Speaking as a guest of Professor Rajiv Lal at the Harvard Business School, Monsieur Jean Jacques Lebel, outlined the logic behind the universalization strategy that L’Oréal has been implementing throughout the French cosmetics firm. This policy aims to leverage the advantages of having a global brand and adapt them to emerging markets in order to give new consumers a product that they feel in relevant and adapted to their needs. Continue reading
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“Love and marriage,” says old blue eyes himself, Mr. Frank Sinatra, “Go together like a horse and carriage.” This idealised pairing might be said to be relevant for Harvard Business School and the Case Study Method.
HBS was created in 1908 and established its case study method in the 1920s. Today, this teaching method is as close to business school orthodoxy as you can possible get. There are approximately 14 000 business schools in the world and you would be hard pressed to find one that did not uses cases to teach business. But why did HBS start teaching this way and how many cases does it sell each year?
In their book, “Promises Fulfilled and Unfulfilled in Management Education”, Howard Thomas et al. (2013) quote a Dean saying that degree certificates should be written in invisible ink. It is an interesting idea. If 80% of products we use today did not exist 10 years ago as marketers tell us, then we should be constantly going back to formal education to relearn new methods and techniques. The usefulness of knowledge learn at the age of 20, may have ‘disappeared’ by the time we are 30 or 40.
Working in higher education means that you should constantly get the chance to challenge set logic. (Or have it challenged by bright colleagues and students.) Still, there is no reason that the same reasoning should not apply. I have therefore chosen to begin this semester by going back to school myself. For the next two months I will be studying Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.
BOOK REVIEW: “Value Merchants: Demonstrating and Documenting Superior Value in Business Markets” by James Anderson, Nirmalya Kumar & James Narus (2007)
Salesmen require more gravitas than the power of persuasion and price cuts to make consistent sales to their customers. In order to sell a product or a service, a company has to take a multidimensional role as a value merchant, rather than a salesman. In fact, it is this very shift of the role of sellers that outlines what customers are looking for in terms of product or service offerings of the highest value (their perception).
BOOK REVIEW: “How Countries Compete: Strategy, Structure, and Government in the Global Economy” by Richard Vietor (2007)
How Countries Compete is a political and economic strategic analysis of 11 different countries around the world. The book is divided into 12 new chapters, which deal with one country per chapter. Japan is dealt with twice, looking at it from a historical perspective at the beginning of the book, and then looking more towards the future and there after the pre 1990 crisis. Richard Vietor uses the word “compete” in the sense that countries try to compete for market share in the world economy and gain foreign investment and export their sales in business. Governments can help in this policy, either by macroeconomic policies that encourage investment and greater economic activity, or by things like increasing human resource competencies through education. Some countries have very active and direct policies. In China, for example, technology transfer and know-how has been encouraged through the use of FDI. In Singapore, workers are required to save as much as 50% of their gross income for their retirement plan.
BOOK REVIEW: “Concise Guide to Macroeconomics: What Managers, Executives, and Students Need to Know” by David A. Moss (2007)
“A Concise Guide to Macroeconomics” is an introduction to some of the main concepts and theories around the discipline. It centers on three basic pillars: output, money, and expectations. The book is essentially designed for managers and executives who may not be familiar with the main theories of macroeconomics. David Moss uses considerable experience he has gained, teaching at Harvard Business School, and particularly on executive education programs, to bring some complex issues to the reader in a very simple way.