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

May 17, 2006

Business of Green

From today's NYT:


IN many ways, this city's current fortunes are all about mulch. It's everywhere. Bark mulch is spread in neat circles around the city's trees; roughly 30,000 new trees are planted annually. Darker leaf mulch fills planters along State, Dearborn, Michigan and the other major thoroughfares now blooming in spring colors.

Mulch adorns 70 miles of green medians that have been sown over the last decade with native flowers, grasses and bushes. It's spread on the gardens and open spaces now required by the city to accompany new homes, stores and office buildings. And it sits on many of the energy-saving green roofs of 200 buildings.

But even more than its soil-enriching, moisture-conserving utility, mulch is an organic metaphor , tying together the various pieces of Chicago's novel development strategy, praised by the Sierra Club and the Chamber of Commerce alike. By wrapping its arms and famous big shoulders around its Latin motto — Urbs in Horto (City in a Garden) — Chicago has become a global model for how a metropolis can pursue environmental goals to achieve economic success.

LINK to article (registration req'd)

Entire special section on the Business Of Green, click here.

Posted by Becky at 3:20 PM

May 15, 2006

New Path: Setting New Professional Directions --for Women

From HBS Workingknowledge:

The swift current of modern business presents a challenge for any woman deciding to temporarily step out of the corporate rapids to tend to family or other concerns. While they are away competitors come and go, technology constantly changes the nature of how business is done, and even the way we dress for success evolves over time.

Harvard Business School professor Myra Hart, an expert in high potential entrepreneurship, has offered several programs over the years to help HBS alumnae quickly regain the skills they need to re-enter the work force. This spring she brought together faculty and staff to create New Path: Setting New Professional Directions. In this interview, Hart explains the program and her hopes that future sessions can be expanded.

Click here to read the rest.

FYI, Myra Hart was one of the founders of Staples, before going back to get her Ph.D at HBS.

Posted by Becky at 3:32 PM

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

October 24, 2005

Becky's Blurbs: HBR Digital Content Posting Rules

Last Tuesday, I was part of a group of 16 business librarians (most of us were directors/heads of academic business libraries) met in a faciliated discussion with HBS Publishing. Despite their introductory comments that they wanted to "clarify" with us their position and wanted our feedback, the following message was still reinforced:

We do not permit the posting of our cases, articles, or chapters on "e-reserve" course pages for student access, nor in "electronic coursepacks" that link to our digitized content, nor on course management systems such as WebCT or Blackboard, unless doing so via our Course Planning system. Such unauthorized postings are equivalent to distributing our copyrighted content to students, and doing so without our permission infringes that copyright. This is so even if the content is being used for the first time and is password-protected, accessible only to students in the course, and taken down at the end of the course. Please do not post or display HBSP content in this way. Using our Course Planning tool is every bit as easy and functional.

Clearances for your coursepacks can be obtained from your institution's copyright permissions coordinator (You will have to use Campus Bookstore for this). See more information on our Course Planning tool on our web site.

It was a lively discussion. I think HBS was looking for a "mending wall" (to use the metaphor of Robert Frost's famous poem), but they got Robert Frost's viewpoint instead of his neighbor's, which they wanted to hear.

It was my view along with my other colleagues that HBSP's thinking is rather backwards concerning "fair use" of the Harvard Business Review (HBR) in providing a direct link to the article that you can get from EBSCO Business Source Premier, whether the instructor does it or the Library does for e-reserves. They were unfamiliar with other types of technology that could lead one to the link.

Their concern is that e-reserves or links from syllabi were taking over as coursepacks (where permissions are required for both case studies and reprints) and eating into their revenues in order for students not to have to pay. We explained that it was convenient and that it did not make sense for a citation to be provided, only for the student to be told to come into the library to read the print version of the article; moreover, they forgot about distance learners. We still didn't understand the economic harm to them.

According to EBSCO, it is not permissible to provide the direct link to HBR within the bounds of their contract. We were not aware of this. Thus, there will come a time in the very near future whereby they (EBSCO) will know by IP address who is doing this, even if the link is behind WebCT or First Class.

Here's one thing our researchers can do, once they have the correct citation, is find a virtual shelf of HBR issues. How do you do this?

First, search our online research resources and type in the journal name, "Harvard Business Review". (If you are off-campus, you will be asked to supply your net ID and password.

Next, click the link that reads 10/1922 to present, then you will be taken directly to a screen that on the right side lists all of the years of issues. The researcher can click the year, then the Month of that year that matches the date in the citation.

These are a couple of extra steps, but they do not violate the spirit of the use of EBSCO Business Source Premier. But stay tuned.

Posted by Becky at 6:20 PM

October 13, 2005

Good Employees = Good Customers

I am submitting a true "blog" post with something I'm introducing to bellog: Perspectives. Any of the BEL faculty and AP's may post a perspective here, but I'm guessing I will be the one who will post an entry more often.

For years, I have been a fan of Len Berry, marketing professor at Texas A & M University, and now a professor of humanities in the College of Medicine. He has published a number of articles and books related to customer service. His most famous research has to do with the perceptions of customers vs what company/institutional employees have of service provision.

One of my business book treasures is Discovering the Soul of Service. Partly, it has to do with Len signing it as a parting gift, but mainly because Berry wrote that it was important to have happy employees in order to have happy customers. Seems so simple, but we lose sight of it in the thick of things, especially if you are an entrepreneur, or an intrapreneur
(which I tend to be).

I believe him. I also believe it's more important to have good employees in order to have good customers. BEL's staff may not always be the happiest, for various reasons, among them personal with health or otherwise, but they are good.

Sure, we have our strengths and weaknesses. As much as we would like, we cannot provide every service to all. There are some limitations we have because some of our vendors are far behind our customers' needs--or sometimes too far ahead. Hitting the adoption curve of technology or content at the right time is a challenge for us. It's as much as adoption in the library world as it is adaptation (not to be confused with the movie).

When I leave town on business, vacation, sick leave, or for performing research, I don't fret over BEL's operations because we have good staff who are not only dependable or courteous (we strive for both), but also knowledgeable. They know others to call in the building, and if they don't, they will ask someone. They will ask me too if they need to do so. Their commitment to customer service allows me to work on the business most of the time, as well as in the business some of the time. I've noticed that a few units in our local library land are trying to snare a couple of our employees because they've heard they are good and are very capable of taking on more duties than their job description and exhibit good collegiality.

On Monday, one of newer employees formerly in the corporate world, has decided to take the leap to a career in the academy or tenure-track: librarianship, research, and service. It is a tremendous undertaking because the first two aspects require excellence and continuity; the third needs to be "pretty darn good." One other librarian we hired 3 years ago also chose this path from being in the corporate world. The academy seems to agree with that professor, and is on the way to tenure.

We have another librarian who is a natural with technology and business librarianship; this person helped develop our virtual pages, including this blog.

Our GAs are really curious, customer-service oriented, and confident, but not overly so. They ask questions when they need to know, but are so eager to learn much on their own.

The student workers have brought in their friends to help them with library services as well as doing what they can for our regular students and faculty. I've enjoyed working with them on a Monday evening.

Overall, I'm good with this team. And yes, good employees do draw in good customers too.

Posted by Becky at 6:40 PM