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. Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

    David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano

    The authors of the bestselling Competing on Internet Time (a Business Week top 10 book) analyze the strategies, principles, and skills of three of the most successful and influential figures in business—Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs—offering lessons for all managers and entrepreneurs on leadership, strategy, and execution.
    In less than a decade, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Andy Grove founded three companies that would define the world of technology and transform our lives. At their peaks, Microsoft, Apple, and Intel were collectively worth some $1.5 trillion. Strategy Rules examines these three individuals collectively for the first time—their successes and failures, commonalities, and differences—revealing the business strategies and practices they pioneered while building their firms.
    David B. Yoffie and Michael A. Cusumano have studied these three leaders and their companies for more than thirty years, while teaching business strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship at Harvard and MIT. In this enlightening guide, they show how Gates, Grove, and Jobs approached strategy and execution in remarkably similar ways—yet markedly differently from their erstwhile competitors—keeping their focus on five strategic rules. Strategy Rules brings together the best practices in strategic management and high-tech entrepreneurship from three path-breaking entrepreneurs who emerged as CEOs of huge global companies. Their approaches to formulating strategy and building organizations offer unique insights for start-up executives as well as the heads of modern multinationals.

    Keywords: Management; Strategy; Leadership; Information Technology; Entrepreneurship; Information Technology Industry;


    Yoffie, David B., and Michael A. Cusumano. Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs. New York: HarperBusiness, 2015. View Details
  2. Dutch Bros. Coffee: A Compelling Future

    Joshua Margolis and Christine Snively

    Travis Boersma, co-founder and President of the Dutch Bros. coffee chain, faces three operational decisions that will shape the company's growth trajectory and distinctive culture. First, should they offer a specialty coffee at a subset of their stores in one region where customers are clamoring for it, contrary to the company's commitment to a consistent experience across all stores? Second, as the company continues to expand, should they roll out an electronic point-of-sale system, which has interfered with customer service in prior pilot tests? Third, how can Dutch Bros. provide opportunities for their best employees, who aspire to own and operate their own franchise stores but often lack the expertise and funding to do so.

    Keywords: leadership; culture; Culture and Community; service management; retail; food; managing growth; family business; small business; Leadership; Culture; Food and Beverage Industry; Oregon;


    Margolis, Joshua, and Christine Snively. "Dutch Bros. Coffee: A Compelling Future." Harvard Business School Case 415-010, April 2015. View Details
  3. Korea

    Forest Reinhardt, Jonathan Schlefer, Keith Chi-ho Wong and Mayuka Yamazaki

    South Korea's economic success and its transition from authoritarianism to democracy teach important lessons in national strategy and political economy. Now, though, its famous chaebols may need reform, the population is aging, and relations with the North are as tense as ever. What should the country's leaders do?

    Keywords: Economics; Governance; Government and Politics; Leadership; Globalization; Demographics; Asia;


    Reinhardt, Forest, Jonathan Schlefer, Keith Chi-ho Wong, and Mayuka Yamazaki. "Korea." Harvard Business School Case 715-047, April 2015. (Revised April 2015.) View Details
  4. Tim Keller at Katzenbach Partners LLC (A) (Abridged)

    Boris Groysberg and James Weber

    Tracks the first 6 months of a recent MBA grad, Tim Keller, at Katzenbach Partners, a boutique consulting firm focused on organizational change and strategy. Covers how Keller initially struggles with his assignment and ends with a question of whether or not he should attend a meeting that he was not invited to, where more senior consultants plan to implement the system dynamics tool that he was responsible for creating—on a Sunday when he had a major personal engagement.

    Keywords: Interpersonal relations; Organization Behavior; leadership; Superior & subordinate; Managing projects; informal organization; consulting; professional services; Leadership; Work-Life Balance; Decision Choices and Conditions; Organizations; Rank and Position; Product Development; Service Industry; Consulting Industry;


    Groysberg, Boris, and James Weber. "Tim Keller at Katzenbach Partners LLC (A) (Abridged)." Harvard Business School Case 415-070, March 2015. View Details
  5. Delhaize Group: Developing Leaders

    Boris Groysberg and Sarah L. Abbott

    Delhaize Group, the Belgian-based global food retailer, was focused on competing in the food retailing industry by developing leading positions in key markets via localized retailing strategies. Delhaize was committed to offering its customers superior value while maintaining high social, environmental, and ethical standards. For Frans Muller, Delhaize's president and CEO, the key to executing on this strategy was ensuring that the Group was developing leaders with the requisite skills and competencies. In light of this, Muller felt it was important to assess the Group's leadership development practices. Were the current training and development programs effective? What were the leadership skills that would be needed to execute on Delhaize's strategic plan, both today and in the future?

    Keywords: leadership development; strategy; organizational alignment; organizational culture; talent management; human capital; Leadership Development; Globalized Firms and Management; Human Capital; Talent and Talent Management; Corporate Strategy; Organizational Culture; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry; Belgium;


    Groysberg, Boris, and Sarah L. Abbott. "Delhaize Group: Developing Leaders." Harvard Business School Case 415-019, February 2015. View Details
  6. Hövding: The Airbag for Cyclists

    Joseph B. Fuller and Emilie Billaud

    In 2012, Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, co­founders of the Hövding company, reflect on the evolution of their venture and the way forward. Since 2005, Haupt and Alstin had been working on a new type of bicycle helmet—an "airbag for cyclists". What had begun as a thesis had grown into a seven-year journey of research and development, including raising over $5 million of venture capital. The product had been granted Europe's CE certification in 2011 and had been launched simultaneously in Sweden and Norway. Yet, a year later, the company had still not reached the break­even point. To help them establish a commercialization strategy, the Hövding board had prevailed upon the founders to hire a professional CEO. But surrendering management control was an emotional process for Haupt and Alstin, while the CEO struggled to assert his leadership and build the company's commercial capabilities. Should Haupt and Alstin collaborate with their CEO despite their misgivings or should they step away from the company they had dedicated seven years to building?

