Stuart C. Gilson

Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration

Professor Stuart Gilson is the Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, and former chairman of the Finance Unit.  His research, teaching, and consulting focuses on the financial, business, and legal strategies that companies use to revitalize their business, improve performance, and create value when facing significant financial and operating challenges.  He is an expert on corporate restructuring, valuation, business bankruptcy, credit analysis, and financial strategy.

Professor Gilson’s research has been published by leading academic and practitioner journals and has been cited by the national news media, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Business Week, The Economist, and Bloomberg.  His work has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Graham and Dodd Award for his article on investment strategies used by hedge funds to acquire control of distressed companies. He has also written more than sixty HBS case studies that are used in business schools around the world.  His best-selling book,  Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring: Case Studies in Bankruptcies, Buyouts, and Breakups (John-Wiley), is now in its second edition.

He is the recipient of the Charles M. Williams award in recognition of outstanding teaching in executive education at Harvard Business School.  He currently teaches in the Advanced Management Program (AMP) and various other executive programs including YPO/WPO and Finance For Senior Executives.  For twenty years he taught one of the most popular MBA courses at HBS, Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring.

Professor Gilson consults for a variety of companies and organizations.  He is a director of Advanced Alloy Processing LLC, and served on the advisory boards of the Turnaround Management Association and several investment funds.  He provides expert testimony in corporate litigation, and is an academic affiliate of Cornerstone Research, a leading economic consulting firm.  He also teaches Finance in custom executive training programs that he designs for individual client companies.

  1. Corporate Restructuring and Business Insolvency: Economic Impact and Best Practices

    by Stuart C. Gilson

    Stuart C. Gilson is studying how severe financial distress impacts corporate policies and economic resource allocation. He is also studying how managers can best respond to financial distress in order to preserve and grow value. He is undertaking this research through a combination of field research and large-sample analysis. Much of his work focuses on the role of corporate bankruptcy law in the resolution of financial distress. His past research in this area has considered how management tenure and corporate governance are affected in firms that reorganize in Chapter 11. He has also studied what factors help or hinder the restructuring process and the likelihood of a successful reorganization. For example, he has shown that negotiations in Chapter 11 often break down because competing classes of claimholders come to the negotiations with widely divergent (and deliberately biased) estimates of what the firm is worth. In one ongoing project, he is studying how bankruptcy laws differ across a large sample of countries, to determine how (or whether) the characteristics of a country's bankruptcy laws affect managers' willingness to take risks. In another project, he is studying how efficiently priced are the debt and equity claims of firms in Chapter 11, in an attempt to understand how active trading in these claims (which has increased dramatically in recent years) affects the resolution of financial distress. Finally, he is studying bankrupt firms' increasing use of asset sales (through so-called "Section 363" transactions) to restructure their balance sheets (as opposed to traditional consenual reorganizations under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code).