Technology and Innovation

The early works of William Abernathy on roadblocks to innovation and Richard Rosenbloom on technology and information transfers in the 1960's and 1970's started the Technology Strategy field and helped pave the path for our research today.  With advances in technology impacting every industry, our research reaches across each of our academic units and lends itself to collaborative projects.  As an academic community, we have united to conduct multi-disciplinary projects that center on several areas such as:
  • Value creation of platforms and two-sided markets
  • Use of open architecture and leverage of its collective value
  • Development and execution of innovation strategies
  • The innovative attributes of executives and firms
  • Development of new markets through the creation of disruptive innovations that displace earlier technologies
  • Development of innovations in sectors
  • The impact of innovation on economic growth
Our diverse academic backgrounds, combined together with real-world experience practicing and consulting at tech-related companies, give us a unique lens through which to analyze developments in technology and innovation both on location at companies or through the use of online experiments and other novel methodologies. As an example, Benjamin Edelman uses the Internet to conduct experiments that examine how users interact with search engines. And our research spans our academic disciplines, as seen with Karim Lakhani of the School's Technology and Operations Management unit joining forces with Michael Tushman of the Organizational Behavior unit to explore when open innovation modes complement or replace traditional, firm-based innovation. Through these and other in-depth research projects, we are shaping innovations in technology and, in turn, the future of how business is conducted in the Digital Age.
  1. The Language of Global Management

    Tsedal Neeley

    Over the last two decades, organizations seeking global expansion have been mandating an English lingua franca, or common language to facilitate global collaboration regardless of the country location of their headquarters. This article explains why stipulating a lingua franca for employees has replaced the exclusive use of language brokers. In the era of a business lingua franca, nevertheless, gives rise to the phenomenon of native and nonnative speakers. While a lingua franca can unify a nationally and linguistically diverse workforce, nascent research reveals challenging dynamics among speakers of various levels of lingua franca fluency. In-depth studies at the micro-, macro-, and meso-levels can shed important light on this nascent field of research.

    Keywords: Networks; Governance; Technology; Management; Ethics; Emerging Markets; Innovation and Invention;


    Neeley, Tsedal. "The Language of Global Management." In Wiley Encyclopedia of Management. 3rd ed. Edited by Cary L. Cooper. John Wiley & Sons, 2014. View Details
  2. The Decoupling Effect of Digital Disruptors

    Thales S. Teixeira and Peter Jamieson

    While the Internet's first wave of disruption was marked by the unbundling of digital content, the second wave, decoupling, promises to generate more casualties in an even broader array of industries. Digital start-ups are disrupting traditional businesses by inserting themselves at every juncture in the customer's consumption chain. By decoupling—the act of separating activities that people are used to co-consuming—new digital businesses are disrupting retailing, telecom and other industries. Decoupling allows consumers to benefit from the value created at a lower cost or effort compared to what is delivered by traditional businesses. For those companies, the only solutions are to either recouple activities or rebalance to create and capture value (i.e., revenues) from both activities separately. Here, digital technologies can be seen as an instrument that will both disrupt traditional business models and potentially preserve them.

    Keywords: Disruptive Innovation; Information Technology;


    Teixeira, Thales S., and Peter Jamieson. "The Decoupling Effect of Digital Disruptors." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-031, October 2014. View Details
  3. edX: Strategies for Higher Education

    David Collis, Matthew Shaffer and Ashley Hartman

    In May 2012, Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) founded edX, a new non-profit joint venture that would provide a platform for massive open online courses (MOOCs). edX did not produce original courses or instructional content—it made a web platform through which Harvard and MIT, and subsequently dozens more "partner" universities, could offer their lecture courses as MOOCs.
    While the future role of MOOCs in higher education remained a topic of public debate, edX needed to answer concrete managerial and strategic questions. For example, what should edX's scope be? Should edX try to develop a consumer brand of its own, or rely on the brands of its partners? And how could edX monetize its services to recoup Harvard and MIT's investments and reward participating universities? This case presented the history of edX and the online education market as background for a discussion about edX's strategic choices.

