Jay O. Light

George F. Baker Professor of Administration, Emeritus

Jay Light is Dean Emeritus of Harvard Business School and the George F. Baker Professor of Administration Emeritus. He learned his bachelor's degree in engineering physics with highest honors from Cornell in 1963. He then worked in satellite guidance and systems planning at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. He enrolled in the doctoral program in decision and control theory at Harvard in 1966, earning his doctorate four years later. He joined the faculty of HBS in December 1969. After a brief leave of absence from 1977 to 1979 to serve as director of investment and financial policies for the Ford Foundation, he returned to HBS as a full professor.

Light was named Interim Dean in 2005 and Dean the following year. During his tenure, he has overseen the renovation and restoration of Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, which houses the world's preeminent collection of business books and archival materials. He presided over the yearlong celebration of the School's centennial in 2008, reconnecting with alumni around the world and leading discussions on the future of MBA education. He has navigated HBS through the financial challenges of the global economic crisis, deploying a strategy that simultaneously reduced expenses and maintained investments in areas of long-term strategic importance, including faculty research and student financial aid.

Light has overseen a range of innovations in the School's MBA program, including the new January term, Immersion Experience Programs (a portfolio of faculty-led seminars in selected regions around the world), and the launch and development of joint degree programs with Harvard's Medical School and Kennedy School. He has fostered new faculty initiatives in healthcare, science-based business, and business and the environment, and expanded the Global Initiative with the opening of a research center in India and a new facility in China.

Light previously served as Chairman of the Finance area (1986-1988), Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Planning (1988-1994), and Senior Associate Dean and Director of Planning and Development (1998-2005) at HBS. In this last role he led the School's strategic planning efforts and helped shape new educational and research program initiatives.

Light has taught thousands of students in the School's MBA and doctoral programs, and in various executive programs for CFOs and investment managers. He is the co-author (with W.L. White) of The Financial System (1979) as well as numerous articles and more than 70 cases and notes. His interests include asset management, risk management, negotiation and deal structuring, and corporate finance. He has explored strategic business decisions in the money management industry and related fields. He also has examined how negotiation analysis and related techniques can be used in structuring financial transactions in the context of entrepreneurial situations, and to enhance value in private equity investments.

Light, originally from Ohio, lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his wife, Judy; they are the parents of two grown children.

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  1. The Institutionalization of Wealth: Changing Patterns of Investment Decision-Making

    Keywords: Decision Making; Trends; Investment; Wealth;


    Perold, André, and Jay O. Light. "The Institutionalization of Wealth: Changing Patterns of Investment Decision-Making." In Wall Street and Regulation, edited by Samuel L. Hayes III, 97–126. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1987. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. FrontPoint Partners

    A hedge fund platform, a new and unique kind of asset management firm, contemplates various client markets for its services.

    Keywords: Asset Management; Investment; Demand and Consumers; Market Platforms; Service Delivery; Financial Services Industry;


    Light, Jay O. "FrontPoint Partners." Harvard Business School Case 204-020, July 2003. (Revised June 2010.) View Details
  2. Virtualis Systems (A)

    Describes a second-year MBA's attempts to make money for a fledgling Web-hosting business. As the case ends, he must both sort out the company's business model and financing needs, as well as select from an array of financing and acquisition alternatives.

    Keywords: Mergers and Acquisitions; Business Model; Business Startups; Financial Strategy; Financing and Loans; Web Services Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Michael J. Roberts. "Virtualis Systems (A)." Harvard Business School Case 800-003, November 1999. (Revised October 2009.) View Details
  3. Publishing Group of America (A)

    A small start-up in the publishing business compares three possible alternatives for its new round of equity financing.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Venture Capital; Equity; Financing and Loans; Information Publishing; United States;


    Light, Jay O., Michael J. Roberts, and Taslim Pirmohamed. "Publishing Group of America (A)." Harvard Business School Case 202-036, January 2002. (Revised July 2007.) View Details
  4. The Harrison and HIA

    A large East Coast insurance company is thinking of selling its investment management subsidiary. Several Eurobanks are thinking of acquiring this subsidiary.

