Jan W. Rivkin

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.

Rivkin's scholarly work has appeared 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 this 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.

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. His work in this domain focuses on (a) how managers choose to locate business activities in the United States or elsewhere and (b) how business leaders can best work with educators to improve America's schools.

Rivkin currently teaches the core business strategy course in the first year of the MBA Program.  Until recently, he taught strategy in HBS's Advanced Management Program as well as an MBA elective that he developed, Advanced Competitive Strategy: Integrating the Enterprise. The 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 his teaching and research, Rivkin has completed case studies on Airborne Express, BMG Entertainment, Dell, Delta Air Lines, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Husky Injection Molding Systems, LEGO, Lycos, Microsoft, Ryanair, Whirlpool Corporation, and Yahoo, among others.

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.