Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration
Unit Head, Strategy
Jan W. Rivkin is the Bruce V. Rauner Professor and chair of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School. His research, course development, and teaching efforts examine the interactions across functional and product boundaries within a firm – that is, the connections that link marketing, production, logistics, finance, human resource management, and other parts of a firm. His work analyzes, first, how such interactions constrain managerial behavior and, second, how managers use cognitive devices and organizational design to cope with decisions whose ramifications span boundaries. His scholarly work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Management Science, Organization Science, the Strategic Management Journal, the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Research Policy. Much of Rivkin’s scholarly work uses simulations of complex adaptive systems to examine the theoretical implications of cross-cutting interactions. His empirical work on the topic employs a mix of large-scale statistical studies, field research, and case studies.
Most of those case studies appear in the course Rivkin developed and currently teaches, Advanced Competitive Strategy: Integrating the Enterprise. This elective course aims to improve students’ ability to integrate across the parts of the companies they will manage. It gives students a body of concepts for thinking about cross-cutting interactions, a set of tools for making decisions with boundary-spanning implications, and in-class practice with such decisions. A comprehensive description of Advanced Competitive Strategy is available to fellow educators via Harvard Business School Publishing. In support of the course and related research, Rivkin has completed case studies on Airborne Express, BMG Entertainment, Dell, Delta Air Lines, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Husky Injection Molding Systems, Lycos, Microsoft, Ryanair, Whirlpool Corporation, and Yahoo, among others.
Until recently, Rivkin taught and led the core strategy course in the first year of the MBA Program and taught strategy in HBS's Advanced Management Program (AMP). His AMP offering aimed to equip executives with skills in sizing up an industry, positioning a firm for competitive advantage within an industry at a point in time, and sustaining that advantage over time in the face of competitive dynamics.
Rivkin also co-chairs HBS's project on the competitiveness of the United States. In that role, he has worked with a faculty team to explore steps that leaders--especially business leaders--can take to improve the ability of firms in the U.S. to win in the global marketplace and support American living standards.
Rivkin received his Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard. Earlier, he studied chemical engineering and public policy at Princeton and obtained a M.Sc. in economics from the London School of Economics on a Marshall Scholarship. Prior to pursuing his doctorate, Rivkin led case teams and managed client relationships at Monitor Company, a strategy consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Rivkin and his wife live in Newton, Massachusetts with their two sons.