17 Apr 2018

Associate Professor Raffaella Sadun Wins Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award for Best Article

Raffaella Sadun

BOSTON—Harvard Business School associate professor Raffaella Sadun and coauthors Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and John Van Reenen of MIT have been named the first-place winners of the 59th Annual HBR McKinsey Award, which honors the best Harvard Business Review article of the year.

In "Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management?,” which appeared in the September-October 2017 issue of the magazine, the authors challenge the conventional thinking that operational effectiveness is not a source of competitive differentiation. Through in-depth research involving over 12,000 firms in 34 countries, they found that companies with strong managerial processes do significantly better on metrics such as profitability, growth, longevity, and productivity. What’s more, the differences in process quality persist over time, suggesting that competent management is not easy to imitate.

“‘Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management?’ is a rigorously researched article that reveals an important insight: Core management practices that are often underrated and viewed as ‘non-strategic’ are, in fact, a powerful way to become more competitive,” said Adi Ignatius, Editor in Chief of Harvard Business Review.

Sadun is the Thomas S. Murphy Associate Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Bloom is the William Eberle Professor of economics at Stanford University and a co-director of the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship program at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Van Reenen is the Gordon Y. Billard Professor in MIT’s department of economics and its Sloan School of Management.

The annual HBR McKinsey Awards, judged by an independent panel of business and academic leaders with input from members of HBR’s Advisory Board, commend outstanding articles published each year in Harvard Business Review. This year’s announcement appears in the May-June issue of the magazine, which is available online today and on newsstands April 24.

This year’s HBR McKinsey Awards also recognize two finalists:

“Strategy in the Age of Superabundant Capital” by Michael Mankins, Karen Harris, and David Harding of the consulting firm of Bain & Company

“Globalization in the Age of Trump” by Professor Pankaj Ghemawat of New York University’s Stern School and IESE Business School.

The 2017 HBR McKinsey judges were Professor Peter Cappelli of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; Claudio Fernandez-Araoz of the global executive search firm Egon Zehnder; Professor Erin Meyer of INSEAD; and Martha Samuelson, CEO of the Analysis Group consultancy.

About the HBR McKinsey Awards

Since 1959, the HBR McKinsey Awards have recognized practical and groundbreaking management thinking by determining the best articles published each year in Harvard Business Review. Past winners include Peter Drucker, Clayton M. Christensen, Daniel Goleman, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, George Stalk, Michael E. Porter, Mark R. Kramer, and John P. Kotter.

About Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review is the leading destination for smart management thinking. Through its flagship magazine, twelve international licensed editions, books from Harvard Review Press, and digital content and tools published in HBR.org, Harvard Business Review provides professionals around the world with rigorous insights and best practices to lead themselves and their organizations more effectively and to make a positive impact.


Amy Poftak
Assistant Director of Communications
Harvard Business Review
apoftak@hbr.org; 617-783-7582

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.