Harvard Business Review May/June 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.

United States
Harvard Business School Publishing
6 Issues

in this issue

1 min
advice that endures

The photo of my workspace at HBR was taken just a couple of months ago, but now it looks impossibly distant. We planned and edited this issue in our offices, but as the magazine went to press, we joined our readers in adjusting to mandatory work-from-home protocols as stock markets crashed, businesses closed, and people coped with the uncertainties of life during a worldwide pandemic. I joined HBR in 2009, in the middle of the global financial crisis. I recall how hard it was to choose articles that struck the right note as the challenges facing managers seemed to change by the hour. Yet when I reread the issues HBR published during the world’s previous major crisis, I’m struck by how relevant they remain. I hope the same proves true for…

2 min

When Rory McDonald, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, was a graduate student, he and his wife noticed that their four young children often played near but not with their siblings while watching one another closely—a phenomenon childhood development experts call parallel play. While studying entrepreneurs, he observed that start-ups, too, often develop side-by-side, in watchful imitation. In this article he and his coauthor, Kathleen Eisenhardt, explain why parallel play offers an unlikely source of inspiration for companies setting strategy and designing business models in new-to-the-world markets. 74 The New-Market Conundrum Vishal Gaur’s interest in combining data and algorithms to solve supply chain problems dates back to research he conducted for his dissertation 20 years ago: An algorithm he created for routing trucks to distribute merchandise to stores resulted in a…

5 min
how to keep complaints from spreading

AFTER UNITED AIRLINES baggage handlers smashed Dave Carroll’s $3,500 guitar during a 2008 flight, he spent months fruitlessly seeking compensation. Then he created a music video about the experience and posted it on YouTube. “United Breaks Guitars” amassed 150,000 views within a day, prompting the airline to try to remedy matters—but the reputational damage had been done. Within three days the video had been viewed by 1.5 million people, many of whom “liked” and shared it and chimed in with their own grievances. United’s stock plunged, with many observers attributing the drop in part to the PR debacle. For Dennis Herhausen, an associate professor of marketing at KEDGE Business School in France, this incident and others like it brought new focus to his and his colleagues’ research on digital assets. “Firms…

3 min
“managing these incidents is a full-contact sport”

Stephen Hahn-Griffiths is the executive vice president of brand and reputation intelligence at RepTrak, a Boston-based reputation measurement and management firm. He previously served as chief strategy officer at leading ad agencies and has worked on brand engagement for companies including Coca-Cola, Expedia, and Allstate. Hahn-Griffiths spoke with HBR about strategies for deflecting and managing social media firestorms. Edited excerpts follow. What’s the first thing a company should do when encountering a negative post? If someone is expressing real anger in the heat of the moment, the firm needs to conduct a risk assessment to identify the right response; it needs to understand what is being said and by whom. Is the person an influencer of the online community? Is this a storm in a teacup or potentially a full-scale firestorm? These…

2 min
the persistent gap in equity-based pay

When companies take measures to ensure that women are compensated at the same rate as men, their efforts largely focus on salaries and bonuses. A group of researchers wondered, What about equity-based awards—stock and stock-option grants? It’s an important question given that equity-based compensation is on the rise and in many cases dwarfs recipients’ annual pay. The researchers began by interviewing more than two dozen HR professionals about their practices regarding equity-based awards. Most of the interviewees reported that their companies were examining the fairness of base pay—and some firms were also examining performance-based pay—and were acting to reduce any gaps. But few of the companies were taking the same steps for equity-based awards. The interviews also revealed that managers generally had discretion in the granting of equity awards, and their…

1 min
does competition spur or stifle creativity?

Creative work often takes place in a competitive environment. For example, firms pitch against rivals for new projects, and entrepreneurs vie for VC funding. Opinion is divided regarding how this affects individual creativity, with some scholars arguing that competition inspires the risk-taking necessary for innovation and others believing it suppresses intrinsic motivation or causes people to “choke.” A new study finds that for top performers, competition heightens creativity—up to a point. The researcher studied 122 logo design contests hosted on a widely used online platform. Participants could submit as many designs as they wanted during the course of each contest, and they could see in real time the ratings (one to five stars) given to their own designs along with the overall distribution of scores—so they had a sense at each…