News & Highlights

  • June 2020
  • Covid-19 Business Impact Center

Re-Starting Under Uncertainty: Managerial Experiences from Around the World

Professor Raffaella Sadun and the HBS Global Research Centers travelled virtually around the globe and talked with over 50 resilient businesses across a variety of countries and sectors. In her report, “Re-starting under uncertainty”, Professor Sadun explains, “as economies reopen after forced shutdowns caused by COVID-19, managers around the world are faced with a dual challenge: keeping the workforce safe while at the same time preserving business viability in an evolving and volatile market. How should businesses start to design their ‘new normal’ at this time of heightened uncertainty? While we are still far from knowing what constitutes a ‘best practice’, there is already a great deal of experimentation emerging all over the world.”

  • August 2020
  • Managing the Future of Work

Unilever’s Workforce Transformation: Hard Truths and Help with Change

In this podcast, Professor Bill Kerr talks to Nick Dalton, Executive Vice President of Business Transformation at Unilever and the protagonist of a new Harvard Business School case study supported by Emilie Billaud and Mette Fuglsang Hjortshøj of the Europe Research Center. Unilever is several years into a company-wide plan to revolutionize its workforce. This vast program includes operational and cultural change across many divisions in more than 100 countries. The effort includes job counseling, retraining, and assistance with career moves—within the company or elsewhere. Dalton discusses what it takes to be transparent about coming changes and work with employees, unions, governments, and others to identify mutually beneficial transitions.
  • October 2020
  • Events

Worldwide Week at Harvard

Worldwide Week at Harvard showcases the breadth of Harvard’s global engagement through academic and cultural events with global or international themes. On October 7th-8th, 2020, Harvard broadcasted 24 Hours of Harvard, which featured 24 consecutive hours of around-the-clock and around-the-world events and activities. The ERC contributed by stringing together stories from faculty members, a doctoral graduate, and staff members—showcasing the variety of the Center’s activities in Europe, from supporting faculty members with cases and research work, to supporting students and alumni in career coaching and orientation.

New Research on the Region

  • September 2020
  • Case

Disrupting Justice at RightNow: Persevere, Pivot or Perish

By: Shikhar Ghosh and Amir Reza Rezvani

The case examines the focus of an early stage company, and how an unexpected external incidence can threaten or void the business model. It encompasses issues such as defining and pivoting a business model, organizational requirements for a pivot, investor relations, disruptive business models, as well as business conduct in continental Europe. In 2017, Dr. Torben Antretter, a former competitive tennis player and academic researcher, founded RightNow with his two co-founders. RightNow was set out to provide consumers with “Justice-as-a-Service” by purchasing their legal claims that they would not pursue otherwise. Just one year after its inception, the company had closed a 25 million financing to increase its market share and leverage further growth opportunities. Upon closing of this financing round, matters took a sudden and unexpected turn when the National Supreme Court announced a ruling that airlines were no longer required to refund flight tickets. This decision wiped out RightNow’s profit margins. Antretter and his co-founders had to decide what they should do with the business. How should the founders approach investors? Should they quit and walk away from their entrepreneurial dream or try to reinvent the business with a different focus? What would be the strategy going forward?

  • September 2020
  • Case

Disrupting Justice at RightNow: Rich or King

By: Shikhar Ghosh and Amir Reza Rezvani

The case examines issues such as cascading problems within the organization, changing founder roles, founder success criteria, as well as company exit consideration. In 2017, Dr. Torben Antretter, a former competitive tennis player and academic researcher, founded RightNow with his two co-founders. RightNow was set out to provide consumers with “Justice-as-a-Service” by purchasing their legal claims that they would not pursue otherwise. Three years after inception and after overcoming numerous consecutive hurdles, the company was entering its next stage of its lifecycle. The selection of an investor type would be instrumental to the next few years of the company and the lives of the founders. With success, considerations around company exit and defining success criteria became inevitable. Different investors types had different investment criteria with regards to target returns, growth ambitions, decision rights, and ownership stakes. Antretter and his co-founders had to decide, jointly as well as individually, what they want to do. Discussions among the founding team showed that they needed to develop an ‘exit strategy’ in the same way that they had developed a growth strategy. When should they consider an exit and take some chips off the table? Was it more important to become rich or to remain kings of their kingdom?

  • September 2020
  • Case

Briscola—Pizza Society: Scaling Affordable Luxury

By: Gary P. Pisano and Federica Gabrieli

Riccardo Cortese and Federico Pinna were the CEOs of Briscola—Pizza Society, a restaurant chain they had founded in 2014 with a clear ambition: create a distinctive international pizza chain that would combine a fast-casual format with the devotion to quality that characterized family-run Italian restaurants. In 2017, Francesco Trapani, the former CEO of luxury jewelry company Bulgari, had taken a majority stake in the chain, which had switched to a format of "affordable luxury." At the end of 2019, Briscola counted six restaurants in the northern regions of Italy and its founders were grappling with a series of questions: Should they consolidate their position in other Italian regions or expand directly abroad? In which countries would their concept work best? Should they change their direct ownership model? If so, what kinds of partnerships, licensing agreements, and franchise models should they use? Finally, what was the right degree of standardization across their restaurants? Allowing some variations in the menu at the restaurant level would be attractive to target specific segments of their clientele, but would this complicate their operations and potentially hinder their growth?

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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