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.

Journal Articles

  1. Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy

    For all its emphasis on data and number crunching, conventional strategic planning is not actually scientific. It lacks the hypothesis generation and testing that's at the heart of the scientific method. To produce novel and successful strategies, teams need to adopt a step-by-step process in which creative thinking yields possibilities, or hypotheses, and rigorous analysis tests them. They should ask what must be true for a given possibility to succeed—and explore whether those conditions hold.

    Keywords: Strategic Planning; Science;


    Lafley, A. G., Roger L. Martin, Jan W. Rivkin, and Nicolaj Siggelkow. "Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy." Harvard Business Review 90, no. 9 (September 2012). View Details
  2. The Looming Challenge to U.S Competitiveness

    The United States is a competitive location to the extent that companies operating in the U.S. are able to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for the average American. By this standard, U.S. competitiveness is in grave danger. The erosion of U.S. competitiveness began well before the Great Recession. The U.S. faces competition from a widening range of nations with lower wages and improving economic strategies. But a short-term focus in many businesses and political gridlock have prevented the U.S. from taking the steps needed to meet the challenge. The U.S. retains core strengths in areas such as entrepreneurship and higher education. However, these are increasingly nullified by weaknesses in the tax code, fiscal policy, K-12 education, and other areas. To address its challenges, America needs a strategy and a consensus on direction.  Government will play a crucial role, but business must lead the way.

    Keywords: Problems and Challenges; Competition;


    Porter, Michael E., and Jan W. Rivkin. "The Looming Challenge to U.S Competitiveness." Harvard Business Review 90, no. 3 (March 2012): 54–61. View Details
  3. Choosing the United States

    The U.S. is not winning its appropriate share of location decisions, even those involving the high-value-adding activities that the country has long been able to attract. In part, this is because U.S. policy makers are not addressing weaknesses in the national business environment and are doing little to fight economic distortions that disfavor location in the United States. In addition, executives are prone to leave or overlook U.S. locations because they ignore many hidden costs associated with offshoring and do not consider how to enhance the economic potential of U.S. locations. Although both government and business must urgently address some unnecessary weaknesses in the U.S. business environment, there are hopeful signs that sophisticated management teams are reevaluating their rush offshore and, in some instances, are moving high-end mobile activities back to the United States.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; United States;


    Porter, Michael E., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Choosing the United States." Harvard Business Review 90, no. 3 (March 2012): 80–91. View Details
  4. The Strategy Research Initiative: Recognizing and Encouraging High-quality Research in Strategy

    The Strategy Research Initiative—a cross-disciplinary group of mid-career, research-oriented faculty—has organized to coordinate activities that promote high-quality research in the field of strategy. This editorial essay summarizes the group's view of the characteristics of high-quality research in strategy, and it calls on journal editors, teachers, and individual scholars to act to foster these characteristics.

    Keywords: Strategy; Research; Quality; Personal Development and Career; Groups and Teams;


    Oxley, Joanne E., Jan Rivkin, Michael D. Ryall, and the Strategy Research Initiative. "The Strategy Research Initiative: Recognizing and Encouraging High-quality Research in Strategy." Strategic Organization 8, no. 4 (November 2010). View Details
  5. Hiding the Evidence of Valid Theories: How Coupled Search Processes Obscure Performance Differences Among Organizations

    Theorists argue that an organization's high-level choices, such as its organizational design or the attributes of its top management team, should influence its performance, yet empirical researchers have struggled to detect such influence. The impact of high-level choices may appear weak, we theorize, because the choices are embedded in coupled search processes. A coupled search process exists in an organization when managers search for high-level choices that shape the search for low-level, operational choices, which in turn determine performance. Using a simulation model, we show that coupled search processes obscure the performance impact of high-level choices through two mechanisms: (1) a survivor effect, arising because firms that persist with poor high-level choices are those that luckily happened on good low-level choices despite their poor high-level choices and (2) a wanderer effect, arising when firms use good high-level choices to find good low-level choices and achieve strong performance, but then wander toward poor high-level choices. We show that these effects are particularly strong in stable environments, and we identify empirical strategies that can tease out the true performance impact of high-level choices.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Management Teams; Organizational Design; Performance Effectiveness; Power and Influence; Balance and Stability;


    Siggelkow, Nicolaj, and Jan Rivkin. "Hiding the Evidence of Valid Theories: How Coupled Search Processes Obscure Performance Differences Among Organizations." Administrative Science Quarterly 54, no. 4 (December 2009): 602 – 634. View Details
  6. Response to Farjoun's 'Strategy Making, Novelty, and Analogical Reasoning' Commentary on Gavetti, Levinthal, and Rivkin (2005)

