Doctoral Student

Johnathan R Cromwell

Johnathan is a doctoral student in Management at Harvard Business School.  Before joining the program in 2012, he graduated from MIT with a degree in Chemical-Biological Engineering and conducted research with several faculty in the Organizational Behavior Unit at HBS.  He made his transition from engineering to management research because he realized that technologies are created by and for people, and he always found himself drawn to questions about the human side of innovation.  In particular, he is interested in understanding the processes behind the creation and adoption of radical innovations.  Previously, he has conducted research on innovation in teams, exploring how teams can collaborate to create highly innovative solutions when they are faced with particularly complex problems and are working under heightened pressure.  

Currently, he is interested in understanding the dynamics surrounding radical or disruptive innovations.  Such periods of radical change are marked by intense levels of uncertainty, which makes it difficult to predict which technologies are more likely to succeed and which are more likely to fail.  For example, 3D printers have recently been introduced as a radical innovation that will disrupt traditional manufacturing, and there are hundres of companies trying to develop a viable 3D printer for consumers.  However, there is little clarity as to which company will emerge as dominant, let alone whether the technology will succeed at all.  To approach these questions, he is working to develop a new theoretical framework that aims to illustrate the processes behind the adoption of radical innovations, which will improve our overall understanding of technological change more generally.  

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