Globalization is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School.
The globalization of business has long encouraged Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty to research international business practices and the effects of globalization. Seminal contributions - Christopher Bartlett on managing across borders, Michael Porter on competition in global industries, and Louis Wells on foreign investment in emerging markets - helped pave today’s global research path. Supported by eight Global Research Centers that facilitate our contact with global companies and the collection of international data, key investigations concentrate on the effectiveness of management practices in global organizations; cross-cultural learning and adaptation processes; the challenges of taking companies global; emerging-market companies with global potential; and international political economy and its impact on economic development.
  1. IC Group A/S

    John R. Wells and Gabriel Ellsworth

    IC Group owned several of Scandinavia's leading premium fashion brands. How should it respond to the decline of its primary wholesale distribution channels (independent fashion boutiques and department stores)? Should it open more physical stores or focus on e-commerce? Where should the Group focus its international expansion? How could it best leverage its operating platform to drive the profitability of its brands? Should it acquire existing brands or build new ones itself? In short, what should its "omni-channel retailing" strategy be?

    Keywords: IC Group; IC Companys; Carli Gry; InWear; Mads Ryder; Niels Martinsen; premium fashion; fast fashion; Business Units; Business Divisions; Business Growth and Maturation; Business Model; Business Organization; For-Profit Firms; Profit; Revenue; Multinational Firms and Management; Business History; Business or Company Management; Acquisition; Growth and Development Strategy; Brands and Branding; Distribution Channels; Organizational Design; Organizational Structure; Problems and Challenges; Strategy; Product Positioning; Competition; Competitive Strategy; Corporate Strategy; Vertical Integration; Segmentation; Web Sites; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Fashion Industry; Retail Industry; Scandinavia; Denmark; Sweden; Norway;


    Wells, John R., and Gabriel Ellsworth. "IC Group A/S." Harvard Business School Case 716-446, March 2016. View Details
  2. Emaar: The Center of Tomorrow, Today

    Sid Yog, Esel Cekin and Marc Homsy

    Starting in 1997, Mohammad Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar, has been largely associated with Dubai's most renowned real estate projects: the world's tallest building, largest mall and biggest fountain show. Emaar's pioneering success attracted a large number of private sector entrepreneurs as well as the Government of Dubai to follow in its footsteps. Consequently, land at prime locations in Dubai was not as readily available as it used to be. Emaar tried to venture outside of Dubai, but later faced challenges in choosing the right partners and maintaining control over management. Being 'stuck' between an overcrowded competitive landscape in Dubai and challenging conditions abroad, Alabbar wondered how he could maintain his company's growth while staying prepared for any upcoming financial downturn.

    Keywords: Middle East; Market Entry and Exit; Competitive Strategy; Entrepreneurship; Global Strategy; Real Estate Industry; Middle East; Dubai;


    Yog, Sid, Esel Cekin, and Marc Homsy. "Emaar: The Center of Tomorrow, Today." Harvard Business School Case 216-051, March 2016. View Details
  3. The Impact of Patent Wars on Firm Strategy: Evidence from the Global Smartphone Market

    Yongwook Paik and Feng Zhu

    Strategy scholars have documented in various empirical settings that firms seek and leverage stronger institutions to mitigate hazards and gain competitive advantage. In this paper, we argue that such “institution-seeking” behavior may not be confined to the pursuit of strong institutions: firms may also seek weak institutions to mitigate hazards. Using panel data from the global smartphone industry and recent patent wars among key industry rivals, we examine how smartphone vendors that are not directly involved in patent litigation strategically respond to increased litigation risks in this industry. We find that as patent wars intensify, smartphone vendors strategically shift more of their business toward markets with weaker intellectual property (IP) protection because of institutional arbitrage opportunities. This shift is more pronounced for vendors whose stocks of patents are small and whose home markets have weak IP systems. Our study is the first to examine the relationship between heterogeneity in national patent systems and firms’ global strategies. It provides a more balanced view of firms’ institution-seeking behavior by documenting how they make strategic use of weaker institutions.