    Keywords: Strategy; Cognition and Thinking; Communication;


    Gavetti, G., Daniel A. Levinthal, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Response to Farjoun's 'Strategy Making, Novelty, and Analogical Reasoning' Commentary on Gavetti, Levinthal, and Rivkin (2005)." Strategic Management Journal 29, no. 9 (September 2008). View Details
  7. Seek Strategy the Right Way at the Right Time

    Deliberate, emergent, and analogical approaches to finding the best strategy all have their advan-tages, depending on where an industry is in its life cycle. Be open to the best option at each juncture and wise enough to make the right call.

    Keywords: Strategy; Decision Choices and Conditions; Supply and Industry;


    Gavetti, G., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Seek Strategy the Right Way at the Right Time." Special Issue on HBS Centennial. Harvard Business Review 86, no. 1 (January 2008). View Details
  8. Estimating the Performance Effects of Business Groups in Emerging Markets

    Keywords: Performance; Groups and Teams; Emerging Markets;


    Khanna, Tarun, and J. Rivkin. "Estimating the Performance Effects of Business Groups in Emerging Markets." Strategic Management Journal 22, no. 1 (January 2001): 45–74. (Winner of Academy of Management. Business Policy and Strategy Division. Best Paper Award presented by Academy of Management.) View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Organizational Design: Balancing Search and Stability in Strategic Decision Making

    Managers often must make decisions that depend on decisions in other parts of the organization. These interactions create a network of interdependent choices and make strategizing difficult. In this chapter, the authors explore the intersection between organizing and strategizing. Motivated by real examples that run contrary to conventional wisdom, the authors examine how firms organize themselves to strategize well. In particular, they examine "premature lock-in"—how a firm's strategizing efforts can become stuck in a web of conflicting constraints prematurely, before managers have explored a wide enough range of possibilities. A key role of organizing is to free strategizing efforts and encourage broad search. At the same time, organizing must ensure that strategizing efforts stabilize after the firm discovers an effective set of choices. Balancing search and stability, the authors argue, is a central challenge of organizing. They explore this challenge with an agent-based simulation that shows (1) how a change in organizational structure, for example, a shift from decentralization to integration, may reflect not a reversal of early mistakes but an effective sequence of organizing; and (2) why firms may benefit from unnecessary overlap between departments. They conclude that a period of decentralization and unnecessary overlap can be seen as organizational mechanisms to ensure the broad, early search that a firm needs in order to cope with interactions among strategic decisions.

    Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Design; Strategy; Balance and Stability;


    Rivkin, Jan, and Nicolaj Siggelkow. "Organizational Design: Balancing Search and Stability in Strategic Decision Making." In The Network Challenge: Strategy, Profit, and Risk in an Interlinked World, edited by Paul R. Kleindorfer and Yoram Wind. Wharton School Publishing, 2009. View Details
  2. Informational Complexity and the Flow of Knowledge across Social Boundaries

    Keywords: Complexity; Boundaries; Information Management; Knowledge Dissemination;


    Fleming, Lee, J. Rivkin, and O. Sorenson. "Informational Complexity and the Flow of Knowledge across Social Boundaries." In Applied Evolutionary Economics and Economic Geography, edited by K. Frenken. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2007. View Details

Working Papers

  1. A Replication Study of Alan Blinder's 'How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?'

    In a 2007 working paper, Alan Blinder assessed the "offshorability" of hundreds of U.S. occupations and estimated that between 22% and 29% of all U.S. jobs were potentially offshorable. This note reports the results of an exercise in which members of Harvard Business School's MBA Class of 2009 collectively attempted to replicate Blinder's study. Overall, the MBA students' assessments of offshorability matched Blinder's well. Across occupations, the correlation between Blinder's offshorability rating and the students' was 0.60. The students estimated that between 21% and 42% of U.S. jobs are potentially offshorable. Echoing Blinder, the student data suggested a positive correlation between offshorability and education. The student data also revealed a positive or inverted-U relationship between offshorability and wage level, where Blinder found no correlation. While Blinder found a slight wage penalty for the most offshorable jobs, the student data exhibited no evidence of wage depreciation from job contestability due to offshoring.

