15 May 2020

New Business Impact Center Provides Latest Faculty Research and Insights for Businesses and Leaders Effected by COVID-19


by Cullen Schmitt

The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted businesses and organizations of all types and sizes, the global economy, international trade, and the lives of millions of people worldwide. As a result, Harvard Business School created the COVID-19 Business Impact Center, which provides policymakers, business leaders, healthcare administrators, HR directors, small business owners, and others with research, insights, and information to help them move forward. The Center’s six areas of focus include Economic and Financial Impacts, Healthcare Management and Policy, Leading Through Crisis, Adapting Your Business, Leveraging Technology, and Your Work Life. Each area includes a wide range of faculty research, insights, and projects focusing on aspects of these key subject matter areas.

The Economic and Financial Impacts section looks at different aspects of the financial markets and global economy to examine the extent of the damage and what policy makers should do.

Professor Alberto Cavallo and more than 20 MBA students created the HBS Global Policy Tracker, which collects and standardizes the economic policies implemented as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    - Professors Robin Greenwood and Joshua Coval created an Impact Map of the projected employment impact of COVID-19 on Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) in the United States. These MSA-level projections are based on MSA-level industry composition and stock market prices.

    - Professors Marco Di Maggio and Emily Williams ask whether policy makers should force banks to waive overdraft fees.

    - Professor Victoria Ivashina looks at the long-term implications for the liquid cash available to the corporate sector.

    - HBS Professors Samuel Hanson and Adi Sunderam, along with coauthors, argue that a one-time government program, Business Continuity Insurance, should be included in the U.S. government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting sudden economic stop.

Healthcare Management and Policy covers topics of interest to health policy makers and managers: What management lessons can be applied to managing the health crisis? What are the responses? What's working? What's not?

Professor Leemore Dafny developed a COVID-19 Skilled Care Center Scorecard, which looks at how hospitals will need to convert acute care beds into intensive care beds and discharge stable COVID-positive patients to post-acute care settings such as nursing homes. The Scorecard provides public health officials, policymakers, and other interested parties with information that can be used to assess the COVID-19 capability of local skilled nursing facilities.

For the last three years, Professors John Macomber of HBS and Joseph Allen of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have been researching what makes a building healthy. One aspect of their research looks at five ways to minimize the risk to employees when it comes time to return to the office; another details the nine foundations of healthy buildings and how they help minimize the impact on returning employees.

Under Leading Through Crisis, topics range from labor challenges to crisis management.

    - Professor Tsedal Neeley looks at how managers should reorient their remote teams.

    - Professor Boris Groysberg and Gender Initiative Director Colleen Ammerman explain how the COVID-19 crisis has reconfigured how we work, parent, and care for ourselves and our communities and how the global pivot to working remotely will likely change how many companies think about face time and rigid work schedules.

    - Professor Francesca Gino and Massimo Bergami, dean of Bologna Business School, tell the story of Ferrari’s plan to ensure their company was ready when their factories reopened.

The Adapting Your Business section focuses on the needs and issues relevant to business leaders struggling to figure out how to survive and navigate in this environment.

Since the pandemic began, a group of Harvard MBA students and faculty has been tracking resources for small businesses as they become available, aggregating information about key resources at the state and federal level, and gathering common questions from small businesses about which resources are available and how to access them. Their efforts culminated in A Small Business Owner's Guide to Navigating SBA Coronavirus Relief.

Other faculty insights include:

    - Faculty members from the HBS Business and Environment Initiative weigh in on how the coronavirus crisis might change the way companies think about sustainability. The pandemic caught the business world by surprise, but might force companies to face a crisis that has been unfolding in plain sight: climate change.

    - Professor Jill Avery and Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, share what consumers want from brands during the pandemic and what marketers can do to successfully connect and educate customers.

    - With COVID-19 cases growing worldwide, business leaders are scrambling to deal with a wide variety of problems, from slumping sales and stalling supply chains to keeping employees healthy and making sure they can continue working. Several HBS professors weigh in on how the coronavirus pandemic is likely to change how companies do business.

Leveraging Technology covers how to use technology to help your organization thrive, and how technology might be useful in fighting the health crisis.

    - Professor Tarun Khanna looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has created a tidal wave of data. As countries and cities struggle to grab hold of the scope and scale of the problem, tech corporations and data aggregators have stepped up, filling the gap with dashboards scoring social distancing based on location data from mobile phone apps and cell towers, contact-tracing apps using geolocation services and Bluetooth, and modeling efforts to predict epidemic burden and hospital needs.

    - Professor Willy Shih discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has raised a critical question: Why does the United States not have the capacity to manufacture many products for which there is a sudden urgent need—from critical care ventilators, N95 face masks, and personal protective equipment to everyday items like over-the-counter pain relievers?

    - Professor Marco Iansiti looks at how we’re seeing the most rapid organizational transformation in the history of the modern firm as workplaces mandate that employees work from home, universities shift fully to online teaching, restaurants transition to online ordering and delivery, and automakers shut down their plants.

Your Work Life covers the personal issues of working in a new mode driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and offers practical advice on common challenges. A select group of insights include:

    - Senior Lecturer Arthur C. Brooks’ three key equations for happiness during a pandemic.

    - HBS Assistant Professor Ashley Whillans’ and Gillian Sandstrom’s growing body of research suggesting that there are surprisingly powerful benefits to connecting with casual acquaintances — relationships that sociologists call “weak ties.”

    - Prithwiraj Choudhury explaining how working at home brings with it confusing new rules of conduct.

The COVID-19 Business Impact Center will be updated with the latest insights from HBS faculty as they become available.

Interested in staying up-to-date on the latest HBS research related to the coronavirus and its impact on business and the global economy? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter on HBS faculty research and insights.

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