    Keywords: patent wars; patent litigation; intellectual property (IP) enforcement; institutions; smartphone; patent thicket; Technology Platform; Patents; Lawsuits and Litigation; Globalized Markets and Industries; Business Strategy; Telecommunications Industry;


    Paik, Yongwook, and Feng Zhu. "The Impact of Patent Wars on Firm Strategy: Evidence from the Global Smartphone Market." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-015, August 2013. (Revised March 2016.) View Details
  4. Chilli Beans: Peace, Love, and Sunglasses

    José B. Alvarez, Robert Mackalski and Andrew Otazo

    This case illustrates how Chilli Beans became the most popular sunglasses retailer in Brazil and the issues it faced when expanding into the U.S.

    Keywords: marketing; sunglasses; Brazil; Sao Paulo; Chilli Beans; watches; fast fashion; supply chain; retail; franchise; international expansion; culture; middle class; fashion; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Global Strategy; Customer Focus and Relationships; Customer Value and Value Chain; Design; Economic Growth; Economic Slowdown and Stagnation; Goods and Commodities; Leadership; Marketing; Operations; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Fashion Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Brazil; China;


    Alvarez, José B., Robert Mackalski, and Andrew Otazo. "Chilli Beans: Peace, Love, and Sunglasses." Harvard Business School Case 516-020, February 2016. (Revised March 2016.) View Details
  5. HNA Group: Global Excellence with Chinese Characteristics

    William C. Kirby, F. Warren McFarlan and Joycelyn W. Eby

    By 2015, the HNA Group had grown from its roots as Hainan Airlines, a small airline founded in 1993 into a global conglomerate that ranked #464 in the Global 500. Much of this success it had achieved by cross-industry expansion within China, but since 2008, it had increasingly looked to expand globally. The HNA Group in general and Hainan Airlines in particular were recognized for their quality of service within China. However, this high reputation had yet to be translated across borders. Would HNA Group be able to bring its unique characteristics that made it successful within China to bear on the global marketplace?

    Keywords: China; aviation and aerospace; airline industry; airlines; globalization; corporate culture; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Global Strategy; Globalized Markets and Industries; Growth and Development; Air Transportation; Air Transportation Industry; China;


    Kirby, William C., F. Warren McFarlan, and Joycelyn W. Eby. "HNA Group: Global Excellence with Chinese Characteristics." Harvard Business School Case 316-013, January 2016. (Revised March 2016.) View Details
  6. Uber in China: Driving in the Gray Zone

    William C. Kirby, Joycelyn W. Eby, Shuang Lu and Adam Mitchell

    CEO and Founder of Uber Technologies, Travis Kalanick, had made clear to investors and the public that expansion into China was one of his company's major priorities for 2016. Uber had already demonstrated remarkable capacity for rapid, global scaling, and for operating despite its unclear legal status in many markets. But the China market, while offering Uber unprecedented opportunity in terms of customer demand, presented Uber with a host of new challenges, including a murky regulatory framework and a strong, native incumbent, Didi-Kuaidi, that boasted the lion's share of the ride-hailing market. Could Uber overcome these obstacles and thrive in the China market?

    Keywords: China; Uber; Start-up growth; regulation; transportation; Ride-sharing; Transportation; Business Startups; Growth and Development; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Transportation Industry; Technology Industry; China;


    Kirby, William C., Joycelyn W. Eby, Shuang Lu, and Adam Mitchell. "Uber in China: Driving in the Gray Zone." Harvard Business School Case 316-135, January 2016. View Details
  7. The Globalization of Angel Investments: Evidence Across Countries

    Josh Lerner, Antoinette Schoar, Stanislav Sokolinski and Karen Wilson

    This paper examines investments made by 13 angel groups across 21 countries. We compare applicants just above and below the funding cutoff and find that these angel investors have a positive impact on the growth, performance, and survival of firms as well as their follow-on fundraising. The positive impact of angel financing is independent of the level of venture activity and entrepreneur friendliness in the country. However, we find that the development stage and maturity of startups that apply for angel funding (and those that are ultimately funded) is inversely correlated with the entrepreneurship friendliness of the country, which may reflect self-censoring by very early-stage firms that do not expect to receive funding in these environments.