    Keywords: Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Wages; Research; United States;


    Smith, Troy, and Jan W. Rivkin. "A Replication Study of Alan Blinder's 'How Many U.S. Jobs Might Be Offshorable?'." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-104, June 2008. View Details
  2. Coupled Search Processes: Why Is it so Difficult to Find that Organizational Design Matters?

    Organizational design affects performance via coupled search processes. At low frequency, managers search for appropriate organizational designs. At higher frequency, managers use designs to search for high-performing operational choices. The two searches are coupled: organizational design molds the choice among operational alternatives, and performance feedback from operational choices shapes design. Our simulation model shows how coupled search processes can dramatically obscure the true impact of design on performance, confounding empirical research. We identify research strategies for tackling this difficulty; discuss populationlevel advantages of coupled search processes; and highlight implications for analogous coupled search processes that shape networks, cognition, and capabilities.

    Keywords: Competency and Skills; Operations; Organizational Design; Performance; Networks; Research; Cognition and Thinking; Strategy;


    Siggelkow, Nicolaj, and Jan Rivkin. "Coupled Search Processes: Why Is it so Difficult to Find that Organizational Design Matters?" Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 07-106, June 2007. View Details

Cases and Teaching Materials

  1. Southwire and 12 For Life: Scaling Up? (A)

    Southwire, a leading maker of cable based in rural Georgia, has partnered with the local school system to staff a factory with at-risk high school students. The positive impact on student outcomes has been remarkable, and the factory makes a profit for the company. Now leaders of the effort wonder how they can encourage other businesses to launch similar win-win partnerships with educators.

    Keywords: Partners and Partnerships; Production; Education; Business and Community Relations; Manufacturing Industry; Education Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Ryan Lee. "Southwire and 12 For Life: Scaling Up? (A)." Harvard Business School Case 714-434, October 2013. View Details
  2. LEGO (A): The Crisis

    As this case opens, iconic toymaker LEGO stands on the brink of bankruptcy. Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, LEGO's young and newly appointed CEO, must size up changes in the toy industry, learn from the company's recent moves, and craft a strategy that will put LEGO back on track.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Competitive Strategy; Crisis Management; Insolvency and Bankruptcy; Consumer Products Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., Stefan H. Thomke, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "LEGO (A): The Crisis." Harvard Business School Case 713-478, February 2013. View Details
  3. Strategic Decline

    This note first documents the facts around the sustainability of competitive advantage. It then observes that the demise of a previously successful strategy, in the first instance, often comes from some change in the external environment. It, therefore, characterizes the types of change that can lead to strategic decline. But external change alone should not mean the end of superior performance since the skilled strategist ought to be able to adapt to such changes. The final part of the note looks inside the firm to examine why managers often fail to respond adequately to external threats and explains why it is valuable to study the causes of strategic decline.?????

    Keywords: Strategy; Situation or Environment; Risk and Uncertainty; Change Management;


    Collis, David J., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Strategic Decline." Harvard Business School Background Note 708-497, April 2008. (Revised July 2011.) View Details
  4. Strategic Renewal

    While it is relatively easy to identify why strategies fail, it is much harder to explain how to fix a failing strategy or build an organization that can continuously renew its strategy. This note identifies some patterns that distinguish companies whose renewal efforts made headway from firms whose efforts fell flat.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Failure; Strategy;


    Collis, David J., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Strategic Renewal." Harvard Business School Module Note 708-503, April 2008. (Revised July 2011.) View Details
  5. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2009

    This case, a supplement to the “Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001 (Abridged)” case (710-450) and the “Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2007” case (710-451), reviews the FBI's progress in its transformation effort from 2007 to 2009.

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Public Administration Industry; District of Columbia;


    Rivkin, Jan W., Michael Roberto, and Ranjay Gulati. "Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2009." Harvard Business School Case 710-452, March 2010. (Revised May 2010.) View Details
  6. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2007

    In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Robert Mueller, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), sought to transform the storied Bureau. The FBI had long served as both the chief law enforcement agency and the main domestic intelligence wing of the U.S. government. In practice, though, law enforcement had overshadowed intelligence at the FBI. The terrorist attacks made it tragically clear that the United States required a much stronger domestic intelligence service, and Mueller believed that that service should reside within the FBI. Critics, however, called for the Bureau to narrow its scope, focus on law enforcement, and cede domestic intelligence to a new, specialized agency. Should the FBI retain both the law enforcement mission and the domestic intelligence mission? If so, how should it change itself to succeed in both missions? This case, a supplement to the “Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2001 (Abridged)” case (710-450), reviews the FBI's progress from 2001 to 2007.

