Doctoral Student

Johnathan R Cromwell

Johnathan is a doctoral student in the Management program 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 members 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 or disruptive innovations.  Today there are numerous new technologies that are all promising to change the way our economy operates or the way we carry out our everyday lives.  Artificial intelligence is changing the way we interact with technology; 3D printing is changing the way we manufacture goods; solar and battery technologies are changing the way we consume energy; and cloud computing is changing the way we conduct business and interact with each other.

Where do these radical innovations come from?  How do they get created?  Once they’re created, why do some radical innovations get adopted while others get rejected?  To approach these questions, his research explores the micro-dynamics associated with individuals and teams.  Currently, his research focuses on innovation in teams.  Recent studies have shown that experts are becoming increasingly specialized, meaning that people need to collaborate more often to solve problems and innovate.  While such collaboration increases the ability of teams to develop radical innovation and leads to more innovative solutions overall, the reality is that many teams are unsuccessful and break down for a number of reasons.  His research specifically explores how teams can take advantage of the positive effects of working in teams while avoiding the negative effects to increase their chances of successfully developing a radical innovation.  

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