News & Highlights

  • April 2021
  • Events

HBR/HBS Alumni Clubs Live Webinar with Professor Frank V. Cespedes

This April, Harvard Business School Professor Frank V. Cespedes presented his book Sales Management That Works: How to Sell in a World that Never Stops Changing during an HBR/HBS Alumni Clubs live webinar. After a brief introduction by Vincent Dessain of the ERC, Professor Cespedes led an engaging and interactive discussion about the impact on sales activities of new buying processes, e-commerce, and big data. He then shared some interesting thoughts on the implications of these megatrends for hiring, training, performance management, compensation, the construction and re-construction of sales models, and required links between the C-Suite and customer-facing groups in companies.
  • February 2021
  • HBS Global Activities Report

Case Explores Serbia at a Geopolitical Crossroads

In this article, Professor Sophus A. Reinert discusses a new Harvard Business School case study, co-authored by Federica Gabrieli of the ERC. Professor Reinert explains how following the Balkan Wars of the 1990s and the collapse of Yugoslavia, Serbia had embarked on a slow and arduous process of accession to the European Union. However, by 2018, Serbia also had increasingly stronger ties with Russia and China. This case offers students a perspective on the ongoing upheavals in the world economy and challenges them to better understand the nature, costs, and benefits of international interventions.
  • January 2021
  • MBA Experience

MBA Voices: A French Student’s HBS Experience—Interview with Marc Duranteau, MBA 2019

MBA Voices is a collection of community perspectives that provides prospective students with insight into life at HBS. In this interview, French student Marc Duranteau, MBA 2019, explains why he applied to HBS via the 2+2 deferred admissions process, and which opportunities he pursued after graduation. The 2+2 program grants deferred admission to students, who are either in college or in a full-time master’s degree program. It is comprised of at least two years of professional work experience (maximum of four years) followed by two years in the regular HBS MBA program.

New Research on the Region

  • July 2021
  • Case

Allianz Customer Centricity: Is Simplicity the Way Forward?

By: Eva Ascarza and Emilie Billaud

This case explores the tradeoffs between product personalization and simplicity as companies grow. The case presents an opportunity to understand whether and how each of these approaches enables and/or limits companies’ abilities to provide customer satisfaction while being efficient in their operations. In October 2018, Allianz was one of the world’s leading insurers and asset managers with 103 million retail and corporate customers in 70 countries. It was one of only two insurers to rank amongst the world’s 50 strongest brands in 2017, a sign that the company’s customer-centricity approach drove value and resonated with clients. Allianz’s ambition was to reach the top 25 brands in Interbrand’s ranking by 2025. For the insurer, the key to success was to focus on simplicity—reducing the complexity of products and processes in order to create a more unified customer experience. However, such a move did not align with current trends in insurance markets, where Allianz’s main competitors had opted for hyper-personalization. Furthermore, a strategy focused on simplicity implied a radical move in certain key markets where Allianz had traditionally offered a large diversity of products. Was simplicity the right strategy? Would Allianz be able to embrace customer needs successfully within and across markets while simultaneously growing its business?

  • July 2021
  • Article
  • Economics & Politics

Do Interactions with Candidates Increase Voter Support and Participation? Experimental Evidence from Italy

By: Enrico Cantoni and Vincent Pons

We test whether politicians can use direct contact to reconnect with citizens, increase turnout, and win votes. During the 2014 Italian municipal elections, we randomly assigned 26,000 voters to receive visits from city council candidates, from canvassers supporting the candidates’ party list, or to a control group. While canvassers’ visits increased turnout by 1.8 percentage points, candidates’ had no impact on participation. Candidates increased their own vote share in the precincts they canvassed, but only at the expense of their running mates. This suggests that their failure to mobilize nonvoters resulted from focusing on securing the preferences of active voters.

  • June 2021
  • Teaching Material

Michael Phelps: 'It’s Okay to Not Be Okay'

By: Boris Groysberg, Carin-Isabel Knoop and Michael Norris

Teaching Note for HBS Case No. 421-044. In 2020, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 medals in various swimming events, was now retired. As he looked back on his 20+ year athletic career, he considered what had gone into making him the greatest of all time—the highs and lows, successes and struggles. He had lived with mental health issues for much of his life, going public with his struggles in 2015, when he talked about his depression and suicidal thoughts. Mental health was a major focus for Phelps in 2020. He was working on removing the stigma associated with mental health issues, improving access to care, and preventing suicides. But as a professional athlete who was used to the rigor and routine of daily workouts and measurable goals, how could he ensure he was having the greatest possible impact in this new mission?

See more research

Paris Staff

Vincent Dessain
Executive Director
Daniela Beyersdorfer
Senior Associate Director, Research and Administration
Emilie Billaud
Assistant Director
Giulia Bussoletti
Executive Assistant
Elena Corsi
Assistant Director
Federica Gabrieli
Research Associate
Mette Hjortshoej
Research Associate
Tonia Labruyere
Research Associate
Emer Moloney
Senior Researcher
Jan Pianca
Associate Director, Educational Programs
Oksana Sichi
Assistant Director, Administration