    Keywords: Transformation; Organizational Structure; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Government Administration; National Security; Corporate Strategy; Knowledge Acquisition; Law Enforcement; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Rivkin, Jan W., Michael Roberto, and Ranjay Gulati. "Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2007." Harvard Business School Case 710-451, March 2010. View Details
  7. Revitalizing Dell

    Dell Inc., with its vaunted Direct Model, defined success in the personal computer industry for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-2000s, however, the company fell on hard times. In 2009, Michael Dell and his management team must figure out why the Direct Model has faltered and what they can do to revitalize the company.

    Keywords: Business Model; Change Management; Industry Growth; Competitive Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Computer Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "Revitalizing Dell." Harvard Business School Case 710-442, February 2010. View Details
  8. Finding Information for Industry Analysis

    This note provides detailed instructions on finding resources for conducting industry analysis, with a special focus on resources available at Harvard Business School. It allows students to transition from doing a Five Forces analysis on the basis of a case, where all relevant facts are provided, to doing a Five Forces analysis in a work setting, without the benefit of a prepackaged case. Exhibits provide detailed information on top resources for industry analysis, instructions for accessing prominent databases, notes on using the Internet and other new media, and some publication-related tricks of the trade pertinent to each step in the industry analysis process.

    Keywords: Information; Five Forces Framework; Research; Competitive Strategy; Internet;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Ann Cullen. "Finding Information for Industry Analysis." Harvard Business School Background Note 708-481, January 2008. (Revised January 2010.) View Details
  9. How to Crack a Strategy Case

    Addresses a common concern among strategy students: "How should I tackle this case?" Describes a process for diagnosing a strategic situation, then generating, evaluating, and choosing among strategic options.

    Keywords: Decisions; Management Practices and Processes; Situation or Environment; Strategy; Valuation;


    Bradley, Stephen P., David J. Collis, Kevin P. Coyne, Andrei Hagiu, Mikolaj Jan Piskorski, Jan W. Rivkin, and John R. Wells. "How to Crack a Strategy Case." Harvard Business School Background Note 707-549, March 2007. (Revised February 2009.) View Details
  10. Microsoft's Search

    In 2008, executives at Microsoft must decide how to compete against Google in the market for Internet search and advertising. The case describes how Microsoft has responded to a set of competitive threats in the past, how Google has gained a dominant position in Internet search and advertising, and what Microsoft has done so far in its as-yet-unsuccessful effort to catch up with Google. The case then challenges students to construct a strategy that will allow Microsoft to achieve its objectives in the evolving market for search and advertising.

    Keywords: Online Advertising; Competitive Strategy; Internet; Search Technology; United States;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Eric J. Van den Steen. "Microsoft's Search." Harvard Business School Case 709-461, January 2009. View Details
  11. Offshoring Day in BGIE and Strategy

    Describes a set of activities in which students will participate before and during a day of classes on offshoring. The day's classes will examine the implications of offshoring for policy makers, business leaders, and workers.

    Keywords: Policy; Employees; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Labor; Management; Strategy;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Troy Smith. "Offshoring Day in BGIE and Strategy." Harvard Business School Background Note 708-492, February 2008. (Revised January 2009.) View Details
  12. Analyzing Relative Costs

    Introduces students to the technique of relative cost analysis, a core technique of strategists. Among the intricate quantitative analyses that strategists undertake, relative cost analysis may be the most common. The goal of a relative cost analysis is simply to estimate how a company's costs compare to a rival's. Companies examine relative costs for a host of reasons: to anticipate how a rival is likely to react to a price change; to predict how a price war may evolve; to test whether a cost advantage it believes it has is real and sustainable; to decide how low a company must bid in order to win a competitive contract from a rival; to identify opportunities for internal cost reduction; to estimate, in the context of an acquisition, how much the costs of an acquired company might be reduced and what a reasonable price might be for the company; and so forth.

    Keywords: Cost; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques; Mathematical Methods; Competition; Competitive Advantage;


    Halaburda, Hanna, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Analyzing Relative Costs." Harvard Business School Background Note 708-462, October 2007. (Revised January 2009.) View Details
  13. Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage

    It's great to have a blockbuster quarter or a revolutionary product or service, but true business excellence demands sustainability. Maintaining your competitive advantage requires a strategy that makes your business unique and carries you forward as the world around you changes. What makes a winning, sustainable strategy? Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage is a multimedia resource developed by ten faculty members in the Strategy Department at Harvard Business School. Included in this resource are faculty presentation, animated frameworks, print- and video-based case studies, and workbooks to help business leaders formulate action plans specific to their own companies.

