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Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review September/October 2020

For over 80 years, Harvard Business Review magazine has been an indispensable and unrivaled source of ideas, insight, and inspiration for business leaders worldwide. Each issue contains breakthrough ideas on strategy, leadership, innovation and management. Now, newly redesigned, HBR presents these ideas in a smart new design with improved navigation and rich infographics. Become a more effective leader by subscribing to Harvard Business Review.

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United States
Harvard Business School Publishing
$27.82(Incl. tax)
$130.38(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min
new urgencies and an old question

AS I DRAFT THIS NOTE, halfway through 2020, I count three crises so far—a global pandemic, a major economic shock, and, in the United States, a painful national reckoning over systemic racism. These are problems that every institution, including ours, is engaging with. HBR has the ability, and the responsibility, to publish new thinking on these topics—and that’s what we’ve been doing, both in this magazine and online. Three articles in this issue tackle problems arising from the first two crises: “Adapt Your Business to the New Reality” will help you discern which changes in customers’ behavior are permanent and which will fade away. “Global Supply Chains in a Post-Pandemic World” is a blueprint for reinventing operations if disruptions to international trade persist. “Joint Ventures and Partnerships in a Downturn” provides…

19 min
how to promote racial equity in the workplace

A five-step plan Intractable as it seems, the problem of racism in the workplace can be effectively addressed with the right information, incentives, and investment. Corporate leaders may not be able to change the world, but they can certainly change their world. If your employees don’t believe that racism exists in the company, then diversity initiatives will be perceived as the problem, not the solution. Organizations are relatively small, autonomous entities that afford leaders a high level of control over cultural norms and procedural rules, making them ideal places to develop policies and practices that promote racial equity. In this article, I’ll offer a practical road map for making profound and sustainable progress toward that goal. I’ve devoted much of my academic career to the study of diversity, leadership, and social justice, and over…

18 min
stop overengineering people management

The long march toward enlightened management is typically seen as beginning in the 1930s, when researchers and, more important, corporate leaders began to abandon the assumption that workers should be treated like machines and required to perform tasks according to precisely engineered specifications. Labor is treated as a commodity, and the goal is to cut it to a minimum by replacing employees with contractors, gig workers, and software. They started to embrace the belief that business performance would improve if employees were actually involved in work decisions. For decades the camp that favored empowering employees grew. But now there are strong signs that the pendulum is swinging the other way—that the old engineering model is reasserting itself with gusto. And that’s cause for deep concern. While many organizations—especially ones that are flatter or…

16 min
joint ventures and partnerships in a downturn

Companies will need every tool they’ve got to survive the downturn and rev up their businesses as the economy rights itself. They’ll have to rewire operations, reallocate resources, and in some cases reinvent business models. At many firms, joint ventures and partnerships will play an outsize role in those efforts, both as a vehicle for sharing costs and reducing capital needs during the crisis and as a way to position themselves for growth once it ends. After all, in industries experiencing great pressure—like automotive, retail, and upstream oil and gas—joint ventures are quite common. GM and Volkswagen, for example, each have several dozen, and JVs account for almost 80% of the upstream production of the largest international oil and gas companies. At these and other energy businesses, joint ventures are also…

5 min
presidential obsession

SINCE DONALD TRUMP took office in January 2017, he has issued tens of thousands of tweets—some positive, some angry, some serious, some bonkers. Invariably, the media reacts, as do we, the public. We might write a letter to the editor, post a reply, retweet, like, dislike, or shake a fist at the screen. This may seem like a dynamic peculiar to our current moment, but while the technology may be relatively new, the underlying human story is as old as the Republic. We U.S. citizens are obsessed with our presidents—always have been. We have an insatiable desire to read about what they say and do, watch them, rate them, and pass judgment on them. The vigor of this ongoing obsession is well reflected in a raft of new books, from “best of”…

1 min
special issue

Business leaders and companies must confront racism at a systemic level—in their own organizations and in the economy as a whole. That’s easier said than done. But there’s proven research about what works, from hiring practices to methods for interrupting personal bias. We’ve combed through our archives to find the most relevant and practical articles HBR has published to help leaders and companies make the changes we need to build a just workplace—and a just world. Each quarterly Harvard Business Review Special Issue focuses on a single, timely theme and includes expert authored articles from HBR’s rich archives, along with concise, helpful article summaries. Harvard Business Review FALL ISSUE AVAILABLE ON NEWSSTANDS AND AT HBR.ORG STARTING AUGUST 11.…