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Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review

July/August 2021
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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
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6 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
softening capitalism’s downsides

THIS IS A challenging time to be an executive. For decades the CEO’s primary responsibility has been to reward shareholders, even short-term ones. But as Joseph Bower and Lynn Paine pointed out in a 2017 HBR article, “The Error at the Heart of Corporate Leadership,” that approach wasn’t grounded in law or common sense. It was fashion. Today’s leaders tend to talk instead about serving a broad range of stakeholders, not just shareholders. Another fad? Perhaps. But it’s an idea that has the potential to reorder capitalism and perhaps soften some of its downsides: obsessive short-term thinking, perverse income inequality, the destruction of the planet. I recently had a chance to interview Ursula Burns, the former Xerox CEO, about this shift. Burns made history in 2009 when she became the first Black…

2 min.
contributors

Born into a family of teachers, Atalay Atasu was always going to be an academic. An engineer by training, he was educated in Turkey, the United States, and France. While studying for a PhD in the early 2000s, he became interested in the circular economy—a concept recently made popular by Ellen MacArthur, who in 2005 broke the world record for fastest circumnavigation of the globe and in 2010 set up a foundation focused on the environment. In this issue Atasu, now a professor at INSEAD, and his coauthors seek to ground circularity in the day-to-day world of business operations. 72 The Circular Business Model Eva Ascarza, an associate professor of marketing at Harvard Business School, describes herself as an “empirical modeler”—someone who uses tools from statistics, economics, and machine learning to answer…

4 min.
the problem with innovation contests

IN 1714, THE British government offered a cash prize to anyone who could devise a practical method of determining longitude at sea. In more recent times, open innovation contests have tackled challenges ranging from the silly (Frito-Lay’s Crash the Super Bowl campaigns invited consumers to shoot a funny Doritos commercial) to the substantial (the NFL and Duke University have offered up to $2 million for football helmet designs that better prevent brain injuries). Such contests are designed to get the competitive juices flowing, and for that reason participants can often view others’ submissions while working on their own. But new research shows that if not managed carefully, that same competitive element can kill creativity. Across two real-world studies and three lab experiments, participants who were shown lots of competing ideas or…

3 min.
“if the first entries you show are poor, you’ll probably get lots of poor entries”

As CEO of the innovation consultancy HYVE, Johann Füller initiated the HYVE Crowd platform and has overseen more than 200 open innovation contests for corporate clients. He recently spoke with HBR about what the firm has learned about how competition affects contestants. Edited excerpts follow. Do you agree that competition can inhibit participants? It’s always a question: How much competition do you want in a given contest? You can set the tone a bit through the incentives you offer. For example, many contests have only one winner. But if you pay out just for first place, you may demotivate the other participants. If one entry is so good that people feel they can’t compete, they have no motivation to engage. So we award prizes to the top solutions. We often offer a…

2 min.
a brighter view of employee monitoring

Organizational psychologists have long held that monitoring workers saps their autonomy and reduces their effectiveness. Yet technology has intensified such surveillance in recent years: Among other things, managers now track clinicians’ handwashing, truck drivers’ efficiency, and customer service reps’ interactions, generally without ill effects. A new study suggests that the discrepancy between scholars’ warnings and companies’ experience can be explained by a previously unexamined factor: who has access to the data that’s gathered. Under the traditional top-down approach, it was usually available only to supervisors; today many systems grant access to multiple parties, including employees themselves. Because this lets workers show their perspective if questioned about their actions, the researchers reasoned, it should reduce the power differential between observer and observed, mitigating the fallout from reduced autonomy. To test their hypothesis,…

1 min.
can china build a lasting lead in ai?

China has surpassed the United States in papers published on artificial intelligence, and it consistently files more AI patents. But the very conditions that fostered this growth, including the open-science nature of AI and a lax regulatory environment, could prevent China from taking a meaningful lead in AI-related businesses, researchers say. Number of academic papers published on AI Source: China AI Development Report 2018, China Institute for Science and Technology Policy at Tsinghua University (data); analysis by Daitian Li, Tony W. Tong, and Yangao Xiao…