Anita Elberse

Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration

Anita Elberse is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. 

An award-winning teacher and scholar, Professor Elberse develops and teaches a course on Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, covering the businesses of entertainment, media, and sports, which ranks among the most sought-after courses in the School’s curriculum for MBA students. She is the faculty chair of a new executive education program on the business of entertainment, and she teaches in other short programs for executives. In her research, Professor Elberse primarily aims to understand what drives the success of products in the entertainment, media, sports, and other creative industries, and how firms can develop effective marketing strategies for such products. She is acclaimed for her work on digital-media strategies. Professor Elberse has conducted case studies on dozens of entertainment companies, personalities, and other entities. Many of these are described in her first book, Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment.

Professor Elberse is one of the youngest female professors to have been promoted to full professor with tenure in Harvard Business School's history.

Anita Elberse is the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

Professor Elberse develops and teaches a course on Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries, covering the businesses of entertainment, media, and sports, which ranks among the most sought-after courses in the School’s curriculum for MBA students. She is the faculty chair of a new executive education program on the business of entertainment, and she teaches in other short programs for executives. Poets & Quants named her one of the world's 40 best business school professors under the age of 40, and she has received teaching awards on multiple occasions from both the Harvard Business School and its students, including the Charles M. Williams Award for excellence in teaching, "Best of EC Year" honors (for top faculty teaching in the Elective Curriculum), and the Faculty Teaching Award.

In her research, Professor Elberse primarily aims to understand what drives the success of products in the entertainment, media, sports, and other creative industries, and how firms can develop effective marketing strategies for such products. She is acclaimed for her work on digital-media strategies, and frequently uses econometric modeling techniques to examine marketing problems. Her work has been published in the Harvard Business Review, Marketing Science, the Journal of Marketing, and several other journals. She was named a Marketing Science Institute Young Scholar in 2011, and serves on the editorial boards of Marketing Science and the Journal of Advertising Research.

Professor Elberse has conducted case studies on dozens of entertainment companies, personalities, and other entities. These include record label A&M/Octone Records, cable operator Comcast, book publisher Grand Central Publishing, online video provider Hulu, the campaign for Jay-Z's book Decoded by advertising agency Droga5, entertainment company Marvel Enterprises, nightlife business Marquee, the Metropolitan Opera, sports leagues MLB and the NFL, soccer clubs Real Madrid and Boca Juniors, Vogue magazine, soccer coach Sir Alex Ferguson, and superstars Lady Gaga, LeBron James, and Maria Sharapova. Many of these case studies are described in her first book, Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment, which Amazon named one of its Best Books of 2013.

Prior to joining Harvard Business School, professor Elberse was a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She holds a PhD from London Business School, an MA in Communication from the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California, and an MA in Communication Science from the University of Amsterdam (cum laude). A native of The Netherlands but now an American citizen, she was awarded a Netherland-America Foundation/Fulbright Fellowship.

Professor Elberse is one of the youngest female professors to have been promoted to full professor with tenure in Harvard Business School's history.

  1. Strategic Marketing in Creative Industries (MBA)

    This second-year MBA course is primarily designed for students pursuing a career in the creative industries, such as film, television, music, publishing, video games, the performing arts, sports, fashion, and advertising, or who plan to work in companies that advise or support those sectors. It may also be interesting for students seeking to advance their knowledge of strategic marketing in the context of a challenging, rapidly changing environment. The course revolves around three questions:
    1. How can firms best allocate resources across a portfolio of projects and for one project over time? For example, does it pay to pursue a "blockbuster" strategy?
    2. How can firms best approach the management and marketing of creative talent? In particular, how should companies invest in and capture value from superstars and the teams to which they belong?
    3. How are digital technologies changing the creative industries? For instance, how are firms affected by – and how can they benefit from – the increased pressure on prices and the larger assortments offered online? 
    Cases focus on established and emerging firms, products, and personalities in media, sports, and other entertainment industries. Examples include Marvel Enterprises, Grand Central Publishing, Warner Bros., Octone Records, Vogue, Real Madrid, Boca Juniors, Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson, Maria Sharapova, LeBron James, MGM, Lady Gaga, The Metropolitan Opera, Radiohead, Hulu, Major League Baseball, the NFL, Droga5 and Jay-Z, and Marquee.
  2. The Business of Entertainment, Media, and Sports (Executive Education)

    In the business of entertainment, digital technologies are dramatically disrupting the way products are developed, marketed, and distributed. As a result of this paradigm shift, entertainment executives and content producers are challenged to effectively allocate limited resources—both human and financial—across a seemingly infinite array of fragmented channels in order to survive. With an increasing number of musicians, athletes, stars, and authors promoting their brands via a wide range of online and offline channels, intermediaries must reinvent their strategies to compete effectively. This innovative new program provides proven approaches for marketing creative products and portfolios, managing and marketing talent, determining when to make smaller versus blockbuster bets, and identifying and capitalizing on market disruptions.