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

  • October 2017 (Revised October 2017)
  • Case

Coaching Makena Lane

By: Ethan Bernstein and Om Lala

Makena Lane has a gift for producing results, even in the challenging retail context of the 2010s, but also has a knack for “ruffling some feathers” in the process. Recruited to a Fortune 500 grocery and pharmacy retailer after climbing to Associate Principal in McKinsey & Company’s retail practice, she successfully grew their high-margin yet highly competitive beauty category beyond anyone’s expectations. Yet then she was passed over for promotion, receiving the feedback that her “concerning” and “abrasive” interpersonal style had made it impossible to promote her. Instead of a promotion, Lane is offered an executive coach. The case offers a uniquely in-depth (and intimate) view of how Lane approaches the one-year coaching engagement and the outputs from it, including her pre-coaching self-reflection, agreed-upon purpose and outcomes, 360 feedback, the coach’s advice to her, an in-depth coach’s final report, and Lane’s one-pager of lessons learned. At the end of the year of coaching, Lane’s boss unexpectedly departs, leaving Lane with a direct path to promotion. Senior leadership now once again faces the difficult decision of whether to promote Lane, this time based on their assessment of whether Lane has authentically transformed through coaching or just taken superficial steps to check off boxes on the way to promotion.

  • Article
  • Current History

China Gambles on Modernizing Through Urbanization

By: Kristen Looney and Meg Rithmire

Contemporary discussions of urbanization and urban construction in China tend to focus on “ghost towns” on the one hand or urbanization as China’s silver bullet to growth and reform on the other. In this paper, we detail what China calls its “New Urbanization Policy.” While these plans aim to formalize previously informal movements of land, people, and capital between urban and rural, the new urbanization does not upend China’s longstanding duality between those categories. The central goals of the new urbanization are to manage urbanization so as to generate domestic demand and reorganize agricultural production without experiencing destabilizing social and political pressures. If successful, the Chinese Communist Party will forge a new path of urbanization, building cities before recruiting urban citizens. The process, however, entails possibilities of yet other social dislocations, including concentrated poverty, ill-planned cities, skyscraper villages, and rural landlessness.

  • August 2017
  • Case

Data-driven Manufacturing: The Kutesmart System

By: Willy Shih and Nancy Hua Dai

The data-driven manufacturing system at this Chinese bespoke mens' suit manufacturer illustrates the use of information technology to support mass customization in a largely manual production environment. It contrasts sharply with some of the Industrie 4.0 automation-heavy approaches taken in some Western companies. Thus the case seeks to unpack the essence of a data-driven mass customization approach that is more suited to small and medium enterprises.

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