Sandra J. Sucher

MBA Class of 1966 Professor of Management Practice

SANDRA J. SUCHER is Professor of Management Practice, Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow at Harvard Business School and is a member of the General Management unit. She joined the faculty of Harvard Business School after 25 years in industry and nonprofit management, including ten years in fashion retailing and twelve years at Fidelity Investments where she served as chief quality officer. At HBS, Sucher has taught  the required MBA course, “Leadership and Corporate Accountability," for ten years and led it for five. For fifteen years she has taught "The Moral Leader" – an elective in the MBA curriculum that examines leadership and moral decision making through literature and historical accounts. Sucher is the author of dozens of cases on leadership and the ethical dilemmas of businesses and their managers, and two books: The Moral Leader: Challenges, Insights and Tools, (Routledge 2008) and Teaching The Moral Leader: A Literature-based Leadership Course, A Guide For Instructors (Routledge 2007). Her research on layoffs, restructuring and global workforce change has been documented in more than fifteen cases, notes, research reports, and videos.  She is currently writing a book on how companies earn trust in the global economy based on eight years of research on global companies' best practices in exercising power in ways that earn trust.

SANDRA J. SUCHER is Professor of Management Practice, Joseph L. Rice, III Faculty Fellow at Harvard Business School and is a member of the General Management unit. She joined the faculty of Harvard Business School after 25 years in industry and nonprofit management, including ten years in fashion retailing and twelve years at Fidelity Investments where she served as chief quality officer. At HBS, Sucher has taught  the required MBA course, “Leadership and Corporate Accountability," for ten years and led it for five. For fifteen years she has taught "The Moral Leader" – an elective in the MBA curriculum that examines leadership and moral decision making through literature and historical accounts. Sucher is the author of dozens of cases on leadership and the ethical dilemmas of businesses and their managers, and two books: The Moral Leader: Challenges, Insights and Tools, (Routledge 2008) and Teaching The Moral Leader: A Literature-based Leadership Course, A Guide For Instructors (Routledge 2007). Her research on layoffs, restructuring and global workforce change has been documented in more than fifteen cases, notes, research reports, and videos.  She is currently writing a book on how companies earn trust in the global economy based on eight years of research on global companies' best practices in exercising power in ways that earn trust.

From 1986 until 1998, Sucher worked at Fidelity Investments. As Vice President of Corporate Quality, she focused the firm's division-level quality groups on customer loyalty research. As Vice President of Retail Service Quality, she set service strategy for the retail business and improved service and operations processes, including the processes of opening new accounts, solving customer problems, and transferring assets among financial firms.  Prior to Fidelity, Sucher spent 10 years in fashion retailing at Filene's, a Boston-based department store chain. She wrote the proposal, approved by Federated Department Stores, to expand Filene's Basement from a single store to a national chain. In her last assignment, as Vice President of Customer Service, she improved customer service for Filene's then 14-unit regional business. Sucher has served on two corporate boards and as Chair of the Better Business Bureau of Boston. Sucher received her MBA from Harvard Business School with first- and second-year honors; she also earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a BA from the University of Michigan, High Distinction, Phi Beta Kappa.

  1. Exercising Power and Earning Trust in the Global Economy

    by Sandra J. Sucher

    I am writing a book on how companies earn trust in the global economy based on eight years of research on global companies' best practices in exercising power in ways that earn trust. The research is based on two questions:
    (1) What distinguishes companies that are trusted from those that aren't?
    (2) What are best practices in the cultivation of organizational trust?

    The first question has helped me develop a practical framework of organizational trust that companies can use to understand what is expected, and enhance their ability to earn trust.

    Field research into best practices to answer the second question shows how companies can earn trust while responding to economic cycles, shifts in markets, technology, and competitive forces, and to their own innovation and growth plans.

    This research has included the participation of a globally diverse group of companies, including Michelin, Honeywell, Royal Dutch Shell, Nokia, Lincoln Electric, Suzhou Good-Ark Electronics Co. (China), and Recruit Holdings Ltd. (Japan). The research has focused on how these companies have earned trust while developing strategic approaches to growth and competitive forces and how they adapted their approaches to the different countries where they do business.

