David E. Bell

George M. Moffett Professor of Agriculture and Business
Unit Head, Marketing

David E. Bell is the George M. Moffett Professor of Agriculture and Business at Harvard Business School. He teaches the MBA course in Agribusiness and also runs the annual Agribusiness Seminar that attracts 200 leading food executives each January to the HBS campus, and each year to one other location around the globe. The next such off-site seminar is in Shanghai in May 2014. He studies all aspects of the food chain, from farming to distribution to trends in consumer eating habits.

During 35 years on the HBS faculty David has taught a variety of courses to both MBAs and executives, including marketing, retailing, risk management and economics. Most recently he has taught the MBA Leadership and Corporate Accountability course. He has held a number of administrative positions at HBS including a previous term as chairman of the school’s marketing faculty (2002-8) and Senior Associate Dean for Planning and Recruiting (2008-12).

David has degrees in mathematics from Oxford University (BA) and MIT (PhD). He has published many papers on decision analysis, the best known being on psychological aspects of risk taking. In recognition of his research he was awarded the Ramsey Medal in 2001 and elected as an INFORMS Fellow in 2011.

Outside HBS, David is an active speaker and consultant. He currently serves as an advisor to Paine & Partners, and as a director of Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation.

  1. One-Switch Conditions for Multiattribute Utility Functions

    We introduce a variety of new independence conditions for multiattribute utility functions that permit preference dependencies among the attributes of a decision problem. The hierarchy of new conditions varies in the degree to which it specifies the functional form, ranging from more general solutions with weaker constraints, to more specific solutions with stronger constraints. This formulation provides a wealth of new functional forms that a decision maker may use in a multiattribute decision problem.
  2. KFC's Radical Approach to China

    Global companies face a crucial question when they enter emerging markets: how far should they go to localize their offerings? Typically they try to sell core products or services pretty much as they've been sold in Europe or the United States, with headquarters calling all the shots-and usually with disappointing results. The authors examined why KFC China has been able to find fertile ground in a market that is notoriously challenging for Western fast-food chains. KFC China offers important lessons for global executives seeking guidance in determining how much of their existing business model to keep in emerging markets-and how much to throw away.

  3. OSI in China

    OSI, one of the world's largest suppliers of processed meats to McDonald's and other QSRs, was in the middle of a $400M expansion in China that included backward integration into poultry production. However, its current customers took only a portion of each bird produced and OSI had to develop a go-to-market strategy for the rest. The case describes the opportunities and challenges of operating in China and raises questions involving vertical integration, competitive positioning, corporate strategy, organizational design, marketing and branding, and the management of business and political risk.