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. Our close ties to practice and fellow academics across the world are invaluable to our problem-centered research approach that is driven by a relentless investigation of "Why?" and tackles such issues as:
  • The challenge of leading change in a changing world
  • Effective and harmful leadership styles
  • Selection of new firm leadership
  • Managing productive teams
  • Adaptation to volatile and unpredictable careers
  • How to learn from the history of leadership
We leverage a wide range of research methodologies – from onsite field research to surveys, experiments, and extensive longitudinal studies. As an example, Boris Groysberg of the Organizational Behavior unit engaged in over two hundred interviews with Wall Street star analysts to understand the impact on analyst performance of moving to competitor firms. Or take Raffaella Sadun of the Strategy unit who coleads the World Management Survey with Stanford University and the London School of Economics with whom she spent the last seven years interviewing managers at 10,000 organizations in 20 countries to examine differences in the style and quality of leadership across the world. Our research is contributing enduring ideas to the world’s understanding of Leadership, impacting both theory and practice, and helping to fulfill our school’s mission of building strong leaders for tomorrow.
  1. Delegation in Multi‐Establishment Firms: Adaptation vs. Coordination in I.T. Purchasing Authority

    This paper conducts one of the first large-scale, establishment-level empirical studies of delegation within firms. Recent contributions to a rapidly growing theory literature have focused on the tradeoff between adaptation and coordination in determining organizational structure, but empirical evidence is extremely limited. Theoretically, delegation of authority is expected when locally adapted choices are most important to the overall value of the firm, when local information advantages are significant, or when the cost of processing firmwide information at the center grows too great. Centralization is predicted when the value of firmwide coordination dominates these adaptation and information-processing concerns. Based on a novel data set containing information on establishment-level decision rights over information technology investments, I find robust conditional correlations consistent with some, but not all of these predictions. A relatively high economic value of adaptation at the establishment has a strong association with delegation to local managers, as do local information advantages and greater firmwide diversification. In contrast, a high value of within-firm coordination as measured by the value of integrated production is negatively correlated with delegation. Surprisingly, absolute size of the firm is negatively related to delegation. The overall pattern of results highlights the need for a nuanced theoretical framework that can accommodate the full range of empirical facts.

    Keywords: Integration; Leadership; Management Practices and Processes; Information Technology; Organizational Structure; Adaptation;


    McElheran, Kristina Steffenson. "Delegation in Multi‐Establishment Firms: Adaptation vs. Coordination in I.T. Purchasing Authority." Journal of Economics & Management Strategy 23, no. 2 (Summer 2014).
  2. Managing Change at Axis Bank

    Axis Bank is India’s third largest private sector bank. In April 2009, Shikha Sharma, an outsider was appointed as its CEO. She took over from a person who had overseen ten years of rapid growth at the bank. The selection of an outsider as the new CEO surprised many inside and outside the bank. Sharma changed the bank’s hierarchical culture, strengthened the core team by appointing new talent where needed, sought to build its core processes and infrastructure, and filled several gaps in its business portfolio. Despite these changes, the stock market continues to undervalue Axis Bank compared with its chief rivals. In light of this, Axis Bank needs to figure out what more it needs to do to ensure that the market values the franchise correctly.

    Keywords: Change Management; Transformation; Organizational Culture; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Leadership Style; Leading Change; Valuation; Finance; Banks and Banking; Financial Services Industry; Banking Industry; India;


    Healy, Paul, and Rachna Tahilyani. "Managing Change at Axis Bank." Harvard Business School Case 114-082, March 2014.
  3. The Founder's Resource‐Dependence Challenge

    Does the degree to which founders keep control of their startups affect company value? I argue that founders face a “control dilemma” in which a startup’s resource dependence drives a wedge between the startup’s value and the founder’s ability to retain control of decision making. I develop hypotheses about this tradeoff and test the hypotheses on a unique dataset of 6,130 American startups. I find that startups in which the founder is still in control of the board of directors and/or the CEO position are significantly less valuable than those in which the founder has given up a degree of control. On average, each additional degree of founder control (i.e., controlling the board and/or the CEO position) reduces the value of the startup by 23.0%‐58.1%.

    Keywords: Leadership; Value; Business Startups;


    Wasserman, Noam. "The Founder's Resource‐Dependence Challenge." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-090, March 2014.
  4. China Vanke (A-1)

    As China's largest homebuilder, China Vanke Co. Ltd. (Vanke) was facing an industry downturn sparked by strong government intervention. Faced with falling prices, Vanke's president must decide whether to keep the company's pricing and product positioning intact, and how aggressively to pursue its greener building strategy. Follow-up cases present additional decisions, including how aggressively and how to improve safety and quality (A-2), and whether to expand into other asset classes, such as commercial real estate.

    Keywords: real estate; China; green building; sustainable development; leadership; business government relations; Leadership; Business and Government Relations; Urban Development; Growth and Development Strategy; Safety; Real Estate Industry; China;


    Paine, Lynn S., John Macomber, and Keith Chi-ho Wong. "China Vanke (A-1)." Harvard Business School Case 314-104, March 2014.
  5. Samsung Electronics: TV in an Era of Convergence

    From the late 1990s to 2006/2007, Samsung Electronics moved from one of 170 TV manufacturers to gain dominant TV market share year over year from 2007-2013. As digital technologies increasingly converged in 2013-2014, the industry faced new questions: What was the future of TV? The case considers Samsung Electronics TV Group's product development processes, as the company's mobile and TV offerings increasingly converged and consumer demands and behavior pushed the historically clear boundaries of product, content, engagement and interaction.