    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Globalization; Investment;


    Lerner, Josh, Antoinette Schoar, Stanislav Sokolinski, and Karen Wilson. "The Globalization of Angel Investments: Evidence Across Countries." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-072, December 2015. (Revised February 2016.) View Details
  8. Entrepreneurial Imagination and a Demand and Supply-side Perspective on the MNE and Cross-border Organization

    G. Jones and Christos Pitelis

    This article explores the role of entrepreneurial imagination on the international expansion of multinational enterprises. The focus is on supply- and demand-side factors that help explicate cross-border expansion. The article explores how appropriability-informed and legacy-shaped entrepreneurial imagination motivates a process of creation and co-creation of the cross-border business context (such as markets, demand, and supporting infrastructures, including business ecosystems) and, when feasible, the wider institutional, regulatory, and even cultural context that conventional International business literature takes as a datum. This is examined conceptually and by using illustrative business history case examples. The article claims that by focusing on agency, learning, intentionality, and demand-side factors, our approach complements and also challenges extant sometimes static, supply-side, agent-agnostic theories of the multinational and helps appreciate better phenomena such as the creation and co-creation of markets and value, multinationals without firm-specific advantages, and born-global firms.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; imagination; Globalization; History; Entrepreneurship; Multinational Firms and Management; Africa; Asia; Europe; North and Central America;


    Jones, G., and Christos Pitelis. "Entrepreneurial Imagination and a Demand and Supply-side Perspective on the MNE and Cross-border Organization." Journal of International Management 21, no. 4 (December 2015): 309–321. View Details
  9. On Wealth and the Diversity of Friendships: High Social Class People around the World have fewer International Friends

    Maurice H. Yearwood, Amy Cuddy, Nishtha Lambaa, Wu Youyoua, Ilmo van der Lowe, Paul K. Piff, Charles Gronin, Pete Fleming, Emiliana Simon-Thomas, Dacher Keltner and Aleksandr Spectre

    Having international social ties carries many potential advantages, including access to novel ideas and greater commercial opportunities. Yet little is known about who forms more international friendships. Here, we propose social class plays a key role in determining people's internationalism. We conducted two studies to test whether social class is related positively to internationalism (the building social class hypothesis) or negatively to internationalism (the restricting social class hypothesis). In Study 1, we found that among individuals in the United States, social class was negatively related to percentage of friends on Facebook that are outside the United States. In Study 2, we extended these findings to the global level by analyzing country-level data on Facebook friends formed in 2011 (nearly 50 billion friendships) across 187 countries. We found that people from higher social class countries (as indexed by GDP per capita) had lower levels of internationalism—that is, they made more friendships domestically than abroad.

    Keywords: friendships; Social Class; internationalism; Wealth; Relationships; Globalization;


    Yearwood, Maurice H., Amy Cuddy, Nishtha Lambaa, Wu Youyoua, Ilmo van der Lowe, Paul K. Piff, Charles Gronin, et al. "On Wealth and the Diversity of Friendships: High Social Class People around the World have fewer International Friends." Personality and Individual Differences 87 (December 2015): 224–229. View Details
  10. Business Groups Exist in Developed Markets Also: Britain Since 1850

    Geoffrey Jones

    Diversified business groups are well-known phenomena in emerging markets, both today and historically. This is often explained by the prevalence of institutional voids or the nature of government-business relations. It is typically assumed that such groups were much less common in developed economies and largely disappeared during the twentieth century. This working paper contests this assumption with evidence from Britain between 1850 and the present day. During the nineteenth century, merchant houses established business groups with diversified portfolio and pyramidal structures overseas, primarily in developing countries, both colonial and independent. In the domestic economy, large single product firms became the norm, which over time merged into large combines with significant market power. This reflected a business system in which a close relationship between finance and industry was discouraged, but where there were few restrictions on the transfer of corporate ownership. Yet large diversified business groups did emerge, which had private or closely held shareholding and substantial international businesses. This working paper argues that diversified business groups added value in mature markets such as Britain. In the domestic economy, Pearson and Virgin created well-managed and performing businesses over long periods. The much-criticized conglomerates of the 1970s–1990s era such as Hanson and BTR were also quite financially successful forms of business enterprise. The demise of many of them appears to owe at least as much to management fads as to serious financial underperformance.

    Keywords: business groups; business history; Economic History; conglomerates; Entrepreneurship; Globalization; Management; Organizations; United Kingdom;


    Jones, Geoffrey. "Business Groups Exist in Developed Markets Also: Britain Since 1850." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-066, November 2015. View Details
See all faculty publications on Globalization »