    Keywords: MOOCS; edX; online platforms; online education; Harvard University; MIT; Execution; monetization; brand management; Higher Education; Technology; Strategy; Disruptive Innovation; Education Industry;


    Collis, David, Matthew Shaffer, and Ashley Hartman. "edX: Strategies for Higher Education." Harvard Business School Case 715-413, September 2014. (Revised December 2014.) View Details
  4. Cree Inc.: Introducing the LED Light Bulb

    John Gourville and Michael Norris

    Cree, a North Carolina-based maker of light emitting diodes (LEDs), has just introduced its first consumer product—an LED light bulb. It is designed as an energy efficient replacement for the ubiquitous incandescent light bulb. But given that it is an unfamiliar technology and that it costs ten times what an incandescent bulb costs, there are questions about how best to promote adoption and what sales level might be expected.

    Keywords: marketing; innovation; product adoption; Technological Innovation; Technology Adoption; Energy Conservation; Product Launch; Consumer Products Industry; North Carolina;


    Gourville, John, and Michael Norris. "Cree Inc.: Introducing the LED Light Bulb." Harvard Business School Case 515-026, September 2014. View Details
  5. Netflix in 2011

    Willy Shih and Stephen Kaufman

    Reed Hastings founded Netflix to provide a home movie service that would do a better job satisfying customers than the traditional retail rental model. But as it encountered challenges it underwent several major strategy shifts, ultimately developing a business model and an operational strategy that were highly disruptive to retail video rental chains. The combination of a large national inventory, a recommendation system that drove viewership across a broad catalog, and a large customer base made Netflix a force to be reckoned with, especially as a distribution channel for lower-profile and independent films. Blockbuster, the nation's largest retail video rental firm, was initially slow to respond, but ultimately rolled out a hybrid retail/online response in the form of Blockbuster Online. Aggressive pricing pulled in subscribers, but at a price to both it and Netflix. But a new challenge was on the horizon—the rapid growth of the company's online streaming service, which had a very different business model. Hastings' efforts to separate the activity into two separate companies met with strong pushback from consumers and the press. What was the best path forward?

    Keywords: Netflix; DVD; DVD-by-mail; streaming; online entertainment; online video; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Business Model; Disruption; Operations; Service Operations; Entertainment; Film Entertainment; Television Entertainment; Media; Strategy; Business or Company Management; Competitive Strategy; Competitive Advantage; Corporate Strategy; Expansion; Technology; Technology Adoption; Technology Platform; Web; Entertainment and Recreation Industry; United States;


    Shih, Willy, and Stephen Kaufman. "Netflix in 2011." Harvard Business School Case 615-007, August 2014. View Details
  6. Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2014)

    John Gourville

    An updated "Four Products" case. This 2014 version includes: raw lobster meat, electric-powered Formula One race cars, a 3D printer for cosmetics, and a "smart" tennis racket. These four products form the basis to assess the drivers of new product adoption. In particular, one of the critical tasks in the marketing of new innovations is predicting demand and rates of diffusion for those products. And while one can speculate on the scope and rate of diffusion for any given product, it's helpful to compare and contrast diffusion across products. Doing so allows one to focus on the drivers or product characteristics that influence product diffusion, making one product a star and another a dog. Specifically, looking across products allows one to pick up on things that get lost in discussing a single product.

    Note that this case often gets used with HBS Note #505-075, "Note on Innovation Diffusion: Rogers' Five Factors," which either can be distributed along with the case or after the case has been taught.

    Keywords: Innovation and Invention; Product Launch; Marketing; Demand and Consumers; Technology Adoption;


    Gourville, John. "Four Products: Predicting Diffusion (2014)." Harvard Business School Case 515-023, August 2014. View Details
  7. Taiwan's PC Industry, 1976–2010: The Evolution of Organizational Capabilities

    Howard H. Yu and Willy C. Shih

    The stellar growth of Taiwan's personal computer (PC) industry over the past three decades represents a paradox. Participating in the global production system, local firms in Taiwan grew in association with established firms in the West. Despite their technical know-how, manufacturing prowess, and size, most leading Taiwanese firms did not develop their own capabilities in branding and marketing. A close examination of the historical evolution of the industry reveals that interactions with established companies in the West, in addition to local competition, decisively shaped capability development among latecomer firms. A few firms in Taiwan that eventually joined the ranks of global PC brands had been investing in marketing early, guided by strategic vision rather than near-term economic calculation.

