Paladina), which operated a network of primary care clinics.
    DaVita had launched Paladina in early 2011, and the startup was struggling to gain traction: Paladina had already used a significant amount of the $40 million in funding committed by DaVita; the company's primary care clinics had not yet reached the number of patients necessary to sustain a profitable business; and it was in the midst of trying to integrate with another primary care clinic operator that it had acquired years earlier but was just now merging into Paladina.
    Although the startup was young and still finding its way in an emerging industry, Thiry believed that Paladina would benefit from Golomb's experiences at Rx, which had also struggled in its early years. The situation at Rx became so precarious at one point that many of DaVita's senior leaders wanted to shut it down entirely. Rx made it through those challenging early years though, and was expected to exceed $600 million in revenues for 2013.
    However, Golomb wondered how relevant his Rx experience was to Paladina. Rx was closely tied to its parent company—DaVita provided dialysis services to patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and Rx supplied medications to ESRD patients—while Paladina's connection to DaVita was less obvious. If Golomb took the job, what could he do to make Paladina's clinics as efficient as possible in terms of service and its economics, without compromising on its value proposition? Was Paladina just too different of a business to be part of the DaVita family?
    This case offers an example of "intrapreneurship"—i.e. entrepreneurial ventures launched within large companies—at a Fortune 500 company. DaVita has already had a successful experience launching Rx (after some difficult early years), and the company is now even serving patients from some of DaVita's leading competitors. However, Paladina is the company's first intrapreneurial venture outside of its core focus of serving end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients—DaVita's main function is to provide dialysis services to ESRD patients and Rx provides medication to ESRD patients. Can Paladina succeed simply by following Rx's example, or will it face different challenges?

    Keywords: Intrapreneurship; entrepreneurial organizations; startup management; Startup; strategic planning; strategic positioning; corporate strategy; corporate entrepreneurship; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Corporate Strategy; Business Startups; Strategic Planning; Competitive Strategy; Health Industry; United States;


    Fuller, Joseph B., David J. Collis, and Matthew G. Preble. "Intrapreneurship at DaVita HealthCare Partners." Harvard Business School Case 315-046, February 2015. (Revised October 2016.) View Details
  15. Terrapin Laboratory

    Richard G. Hamermesh and Joseph B. Fuller

    Describes the formation and rapid growth of a drug testing company. The company needs to decide whether to enter the painkiller testing market, in addition to growing its drug treatment center business. The associated teaching materials provide students the opportunity to weigh the attractiveness of alternative mechanisms for financing the company's expansion.

    Keywords: Business growth; entrepreneurial management; entrepreneurship; growth strategy; Market entry; venture capital; Growth Management; Expansion; Financing and Loans; Health Care and Treatment; Health Testing and Trials; Business Startups; Pharmaceutical Industry; Health Industry;


    Hamermesh, Richard G., and Joseph B. Fuller. "Terrapin Laboratory." Harvard Business School Case 315-098, March 2015. (Revised September 2016.) View Details