Stuart C. Gilson

Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration

Professor Stuart Gilson is the Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, and former chairman of the Finance Area of the School.  Professor Gilson’s research, teaching, and consulting activities focus on the operational, financial, and legal strategies that companies use to revitalize their business, improve performance, and create value when operating in a challenging business environment.  He is an expert on corporate restructuring, valuation, business bankruptcy, credit analysis, financial 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, and Bloomberg.  His work has received numerous honors, including the prestigious Graham and Dodd Award for his article on investment strategies used by credit-oriented investors to acquire control and create value in highly leveraged and financially distressed companies.

For twenty years he has taught one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s MBA curriculum, Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring.  He currently teaches in the Advanced Management Program, and has taught in a variety of Harvard’s other Executive Education programs, including Finance For Senior Executives, CEO/WPO, and Corporate Restructuring, Mergers and Acquisitions. He is the recipient of the Charles M. Williams award in recognition of outstanding teaching in executive education at Harvard Business School.

Professor Gilson has written more than sixty Harvard Business School case studies and teaching notes that are used in business schools throughout the world.  A number of these cases have been published in his book Creating Value Through Corporate Restructuring: Case Studies in Bankruptcies, Buyouts, and Breakups (John Wiley & Sons), now in its second edition.                                                                                                                

Professor Gilson serves as a consultant for a variety of companies and organizations.  He has provided focused executive training programs for a number of Fortune 500 companies.  He is currently a director of Advanced Alloy Processing LLC.  He has served on the advisory boards of various for-profit and non-profit organizations, including the Academic Advisory Board of the Turnaround Management Association (as co-chair) and several investment funds.  He provides expert testimony on business valuation, corporate restructuring and bankruptcy, credit analysis, and corporate finance, and is an academic affiliate of Cornerstone Research, a leading economic consulting firm. 

Professor Gilson received his B.A. degree from the University of Manitoba; his Masters degree from the University of British Columbia; and his Ph.D. in Finance from the University of Rochester, New York.  He lives with his wife in the town of Brookline, Massachusetts.

  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).