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Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review May/June 2021

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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Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Harvard Business School Publishing
Frequency:
Bimonthly
$27.82(Incl. tax)
$130.38(Incl. tax)
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min
a complicated relationship

DURING THREE YEARS as a foreign correspondent in Beijing in the 1980s, I experienced some of China’s highs and lows: the promising first wave of economic liberalization, followed by the crushing tragedy of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Since then I’ve watched interactions between China and the rest of the world with particular interest. For the past few years the U.S.-China trade war has threatened to derail relations between Beijing and Washington. A partial decoupling in certain areas is already under way. The world is a messy place, and you don’t have to be a fan of either government to appreciate that the two nations need each other. It will be difficult to solve the world’s biggest problems unless smart people in the United States and China continue to engage. In that spirit,…

2 min
contributors

Zak Dychtwald, a fluent Mandarin speaker who for years has worked in and traveled around China, spends a lot of time studying how young people affect its culture and economy. “There are more young people in China than in North America, Europe, and the Middle East combined,” he says. “To understand where the country is headed, you have to understand who these people are, what they want, and how they see the world.” In this issue he argues that their willingness to adopt new products and technologies is an underappreciated driver of Chinese innovation. 55 China’s New Innovation Advantage Not long after Colleen Ammerman met Boris Groysberg, a colleague at Harvard Business School, they began discussing gender equity. “I think about gender as a social institution and system of power relations,” Ammerman…

5 min
why customer loyalty programs can backfire

CUSTOMER LOYALTY PROGRAMS are ubiquitous, accounting for more than 3.3 billion memberships in the United States alone. And they can confer tremendous advantage: Members are more likely than others to buy from a retailer whose program they belong to, they visit the website or store more frequently, and they are more likely to download the retailer’s app, follow or otherwise engage with the retailer on social media, and recommend it to family and friends. But new research, conducted by professors at the Wharton School along with the customer experience consultancy the Verde Group, reveals an important downside of loyalty programs. When loyal members encounter service failures—shipping issues, problems with returns, stockouts, and the like—they get more upset than customers who are not members of the program. Because they shop the brand…

3 min
“if you violate emotional trust, you might lose the customer forever”

As chief customer officer at Walmart, Janey Whiteside oversees its customer loyalty program, Walmart+. Before joining the company, in 2018, she spent two decades at American Express, where her responsibilities included oversight of its rewards program. Whiteside recently spoke with HBR about how companies can protect against defections by loyalty members. Edited excerpts follow. Do you agree with the main finding of the research: that loyalty programs can backfire? Yes, I consistently see that. Loyalty members put their trust in your company in two ways—functional and emotional. Functional trust is the promise that you will deliver a smooth shopping experience: Items will be in stock and priced correctly, and so on. Emotional trust is more important. If you violate that, you might lose the customer forever. What do you mean by emotional trust? I…

2 min
why shareholders often turn against female directors

Given societal and regulatory pressure on companies to seat more women on their boards, shareholders ought to generally support female directors—and many times they do. But according to a new study, that support is fragile and depends on context. The researchers examined more than 50,000 director elections held at public firms from 2003 to 2015. They found that female nominees—whether first-time candidates or incumbents up for reelection—generally received fewer dissenting votes than their male counterparts did, an effect that was heightened when existing female representation on the board was especially low. However, when firms were under threat from low performance or unfavorable media coverage—or once a significant number of women had made it onto the board—that support disappeared. And when the perceived threats stemmed from directors themselves (such as from poor…

1 min
how tech could become more inclusive

The rise in remote work gives tech firms a chance to hire outside of their usual hubs and thus boost diversity. Promising states include Georgia, Texas, Delaware, Florida, Virginia, Connecticut, and Maryland. Each has a large share of Black, Latinx, and female STEM grads, along with good digital infrastructure, a moderate cost of living, and enough tech workers to form a network. Note: Some states were omitted owing to lack of comparable data. Source: Digital Planet, the Fletcher School, Tufts University; U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2018; U.S. Census Bureau, 2018; CompTIA, 2020; Bhaskar Chakravorti…