Leadership is a featured research topic and an initiative at Harvard Business School.
As our world grows increasingly global, intricate, and ever-changing, the role of leaders is becoming more and more complex and critical to business success. In the 1950s and 1960s, Fritz Roethlisberger and Elton Mayo's contributions to the "Hawthorne effect," and work by Paul Lawrence and Jay Lorsch on organizational integration, sparked the field of Organizational Behavior. Early work by Michael Beer on leading organizational change, Rosabeth Kanter on innovation for productivity, John Kotter on power and influence, and Michael Tushman on innovation management helped shape today's understanding of organizational transformation. With an interest in Leadership that spans our academic units, our approach to research is collaborative and multi-disciplinary. We leverage a wide range of research methodologies – from onsite field research to surveys, experiments, and extensive longitudinal studies. 
  1. Moving Forward

    George Serafeim

    Commerce, the synthesis of entrepreneurship and business, has been one of the most powerful institutions the world has ever seen. Commerce unlocks the highest human potential for creativity, innovation and discovery.

    Keywords: Change; change management; leadership; Europe; turnaround; Management Practices and Processes; Leadership; Change Management; Management Practices and Processes; Entrepreneurship; Europe;


    Serafeim, George. "Moving Forward." Business Partners 15, no. 82 (January–February 2016): 38–39. View Details
  2. Whither the Weather (Company): Forecasting 2016

    Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Jonathan Cohen

    In late January 2016, David Kenny was flying between Atlanta and other U.S. cities in his last days as CEO of The Weather Company, while working at his seat to oversee details of a major change before his title and affiliation changed. As the small plane encountered turbulence, he thought about the industry turbulence he and his team had been through and the strategies they had put in place to add new businesses to the legacy operation. Was his destination inevitable? What lay ahead?

    Keywords: Weather Company; IBM; transformation; digital; technology; David Kenny; television; Weather Channel; legacy business; mainstream; newstream; reorganization; Acquisitions; consolidation; Transformation; Technology; Television Entertainment; Acquisition; Consolidation; Change; Leadership;


    Kanter, Rosabeth Moss, and Jonathan Cohen. "Whither the Weather (Company): Forecasting 2016." Harvard Business School Case 316-143, January 2016. View Details
  3. How to Turn Around a Country

    Paul Kazarian and George Serafeim

    Change is hard. Especially trying to change an entire country and its public sector that consists of more than 650,000 employees and has an annual budget of about 80 billion euros. This is the case of Greece, once the fastest-growing eurozone country, which has experienced devastating value destruction in the past seven years because of bad management.

    Keywords: Greece; Europe; European Union; turnaround; accounting; accountability; economic growth; leadership; Change; Sovereign Finance; Leadership; Corporate Accountability; Public Sector; Accounting; Economic Growth; Change; European Union; Greece;


    Kazarian, Paul, and George Serafeim. "How to Turn Around a Country." Kathimerini (January 19, 2016). View Details
  4. An Intern's Dilemma (A)

    Sandra J. Sucher and Matthew Preble

    An HBS student is asked to misrepresent himself during the course of his summer internship by his employer in order to obtain data from industry competitors.

    Keywords: conflict; organizational culture; Leadership; Conflict Management; Competition; Ethics; Knowledge Acquisition; Organizational Culture; Employees; Power and Influence;


    Sucher, Sandra J., and Matthew Preble. "An Intern's Dilemma (A)." Harvard Business School Case 316-128, December 2015. View Details
  5. Chicken Republic

