01 Feb 2018
Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus Hugo Uyterhoeven Dies at 86
Longtime faculty member made lasting impact on HBS as teacher, scholar, and administrator
Hugo Uyterhoeven

Hugo E.R. Uyterhoeven (MBA 1957, DBA 1963), an expert on general management and a member of the Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty for more than 50 years who maintained a steadfast commitment to course development and teaching while also making a lasting mark as a talented administrator, died on Monday evening, Jan. 29, at a hospital in Melbourne, FL, near his home in Vero Beach. He was 86 years old.

According to his daughter Laura U. Moon, Managing Director of Initiatives at Harvard Business School, the cause of death was complications from a fall following a bike ride with his wife, Julie, on Sunday, Jan. 28. “As he wished, my father lived life to the fullest and passed away peacefully,” Moon said. At the time of his death, Uyterhoeven was the School’s Timken Professor of Business Administration Emeritus.

Uyterhoeven’s academic interests focused on business policy and the role of the middle manager. He also examined the domestic and international economy, particularly the interaction between business and government, as well as the subjects of productivity, corporate profits, and structural changes in the world economy. He taught many courses in the Harvard MBA program, including Management of International Business; Business, Government, and the International Economy; and Industry and Competitive Analysis. He taught in and was course head of Business Policy and the General Manager's Perspective.

He also taught executives in the School’s Advanced Management Program for senior executives (AMP), the International Senior Managers Program (now part of AMP), and the General Manager Program.

Uyterhoeven’s late friend and colleague Professor Norman Berg once noted that “Hugo had a great ability to challenge and get students involved in the material. He had a European background and a broad knowledge of international affairs and business that came through in any discussion.” “He was my favorite teacher, because he was so tough," Andreas Andresen, a retired German industrialist and alumnus of the 69th session of AMP, once told the HBS Alumni Bulletin.

Colleagues also benefited from Uyterhoeven’s well-honed teaching skills, especially the creative teaching plans he devised. “Hugo was a fantastic teacher,” recalled HBS senior lecturer Ashish Nanda. “He used to tell me to ‘Think of a class as a horse you are riding. The more tightly you pull on the reins, the more the horse will buck. The more you let the reins free and the horse roam, the happier the horse will be and the better your ride.’”

Uyterhoeven also made significant contributions on many other fronts at Harvard Business School. He served twice as faculty head of AMP during the 1970s, while also chairing the School's General Management Unit (or Department).

As Senior Associate Dean for External Relations under former Dean John H. McArthur from 1980 to 1989, Uyterhoeven completely restructured that group’s activities, creating a new focus on development, revamping the class reunion format, and establishing corporate relations and public relations efforts at the School.

Subsequently, Uyterhoeven took charge of all the School’s Executive Education activities and spearheaded the renovation of a number of campus buildings, including Morgan Hall (the principal faculty office building) and Baker Hall (now Esteves), a residence hall for Executive Education participants.

Typically, he left nothing to chance. According to a 1993 article in Harvard Magazine, “Professor Uyterhoeven…resurrected the idea of the mock-up, constructing prototypical dorm rooms in the attic of [classroom building] Aldrich [Hall] and outfitting them with cardboard furnishings to find dimensions large enough for comfort and function but small enough to discourage [students from staying in their rooms rather than interacting with peers.]”

“I worked at Hugo’s side for over fifty years,” Dean Emeritus McArthur remembered. “During my years as Dean, he was one of just a handful of our colleagues who carried the greatest weight in leading and changing this community and our activities. He was the source of endless ideas for us to improve our campus and everything we do at HBS and around the world. He set the very highest standards for himself and for all the rest of us. Hugo was always a great inspiration, support, and friend during all the years we were together.”

Angela Q. Crispi (MBA 1990), the School’s Executive Dean for Administration, also remembered Uyterhoeven fondly. “Hugo left a lasting impression on my life,” she said. “Our journey started simply with John McArthur asking me to, ‘Go talk to Hugo….’ That set in motion many ways that Hugo and I worked together. My capstone memory is walking around the HBS campus with him several years ago so we could swap campus planning stories. I was a sponge at his side, and I think he thoroughly enjoyed seeing what we had built in recent years.”

Hugo Emil Robert Uyterhoeven was born on August 6, 1931, in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, to a Belgian father and Dutch mother. He grew up in Eindhoven, where he experienced the hardships of World War II, with its shortages, rationing, bombardments, and Nazi occupation. After the war ended, at the age of 17, he went to Switzerland, where he obtained his federal high school diploma and enrolled at the University of Zurich, where he received a doctor of law degree, magna cum laude. He then obtained a doctor of law degree at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Uyterhoeven came to Harvard Business School as an MBA student in 1955 and earned his degree two years later as a Baker Scholar with High Distinction. He went on to earn a doctorate in business administration (DBA) from HBS in 1963. Before beginning his long and distinguished academic career at Harvard Business School, he worked as a research associate at the International Institute for Management Development (now IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland, for a year. He then returned to Harvard Business School until retiring from the active faculty in 1998.