    Keywords: Competitive Advantage;


    Anand, Bharat N., Stephen P. Bradley, Pankaj Ghemawat, Tarun Khanna, Cynthia A. Montgomery, Michael E. Porter, Jan W. Rivkin, Michael G. Rukstad, John R. Wells, and David B. Yoffie. "Strategy: Building and Sustaining Competitive Advantage." Harvard Business School Class Lecture 705-509, June 2005. (Revised September 2008.) View Details
  14. The Offshoring of America

    The movement from jobs in the United States to developing countries, in a process known as offshoring, has become quite a controversial topic. Managers not only need to decide which activities, if any, to move offshore, but where to move them. This case describes the nature of offshoring and its effect on developing countries.

    Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Operations; Business Processes; United States;


    Vietor, Richard H.K., Jan W. Rivkin, and Juliana Seminerio. "The Offshoring of America." Harvard Business School Case 708-030, February 2008. (Revised April 2008.) View Details
  15. Husky Injection Molding Systems

    Husky, a Canadian maker of injection molding systems, has established an enviable position in the market for plastics processing equipment. The company builds the highest performance systems in the business and charges a hefty premium for them. Husky is enjoying robust growth and record profits in 1996 when competitors attack its core markets. As financial results deteriorate rapidly, founder and CEO Robert Schad must decide how to defend Husky's traditional markets and whether to expand beyond those markets.

    Keywords: Market Entry and Exit; Rank and Position; Competition; Expansion; Industrial Products Industry; Canada;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "Husky Injection Molding Systems." Harvard Business School Case 799-157, May 1999. (Revised March 2008.) View Details
  16. Monitor's Opportunities in India (A)

    The CEO of a strategy consulting firm must decide which of the firm's functions, if any, to move to India. In particular, he wonders whether business research--currently conducted by highly paid consultants in developed countries--can be conducted more efficiently and effectively from an Indian research center.

    Keywords: Developing Countries and Economies; Job Cuts and Outsourcing; Business Strategy; Competitive Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Consulting Industry; India;


    Alcacer, Juan, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Monitor's Opportunities in India (A)." Harvard Business School Case 708-482, February 2008. View Details
  17. The British Motorcycle Industry at a Crossroads

    By 1975, the collapse of the British motorcycle industry is nearly complete. Only one British manufacturer, NVT, remains in operation. In this setting, the British government commissions the Boston Consulting Group to identify and evaluate strategic alternatives for NVT and its suppliers. This case summarizes what the consultants discovered as they sized up the global motorcycle industry and Britain's place in it.

    Keywords: Cost; Industry Structures; Business and Government Relations; Mathematical Methods; Competition; Consulting Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Motorcycle Industry; Great Britain;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "The British Motorcycle Industry at a Crossroads." Harvard Business School Case 703-031, January 2003. (Revised January 2008.) View Details
  18. Dogfight over Europe: Ryanair (A)

    In April 1986, the Ryan brothers announce that their fledging Irish airline Ryanair will soon commence service between Dublin and London. For the first time, Ryanair will face formidable competitors such as Aer Lingus and British Airways on a major route. Students are asked to assess Ryanair's entry and anticipate the response of incumbent carriers.

    Keywords: Market Entry and Exit; Competition; Air Transportation Industry; Republic of Ireland;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "Dogfight over Europe: Ryanair (A)." Harvard Business School Case 700-115, June 2000. (Revised November 2007.) View Details
  19. Organic Growth at Wal-Mart

    In 2005, an executive vice president at Wal-Mart must decide whether to expand the retailer's selection of organic food. The decision is made in the context of wider attempts to move the giant retailer slightly upscale and to focus on environmental sustainability.

    Keywords: Food; Growth and Development Strategy; Product; Business Processes; Environmental Sustainability; Expansion; Retail Industry; United States;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Troy Smith. "Organic Growth at Wal-Mart." Harvard Business School Case 707-498, January 2007. (Revised November 2007.) View Details
  20. Airborne Express

    In the wake of a highly successful quarter, senior managers of Airborne Express, the third largest player in the express mail industry, review the firm's competitive position. Airborne has survived, and recently prospered, in an industry with significant economies of scale even though it is much smaller than industry giants Federal Express and United Parcel Service. The case challenges students to understand Airborne's unusual position. Detailed data allow students to analyze Airborne's relative cost position, the fit among its activities, the differences between Airborne and its rivals, and the evolution of its industry. Using these analyses, students make recommendations concerning the firm's pricing policy, its globalization efforts, and a partnership with a related company. Designed to be taught in a course on business-unit strategy.