    Keywords: Acquisition; Business Subsidiaries; Investment; Bids and Bidding; Negotiation; Valuation; Insurance Industry;


    Light, Jay O. "The Harrison and HIA." Harvard Business School Case 205-123, June 2005. (Revised November 2005.) View Details
  5. Investment Policy at New England Healthcare

    The Investment Committee of New England Healthcare must decide how to invest three long-term investment pools: a long-term, endowment-type fund and two pension plans. In particular, the committee is evaluating whether the two pension funds--one is a "final salary" pension plan, the other a "cash balance" pension plan--should have special investment considerations due to the unique characteristics of these plans' liabilities.

    Keywords: Decisions; Asset Management; Investment; Investment Portfolio; Policy; Taxation; Health Industry; England;


    Light, Jay O., Luis M. Viceira, and Akiko M. Mitsui. "Investment Policy at New England Healthcare." Harvard Business School Case 204-018, July 2003. (Revised December 2003.) View Details
  6. A Short Note on the AccuFlow Excel Model

    Describes an Excel spreadsheet workbook that facilitates the analysis of AccuFlow, Inc.

    Keywords: History; Data and Data Sets; Cost of Capital; Negotiation; Capital; Business Model; Economic Systems; Machinery and Machining; Leveraged Buyouts; Business Startups; Equity;


    Light, Jay O. "A Short Note on the AccuFlow Excel Model." Harvard Business School Background Note 203-089, March 2003. View Details
  7. Intuitive Surgical - Negotiating the Deal

    Two cofounders of a company enter into a negotiation to set the terms of a start-up in the field of laparoscopic surgery.

    Keywords: Negotiation Tactics; Negotiation Style; Negotiation Deal; Health Care and Treatment; Business Startups; Health Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Anthony Massaro. "Intuitive Surgical - Negotiating the Deal." Harvard Business School Case 202-094, January 2002. (Revised March 2002.) View Details
  8. Virtualis Systems (Condensed)

    Focuses on a graduating HBS MBA who has been working part-time with a Web-hosting firm in California. Discusses the question of which of several "business models" make the most sense for the company to pursue.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Business Model; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Strategy; Cost vs Benefits; SWOT Analysis; Management Practices and Processes; Web Services Industry; California;


    Roberts, Michael J., and Jay O. Light. "Virtualis Systems (Condensed)." Harvard Business School Case 802-130, January 2002. (Revised March 2002.) View Details
  9. Arepa

    This case illustrates the importance of structuring negotiations with large companies and investors that are critical to a start-up's success. It depicts a firm with innovative technology that contracts with giant companies in order to survive. It also demonstrates how the company's management must be flexible when constructing a business model that will accommodate the positions of its strategic partners and investors. Arepa must decide which business model to adopt and how to sequence and structure negotiations with distribution partners, content providers, and investors. All of the decisions interrelate.

    Keywords: Negotiation; Organizational Structure; Entrepreneurship; Technological Innovation; Business or Company Management; Business Model; Partners and Partnerships; Business Startups;


    Light, Jay O., and Daniel J. Green. "Arepa." Harvard Business School Case 201-008, August 2000. (Revised February 2002.) View Details
  10. Security Factors

    A very successful entrepreneur who has built a factoring business in Atlanta is trying to decide how to sell this business. The issues are how to value the company and the strategy of selling.

    Keywords: Business Exit or Shutdown; Entrepreneurship; Negotiation; Strategy; Valuation; Atlanta;


    Light, Jay O. "Security Factors." Harvard Business School Case 201-084, March 2001. (Revised November 2001.) View Details
  11. Bang Networks- The First Customer (A)

    In November 2000, six-month-old start-up Bang Networks is preparing a proposal for its first paid subscription contract. The recent MBA founders of the new San Francisco--based company believe they have a unique new solution for effective delivery of real-time Web content. This case discusses how to negotiate with the large media company that has been an early beta customer and that Bang could really use as a referenceable customer as it approaches its formal launch.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Negotiation Tactics; Online Technology; Valuation; Value Creation; Negotiation Preparation; Information Technology Industry; San Francisco;


    Light, Jay O., and Mary N. Caravella. "Bang Networks- The First Customer (A)." Harvard Business School Case 201-111, June 2001. View Details
  12. GetConnected

    An embryonic Internet-based telecom marketing firm considers its first (seed) round of funding. They are choosing between a fixed price round and a discounted convertible round.

    Keywords: Internet; Financing and Loans; Business Startups; Telecommunications Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Daniel J. Green. "GetConnected." Harvard Business School Case 201-010, June 2001. View Details
  13. Infinata: The Quest for Human Resource Venture Capital

    A potential start-up in the Web-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is considering a deal with a software developer.

