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. Case Study: Is a Promotion Worth Hiding Who You Are?

    Karthik Ramanna

    A manager decides whether he should hide his sexual orientation for an overseas assignment.

    Keywords: case studies; globalization; Career advancement; Leadership Development; Globalization; Technology Industry; Korean Peninsula; United States;


    Ramanna, Karthik. "Case Study: Is a Promotion Worth Hiding Who You Are?" Harvard Business Review 93, no. 10 (October 2015): 123–127. View Details
  2. MOD Pizza: A Winning Recipe?

    Boris Groysberg, John D. Vaughan and Matthew Preble

    Scott and Ally Svenson, the founders of MOD Pizza, had to make a number of decisions in planning how to scale their small company. They wanted to grow MOD from 45 stores as of May 2015 to 200 stores by the end of 2016, and while the two believed that MOD could manage this growth from an operational standpoint, they wanted to make sure that MOD's culture was sufficiently strong to survive this roll-out. The company had developed a strong culture, and the Svenson's did not want MOD's core values and philosophies to be compromised as it rapidly expanded. To that end, they considered what the company needed to do in order to protect its core culture. Should it put rigid safeguards in place, or trust that MOD could successfully scale its culture by hiring the right people and helping them develop as employees? The Svensons also discussed the possbility of an IPO at some point in the near future; what would this mean for its ability to stay true to its core values?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; employees; employee relationship management; selection and staffing; leadership; growth and development strategy; marketing; service delivery; organizational culture; corporate social responsibility and impact; mission and purpose; Entrepreneurship; Employees; Employee Relationship Management; Selection and Staffing; Leadership; Growth and Development Strategy; Marketing; Service Delivery; Organizational Culture; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Mission and Purpose; Service Industry; United States;


    Groysberg, Boris, John D. Vaughan, and Matthew Preble. "MOD Pizza: A Winning Recipe?" Harvard Business School Case 416-004, September 2015. View Details
  3. Macy's: Evolution in the Sunshine State

    Boris Groysberg, Das Narayandas, Benson P. Shapiro and Sarah L. Abbott

    In 2009, Lee O'Rourke was promoted to District Vice President in charge of Macy's newly created North Florida district. This district consisted of 11 stores located in the greater Orlando area and in the east coast towns of Daytona, Melbourne, Merritt Island, and Vero Beach. The performance of these stores had lagged in recent years, and O'Rourke was charged with building a cross-functional district team to support these stores and with improving their overall performance.
    O'Rourke and her team were able to drive almost immediate improvement in the district's sales growth and profitability and in other key areas such as customer service scores. How can O'Rourke ensure that these stores continue to perform well going forward?

    Keywords: leadership; marketing strategy; human capital; managing performance; retail; organization; change management; Leadership; Leadership Style; Leading Change; Marketing; Marketing Strategy; Management; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Retail Industry; United States;


    Groysberg, Boris, Das Narayandas, Benson P. Shapiro, and Sarah L. Abbott. "Macy's: Evolution in the Sunshine State." Harvard Business School Case 416-018, September 2015. View Details
  4. Mary Caroline Tillman at Egon Zehnder: Spotting Talent in the 21st Century

    Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats

    This case investigates both micro and macro issues around strategic human capital development. First, it explores how Egon Zehnder, a leading global search and advisory firm, assesses talent in the firms for which it works. The case discusses the deployment of a unique potential model that substantially shifts how the company views individuals. Within this framework, Mary Caroline Tillman, the case protagonist, is faced with an evaluation decision between two candidates who have different competencies, past experience and potential. Second, the case also explores the macro issues of running a professional services firm. The case presents an opportunity to examine how and if the organization can change its focus to include more assessment opportunities.

    Keywords: Assessment; Competencies; Potential; Talent; Employees; Recruitment; Selection and Staffing; Leadership Development; Management Practices and Processes; Performance Evaluation; Behavior; Motivation and Incentives; Consulting Industry; United Kingdom;


    Gino, Francesca, and Bradley Staats. "Mary Caroline Tillman at Egon Zehnder: Spotting Talent in the 21st Century." Harvard Business School Case 416-017, September 2015. View Details
  5. George Washington and the Foundations of American Democracy

    Tom Nicholas and Matthew G. Preble

    George Washington is perhaps the most well-known of the U.S.'s founding fathers because of his political and military achievements. However, Washington also operated a number of successful business ventures out of his Mount Vernon estate, and he became a landowner on the American frontier. Washington's life and career serve as a lens for understanding the development of the early American economy. Washington was entrepreneurial both economically and politically. He played a central role in helping to structure the new country's national government and developed a number of precedents as the country's first executive.