    Keywords: Competition; Business Strategy; Partners and Partnerships; Global Strategy; Rank and Position; Service Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "Airborne Express." Harvard Business School Case 798-070, February 1998. (Revised May 2007.) View Details
  21. Managing National Intelligence (A): Before 9/11

    Examines the management of national intelligence prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Describes the actions taken by a variety of government agencies, including the FBI, the CIA, the FAA, and the Department of Defense, to detect and deter such attacks.

    Keywords: War; National Security; Organizational Design; Organizational Structure; Crisis Management; Management Systems; Public Administration Industry; United States;


    Rivkin, Jan W., Michael Roberto, and Erika Ferlins. "Managing National Intelligence (A): Before 9/11." Harvard Business School Case 706-463, April 2006. (Revised July 2006.) View Details
  22. Advanced Competitive Strategy, Notes for Educators: 1. An Overview of the Course

    Captures for educators the concepts, tools, and practice conveyed to students in the Harvard Business School elective course Advanced Competitive Strategy: Integrating the Enterprise. Intended to hone students as integrators.

    Keywords: Business Education; Practice; Competitive Strategy; Integration; Education Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "Advanced Competitive Strategy, Notes for Educators: 1. An Overview of the Course." Harvard Business School Background Note 706-449, December 2005. (Revised March 2006.) View Details
  23. Change at Whirlpool Corporation (A)

    In 1998, the CEO of Whirlpool Corp. decides to change the company's strategy significantly to escape an increasingly unattractive "stalemate" in the appliance industry. The change he proposes involves a fundamental shift in the company's focus--from manufacturing to branding--and requires the development of altogether new organizational capabilities. Examines the full range of adjustments that the CEO must lead his management team to make throughout all the functions of Whirlpool. Distinguishes itself from other cases on strategic change by examining the challenge of change in a company that is not in crisis (yet).

    Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Change Management; Competitive Advantage; Strategic Planning; Production; Brands and Branding; Management Teams; Consumer Products Industry; United States;


    Rivkin, Jan W., Dorothy A. Leonard, and Gary Hamel. "Change at Whirlpool Corporation (A)." Harvard Business School Case 705-462, April 2005. (Revised March 2006.) View Details
  24. Use and Abuse of Analogies, The

    Examines how managers use, and sometimes misuse, analogical reasoning as they formulate their strategies. Suggests a process that managers can employ to use analogies productivity.

    Keywords: Managerial Roles; Performance Productivity; Strategy;


    Gavetti, Giovanni M., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Use and Abuse of Analogies, The." Harvard Business School Background Note 703-429, February 2003. (Revised February 2006.) View Details
  25. How can a strategist analyze the parts of a firm's strategy?: Advanced Competitive Strategy, Module note for students

    The first of four module notes for students who are taking an advanced course on competitive strategy. Presents concepts and techniques to help students analyze the parts of a firm's strategy and understand how the parts fit together to form a coherent whole.

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "How can a strategist analyze the parts of a firm's strategy?: Advanced Competitive Strategy, Module note for students." Harvard Business School Background Note 706-431, December 2005. (Revised February 2006.) View Details
  26. How do firms change their strategies successfully?

    The last of four module notes for students taking an advanced course on competitive strategy. Examines patterns that distinguish successful strategic change efforts from unsuccessful ones.

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "How do firms change their strategies successfully?" Harvard Business School Background Note 706-434, December 2005. (Revised February 2006.) View Details
  27. Why do strategies fail?: Advanced Competitive Strategy, Module note for students

    The third of four module notes for students who are taking an advanced course on competitive strategy. Examines how combinations of external threats and internal barriers to change lead to strategic failure.

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Situation or Environment; Failure;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "Why do strategies fail?: Advanced Competitive Strategy, Module note for students." Harvard Business School Background Note 706-433, December 2005. (Revised February 2006.) View Details
  28. Creating Competitive Advantage

    A firm such as Schering-Plough that earns superior, long-run financial returns within its industry is said to enjoy a competitive advantage over its rivals. This note examines the logic of how firms create competitive advantage. It emphasizes two themes: First, to create an advantage, a firm must configure itself to do something unique and valuable. The firm must ensure that, were it to disappear, someone in its network of suppliers, customers, and complementors would miss it and no one could replace it perfectly. The first section uses the concept of "added value" to make this point more precisely. Second, competitive advantage usually comes from the full range of a firm's activities--from production to finance, from marketing to logistics--acting in harmony. The essence of creating advantage is finding an integrated set of choices that distinguishes a firm from its rivals. The second section shows how managers can analyze the full range of activities to understand the sources of added value.

