News & Highlights

  • January 2017

Sir David Clementi Named BBC Chairman

Sir David Clementi (MBA 1975), former deputy governor of the Bank of England and former chairman of Prudential, has been confirmed as the next chairman of the BBC.
  • October 2016
  • Events

European Advisory Board Meeting, Boston

HBS’ regional advisory boards are made up of local leaders from business, academia, and government, many of them HBS alumni, and provide invaluable counsel and support for our research and other student and alumni facing activities in the regions. The most recent annual meeting of our European Advisory board coincided with HBS’ 6th Biennal International Research Symposium to which over 100 of our global advisory board members were gathering on campus. Board members from all over the world could connect in common parts of the program and were then regrouping per region. Hosted by the Faculty Chair for Europe Professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell the European meeting focused on how to connect the School to Europe in a way that serves our research and educational objectives, while providing value to the region, and featured updates on the school’s activities by ERC Executive Director Vincent Dessain and HBR Group Publisher Joshua Macht.

New Research on the Region

  • February 2017
  • Case

BlaBlaCar: The Road Ahead...

By: Karim R. Lakhani, Arun Sundararajan, Emilie Billaud and Caroline Caltagirone

In 2017, the co-founders of BlaBlaCar—the world’s largest long-distance carpooling company—reflected on the evolution of their venture and the way forward. BlaBlaCar had reached critical mass and size; yet staying still was not going to be enough to be relevant and competitive in the hyper competitive sharing economy sector. The co-founders felt that the time was now to capitalize on the trust that the platform had built with its members and explore adjacent opportunities. The options in front of them represented a wide variety of ways to grow but how should the team prioritize and figure out which of the opportunities represented a viable business strategy for their company?

  • February 2017
  • Teaching Material

JCDecaux, 2016: Global Leader ... Again

By: John R. Wells and Gabriel Ellsworth

In 2016, JCDecaux was number one in the world in outdoor advertising. This was a far cry from the situation in 2003; at that time, JCDecaux had been unseated by Clear Channel from the number-one spot that it had held for decades, and it was fighting for second place with OUTFRONT (then owned by Viacom). Over the 12 intervening years, JCDecaux had doubled in size, building leadership positions in China, Japan, Latin America, Africa, and Russia, and in 2010, it had passed Clear Channel to lead the industry once more. Now, co-CEOs Jean-François Decaux and Jean-Charles Decaux were looking for new ways and new places to grow. After the company overtook Clear Channel in 2010, Jean-François had indicated that he believed that another doubling in size was feasible, but it would probably take a major acquisition to do so. And JCDecaux faced more pressing short-term issues. The contract for London bus shelters that the company had won with much fanfare in August 2015 was behind schedule. To make matters worse, the United Kingdom’s June 2016 “Brexit” vote to leave the European Union cast a shadow over the project, and the markets reacted negatively. By the start of November, JCDecaux’s share price had fallen 21% since the beginning of the year. Just what the economic uncertainty of Brexit would mean for global outdoor advertising in general, and U.K. outdoor advertising in particular, was not clear. Doubling in size in such an environment appeared a daunting task.

  • January 2017 (Revised March 2017)
  • Case

Royal DSM: From Continuous Transformation to Organic Growth

By: William W. George, Carin-Isabel Knoop and Amram Migdal

Royal DSM CEO Feike Sijbesma was pondering the challenges of shifting DSM’s global organization from the constant transformations of the past 100 years to creating organic growth. When Sijbesma took the helm as CEO in 2007, he further pushed and completed the company’s final moves away from commodity chemicals and toward more sustainable businesses whereby DSM could create value with differentiated offerings. Sijbesma emphasized innovation and moving into “sunrise” businesses that would fuel future growth by playing a positive role in the broader society. Sijbesma asked himself, did DSM’s current portfolio in life sciences and materials sciences provide sufficient growth opportunities to sustain consistent and superior performance? Would DSM’s 21,000 employees worldwide embrace the DSM Strategy 2018: “Driving profitable growth through science-based sustainable solutions,” anchored via the Lead & Grow support and development program for key managers of the company? Should DSM continue making moves in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to complement organic growth, or could its growth goals be achieved by focusing on organic growth for now, followed later by M&A activities again? What new markets should it look to in order to ensure sustainable growth? Sijbesma felt that after a decade of transformations (divestments and acquisitions), it would be healthy for the company to focus fully on organic growth for several years. During that period the company had already indicated it would divest three of its major holdings in joint venture (JV) companies, which would generate the financial capacity for M&A activities again in later years. In the meantime, Sijbesma wanted the company to prove it could grow organically as well.

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Paris Staff

Vincent Dessain
Executive Director, Harvard Business School Europe Research Center
Daniela Beyersdorfer
Associate Director, Research and Administration
Emilie Billaud
Research Associate and Manager, Reporting and Special Projects
Elena Corsi
Assistant Director
Pietro De Agostini
Executive Assistant
Federica Gabrieli
Research Assistant
Tonia Labruyere
Research Associate
Jerome Lenhardt
Research Associate
Kristina Maslauskaite
Research Associate
Emer Moloney
Research Associate
Jan Pianca
Assistant Director, Educational Programs
Oksana Sichi
Manager of Administration