News & Highlights

  • June 2017

Zhang Mei MBA 1996 featured in Skydeck, HBS Alumni Podcast Series

Author and WildChina founder Zhang Mei (MBA 1996) takes us inside the kitchens of her native Dali, in the Yunnan province in southwest China. She is the author of "Travels Through Dali with a Leg of Ham," a travelogue and recipe collection culled from kitchens of her Chinese hometown. Zhang's founding of WildChina is featured in an HBS case written in 2009, focusing on themes of leadership and entrepreneurship challenges.
  • April 2017
  • Alumni News

Bringing Markets to Myanmar

For 25 years, David Brunell (MBA 1962) has worked in private sector development all over the world, transforming centralized economies to market-based economies in 20 different countries, including Zambia, Vietnam, and Pakistan. His most recent work was with the government of Myanmar, which recently emerged from decades of military rule with a planned economy. Bulletin editor Dan Morrell talked to David about his experience in Myanmar, and what the process of private sector development looks like at the ground level.

New Research on the Region

  • 2017
  • Working Paper

Organizational Structures and the Improvement of Working Conditions in Global Supply Chains: Legalization, Participation, and Economic Incentives

Exploitive working conditions have spurred the development of formal organizational structures that deploy mechanisms including legalization—adherence to a set of law-like rules and procedures—and worker participation to improve labor standards in global supply chains. Yet little is known about whether these structures are associated with improved working conditions, especially in organizations in which they compete with productivity-driving economic incentives. Drawing on the economic sociology of law and organizations as well as theories of organizational learning, we investigate whether and how these formal organizational structures, individually and in combination, are associated with improved working conditions. Using data on 3,276 suppliers in 55 countries, we find greater improvement at suppliers that adopt legalization structures (operationalized as management system standards) and worker participation structures (unions) and find that the combination of these structures amplifies improvement. We find less improvement at suppliers with organizational incentive structures meant to increase worker productivity (piece-rate pay), but also find that this negative relationship is attenuated by organizational legalization and worker participation structures. These findings challenge existing theories of decoupling by showing how these organizational structures can be credible signals for improvement and can also be coupled with organizational changes via processes of organizational learning, even in the face of intense efficiency demands. Furthermore, our findings suggest important strategic considerations for managers selecting supplier factories and provide key insights for the design of transnational sustainability governance regimes.

  • July 2017
  • Case

A Green Forest Grows in Brooklyn: Joint Venturing with the Chinese

MaryAnne Gilmartin, President and CEO of Forest City Ratner (“Forest City”) was planning for yet another protracted discussion over the merits of a green roof for part of her $5 billion dollar new development in Brooklyn. While the low seven-figure cost overrun was to be “value-engineered” and in the scheme of things, this budgeted item was not going to impact the financial success of the project, it had become a heated source of contention. Was the debate symptomatic of something deeper that was amiss in the relationship?

  • Article
  • Review of Financial Studies

Intellectual Property Rights Protection, Ownership, and Innovation: Evidence from China

Using a difference-in-difference approach, we study how intellectual property right (IPR) protection affects innovation in China in the years around the privatizations of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Innovation increases after SOE privatizations, and this increase is larger in cities with strong IPR protection. Our results support theoretical arguments that IPR protection strengthens firms’ incentives to innovate and that private sector firms are more sensitive to IPR protection than SOEs.

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