News & Highlights

  • AUGUST 2019
  • Working Knowledge

Cold Call Podcast: Should a Pension Fund Try to Change the World?

Professors Rebecca Henderson and George Serafeim discuss the impact investing efforts of Hiro Mizuno, CIO of GPIF, Japan’s government pension fund. Mizuno says that improving corporate governance, increasing inclusion and gender diversity, and addressing climate change could expand Japan’s economy. But, should a pension fund try to change the world?
  • 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.

New Research on the Region

  • November 2019
  • Case

Shiseido Acquires Drunk Elephant

On October 7, 2019, the Shiseido Group announced that it would acquire clean skincare brand Drunk Elephant for $845 million, a valuation of 8.5 times sales. Did Shiseido pay too much or too little for this brand asset? Every acquisition had to be measured against the cost of developing and building a look-a-like brand internally. Would Drunk Elephant prove to be an integral part of Shiseido's future success and what would it take to unlock its full brand value? Would Drunk Elephant thrive under Shiseido's management? How much further investment would Shiseido need to make to realize the new brand's potential?

  • 2019
  • Book Chapter

Ethical Business, Corruption and Economic Development in Comparative Perspective

By: Janet Hunter and G. Jones

This chapter contextualises the drivers of corruption in Turkish business through comparisons with Japan and India in the late 19th century. It identifies the developmental state as a common driver of corruption. Catching up by using extensive state intervention had the major downside that it has served to facilitate corruption. The operation of the developmental state may have been constrained by factors beyond the control of the state, such as shortage of funds or external pressures. Yet it is apparent that the individual measures that made up the overall strategy of the developmental state are vulnerable to exploitation by those who are involved in their implementation, while at the same time positively encouraging such manipulation. The example of 19th century Meiji Japan suggests the building of inclusive political and economic institutions. Consequent trust levels can help address the problem, but it also suggests that old habits die hard and that respect for the state and its institutions is something that cannot be taken for granted. The fact that some places, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, were able in recent decades to roll back corrupt practices is less comforting for Turkey. Turkey, like India, has not yet taken the necessary steps needed to disrupt corrupt practices. However the chapter also explores the many uncertainties surrounding the issue of corruption. The very term corruption is ambiguous, because there are many grey areas that result from variations in cultural norms. The existence of corruption does not appear to stop development. It did not stop Japan’s economic growth over the long term. It has not stopped India’s rapid growth in recent decades, which appears, if anything, to correlate with growing corruption rates since the 1970s. It would appear, though, that the more extractive the institutions of a society, and the fewer the countervailing forces of productive business enterprise, the more potential there is for negative outcomes. In the case of Turkey, corruption has not only prevented significant economic growth, but it also had negative consequences, such as poor quality building construction, and distortions, such as helping one sector of the business community grow at the expense of others. Its prevalence maybe part of the explanation why Turkey has struggled to build innovative businesses able to drive forward the development of the country and break out of the middle-income trap.

  • September 2019 (Revised November 2019)
  • Case

Othellonia: Growing a Mobile Game

Othellonia surprised the Japan’s mobile game market by supporting the launch of the game with an unusual approach: Offline community management. The management team favored a slow and steady launch entirely focused on bringing very loyal users instead of attracting too many users at once. Doing so had positioned Othellonia among the mobile games with the most loyal customer base and with monetization rates above the levels usually observed in the industry. However, after a few years of steady growth, strong loyalty from its users and healthy monetization, recent acquisition, engagement and retention metrics were worrisome for Yu Sasaki and Taku Kojo (KJ). Should the team invest in the promotional activities that drove acquisition in the past? Should they rely on the loyal base of players to keep growing the game? How could they increase user engagement without hurting monetization?

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Tokyo Staff

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