May 14, 2007

HBS Business Historian Al Chandler Passes Away

From HBS Working Knowledge:

Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., the renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard Business School historian who founded the field of business history, died on Wednesday, May 9, at Youville Hospital in Cambridge, Mass., at the age of 88. In his long and legendary career, he chronicled and analyzed big businesses around the globe in a prolific and extraordinarily influential corpus of books and articles. At the time of his death, he was the School’s Isidor Straus Professor of Business History, Emeritus.


Photo credit: Stuart Cahill, courtesy of HBS

He concluded that successful industrial corporations intelligently harnessed and exploited these forces and made the transition from entrepreneurial enterprises to multidivisional, vertically integrated companies. In essence, the creation and development of modern managerial capitalism was the driver of American business success. “What counts are people – their skills, knowledge and experience,” he said.

Read the rest here

On a personal note, once I had the privilege of assisting Professor Chandler to do some research once on electronic industry companies when I worked at Baker Library in the 1990's.

In using Business Periodicals Index, F & S Index, and ABI/Inform, we found that the US led the way in electronics manufacturing. As he suggested though, the Dutch and other companies in Japan and Korea as well as others across the globe overtook the US in the 1960's and they were sold to those multinational companies, such as Phillips. It was very interesting indeed. It led to this work: Inventing the Electronic Century: The Epic Story of the Consumer Electronics and Computer Industry,

which focused on the fall of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) and the rise of Sony and Matsushita, as Japan conquered the worldwide consumer electronics market.

We shall miss him in the academic business world.

Posted by Becky at 11:25 AM

June 29, 2006

Gnomedex Conference

Gnomedex 6.0, a blogger's high tech convention, starts tomorrow. Instead of having lots of panels of various experts, they are holding many sessions related to social networking, social marketing, and of course, the tools.

John R. Edwards, the Director of the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at UNC-Chapel Hill, and senior advisor for the Fortress Investment Group, is the keynote speaker on Friday. As part of his work in discussing poverty and other related issues, many of them related to legislation as he was a vice-presidential candidate in 2004, he has used podcasting, blogs, GCasts (audio blog) and vblogs in soliciting questions and opinions.

The conference arranger, Chris Pirillo of Lockergnome, was mentioned last week about a tool he created called The tool changed its name yesterday to tagjag.

Posted by Becky at 11:06 AM

May 8, 2006

Less Than One in Five Business Leaders Admit to Understanding Consumer Needs

From the CRM Today Newsletter:

An IBM survey of over 700 consumers and business leaders in North America and Europe has revealed consumers think companies are increasingly acting without understanding them -- and some companies admit this. Of more than 100 business leaders questioned, 79 percent admitted to taking significant marketing and promotional actions without clearly understanding consumer expectations.

For example, less than half of retail banking consumers surveyed had experiences that exceeded their expectations. Banking consumers surveyed stated higher-order emotive characteristics such as "dignity" and "empathy" as top preferences. Characteristics such as "friendly" and "informed" are less important.

However, only 17 percent of business leaders as a whole said that they consider emotional factors at all when making consumer-related decisions. These survey results suggest that in-depth consumer understanding and proactive management of key interactions represent a significant opportunity for differentiation in today's fiercely competitive and price-driven marketplaces.

The IBM Global Business Services Consumer Experience Survey found 74 percent of business leaders surveyed act on an operational basis, e.g. "what can be made faster or more efficient," rather than focusing on an in-depth understanding of what the consumer may value most. Also, companies continue to put inspirational and emotional brand messages into the market, but often fail to deliver on emotional promises when they interact with consumers.

Read the rest here.

This happens in the nonprofit too.

Posted by Becky at 12:27 PM

April 6, 2006

Fast Company 50

Fast Company (FC) is a trade magazine that first described itself to be a cross between Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Rolling Stone. It was founded over a decade ago by two former editors who wanted to create content about entrepreneurs and make it more "hip" in its tenor.

Today, FC has moved more towards a cross between Business 2.0 and Wired, and more closely aligned with Red Herring, but with some HBS Working Knowledge flavor.

For the past 5 years, FC has been doing an annual issue entitled the Fast 50. To use their description, it is:

"...50 portraits from the future: people in business, technology, government, the arts, and beyond who are writing the history of the next 10 years. No, they aren't all heroes. Some are simply seizing an opportunity. But they're all smart, and they all tell you a lot about where we're heading. "

It is not a ranked list, but their thoughts on the top 50 movers and shakers.

Fast 50

I'm not certain I agree with their list but certainly it is interesting to read. Enjoy.

Posted by Becky at 3:00 PM

March 27, 2006

The Office of Strategy Management

by Martha Lagace, Senior Editor, HBS Working Knowledge

"Why is there such a persistent gap between ambition and performance?" ask Robert Kaplan and David P. Norton in "The Office of Strategy Management" in the October 2005 Harvard Business Review. "The gap arises, we believe, from a disconnect in most companies between strategy formulation and strategy execution. . . . [But] it doesn't have to be like this."