    Keywords: Competitive Advantage; Competitive Strategy; Management; Business Strategy; Growth and Development Strategy; Innovation Strategy; Management Practices and Processes; Value Creation; Pharmaceutical Industry;


    Ghemawat, Pankaj, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Creating Competitive Advantage." Harvard Business School Background Note 798-062, January 1998. (Revised February 2006.) View Details
  29. An Options-led Approach to Making Strategic Choices

    Summarizes some of the pitfalls of conventional strategic planning processes and proposes an alternative approach to making strategic choices.

    Keywords: Decisions; Management Practices and Processes; Strategic Planning; Strategy;


    Rivkin, Jan W. "An Options-led Approach to Making Strategic Choices." Harvard Business School Background Note 702-433, December 2001. (Revised February 2006.) View Details
  30. BMG Entertainment

    As dramatic changes in technology and customer tastes roil the music industry, the top executives of BMG Entertainment, one of the world's largest record companies, must decide how to organize for digital distribution of music. This case includes a brief history of the music industry, a description of the industry's current structure and economics, and a description of digital downloading efforts.

    Keywords: Risk and Uncertainty; Competitive Strategy; Distribution Channels; Organizational Structure; Technological Innovation; Industry Structures; Customer Focus and Relationships; Growth and Development Strategy; Technology; Music Industry; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Gerrit Meier. "BMG Entertainment." Harvard Business School Case 701-003, July 2000. (Revised September 2005.) View Details
  31. Math for Strategists

    Great strategists rely heavily on numbers as they go about their work. Offers an overview of the high- and low-brow quantitative tools that students encounter during the Strategy course. The class explores high-brow tools in detail; the focus here is on low-brow calculations. Such calculations come up often in class but because they seem so simple, they get little airtime or explanation. From past class experience, roughly 20% of the students in each section come into the course with the intuition and experience to do these simple calculations themselves. The other 80% understand the calculations after they see them and grasp their value, but don't spot the opportunities to do the math themselves, before class.

    Keywords: Mathematical Methods; Strategy;


    Khanna, Tarun, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Math for Strategists." Harvard Business School Background Note 705-433, November 2004. (Revised April 2005.) View Details
  32. Delta Air Lines (A): The Low-Cost Carrier Threat

    The top management of Delta Air Lines must decide how to respond to the threat posed by low-cost carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue. Among the options considered is the launch of a low-cost subsidiary by Delta itself. Prior efforts to launch a low-cost subsidiary, by Delta and by other full-service airlines, have failed. Can Delta devise a better response?

    Keywords: Corporate Strategy; Competitive Strategy; Cost; Decision Choices and Conditions; Service Delivery; Service Operations; Air Transportation Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Laurent Therivel. "Delta Air Lines (A): The Low-Cost Carrier Threat." Harvard Business School Case 704-403, January 2004. (Revised January 2005.) View Details
  33. Silverado (A)

    Silverado has raised $50 million and launched its first product: an Internet-based trivia game with innovative software. In a highly uncertain environment, the young management team must decide whether to continue developing the product and whether to branch out into new domains.

    Keywords: Risk and Uncertainty; Technological Innovation; Strategic Planning; Internet; Decision Choices and Conditions; Product Launch; Business Strategy; Entertainment and Recreation Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Charles J. Woodard. "Silverado (A)." Harvard Business School Case 703-441, January 2003. (Revised March 2004.) View Details
  34. Lycos (A): The Tripod Decision

    The Internet portal Lycos has acquired Tripod, a provider of home-page-building tools, and now must decide how to integrate the acquisition.

    Keywords: Integration; Organizational Structure; Situation or Environment; Mergers and Acquisitions; Internet; Decision Choices and Conditions; Web Services Industry;


    Gavetti, Giovanni M., Jan W. Rivkin, and Elizabeth Johnson. "Lycos (A): The Tripod Decision." Harvard Business School Case 702-435, January 2002. View Details
  35. Competition & Strategy: Course Structure TN

    Provides an overview of the Competition & Strategy course, a first course on business strategy, as taught at Harvard Business School during the summer of 1999. Describes the role of the course in the overall MBA curriculum, the superstructure of the course, and the concepts emphasized in each module and case. Emphasizes how the parts of the course fit together to form an integrated body of ideas and analytical tools.