    Keywords: Negotiation; Negotiation Deal; Customer Relationship Management; Web; Business Startups; Information Technology Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Anthony Massaro. "Infinata: The Quest for Human Resource Venture Capital." Harvard Business School Case 201-032, June 2001. View Details
  14. eSurg (A): Negotiating the Start-Up

    The founders of an online medical supplies firm must negotiate with an established hospital distributor and a venture capital firm.

    Keywords: Venture Capital; Negotiation; Internet; Financing and Loans; Business Startups; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Anthony Massaro. "eSurg (A): Negotiating the Start-Up." Harvard Business School Case 201-050, February 2001. (Revised June 2001.) View Details
  15. eSurg (B): Second Round Financing

    An embryonic online medical supplies firm must negotiate a second-round funding.

    Keywords: Business Startups; Negotiation; Venture Capital; Financing and Loans; Internet; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Anthony Massaro. "eSurg (B): Second Round Financing." Harvard Business School Case 201-051, February 2001. (Revised June 2001.) View Details
  16. California PERS (B)

    The largest state pension fund continues the evolution of its approach to corporate governance contemplating "relationship investing" and other new approaches.

    Keywords: Investment; Corporate Governance; Financial Management; Asset Management; Business and Shareholder Relations; Investment Funds; Financial Services Industry; California;


    Light, Jay O., Jay W. Lorsch, James O. Sailer, and Katharina Pick. "California PERS (B)." Harvard Business School Case 201-091, February 2001. View Details
  17. California PERS (A)

    Examines California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), the world's fourth largest pension fund. Dale Hanson, CEO of CalPERS, has a problem; how does he use CalPERS' influence as the holder of a small percentage of 1,300 American companies to put pressure on corporate America to achieve better returns for shareholders? The case discusses the constraints which confront CalPERS as a quasi-state agency and describes their efforts to improve corporate governance to date.

    Keywords: Employees; Retirement; System; Asset Pricing; Performance Improvement; Corporate Governance; Investment Funds; Investment Return; California;


    Light, Jay O., Jay W. Lorsch, and James O. Sailer. "California PERS (A)." Harvard Business School Case 291-045, July 1991. (Revised August 2000.) View Details
  18. Last Mile of Broadband Access, The: Technical Note

    Provides an overview of broadband access technology. Includes technical overviews of cable, DSL, fixed wireless, and satellite systems, and suggests the technical suitability of each to accommodate broadband applications.

    Keywords: Business Model; Infrastructure; Internet; Wireless Technology;


    Light, Jay O., Lynda M. Applegate, and Daniel J. Green. "Last Mile of Broadband Access, The: Technical Note." Harvard Business School Technical Note 800-076, September 1999. (Revised January 2000.) View Details
  19. Revolution in the Communications Switching Industry

    As data packet switches threatened the voice circuit switch industry in 1999, major switch and router vendors began paying high premiums to acquire venture-backed switch companies. This note explains what a switch is and suggests why large vendors might be so anxious to acquire new technology.

    Keywords: Acquisition; Restructuring; Capital; Technology; Technology Adoption; Communications Industry; Electronics Industry;


    Light, Jay O., Lynda M. Applegate, and Daniel J. Green. "Revolution in the Communications Switching Industry." Harvard Business School Background Note 800-121, September 1999. View Details
  20. Wireless Telecom Negotiation

    A venture capital/private equity fund is preparing to negotiate with the two parties in a prospective PCS joint venture: the entrepreneur and AT&T Wireless. The negotiation will decide how equity and control are shared in the venture.

    Keywords: Joint Ventures; Entrepreneurship; Venture Capital; Private Equity; Governance Controls; Negotiation Deal; Wireless Technology; Telecommunications Industry;


    Light, Jay O. "Wireless Telecom Negotiation." Harvard Business School Case 299-029, November 1998. (Revised April 1999.) View Details
  21. AccuFlow, Inc.

    A small hydraulic-valve manufacturer attempts a second buyout in order to take out its current equity partners. A three-way deal must be negotiated between management, the new mezzanine lender, and the departing equity owners.