    Keywords: Business Startups; Entrepreneurship; Transition; Leadership; Conflict Management; Bicycle Industry; Sweden; Europe;


    Fuller, Joseph B., and Emilie Billaud. "Hövding: The Airbag for Cyclists." Harvard Business School Case 315-056, February 2015. View Details
  7. Do Managers Have a Role to Play in Sustaining the Institutions of Capitalism?

    Rebecca Henderson and Karthik Ramanna

    In a capitalist system based on free markets, do managers have responsibilities to the system itself? If they do, should these responsibilities shape their behavior when they engage in the political processes that structure the institutions of capitalism? The prevailing view—perhaps most eloquently argued by Milton Friedman—is that the first duty of managers is to maximize shareholder value and thus that they should take every opportunity (within the bounds of the law) to structure market institutions so as to increase profitability. We argue here that this shareholder-return view of political engagement may apply in cases where the political process is sufficiently "thick," in that sufficiently detailed information about the issues is widely available and the public interest is well-represented. However, we draw on a series of detailed examples in the context of the determination of corporate accounting standards to argue that when the political process of determining the institutions of capitalism is "thin," in that managers find themselves with specialized technical knowledge unavailable to outsiders and with little political resistance from the general interest, then managers have a responsibility to market institutions themselves, even if this entails acting at the expense of corporate profits. We make this argument on grounds that this behavior is both in managers' long-run self-interest and, expanding on Friedman's core contention, that it is managers' moral duty.

    Keywords: Capitalism; leadership; lobbying; Leadership; Economic Systems; Managerial Roles; Business and Government Relations;


    Henderson, Rebecca, and Karthik Ramanna. "Do Managers Have a Role to Play in Sustaining the Institutions of Capitalism?" Governance Studies, The Initiative on 21st Century Capitalism, No. 20, Brookings Institution, February 2015. View Details
  8. Thin Political Markets: The Soft Underbelly of Capitalism

    Karthik Ramanna

    "Thin political markets" are the processes through which some of the most complex and critical institutions of our capitalist system are determined—e.g., our accounting-standards infrastructure. In thin political markets, corporate managers are largely unopposed—because of their own expertise and the general public's low awareness of the issues. This enables managers to structure the "rules of the game" in self-serving ways. 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. I provide some ideas on how to fix the problem.

    Keywords: business and society; leadership; accounting; financial institutions; lobbying; sustainability; Leadership; Economic Systems; Accounting; Business and Community Relations; Financial Institutions; Business and Government Relations;

  9. More Citizens Connect

    Mitchell Weiss

    Funding to scale Citizens Connect, Boston's 311 app, is both a blessing and a burden and tests two public entrepreneurs. In 2012, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides Boston's Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics with a grant to scale Citizens Connect across the state. The money gives two co-creators of Citizens Connect, Chris Osgood and Nigel Jacob, a chance to grow their vision for citizen-engaged governance and civic innovation, but it also requires that the two City of Boston leaders sit on a formal selection committee that pits their original partner, Connected Bits, against another player that might meet the specific requirements for delivering a statewide version. The selection and scaling process raises questions beyond just which partner to choose. What would happen to the Citizens Connect brand as Osgood and Jacob's product spreads across the state? Who could help scale their work best then nationally? Which business models were best positioned to drive that growth? What intellectual property arrangements would best enable it? And what role should the two city employees have, anyway, in scaling Citizens Connect outside of Boston in the first place? These questions hung in the air as they pondered the big one about passing over Connected Bits for another partner: Should they?

    Keywords: public entrepreneurship; civic technology; government innovation; civic innovation; cities; New Urban Mechanics; Thomas. M. Menino; Chris Osgood; Nigel Jacob; Connected Bits; SeeClickFix; Ben Berkowitz; Eric Carlson; Dave Mitchell; government technology; open innovation; open source software; Citizens Connect; Commonwealth Connect; Entrepreneurship; Innovation and Invention; Innovation Leadership; Innovation and Management; Open Source Distribution; Public Administration Industry; Information Technology Industry; Boston;


    Weiss, Mitchell. "More Citizens Connect." Harvard Business School Case 315-075, January 2015. View Details
  10. Higher-Ambition CEOs Need Higher-Ambition Boards

    Edward Ludwig, Elise Walton and Michael Beer

    Over the past years, forward-looking CEOs have adopted a higher-ambition approach to strategy and leadership. These "higher-ambition CEOs" are driven by a sense of purpose that goes beyond achieving financial success. They aspire to build organizations that succeed in the marketplace by earning the respect, trust, and, commitment of their people, customers, communities, and investors. Higher-ambition leaders commit to simultaneously meeting financial targets and fulfilling broader needs in society. They are also realistic about the challenges.

    Keywords: Strategy; Leadership Style; Management Teams;


    Ludwig, Edward, Elise Walton, and Michael Beer. "Higher-Ambition CEOs Need Higher-Ambition Boards." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-052, December 2014. View Details
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