News & Highlights

  • JANUARY 2020

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 2020, Professor Hiro Takeuchi from the School’s Strategy Unit led 42 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.
  • DECEMBER 2019

Case Discussion Session with Professor Scott Kominers

On December 16, the HBS Japan Research Center welcomed Professor Scott Duke Kominers from the Entrepreneurial Management Unit to Tokyo and organized a case discussion session in collaboration with Academyhills. Professor Kominers taught his Raksul case that he wrote with the support of the Japan Research Center. 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. In the case, each marketplace faces its own growth challenges; at the same time, the CEO must consider whether and how each marketplace can enhance the others. 40 people including HBS alumni joined the session and enjoyed a taste of the HBS-style case discussion.
  • 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.

New Research on the Region

  • March 2020
  • Case

Social Salary Setting at Spiber

Can a “set your own salary” system boost employee happiness and motivation? Spiber made synthetic silk built from proteins mimicking the proteins found in spider silk, the world’s toughest known material by weight. Kazuhide Sekiyama and Junichi Sugahara established Spiber to create protein materials that would eventually compete effectively with petrochemical-based materials widely used in apparel, auto parts, and airplane components, among many other applications. From the beginning, they envisioned a team built on mutual respect and a common purpose. The executive team wanted the company’s compensation system to match the organization’s values. Thus, the company had implemented a unique salary-setting process designed to inspire autonomy and responsibility among employees: each employee retained the ultimate authority to choose his or her own salary. The members of the executive team were excited about the “set your own salary” system, but was it having the intended effect?

  • March 2020
  • Article
  • Journal of Financial Economics

Governance Through Shame and Aspiration: Index Creation and Corporate Behavior

By: Akash Chattopadhyay, Matthew D. Shaffer and Charles C.Y. Wang

After decades of deprioritizing shareholders' economic interests and low corporate profitability, Japan introduced the JPX-Nikkei400 in 2014. The index highlighted the country's "best-run" companies by annually selecting the 400 most profitable of its large and liquid firms. We find that managers competed for inclusion in the index by significantly increasing ROE, and they did so at least in part due to their reputational or status concerns. The ROE increase was predominantly driven by improvements in margins, which were in turn partially driven by cutting R&D intensity. Our findings suggest that indexes can affect managerial behavior through reputational or status incentives.

  • February 2020
  • Teaching Material

Essential Explorations at MUJI

Launched as a private brand in 1980 to counter the increasingly brand-conscious consumer in Japan, MUJI offered beautifully designed, fairly priced, no-frills quality goods. The once modest private label brand with 40 products had expanded significantly by 2019 to more than 7,000 products with more than half its 975 stores outside its home market in Japan. It had even expanded into the service industry, opening hotels. President Matsuzaki of Ryohin Keikaku, MUJI’s operating company, was charged with reorganizing the product portfolio and prioritizing new initiatives, tasks complicated by the absence of a clear definition of “MUJI-ness,” the meaning of which had always been intentionally left open.

See more research

Tokyo Staff

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