    Keywords: Negotiation Types; Leveraged Buyouts; Equity; Manufacturing Industry; Industrial Products Industry;


    Light, Jay O. "AccuFlow, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 299-079, March 1999. (Revised April 1999.) View Details
  22. B.F. Goodrich-Rabobank Interest Rate Swap

    A U.S. manufacturing organization and a Eurobank swap fixed and floating rate obligations to reduce their financing costs.

    Keywords: Financing and Loans; Cost Management; Production; Interest Rates; Credit Derivatives and Swaps; Auto Industry; Financial Services Industry; United States;


    Light, Jay O. "B.F. Goodrich-Rabobank Interest Rate Swap." Harvard Business School Case 284-080, March 1984. (Revised August 1996.) View Details
  23. Note on Commodity Futures

    Describes how commodity futures work, what products and exchanges are available, and who the players in the commodity markets are. Also presents a careful discussion of the pricing of futures in commodity markets, focusing on cost of carry and risk premium approaches, and explaining backwardation and contango markets.

    Keywords: Futures and Commodity Futures;


    Froot, Kenneth A., Jay O. Light, and Nancy Donohue. "Note on Commodity Futures." Harvard Business School Background Note 293-018, July 1992. (Revised May 1996.) View Details
  24. Yale University Investments Office

    Yale University's investment office was responsible for managing its endowment, which totaled nearly $4 billion in June 1995. Yale had developed a rather different approach to endowment management, including substantial investments in "less efficient" equity markets such as private equity, real estate, and "absolute return" investments. The investment office was now considering devoting even more of their assets to these markets.

    Keywords: Assets; Private Equity; Investment; Investment Return; Management; Markets; Strategy; Education Industry;


    Lerner, Josh, and Jay O. Light. "Yale University Investments Office." Harvard Business School Case 296-040, December 1995. (Revised December 1995.) View Details
  25. An Investment Linked to Commodity Futures

    Describes a new investment which is linked to an index of commmodity futures prices. Explores how the index is constructed, how commodity futures (as opposed to other futures and spot prices) behave, and what the portfolio impacts of such an investment might be.

    Keywords: commodity market; investment management; portfolio management; Financial Markets; Investment; Investment Portfolio; Futures and Commodity Futures;


    Froot, Kenneth A., Jay O. Light, and Nancy Donohue. "An Investment Linked to Commodity Futures." Harvard Business School Case 293-017, July 1992. (Revised January 1995.) View Details
  26. World Pension Fund Markets

    Presents a comparative description and analysis of pension funds in different countries. There is a special focus on comparing the United States and the United Kingdom.

    Keywords: Retirement; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Investment Funds; United States; United Kingdom;


    Light, Jay O., and Jon Headley. "World Pension Fund Markets." Harvard Business School Background Note 295-027, August 1994. View Details
  27. Scudder, Stevens & Clark

    A large multi-product investment counseling firm considers its positioning in the mutual fund business.

    Keywords: Investment; Investment Funds; Product Positioning; Consulting Industry; Service Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and James O. Sailer. "Scudder, Stevens & Clark." Harvard Business School Case 294-026, August 1993. (Revised December 1993.) View Details
  28. Dimensional Fund Advisors: 1993

    A small California-based money manager is now offering specialty products for institutional investors based upon recent financial research findings.

    Keywords: Financial Instruments; Investment; Financial Services Industry; California;


    Light, Jay O. "Dimensional Fund Advisors: 1993." Harvard Business School Case 294-025, August 1993. (Revised October 1993.) View Details
  29. Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc.

    A New York-based money manager owns a sizable percentage of the common shares of Cleveland-Cliffs, a U.S. iron ore producer. The money manager would prefer that Cliffs pay out or otherwise return $100 million of "excess cash" to the shareholders. The management resists this suggestion, and instead argues for investing in the business. The money manager offers an alternative partial slate of directors.

    Keywords: Asset Management; Financial Strategy; Mining; Business and Shareholder Relations; Financial Services Industry;


    Light, Jay O. "Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc." Harvard Business School Case 293-051, September 1992. (Revised September 1993.) View Details
  30. Note on the Pricing of Mortgage-Backed Securities

    An introduction to mortgage-backed securities, prepayment risk, and their market pricing.

    Keywords: Price; Debt Securities; Mortgages; Financial Services Industry;


    Light, Jay O., and Jeremy C. Stein. "Note on the Pricing of Mortgage-Backed Securities." Harvard Business School Background Note 287-060, January 1987. (Revised March 1989.) View Details


Other Publications and Materials