    Keywords: Curriculum and Courses; Higher Education; Management; Business or Company Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Management Practices and Processes; Competitive Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Corporate Strategy; Education Industry;


    Porter, Michael E., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Competition & Strategy: Course Structure TN." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 700-091, January 2000. (Revised March 2001.) View Details
  36. Industry Transformation

    One of the steepest challenges a strategist faces is to navigate his or her company through a period of industry transformation--an era of rapid and wholesale changes in industry structure. This note considers how periods of transformation typically unfold. It then examines how the core tools of the strategist can be deployed during such periods and how new tools come to the fore. Periods of industry transformation pose grave threats and tremendous opportunities to companies. Industry leaders are often unseated during such times, replaced by underdogs and entrants. Perhaps most importantly, periods of transformation give companies unusual latitude to influence future industry structure. Teaching purpose: Designed to support course modules that consider strategy-making under uncertainty or the intersection of competitive strategy and technology.

    Keywords: Technological Innovation; Management; Management Practices and Processes; Industry Growth; Industry Structures; Strategy; Competitive Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Consulting Industry; Service Industry;


    Porter, Michael E., and Jan W. Rivkin. "Industry Transformation." Harvard Business School Background Note 701-008, July 2000. View Details
  37. Market Failures

    Examines the role of transaction costs in impeding the functioning of markets and shows how the concept of transaction costs sheds light on a broad range of issues in strategy.

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Competition; Corporate Strategy; Cost; Market Transactions; Industry Clusters; Failure; Internet;


    Anand, Bharat N., Tarun Khanna, and Jan W. Rivkin. "Market Failures." Harvard Business School Background Note 700-127, April 2000. View Details
  38. Yahoo!: Business on Internet Time

    In the wake of major competitive moves, CEO Tim Koogle and his senior team at Yahoo!, an Internet portal, must decide whether and how to adjust their strategy. Following deals between AOL and Netscape, Excite and @Home, Infoseek and Disney, and Snap and NBS, Yahoo! faces the prospect of being the last portal without a significant partner. Students must grapple with the benefits and costs of integration in the rapidly changing world of the Internet. Special emphasis is given to the interactions among Yahoo!'s functions and the effects of those interactions on firm flexibility.

    Keywords: Competitive Strategy; Growth and Development Strategy; Business Strategy; Organizational Structure; Industry Structures; Web; Risk Management; Technological Innovation; Business or Company Management; Information Technology Industry; Web Services Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., and Jay R. Girotto. "Yahoo!: Business on Internet Time." Harvard Business School Case 700-013, July 1999. (Revised January 2000.) View Details
  39. A Note on Microeconomics for Strategists

    Summarizes the core ideas about the microeconomics of markets that are most relevant to business strategy. Sections I and II develop two basic building blocks of any market, demand and supply. Section II discusses how demand and supply interact to determine the quantity of goods traded in a market and the price paid for those goods, with special attention to the way that external events influence the quantity traded and the price paid. Section IV presents the important benchmark of "perfect competition," in which equally matched firms compete so vigorously and market entry is so easy that no firm earns more than its cost of capital. Section V explores the ways that real markets depart form perfect competition. These departures lie at the heart of long-run profitability.

    Keywords: Microeconomics; Cost; Cost of Capital; Market Entry and Exit; Business Strategy; Competition; Corporate Strategy;


    Corts, Kenneth S., and Jan W. Rivkin. "A Note on Microeconomics for Strategists." Harvard Business School Background Note 799-128, March 1999. (Revised January 2000.) View Details
  40. Matching Dell (A)

    After years of success with its vaunted "Direct Model" for computer manufacturing, marketing, and distribution, Dell Computer Corp. faces efforts by competitors to match its strategy. This case describes the evolution of the personal computer industry, Dell's strategy, and efforts by Compaq, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Gateway 2000 to capture the benefits of Dell's approach. Students are called on to formulate strategic plans of action for Dell and its various rivals.

    Keywords: Cost vs Benefits; Competitive Strategy; Industry Structures; Adoption; Computer Industry;


    Rivkin, Jan W., Michael E. Porter, Charles E. Bruin, Markus Chappel, Thomas M Galizia, and Laila J Worrell. "Matching Dell (A)." Harvard Business School Case 799-158, June 1999. View Details


Other Publications and Materials