    Jose Alvarez and Natalie Kindred

    Deji Akinyanju, founder of Nigerian fast-food chain Chicken Republic, and Ayo Oduntan, founder of an integrated Nigerian poultry operation (Amo Byng Group), are among a growing cadre of skilled food-industry entrepreneurs for whom the opportunities to serve the Nigerian market—a population of over 170 million, including a large and growing middle class—outweigh the challenges of operating there. And indeed, as embodied by Nigeria's status as a net food importer despite having 80 million hectares of arable land, the challenges are considerable. Animal feed is excessively expensive, driving up poultry production costs and limiting production volumes; illegal poultry imports pose food safety threats while undercutting prices of domestic product; corruption is rampant; debt is exorbitantly expensive; commercial real estate is sparse; and electricity is unreliable. Yet, Nigeria has all the natural blessings to be an agricultural powerhouse competitive on an international scale. And it has the large, ambitious population needed to drive its development, both as workers and consumers. Akinyanju and Oduntan believe many of the issues constraining Nigeria's poultry sector can be alleviated with relatively simple solutions—and that doing so can open tremendous growth opportunities for their businesses and the country as a whole.
    Set in September 2015, this case provides a detailed look at Nigeria's poultry value chain and the complexities of modernizing a traditional and largely informal industry. It also presents an inspiring story of determined entrepreneurs succeeding against tough odds. Finally, for students whose conception of Nigeria is all too often reduced to simplistic headlines, this case offers a more nuanced look into the complexities, potential, and aspirations of what may be one of this century's most dynamic and important economies.

    Keywords: Nigeria; Africa; poultry; chicken; value chain; supply chain; emerging market; Chicken Republic; Amo Byng; Doreo Partners; Babban Gona; reform; infrastructure; MINT; entrepreneurship; QSR; quick serve restaurant; fast food; corruption; governance; Growth; Leadership; Food; Customer Value and Value Chain; Supply Chain; Infrastructure; Animal-Based Agribusiness; Entrepreneurship; Emerging Markets; Growth and Development; Agriculture and Agribusiness Industry; Nigeria; Africa;


    Alvarez, Jose, and Natalie Kindred. "Chicken Republic." Harvard Business School Case 516-052, December 2015. (Revised December 2015.) View Details
  6. Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology, and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy

    Karthik Ramanna

    There are certain institutions underlying our modern market-capitalist system that are largely outside the interest and understanding of the general public—e.g., rulemaking for bank capital adequacy, actuarial standards, accounting standards, and auditing practice. In these areas, corporate managers and financial experts such as auditors and bankers possess the technical expertise necessary for informed regulation, enjoy strong economic interests in the outcome, and face little resistance to their lobbying activities from the general public. These areas are known as "thin political markets" to distinguish them from more vibrant and competitive "thick" political processes (e.g., healthcare regulation). This book develops the notion of thin political markets through a vivid exploration of the political processes determining our system of accounting rules upon which depends our ability to reliably measure corporate profits in the economy. The book shows how some corporate interests, in the spirit of increasing profits, have been manipulating the very definition of profit by changing accounting rules. On one level, this corporate behavior embodies the capitalist spirit articulated by Milton Friedman: "The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits." But the ethics of profit-increasing behavior are premised on the logic of competition, and this logic breaks down in thin political markets. The result is a structural flaw in the determination of critical institutions of our capitalist system, which, if ignored, can undermine the legitimacy of the system. The book closes with ideas on how to fix the problem.

    Keywords: accounting; business and society; financial institutions; financial reporting; GAAP; IFRS; leadership; lobbying; Capitalism; sustainability; Accounting; Finance; Business and Government Relations; Leadership; Accounting Industry; Financial Services Industry; United States; China; India;


    Ramanna, Karthik. Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology, and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015. (Reviews by Anat Admati, S.P. Kothari, Lynn Stout, Lawrence Summers, and Luigi Zingales, among others.) View Details
  7. School Accountability and Principal Mobility: How No Child Left Behind Affects the Allocation of School Leaders

    Danielle Li

    The move toward increased school accountability may substantially affect the career risks that school leaders face without providing commensurate changes in pay. Since effective school leaders likely have significant scope in choosing where to work, these uncompensated risks may undermine the efficacy of accountability reforms by limiting the ability of low-performing schools to attract and retain effective leaders. This paper empirically evaluates the economic importance of principal mobility in response to accountability by analyzing how the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in North Carolina affected principal mobility across North Carolina schools and how it reshaped the distribution of high-performing principals across low- and high-performing schools. Using value-added measures of principal performance and variation in pre-period student demographics to identify schools that are likely to miss performance targets, I show that NCLB decreases average principal quality at schools serving disadvantaged students by inducing more able principals to move to schools less likely to face NCLB sanctions. These results are consistent with a model of principal-school matching in which school districts are unable to compensate principals for the increased likelihood of sanctions at schools with historically low-performing students.

