Willy C. Shih

Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration

Willy Shih is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration.  He is part of the Technology and Operations Management Unit, and he teaches in the MBA and Executive Education Programs.  His expertise is in manufacturing and product development, and he has written or co-authored more than 125 cases and teaching materials in industries ranging from semiconductors, information technology, consumer electronics, aerospace, transportation equipment, manufacturing processes and tools, and intellectual property.  His paper, “Restoring American Competitiveness,” co-authored with Gary Pisano, won the 2009 McKinsey Award.  His recent book, “Producing Prosperity – Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance,” co-authored with Gary Pisano, has called attention to the link between manufacturing and innovation.  He is also the author of “Back Bay Battery,” a best-selling innovation simulation.

Prior to coming to HBS in 2007, Willy spent 28 years in industry at IBM, Digital Equipment, Silicon Graphics, Eastman Kodak, and Thomson SA.  He worked in product development and manufacturing in a wide range of areas including computer systems, scientific instruments, semiconductors, digital cameras, optical discs and software systems.  Reporting to him have been major manufacturing operations in the United States, China, Ireland, Japan, and Mexico, as well as global sales and marketing operations.  He has led the building of billion dollar revenue businesses.  He was an architect of IBM’s collaboration with Apple and Motorola in the early 1990s, he initiated and managed Eastman Kodak’s digital still camera licensing program, and has led negotiations in numerous intellectual property disputes, including Eastman Kodak v. Sun Microsystems relating to technology in Java.

Willy is on the Board of Directors of Flextronics International, a large electronic manufacturing services provider, and also the Board of Directors of QD Vision, a pioneer in the commercial use of quantum dot technology.  He has S.B. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

  1. Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance

    Companies compete on the decisions they make. For years—even decades—in response to intensifying global competition, 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 US 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.
  2. 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 United States to make two drastic changes.  Read the full article