News & Highlights

  • JULY 2019

Innovating through Experimentation with Professor Stefan Thomke

The Japan Research Center, in collaboration with HBS Executive Education, welcomed Professor Stefan Thomke, Chair of the General Management Program, to Tokyo this July. Professor Thomke led an interactive discussion that focused on why some companies are more innovative than others. The talk encouraged the 100 alumni and friends of the School in attendance to think about factors that limit companies from stepping beyond traditional product and service offerings. Professor Thomke shared why business experimentation is critical to innovation management, how new technologies impact products, processes, and business models, and steps for successfully integrating new innovation strategies and technologies.
  • JULY 2019

Driving Digital Strategy with Professor Sunil Gupta

Professor Sunil Gupta visited Tokyo to share his research on the use of digital technology and its impact on consumer behavior and firm strategy. Over 50 alumni and friends of the school attended his talk at where he discussed his recent book “Driving Digital Strategy, A Guide to Reimaging your Business.” Professor Gupta’s book provides a framework for companies to reimagine their business. Using rich case studies and rigorous research, he showed how the rules of business have changed and why it is no longer enough for firms to be better or cheaper to gain competitive advantage. These new rules make it essential for companies to reexamine four fundamental aspects of their business to thrive in the digital era – their strategy, value chain, customer engagement, and organization structure. Done right, digital technology can be a tremendous opportunity for established players.
  • JUNE 2019

The Complete Strategy Landscape with Professor David Collis

On June 12th the HBS Japan Research Center welcomed Professor David Collis to Tokyo. Professor Collis, expert on corporate strategy and global competition, outlined the complete strategy landscape and provided tools for discovering the value potential of new business models. He also discussed how to manage the ongoing execution of an existing strategy. 42 alumni and friends of the school joined the talk and Q&A session and found it eye opening as they think about innovative business models.
  • JANUARY 2019

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.” These courses are driven by faculty research and industry connections, and provide students with an opportunity to get out of the classroom and put the skills they have learned to practice in the field. Typically, about 200 students participate in IFCs annually. In January 2019, Professor Hiro Takeuchi from the School’s Strategy Unit led 43 students to Japan for 10 days where they visited Tokyo and the Tohoku region. During their stay in Japan, students were involved in three types of activities: 1) team-based consulting projects for companies in Tokyo; 2) group activities to learn about and contribute to the disaster-affected areas in the Tohoku region; and 3) immersive experiences in traditional and modern Japanese culture.

New Research on the Region

  • April 2019 (Revised June 2019)
  • Case


By: Scott Duke Kominers, Masahiro Kotosaka, Nobuo Sato and Akiko Kanno

Raksul, 2018 Forbes Japan "Startup of the Year," ran an e-commerce platform drawing upon thousands of individual suppliers. Launched as a business-to-business printing services marketplace, Raksul had recently expanded to operate both a logistics/delivery marketplace and a television advertising marketplace. Each marketplace faces its own growth challenges; at the same time, the CEO must consider whether and how each marketplace can enhance the others.

  • February 2019
  • Case

Honda Innovations: Leveraging External Insights to Accelerate Creation

By: Antonio Davila

Nick Sugimoto, CEO of Honda Innovations—the open innovation organization of Honda, has to decide how to extend his organization’s approach to innovation across the world. Honda Innovations dates back to 2000 when Honda created Honda Research Institute in Silicon Valley. Since then, the organization has evolved through various models from a venture capital fund to its current form as Honda’s corporate innovation effort. The case describes the various approaches to innovation between Honda and outside firms and how it fits into an increasingly dynamic car industry.

  • January 2019 (Revised March 2019)
  • Case

Should a Pension Fund Try to Change the World? Inside GPIF's Embrace of ESG

In the fall of 2018, Hiro Mizuno, the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) of GPIF, the Japanese Government Pension Fund, was reflecting on his efforts to integrate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues into every aspect of GPIF’s portfolio. His efforts ranged from constructing new stock market indices based on ESG data, changing the compensation and incentives of active investment managers and passive funds, pushing for more corporate sustainability reporting and integrated reporting, and establishing collaborations with other asset owners to drive systems level change. He was convinced that the only way to meet his responsibilities to his beneficiaries was to improve the performance of the entire economy through a focus on improving corporate governance, increasing inclusion in the workplace and gender diversity and reducing environmental damage and progress towards tackling climate change. The early results from his efforts were promising, but was there more he could do?

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Tokyo Staff

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