Successful companies, they write, are establishing a new corporate-level unit called the office of strategy management. This unit is distinctly different from the strategic planning unit and plays a unique coordinating role to help bring strategy to fruition.

Read the rest here.

Posted by Becky at 4:02 PM

February 21, 2006

UIUC Women's Biennial Conference: Carolyn Kepcher

Carolyn Kepcher, Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization, has become popular with tv fans with her role on the NBC hit reality series, "The Apprentice". As the website says,

As "Trump's sidekick" and "henchwoman," the 35-year-old is the Chief Operating Officer and General Manager for the Trump National Golf Clubs in Briarcliff Manor, New York and Bedminster, New Jersey. She has been with the Trump Organization since 1994 and currently oversees the day-to-day operations of over 250 employees at both golf properties

Sounds enticing? Check here for more details. Women in Business clubs may enjoy her talk as well as the entire venue for the conference very worthwhile to attend.


Her book, Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice's Straight Shooter, is a Business Week bestseller. It reveals the secrets of her own success and provides readers with guidance for their professional lives.

Meanwhile, BEL will order her book.

Posted by Becky at 4:01 PM

December 22, 2005

Terry Duffy, CEO of Chicago Mercantile Exchange

Terry Duffy was the College of Business' convocation speaker on December 18th. He offered the graduates his thoughts on leadership, among them to maintain faith and family, embrace change, and create a vision.

Click here to read the speech. (courtesy of College of Business)

Posted by Becky at 4:07 PM

October 25, 2005

America's Best Leaders

From US News & World Report:

"America's Best Leaders" are an accomplished group selected by an independent committee of judges assembled by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Some leaders are famous names; others, while giants in their fields, may be introduced to readers for the first time. Their leadership styles are as varied as the organizations they manage."

The list is a mix of government and business leaders.

LINK to the list

This particular issue also discusses the National Leadership Index, a first public opinion poll conducted by the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government along with market research firm Yankelovich.

Posted by Becky at 10:06 AM

October 4, 2005

Case Study: Knowing the Business Is Vital in Face of Loss

From today's WSJ:

THE PROBLEM: The death of a great friend and business partner.

THE SOLUTION: He was unsure how to proceed without Mr. Klosterman. "I lost that confidence that I could make a presentation and make the financial arguments necessary," Mr. Eastland says. "I spent hours and hours with investors." But he couldn't quit, he said. "We both had a strong belief that we live up to our commitments," Mr. Eastland says. "I think Bob would have done the same thing." Ultimately, he says, all investors stayed on, as well as Mr. [Dale Van Voorhis].

LINK to rest of article (from Proquest; UIUC Net ID & password required)

Posted by Becky at 10:25 AM

September 6, 2005

Leadership Thought: The Essence of Leadership

From HBS WorkingKnowledge this week:

by Jonathan Byrnes

What are the essential qualities of an effective leader? Can these be recognized in young people? Can they be developed?

These questions were the topic of a meeting I recently had with a top admissions officer of a leading graduate school of business. This official was reflecting on the profile of applicants to be accepted in the school. She wanted to be sure that this profile was the most appropriate one, and not take anything for granted.

Great leadership seems easy to recognize, and you usually can tell when someone is lacking in leadership qualities. But how do you define it? This is a critical question both for selecting and developing your subordinates, and for developing your own leadership capabilities.

Here's a definition of leadership that has stuck with me: Leaders are "people who leave their footprints in their areas of passion."

LINK to rest of article

Posted by Becky at 1:38 PM

August 26, 2005

Interview with Degussa Chairman Utz-Hellmuth Felcht

Degussa is the largest specialty chemical company in the world, headquartered in Germany. Knowledge@Wharton interviewed Felcht about his leadership style. First part of a two-part interview.

LINK to article

Posted by Becky at 3:00 PM

August 15, 2005

Leadership Thought: The Founding CEO's Dilemma: Stay or Go?

From the most recent issue of HBSWorkingknowlege Newsletter:

August 15, 2005

The Founding CEO's Dilemma: Stay or Go?
by Mike Roberts

Summary: Bill Gates and Larry Ellison are rare birds. In this interview by HBS senior lecturer Mike Roberts for New Business, professor Noam Wasserman explains how and why many founding chief executives find themselves replaced.

New Business: Tell us about your research.

Noam Wasserman: My research focuses on founder frustrations in entrepreneurial firms, with a particular emphasis on the core issues of organization building that cause problems for founders' abilities to achieve their goals. I've been especially interested in the pattern of succession in many entrepreneurial firms—specifically, that many founders are replaced by "professional" CEOs early in the life of the venture. My data shows that the percentage of founder-CEOs who "go the distance" is extremely low, especially in high-potential ventures. People like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison, who are able to lead their companies for quite a while, get all the attention because they are rare, not because they are typical.

NB: What do we know about why this happens?