Uyterhoeven authored or coauthored numerous cases, teaching notes, articles, and books, including Business Policy: Managing Strategic Processes, whose eighth edition was published in 1995; Strategy and Organization: Text and Cases in General Management (1973); and American Industry in Europe (1960). His 1989 Harvard Business Review article "General Managers in the Middle" was a bestseller for many years.

Beyond the Harvard Business School campus, Uyterhoeven consulted regarding international business, long-range planning, and corporate organization for major corporations such as Chemical Bank, General Electric, Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever, and the Arthur Young accounting partnership. He was in demand as a speaker, giving talks in English, Dutch, French, and German.

Uyterhoeven served as a director of more than a dozen companies, including Brown Boveri (now ABB) and Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis) in Switzerland; Degussa-Hüls in Germany; Bombardier in Canada; and Bendix, Bond International Gold, Carter Hawley Hale, Ecolab, General Cinema, Growth Fund of America, Harcourt General, the Schroder Bank, and The Stanley Works (now Stanley Black & Decker) in the United States.

A resident of the Boston suburb of Weston, MA, from 1960 until 2005, Uyterhoeven was active in that town’s affairs, serving as a member of the Planning Board and the Conservation Commission and as president of the Weston Forest and Trail Association. In 1972, with development rapidly covering Weston’s remaining open space, he initiated a land acquisition plan with another planning board colleague that raised some $5 million and preserved some 10 percent of the town’s acreage as conservation land. With George P. Bates, the son of the late HBS professor George E. Bates, he established new paths, amounting to about one-half of Weston’s 65 miles of trails.

Uyterhoeven moved to John’s Island in Vero Beach in 2002 with his wife of 21 years, Julie (Zhu), and remained active there until the end of his life, taking part in numerous cultural and outdoor activities and playing an active role in the Harvard Club of Vero Beach. He loved to spend his days admiring the view of the Atlantic Ocean while listening to music and reading.

He served seven years as president of his condominium association, initiating and executing a major facelift of his building. As president, he restructured John’s Island’s management company, Community Condominium Services, Inc., by reducing costs while improving services and its hurricane protection practices. At the John’s Island Club, he was a regular speaker and co-chair of the history-focused Gold Seminar.

In October 2016, in anticipation of the national election, Uyterhoeven wrote an op-ed article published online in Yahoo Finance that emphasized the importance of free trade to the US economy. “While few recognize it,” he wrote, “the greatest beneficiary of worldwide, free-trade-fueled competition has been the US consumer, who has paid lower prices for a huge range of high-quality foreign-made goods. The resulting increase in the purchasing power of consumers’ income—combined with our highly efficient retail distribution system—has created a shopper’s paradise in this country.”

In his final years, Uyterhoeven applied his professorial zeal to researching, understanding, and reflecting upon estate and end-of-life planning, writing papers and delivering speeches on these topics. “We can either make our own end-of-life decisions or avoid doing so by delegating them to our doctors or by letting a disease take over,” he wrote. “If quality of life is a critical determinant, it is important to make a long list of the kinds of activities that one treasures or that people want to be able to perform by themselves.”

Throughout his life, Uyterhoeven continued to enjoy good food and wine, dance, ride his bike, and travel regularly to Europe. “We will all miss his wise counsel, eloquent speeches, humor, generosity, and friendship,” said Laura Moon.

In addition to his wife, Julie, Uyterhoeven is survived by four daughters, Monique Kusig of Sunnyvale, CA , Ani Sieler of Seattle, WA, Sonia Pieczara of Hackensack, NJ, and Laura Moon of Weston, MA, all by his first wife, Sandra (Bunt) Uyterhoeven of Cambridge, MA; his daughter Erika Uyterhoeven (MBA 2019), of Cambridge, MA; two sisters, Maya Moran Manny of San Rafael, CA, and Joanne Sluijter-Uyterhoeven of Bloemendaal, Netherlands; five sons-in-law; seven nephews; and five grandchildren.

A celebration of Uyterhoeven’s life will be held in Vero Beach on Tuesday, Feb. 6, at 10:30 a.m., in the John’s Island Golf Club Ballroom and at Harvard Business School on Saturday, May 5, at 10:30 a.m. in the Spangler Center.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of the following organizations: Indian River Symphonic Association (www.irsymphonic.org, P.O. Box 2801, Vero Beach, FL, 32961), Vero Beach Museum of Art (www.verobeachmuseum.org, 3001 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach, FL 32963), or Weston Forest and Trail Association (www.westonforesttrail.org).


Jim Aisner