    Keywords: government; history; leadership; entrepreneurship; George Washington; democracy; Decision Making; Entrepreneurship; Government and Politics; Business History; Leadership; United States;


    Nicholas, Tom, and Matthew G. Preble. "George Washington and the Foundations of American Democracy." Harvard Business School Case 816-019, August 2015. View Details
  6. Ron Johnson: A Career in Retail

    Das Narayandas, Joshua D. Margolis and Ryan Raffaelli

    In April 2013, Ron Johnson (HBS '84) stepped down after just 18 months as CEO of J.C. Penney. In his brief tenure, Johnson, an acclaimed retailer respected for his innovation and success in shaping the retail image at Target and Apple, introduced dramatic departures from J.C. Penney's traditional retail approach, and enacted changes quickly and simultaneously, with little market testing. Over Johnson's final 12 months as CEO, J.C. Penney shares dropped more than 50%. The case describes the environments at Target, Apple, and J.C. Penney during Johnson's tenure and how his experiences may have shaped the strategies that he implemented while CEO at J.C. Penney.

    Keywords: Change Management; Innovation Leadership; Situation or Environment; Failure; Management Teams; Brands and Branding; Retail Industry; United States;


    Narayandas, Das, Joshua D. Margolis, and Ryan Raffaelli. "Ron Johnson: A Career in Retail." Harvard Business School Case 516-016, July 2015. View Details
  7. Rebooting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

    Dennis A. Yao and Hillary Greene

    David Kappos is confirmed as Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in August 2009. The primary activity of USPTO, an executive agency with a $2 billion budget and nearly 10,000 employees, is to examine and issue patents. While progress has been made in terms of increasing the quality of issued patents, the time it takes to process them has increased markedly. Since 2005, processing time has increased nearly 20% to more than 34 months and the backlog of unexamined patent applications has grown to more than 750,000. Agency morale is low, the applicant base is unhappy, and the fallout of the financial crisis nearly forced the agency to furlough most of its employees. In addition, a major initiative of the agency for addressing the backlog problem has been stopped pending the outcome of litigation between the agency and two of its applicants. This case explores the strategy and leadership challenges associated with turning around a large government organization.

    Keywords: strategy formulation; leadership; service operations; turnarounds; operational effectiveness; government organizations; Patents; Leadership; United States;


    Yao, Dennis A., and Hillary Greene. "Rebooting the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office." Harvard Business School Case 715-458, June 2015. View Details
  8. Tanfeeth: Bringing Service Excellence to the GCC

    Lynda M. Applegate and Arnold B. Peinado

    Tanfeeth, a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm in the United Arab Emirates, was founded in July 2011 as a fully owned subsidiary of Emirates NBD, the largest bank in the Gulf Corporation Council. When Tanfeeth was founded, Emirates NBD, along with the leaders of Tanfeeth, decided that Tanfeeth would begin by improving processes at the bank. However, two years after its founding, some Tanfeeth executives felt that the organization needed to take on work from outside clients. They were concerned that if Tanfeeth waited too long, its first-mover advantage and position as market leader would deteriorate. Additionally, if Emirates NBD held back Tanfeeth's growth ambitions, some of the world-class talent Tanfeeth had been able to attract might leave. What was the best course of action for Emirates NBD and Tanfeeth?

    Keywords: entrepreneurship; Middle East; outsourcing; leadership; Entrepreneurship; Leadership; Middle East;


    Applegate, Lynda M., and Arnold B. Peinado. "Tanfeeth: Bringing Service Excellence to the GCC." Harvard Business School Case 815-129, May 2015. View Details
  9. Generating Higher Value at IBM (A)

    Benjamin C. Esty and E. Scott Mayfield

    Keywords: dividends; Share Repurchases; Earnings Guidance; financial statement analysis; Financial ratios; Payout policy; Earnings per Share (EPS); Earnings Management; Change Management; Leadership; Transformation; Financial Strategy;


    Esty, Benjamin C., and E. Scott Mayfield. "Generating Higher Value at IBM (A)." Harvard Business School Case 215-058, May 2015. (Revised July 2015.) View Details
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