News & Highlights

  • June 2017
  • Events

HBS European Club Leadership Meeting in Paris

The European Club Leadership Meeting (ECLM) is an interactive conference where alumni club leaders engage with fellow officers, brainstorm key strategies, exchange on the highlights and challenges of running a club, and share best practices. This year’s meeting was held at the ERC in Paris and gathered representatives of eight HBS and Harvard University Associations. Among others, this year’s meeting featured presentations by ERC Executive Director Vincent Dessain, who gave an update of the ERC activities, and Prof. Sophus Reinert, BGIE, who gave a talk on “The State of Global Capitalism”.
  • April-May 2017
  • Events

Off-Campus Information Sessions on the HBS Doctoral Program

Throughout the spring 2017, Marais Young (Doctoral Program) and Jan Pianca (ERC) visited universities and school fairs in Amsterdam, Munich, Paris, and Hamburg to share more information about the doctoral programs, student life, and admissions. The 8 HBS doctoral programs train students to produce innovative, rigorous, and relevant research and encourage students to become exemplary teachers at top-tier institutions of higher learning. The application for fall 2018 will open in September 2017.
  • March-May-June 2017
  • Events

Off-Campus Information Sessions on the HBS MBA Program

In the first half of 2017, the ERC co-organized MBA Admissions Events in Lisbon, Budapest, Kiev, Warsaw, Moscow, Paris, Zurich, Sofia, Berlin, Dublin, London, and Prague. These sessions were designed for prospective applicants to learn more about the MBA Program, curriculum, admission process, and funding. The events included an admissions presentation and the opportunity to meet local alumni.
  • January 2017
  • Events

Workshops on Digital Disruption in London, Munich, and Paris

In January 2017, Prof. Thales S. Teixeira, MKT, came to London, Munich, and Paris to speak about Digital Disruption. Having studied disruption patterns across industries, Prof. Teixeira identified an emerging new wave of technology-enabled disruption called “decoupling.” It is characterized by business models focusing on the separation of consumption activities that traditionally went together such as content and advertising, or browsing and purchasing products. In these keynote talks, Prof. Teixeira explored this new concept and discussed how businesses of all sizes were using digital technologies to disrupt their industries – for example in media, retail, transportation, food, cosmetics, or finance.

New Research on the Region

  • 2017
  • Book

The Language of Global Success: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations

For nearly three decades, English has been the lingua franca of cross-border organizations, yet studies on corporate language strategies and their importance for globalization have been scarce. In The Language of Global Success, Tsedal Neeley provides an in-depth look at a single organization—the high-tech giant Rakuten—in the five years following its English lingua franca mandate. Neeley’s behind-the-scenes portrayal explores how language shapes the ways in which employees who work in global organizations communicate and negotiate linguistic and cultural differences. Bringing together 650 interviews conducted across Rakuten’s locations in Brazil, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States, Neeley argues that an organization’s lingua franca is the catalyst by which all employees become some kind of “expat”(someone detached from their mother tongue or home culture). Through her unfettered access to the inner workings of Rakuten, she reveals three distinct social groups: “linguistic expats” who live in their home country yet have to give up their native language in the workplace; “cultural expats” or native speakers of the lingua franca who struggle with organizational values that are more easily transmitted after language barriers are removed; and finally “linguistic-cultural expats” who, while neither native to the lingua franca nor the organization’s home culture, surprisingly have the easiest time adjusting to language changes. Neeley demonstrates that language can serve as the conduit for an unfamiliar culture, often in unexpected ways, and that there are lessons to be learned for all global companies as they confront language and culture challenges. Examining the strategic use of language by one international corporation, The Language of Global Success uncovers how all organizations might integrate language effectively to tap into the promise of globalization.

  • August 2017
  • Case

SOS Group: Scaling a Social Enterprise Conglomerate

By: Julie Battilana, Vincent Dessain and Jérôme Lenhardt

By 2016, SOS Group, the largest social enterprise group in France, was facing new challenges. In November 2015, the group had released its strategic goals for 2020. It aimed to double its turnover and headcount by that time, which would make SOS Group one of the largest social enterprise groups in Europe and in the world. Jean-Marc Borello, founder of the organization, knew SOS Group faced the choices of growing organically or through acquisition across activities, as well as in France or globally. By 2016, SOS Group already operated in 20 countries, and was contemplating entering 10 new countries by 2020. It also considered entering new sectors, such as culture. While Borello thought that aggressive growth was needed in the current context, some within the group wondered if that was the right way for SOS Group to measure and scale its social impact. Compounding these issues, Borello, whose opportunistic acquisition strategy had shaped SOS Group throughout its life, was considering retirement in the coming years. Under these circumstances, how could SOS Group achieve its strategic goals, while keeping its key values intact at a time when its governance would also change?

  • August 2017 (Revised August 2017)
  • Case

Accounting for Political Risk at AES

As a global energy generating company, AES frequently faces challenges from political changes and instability. This is exacerbated by the fact that in many instances AES' primary customer is the government, which is also in charge of law-making. For example, AES' management team has encountered expropriation risks in Venezuela, collection problems in the Dominican Republic, and regulatory changes in the United States that have led to asset impairments. More recently, the Bulgarian energy regulator announced its intentions to seek a 30% price reduction on a power purchase agreement signed over 10 years ago with AES. Accordingly, AES' management is evaluating whether the renegotiation will lead to any asset impairments and the overall effects on its financial statements.

See more research

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