News & Highlights

  • OCTOBER 2017

HBS Professor Tsedal Neely's New Book on Rakuten's Language Practices

Tsedal Neely, associate professor in the Organizational Behavior unit, discusses corporate language strategies and their importance for globalization in her new book "The Language of Global Succes: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations." Neely gives an in-depth look at the Japanese company, Rakuten, and how the firm navigates its English lingua franca mandate over a period of five years.
  • APRIL 2017

Professor Ethan Bernstein in Tokyo

Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Berol Corporation Fellow, Ethan Bernstein, studies the impact of workplace transparency on productivity, with implications for leadership, collaboration, organization design, and new forms of organizing. In April, he traveled to Tokyo to present his recent research on "digitizing leadership" to a group of 30+ alumni from the region. He also connected his research to a new Immersive Field Course HBS is offering to EC students in the coming academic year - "Japan; Innovation through the Fusion of Digital and Analog," being co-taught by Bernstein and Professor Management Practice, Hirotaka Takeuchi.
  • March 2017

Japan IFC 2017: What 43 HBS Students Learned From Entrepreneurs in Tohoku

The Japan IFC (Immersive Field Course), an HBS MBA elective course taught by Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi, was completed with another huge success in January 2017. The program started as a response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 and has been offered for the six consecutive years. This year, the program was held under the theme of “Tohoku: The World’s Test Market for Authentic Entrepreneurship” from January 4 to January 13.

New Research on the Region

  • January 2018
  • Teaching Material

Womenomics in Japan

By: Boris Groysberg and David Lane

This case profiles Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's vigorous attempts to revive Japan's economy, specifically by advocating for a larger role for women in the economy—not as a matter of social policy or gender equity per se, but as an essential element of any solution to Japan's persistent low economic growth. Several decades of economic stagnation led Abe to spearhead a multi-faceted reform effort to shake off deflation and come to grips with Japan's large national debt and rapidly aging society. "Womenomics"—the promotion of economic empowerment for women—has been a key element of this effort. Since taking office in late 2012, Abe has advocated for women in myriad ways: through sustained rhetoric at home and abroad, by naming women to key cabinet and party positions, and by setting ambitious numerical targets for expanding their professional ranks. To support these efforts at effecting institutional change, Abe also has overseen rapid growth in daycare facilities for the children of working mothers and has worked intensively to encourage Japan's business associations to increase hiring, promoting, and empowering women among member firms. At issue is how effective such measures have been and whether they can successfully be sustained.

  • January 2018
  • Teaching Material

In the Eye of a Geopolitical Storm: South Korea's Lotte Group, China and the U.S. THAAD Missile Defense System (B)

By: Andy Zelleke and Brian Tilley

This case explores Lotte Group’s challenge of how to respond to Chinese government pressure in 2017, following the Group’s February decision to transfer land to the South Korean government, on which Seoul intended to deploy the U.S.-built THAAD missile defense system. Within a week of the deal’s announcement, the Chinese government had effectively caused 23 Lotte supermarket stores in China to shut down. Concurrently, however, South Korea’s political crisis climaxed with President Park’s replacement by the less hawkish Moon Jae-in. This “B” case chronicles the mounting losses in Lotte’s China business between March and September 2017, also a period in which bilateral relations between China and South Korea began to warm under President Moon, leaving South Korea’s commitment to a full THAAD deployment in some doubt. Against this uncertain backdrop, Lotte’s senior-most executives and board members had to reevaluate Lotte’s previously strong commitment to the China market.

  • December 2017
  • Case

In the Eye of a Geopolitical Storm: South Korea's Lotte Group, China and the U.S. THAAD Missile Defense System (A)

By: Andy Zelleke and Brian Tilley

By late 2016 and early 2017, Lotte Group, a South Korean chaebol (large family-controlled business group) had become embroiled not only in the domestic political turmoil surrounding President Park Geun-hye, but also—uncomfortably—in a four-country geopolitical storm. Amid rising tensions with North Korea, the South Korean government had agreed to deploy a U.S.-built anti-missile defense system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense). The THAAD deployment had been strongly advocated for by Washington, Seoul’s treaty ally, and equally vehemently opposed by China—South Korea’s giant neighbor, with which Seoul had developed close economic ties and, in recent years, much improved political relations. In late 2016, the Park government decided that THAAD should initially be deployed on a particular property then in use as a privately owned golf course. The golf course’s owner happened to be Lotte Group. The case highlights the multifaceted, complex decision facing Lotte Group’s leadership: how to respond to the Park government’s national security-based request to transfer the land, while also taking into account China’s outspoken opposition to THAAD—seen in Beijing as impairing China’s own national security. As of 2016, Lotte Group had extensive operations, and even bigger aspirations, in the massive China market. As Lotte Group’s leadership grappled with its imminent decision at the end of 2016 and into 2017, the costs of defying Beijing were becoming more apparent, with the Group’s Chinese supermarkets hit by consumer boycotts and a raft of citations by Chinese authorities for fire code and other infractions.

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Tokyo Staff

Nobuo Sato
Executive Director
Akiko Kanno
Senior Researcher
Yukari Takizawa
Staff Assistant
Naoko Jinjo
Senior Researcher