    Keywords: trust; Power; globalization; leadership; corporate culture; future of work; innovation; human resources; ecosystem; layoffs; furloughs; Skills Development; technology; automation; stakeholder engagement; employee attitude; customer behavior; shareholder value; government and business; impact investing; corporate accountability; "Corporate Change and Sustainability; Michelin; Honeywell; Nokia; Lincoln Electric; Uber; Enron; Wells Fargo; VW; United Airlines; United States; France; the Netherlands; Finland; China; Japan; Brazil; Romania; Jean-Dominique Senard; Dave Cote; Jorma Ollila; Peter Voser; Chris Mapes; Change; Competency and Skills; Customers; Decision Making; Ethics; Finance; Globalization; Growth and Development; Human Resources; Innovation and Invention; Labor; Law; Leadership; Management; Markets; Organizations; Performance; Planning; Problems and Challenges; Risk and Uncertainty; Society; Technology; Value; Aerospace Industry; Auto Industry; Beauty and Cosmetics Industry; Bicycle Industry; Chemical Industry; Communications Industry; Computer Industry; Employment Industry; Industrial Products Industry; Information Industry; Information Technology Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Mining Industry; Publishing Industry; Service Industry; Telecommunications Industry; Web Services Industry; Asia; Europe; South America; Middle East; North and Central America;

  2. Managing the Future or Work: Layoffs, Restructuring, and Global Workforce Change

    by Sandra J. Sucher

    Business leaders and policy makers are consumed, even obsessed, with the future of work. They fear a future where machines will replace humans, putting thousands out of jobs. 

    But the “future of work” is happening now and has been for decades. For the last 30 years businesses have addressed future of work challenges largely by relying on layoffs, downsizing, outsourcing, and offshoring. These have hurt employees, communities, and company profits. Worse, the revulsion inspired by these practices has led to a rejection of globalization and a damaging loss of trust in business.

    For the last eight years I have been scouring the globe for companies who have found a better way.  I’ve found a set of forward-looking companies who are inventing strong and sustainable bridges between today’s economic realities and the future world of work.

    The challenges they are addressing include: 

    • Workforce change
    • Skills development
    • New business-workforce models
    • Technological change
    • Stakeholder collaboration
    • Influence of business on society

    The companies include some well-known names—Royal Dutch Shell, Honeywell, Michelin, Lincoln Electric, and Nokia, and some new ones: Recruit Holdings Ltd., a service conglomerate in Japan, and China’s Suzhou Good-Ark Electronics.

    The bridges they are building are based on three pillars. The first is a deep respect for the contribution employees make to their businesses. Second, careful planning made in collaboration with employees, stakeholders, and governments. Finally, these companies also invest in the skills and marketability of their employees.

    In other words, they manage to be committed to their employees, companies, societies, and soundly profitable. In the book I am writing, I will describe how these companies operate, and their principles and practices. I will lay out a more sustainable path to the future of work than the one we are on now.


    Keywords: layoffs; Leadership and Change Management; Global innovation; strategic decision making; multinational corporations; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Manufacturing Industry; Telecommunications Industry; Rubber Industry; Employment Industry; United States; France; Germany; Hungary; Finland; United Kingdom; Netherlands; China; Japan; Brazil;

  3. Moral Leadership

    by Sandra J. Sucher

    In 2007 and 2008, Professor Sucher  published an instructor manual and student textbook based on 'The Moral Leader,' a literature-based course on leadership that has been taught at Harvard Business School for more than 20 years. The course focuses on core ethical questions that managers wrestle with: What is the nature of a moral challenge? How do people “reason morally?” What do these look like when they are undertaken by leaders – individuals who must make decisions under conditions of responsibility for others?

     

     

  4. The Management of Differences

    by Sandra J. Sucher

    Professor Sucher has developed cases and other teaching materials that aim to provide thought-provoking, real-world examples of the ways in which social identity differences emerge and are managed in the workplace. These materials include "Differences at Work," 11 mini-cases based on HBS students' own experiences of social identity challenges in the workplace (developed with Robin Cherry Glass (MBA/MPA 2007) and Professor Robin Ely), conceptual notes on the individual experience and leadership challenges of managing differences, and, most recently, "Global Diversity and Inclusion at Royal Dutch Shell," a case that examines the challenges of managing differences in 100 countries around the world.