News & Highlights

  • January 2024
  • IFC

The Global Classroom: Student Immersion in Japan

As part of the elective curriculum within the MBA program, students have the opportunity in their second year to enroll in an Immersive Field Course – or “IFC.” The Japan IFC was started in 2012 as a response to the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011. The program has evolved since then in accordance with the progress of the reconstruction. The group still has the opportunity to visit the Tohoku region that suffered from the disaster for a weekend. This year, Professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and Assistant Professor Tomomichi Amano and led 47 students to Japan for 10 days for the 11th Japan IFC. The theme was “Japan; Rising Sun Ventures: Exploring Entrepreneurship in Japan.” During their stay in Japan, students were involved in three types of activities: 1) team-based consulting projects for startup companies in Tokyo; 2) group activities to meet local entrepreneurs in the Tohoku region to learn about and contribute to the disaster-affected areas; and 3) immersive experiences in traditional and modern Japanese culture.
  • NOVEMBER 2023

In-Person Event: Reskilling in the Age of AI by HBS Professor Raffaella Sadun

The Japan Research Center, in collaboration with Academyhills, hosted an in-person event featuring Professor Raffaella Sadun. During the event, Professor Sadun delved into the emerging evidence from the Digital Reskilling Lab at HBS. She focused on pivotal questions such as “What is the actual demand for reskilling among managers and workers?” “How should reskilling initiatives be deployed in organizations?” or “How do we get employees to participate in reskilling?”. The participants, including HBS alums and friends, found great value in the vibrant discussion led by Professor Sadun.
  • AUGUST 2023

In-Person Event: The Stock Buyback Controversy: Facts, Fictions, and Policies by HBS Professor Charles Wang

The Japan Research Center and Academyhills co-hosted an in-person event featuring Professor Charles Wang in August. Professor Wang led a discussion about the merits and problems associated with stock buybacks. He presented the latest research insights on these payouts and explored their implications for the U.S. and Japan. HBS alums and the Academyhills members thoroughly enjoyed the interactive session with Professor Charles.
  • JUNE 2023

HBS in Tokyo: An Evening with Dean Srikant Datar

Dean Srikant Datar made his first visit to Japan as Dean of Harvard Business School in June 2023. Nearly 200 alumni and friends enjoyed the unique opportunity to meet the Dean, connect and network with other alumni in the region, and hear how the School was taking the lead on addressing critical challenges facing business and society.

New Research on the Region

  • February 2024
  • Case

More than Optics: Olympus's Vision to Become a Leading Global MedTech Company

By: David J. Collis and Haisley Wert

In August 2022, CEO Yasuo Takeuchi reflected on Olympus Corporation’s recent transformation from being known as a Japanese consumer camera company to becoming a leading global medical technology (MedTech) company. Over the past dozen years, Takeuchi and prior leadership had recovered from a major scandal and reinvented Olympus’s purpose, governance, portfolio, organization structure and operating model. When asked if he could have done any better, he laughed with a humble smile. "There's no 'perfect' in the world—but we are doing almost perfectly. I am not a very optimistic type of person. But we are certainly advancing [the transformation] in the right direction. I have to say, it is working very well.'" Despite being on course, the journey was ongoing. Strategically, the evolving medical technology landscape demanded new capabilities—notably building an integrated digital solutions ecosystem. Organizationally, Takeuchi was at the helm of a matrix organization in which product divisions did not necessarily have full authority for all their activities; corporate functions were learning how to establish their global roles; and regional companies still drove local sales. And personnel issues remained a concern. Senior executive positions were staffed with “two in a box”—one Japanese and one non-Japanese manager—while Japanese employees were adapting to a job-based rather than a seniority system and the widespread use of the English language in meetings. How should Olympus navigate these challenges to deliver on its aspiration to be a leading global MedTech player?

  • August 2023
  • Case

BYD, China, and Global Electric Vehicle Rivalry

By: Cynthia A. Montgomery and Max Hancock

In 2023, BYD, a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker, surpassed Tesla to become the world's best-selling EV brand. BYD began selling mobile phone batteries in 1995, acquired a license to sell vehicles in 2002, and spent two decades building its EV brand, growing its staff, and vertically integrating its supply chain. But did the company have what it took to hang on to its spot at the top of the global EV market? Tesla was still a force to be reckoned with, and BYD faced competition from legacy gas-powered carmakers in the U.S., Germany, Japan, and Korea, which were racing to electrify their product offerings. Some of these brands had more than a hundred years' experience bringing vehicles to market. Which carmaker's strategy would win the global competition for EV market control?

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Tokyo Staff

Nobuo Sato
Executive Director
Akiko Kanno
Assistant Director
Akiko Saito
Senior Researcher
Yukari Takizawa
Office Manager