Doctoral Student

Johnathan R Cromwell

Johnathan graduated from MIT with a degree in Chemical-Biological Engineering in 2009.  Since then, he has worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School and joined the doctoral program in management.  He has two underlying interests that drive his research interests: the first is to understand the fundamental drivers of human behavior and the second is to apply that knowledge to understand the dynamics that separate innovation success from innovation failure.​  He is particularly interested in understanding the dynamics surrounding radical or disruptive innovations: during periods of radical change, why do some technologies succeed while others fail?  He believes that existing theories do not provide the right tools to find an answer, and he is working to develop a new theory to approach this question.

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Sheikh Mohammed and the Making of 'Dubai, Inc.'

    Anthony Mayo, Nitin Nohria, Umaimah Mendhro and Johnathan Cromwell

    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has converted Dubai from a sleepy little coastal village into a world-class city, famous for its ambition, drive, and economic promise. He is the founder, part-owner, and visionary behind companies such as Emirates Airlines, a UAE-based airline serving over 100 destinations; Nakheel, the property developer that built a trilogy of man-made islands; and DP World, a leader in international marine terminal operations. Despite being surrounded by political instability in the Middle East, Sheikh Mohammed pursued capitalism and embraced Western culture while maintaining safety for millions of annual tourists. By 2010, Dubai had the world's tallest building, the most expensive hotel, and the largest shopping mall. But rapid development did not come without difficulties. While hundreds of thousands immigrated to help build the metropolis, labor conditions suffered and some local Emirati felt like they lost aspects of their cultural identity. Growth was rapid, infrastructure was weak, and the real estate bubble grew as the financial crisis loomed. To produce economic, social, and cultural prosperity for the people of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed had to balance his role as a business leader and a political ruler.

    Keywords: Development Economics; Leadership Style; Emerging Markets; Personal Development and Career; Business and Community Relations; Business and Government Relations; Dubai;


    Mayo, Anthony, Nitin Nohria, Umaimah Mendhro, and Johnathan Cromwell. "Sheikh Mohammed and the Making of 'Dubai, Inc.'." Harvard Business School Case 410-063, February 2010. (Revised August 2010.) View Details