    Keywords: Leadership; Corporate Accountability; Education; North Carolina;


    Li, Danielle. "School Accountability and Principal Mobility: How No Child Left Behind Affects the Allocation of School Leaders." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-052, October 2015. View Details
  8. Transpower New Zealand: Evaluating Board Performance

    Boris Groysberg, Paul M. Healy and Sarah L. Abbott

    Mark Verbiest, Chairman of Transpower New Zealand, initiated a performance review of Transpower's board of directors. The review, which took four months to complete, provided board members with individualized feedback on their performance, as well as information on how the overall board functioned as a team. As Verbiest considered the feedback from this process he questioned, was Transpower's board operating at optimal performance levels? Was Transpower's new CEO receiving the support she needed to fulfill her responsibilities? And, in light of the evaluation's findings, what should the board's action plan be?

    Keywords: board of directors; governance; leadership; Performance Evaluation; Governance; Leadership; Performance; Organizations; Human Resources; Decision Making; New Zealand;


    Groysberg, Boris, Paul M. Healy, and Sarah L. Abbott. "Transpower New Zealand: Evaluating Board Performance." Harvard Business School Case 416-024, October 2015. View Details
  9. A Challenger's Strategy: Pinar Abay at ING Bank Turkey

    Paul Healy, Gautam Mukunda and Esel Çekin

    In 2013, Pinar Abay was appointed as the CEO of ING Bank Turkey. At 34, she was the youngest bank CEO in Turkey's history. Her appointment raised eyebrows because of her youth and because her career at McKinsey had given her no day-to-day bank management experience. ING, however, wanted a younger leader who could relate to Turkey's young and digitally savvy population. Upon her appointment, Abay determined that major changes were required in operations, personnel and culture. She adopted a variety of innovative approaches to making these changes, ranging from non-traditional hires to sitting for hours in call centers to personally answering customer complaints on Twitter. As Turkey's 12th largest bank, however, ING Turkey lacked scale, so Abay and her team considered a number of non-traditional ways to organize distribution and market the bank to promote growth.

    Keywords: leadership; challenger's strategy; culture; innovation; performance management; talent acquisition; differentiation; transformation; Growth; emerging country; banking; digital banking; alternative channels; Leadership; Change Management; Talent and Talent Management; Organizational Culture; Emerging Markets; Transformation; Banks and Banking; Innovation and Invention; Growth and Development Strategy; Banking Industry; Turkey;


    Healy, Paul, Gautam Mukunda, and Esel Çekin. "A Challenger's Strategy: Pinar Abay at ING Bank Turkey." Harvard Business School Case 116-023, October 2015. View Details
  10. Do People Who Care About Others Cooperate More? Experimental Evidence from Relative Incentive Pay

    Pablo Hernandez, Dylan B. Minor and Dana Sisak

    We experimentally study ways in which the social preferences of individuals and groups affect performance when faced with relative incentives. We also identify the mediating role that communication and leadership play in generating these effects. We find other-regarding workers tend to depress efforts by 15% on average. However, selfish workers are nearly three times more likely to lead workers to coordinate on minimal efforts when communication is possible. Hence, the other-regarding composition of a team of workers has complex consequences for organizational performance.

    Keywords: social preferences; Relative performance; collusion; leadership; Motivation and Incentives; Leadership; Attitudes; Performance;


    Hernandez, Pablo, Dylan B. Minor, and Dana Sisak. "Do People Who Care About Others Cooperate More? Experimental Evidence from Relative Incentive Pay." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 16-040, October 2015. View Details
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