Wasserman: In large companies, when the CEO doesn't do well, the CEO gets replaced. When the CEO does do well, there is almost no chance that person will be replaced. If he or she has led the company to success, that person is about as solid in the position as one can get.

The interesting paradox is that when founder-CEOs do really well, that also increases the chances that they're going to be replaced.

My research shows that in small companies, it's still true that when founder-CEOs do badly, they are replaced. But the interesting paradox is that when founder-CEOs do really well, that also increases the chances that they're going to be replaced. Typically, early in the life of a company—when it is developing its first product or service—the founder who conceived of the idea and began developing it is the perfect person to lead the company, to ensure that it will be able to succeed at hitting the core milestone of completing initial development. However, when that milestone is reached—when the founder-CEO has successfully led the company in its most important task—the chances that that founder-CEO will be replaced also increase dramatically. The challenges within the company change so dramatically that the person who was best suited to lead the early stage of company development is no longer the best person to continue leading the company. Now, the product has to be sold: You have to create a sales organization, manage multiple functions, deal with customers, handle more complex financial issues, and deal with a very different set of challenges for which many founder-CEOs are not equipped. Objectively, many founders might agree that the CEO's job will require skills they don't have, but emotionally, they are very attached to the companies they started, they've grown to like the CEO position, and the success that they have enjoyed so far makes it much harder for others to convince the founders that they need to be replaced. However, it is precisely their success that has increased the need to replace them at this point.

LINK to rest of article

Noam Wasserman is an assistant professor and MBA Class of 1961 Fellow in the entrepreneurial management unit at Harvard Business School. His paper "Founder-CEO Succession and the Paradox of Entrepreneurial Success," published in Organization Science in March-April 2003, won Harvard's 2003 Aage Sorensen Memorial Award for sociological research. With his coauthor, Rock Center Entrepreneur-in-Residence Henry McCance of Greylock Partners, professor Wasserman recently completed a case study about founder-CEO succession at Wily Technology. New Business publisher Mike Roberts met with professor Wasserman to learn more about his research

Posted by Becky at 1:31 PM

August 13, 2005

Leadership Thought: Asian and American Leadership Styles: How Are They Unique?

The following article was published 6 weeks ago, but it is being posted in case you missed it the first time around or if you do not subscribe to the HBS Workingknowledge Newsletter.

From HBSWorkingknowledge, June 27, 2005:

by D. Quinn Mills

Editor's note: Political connections and family control are more common in Asian businesses than in the United States. In addition, says HBS professor D. Quinn Mills, American CEOs tend to use one of five leadership styles: directive, participative, empowering, charismatic, or celebrity. Which styles have Asian business leaders adopted already, and which styles are likely to be most successful in the future?

In a talk in Kuala Lumpur on June 15 at the invitation of The Star/BizWeek publication and the Harvard Club of Malaysia, Mills explained the differences and similarities between American and Asian leadership. Below is the transcript of his talk, "Leadership Styles in the United States: How Different are They from Asia?"

The rapid economic development of Asia in recent decades is one of the most important events in history. This development continues today and there is every reason to anticipate that it will continue indefinitely unless derailed by possible but unlikely international conflicts. At the core of Asian economic development is its business leadership—managers and entrepreneurs who sustain and create Asian companies. Do they exhibit the same leadership styles as top executives in the West?

There are important differences. Are differences attributable to different cultures or to different stages of corporate development?

But first, what are we talking about?

Roles in organizations involve more than just leadership. It is useful, but not yet common in our literature and discussion of business, to distinguish among leadership, management, and administration. They are in fact very different; each is valuable and has its place. Briefly, leadership is about a vision of the future and the ability to energize others to pursue it. Management is about getting results and doing so efficiently so that a financial profit or surplus is created. Administration is about rules and procedures and whether or not they are being followed. These distinctions are very important to clear communications among us about how organizations are run—when they are not made, we become very confused, as is much of the discussion around our topic.

Briefly, running an organization effectively involves:




Our focus today is on leadership: how an executive sets direction and energizes his organization to pursue the direction. This is appropriate because managerial techniques are being spread fast by imitation, adoption, and MBA education. Administrative techniques were generalized around the world decades ago. So what is much different now is leadership.

LINK to the rest of the article.

Posted by Becky at 5:23 PM

June 22, 2005

Leadership Thought

Leadership Thought is another table where the reader can sit down and read an article or perhaps a book review that may spark your interest. Some of the works mentioned will be recent books, articles out of scholarly or trade publications on cyclical topics, and certainly there may be some controversial ones as well, mainly in the areas of leadership, strategy, or organizational change.

Speaking of, Jeffrey Moriarty has written an article on a topic that is cyclical, as well as controversal. The article, "Do CEO's Get Paid Too Much", is published in the journal Business Ethics Quarterly 15 (2): 257-271. Link to the full-text of the article is available to UIUC subscribers only.

Posted by Becky at 11:21 AM