    Keywords: Personal computer; PC; PC Industry; Taiwan PC Industry; Taiwan PC Manufacturers; Innovation and Invention; Innovation and Management; Innovation Strategy; Growth and Development; Growth and Development Strategy; Growth Management; Industry Clusters; Industry Growth; Industry Structures; Information Technology; Technological Innovation; Mobile Technology; Information Technology Industry; Taiwan;


    Yu, Howard H., and Willy C. Shih. "Taiwan's PC Industry, 1976–2010: The Evolution of Organizational Capabilities." Business History Review 88, no. 2 (Summer 2014): 329–357. View Details
  8. GE and the Industrial Internet

    Karim R. Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Kerry Herman

    CEO Jeff Immelt considers whether GE is moving fast enough on its new Industrial Internet initiative. The undertaking includes building out an Industrial Internet, connecting machines and devices, collecting their data and operations, and providing services to clients based on analytics of this data and information. The case considers the implications of such an initiative across all 6 of GE's business units, and how best and how quickly to execute the strategy. The firm has committed $1b in investment, building out a new software center in California, and a commercial sales function at headquarters to deploy the new products and services.

    Keywords: technology; operations management; strategy; big data; Business analysis; corporate strategy; Digital technology; Digital Innovation; general management; general strategy; Global Competitiveness; global strategy; innovation; Innovation and Management; industrial internet; GE; Innovation and Invention; Technology; Air Transportation Industry; Energy Industry; Health Industry; Industrial Products Industry; Information Technology Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Medical Devices and Supplies Industry; Rail Industry; Transportation Industry; Technology Industry; North and Central America; Asia; Europe; Middle East; Latin America;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Marco Iansiti, and Kerry Herman. "GE and the Industrial Internet." Harvard Business School Case 614-032, April 2014. (Revised June 2014.) View Details
  9. Prodigy Network: Democratizing Real Estate Design and Financing

    Karim R. Lakhani, Katja Hutter and Greta Friar

    This case follows Rodrigo Nino, founder and CEO of commercial real estate development company Prodigy Network, as he develops an equity-based crowdfunding model for small investors to access commercial real estate in Colombia, then tries out the model in the U.S. U.S. regulations, starting with the Securities Act of 1933, effectively barred sponsors from soliciting small investors for large commercial real estate. However, the JOBS Act of 2013 loosened U.S. restrictions on equity crowdfunding. Nino believes that crowdfunding will democratize real estate development by providing a new asset class for small investors, revolutionizing the industry. The case also follows Nino's development of an online platform to crowdsource design for his crowdfunded buildings, maximizing shared value throughout the development process. Nino faces many challenges as he attempts to crowdfund an extended stay hotel in Manhattan, New York. For example, crowdfunded real estate faces resistance from industry leaders, especially in regards to the concern of fraud, and SEC regulations on crowdfunding remain undetermined at the time of the case.

    Keywords: innovation; real estate; crowdfunding; crowdsourcing; Digital Innovation; Commercial Real Estate; online platforms; Disruption; Transformation; Design; Assets; Equity; Disruptive Innovation; Innovation Strategy; Online Technology; Real Estate Industry; Latin America; New York (state, US); United States;


    Lakhani, Karim R., Katja Hutter, and Greta Friar. "Prodigy Network: Democratizing Real Estate Design and Financing." Harvard Business School Case 614-064, March 2014. (Revised January 2015.) View Details
  10. Samsung Electronics: TV in an Era of Convergence

    Karim Lakhani, Marco Iansiti and Kerry Herman

    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.) View Details
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