    Keywords: Digital Innovation; technology; technology management; digital convergence; Digital technology; innovation; product development; korea; Samsung; television; Product design; Technological Innovation; Technology; Innovation and Invention; Innovation Leadership; Innovation and Management; Product Development; Product Design; Electronics Industry; Korean Peninsula; Asia;


    Lakhani, Karim, Marco Iansiti, and Kerry Herman. "Samsung Electronics: TV in an Era of Convergence." Harvard Business School Case 614-034, March 2014. (Revised March 2014.)
  6. Do Leaders Matter? Natural Experiment and Quantitative Case Study of Indian State Owned Laboratories

    Our study is one of the first natural experiments around the role of leaders in the context of firms. Also while most prior natural experiments around leadership in the policy world have exploited the death of the leader, we exploit an alternate exogenous shock—rigid bureaucratic rules that constrain the appointment of leaders to 42 Indian public R&D labs with 12,500 employees. The bureaucratic rules ensure that the timing of leadership change is uncorrelated with observable or unobservable firm level characteristics. This enables us to circumvent the issues related to the use of manager fixed effects in the prior empirical literature. Efforts to incentivize individual employees to file and license patents did not meet with immediate success. However, patenting and licensing both increased once leaders at individual labs were replaced.

    Keywords: Patents; Leadership; State Ownership; India;


    Choudhury, Prithwiraj, and Tarun Khanna. "Do Leaders Matter? Natural Experiment and Quantitative Case Study of Indian State Owned Laboratories." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-077, February 2014.
  7. Strava

    Strava is a new fast-growing social network for the avid cyclist and runner. The Strava case traces the entrepreneurial journey of two serial entrepreneurs who have been co-founders in a prior venture, and who have co-founded Strava 3 years ago. The protagonists must decide whether or not to accept the Series A investment terms from their venture capitalists.

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; cycling; biking; running; Sports; technology; mobile app; mobile; GPS; motivation; behavioral science; founders; term sheet; investment; terms; Silicon Valley; lifestyle; Strava; financing; fundraising; angel; valuation; Growth; forecast; Business Startups; Business Plan; Trends; Forecasting and Prediction; Decision Choices and Conditions; Corporate Entrepreneurship; Institutional Investing; Collaborative Innovation and Invention; Innovation Leadership; Innovation Strategy; Innovation and Management; Technological Innovation; Management Succession; Growth Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Market Timing; Bicycle Industry; Consumer Products Industry; Technology Industry; Sports Industry; Web Services Industry; California; New England;


    Lassiter, Joseph B., III, William A. Sahlman, and Sid Misra. "Strava." Harvard Business School Case 814-055, February 2014.
  8. Hospital Clínic de Barcelona

    Keywords: health care; provider organizations; hospital; leadership; organization structure; Leadership; Organizations; Health; Health Industry; Europe; Spain;


    Bohmer, Richard M.J., Daniela Beyersdorfer, and Jaume Ribera. "Hospital Clínic de Barcelona." Harvard Business School Case 614-058, February 2014.
  9. Go Beyond Investing

    In 2013, Brigitte Baumann, founder of the Pan-European angel investing provider Go Beyond Investing, reflected on the evolution of her venture and the way forward. Her company, which offered deal flow and training to novice and experienced angel investors and ran investor groups in several European countries, had reached a critical size, and Baumann needed to make a strategic decision to ensure its future growth in an industry that was undergoing rapid competitive and regulatory change. Her options required a decision on whether to keep her venture independent, and use a financing round to grow and scale it to a European leader in early stage investing, or whether to cash out and/or have it evolve more quickly through a partnership or sale. Possibilities included a future sale to a private bank that was looking for ways to expand their investment offerings for high net worth individuals, or joining forces with one of the emerging crowdfunding networks that targeted small investors. All of these options would require adjustments to Go Beyond Investing's strategy, capabilities, financing, and organizational structure.

    Keywords: Equity; Investment; Business or Company Management; Growth Management; Leadership; Financial Services Industry; Europe; Switzerland;


    Applegate, Lynda, Vincent Dessain, Emilie Billaud, and Daniela Beyersdorfer. "Go Beyond Investing." Harvard Business School Case 814-046, February 2014.
  10. The Kursk Submarine Rescue Mission

    The Kursk, a Russian nuclear-powered submarine sank in the relatively shallow waters of the Barents Sea in August 2000, during a naval exercise. Numerous survivors were reported to be awaiting rescue, and within a week, an international rescue party gathered at the scene, which had possessed between them all that was needed for a successful rescue. Yet they failed to save anybody. Based on the recollections and daily situational reports of Commodore David Russell, who headed the Royal Navy's rescue mission, the case explores how and why this failure—a classic coordination failure—occurred. The Kursk rescue mission also illustrates the challenges of pluralistic risk and disaster management, and asks students to consider how to bring about solutions in the face of pluralistic risk issues, such as the depletion of natural resources and many other disasters, when multiple parties with competing and often conflicting values and expertise have to learn to coordinate and establish a virtual, well-aligned organization.

    Keywords: Risk Management; Moral Sensibility; Leadership; Organizational Structure; Crisis Management; Failure; Cooperation; Cross-Cultural and Cross-Border Issues; Norway; United Kingdom; Russia;


    Mikes, Anette. "The Kursk Submarine Rescue Mission." Harvard Business School Case 114-046, January 2014.
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