News & Highlights

  • June 2020

Virtual Event with Professor Rebecca Henderson

On June 20, Professor Rebecca Henderson discussed Reimagining Capitalism after COVID-19 and how to find a “new normal” both in our daily lives and among the Japan business community. Professor Henderson teaches Reimagining Capitalism in the MBA Program and Sustainable Business Strategy at HBS Online. This event was organized by the HBS Online Tokyo Chapter in celebration of her new book: Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire. More than 50 people including former HBS Online participants and alumni from the region enjoyed the lively discussion.
  • June 2020

Why Japanese Businesses Are So Good at Surviving Crises with Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi

As demonstrated after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japanese businesses have a unique capability for long-term survival. In this article, Professor Hirotaka Takeuchi explains Japan’s strategy of investing in community over profits during turbulent times. He provides examples of several well-known Japanese companies and the positive impact they had on the recovery efforts.
  • 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.

New Research on the Region

  • June 2020
  • Teaching Material

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? How much was the Drunk Elephant brand worth and how could it be valued? 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? What kinds of further investments would Shiseido need to make to realize the new brand’s potential? How would the brand fit into the company’s existing brand portfolio of 42 brands?

  • June 2020 (Revised 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?

  • May 2020
  • Case

M-Lab: Enabling Innovation at Mitsubishi Corporation

By: Krishna Palepu and Allison M. Ciechanover

M-Lab’s founding goals were to infuse an innovation mindset into Mitsubishi Corporation; to catalyze new business opportunities; and to enable a dialogue between Japanese business and Silicon Valley. M-Lab housed representatives from each of Mitsubishi Corporation’s verticals who were joined by executives from other prominent Japanese corporations. While M-Lab was still early in its history, its leader, Tsunehiko Yanagihara, was pleased with its progress: the ecosystem was fertile with research on cutting edge technology; resident executives collaborated across industries on a daily basis; several investments and proof of concept projects were underway; staff had launched an innovation learning program; and soon, an on-site retail-tech accelerator would welcome its first participants. As some of the projects born out of M-Lab now evolved to commercial businesses, Yanagihara saw yet a new role for M-Lab – that of startup advisor. How might he harness Silicon Valley insights on scaling technology ventures and feed them back to the young ventures made possible by M-Lab? And how might he help those now responsible for implementing and executing at these new businesses apply these learnings to the hurdles they faced?

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Tokyo Staff

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