Did you know that the non-U.S.’ share of the world population is 95%? Did you know that the non- U.S.’ share of the world’s GDP is 72% or, from a business point of view, that 46% of the Fortune 500 Companies reside outside of America? How about the fact that 33% of the HBS faculty is non-U.S. by birth and that 30% of all Baker Scholars are foreigners? If you were not aware of such statistics, don’t feel bad because there is currently an initiative underway that is seeking to increase the level of international awareness among the HBS community. In fact, one could argue that it’s aiming to serve as the leading model to the Harvard community at large, including Harvard College, GSAS, and the other graduate schools.
The HBS Global Initiative, led by Senior Associate Dean for International Development and Professor of Business Administration John Quelch, not only seeks to dramatically increase HBS’ ability to conduct international research and course development, but also to strengthen HBS’ relationships with international firms and institutions around the world. The underlying goal is simple: expand HBS’ intellectual capital internationally so that it serves as a unique differentiator amongst the world’s major business schools and ensures that HBS remains the premier international academic business institution.
What is the HBS’ Global Initiative?
After meeting with Professor Quelch and Eileen Keohane, Associate Director of the Iniative, I was impressed by the level of commitment as well as the significant resources that are currently being devoted to the Global Initiative. The Initiative consists of a leanly staffed
Cambridge-based Office, an 8-member Steering Group that discusses all institutional HBS activities that occur outside the U.S., and includes, among other activities, the Executive Education Program with Tsinghua University in China (led by Prof. Warren McFarlan), the HBS’ Senior Executive Program for Southern Africa, as well as HBS’ Senior Executive Program for the Middle East (which is split between Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt and the HBS Campus and led by Prof. Tom Piper).
Most importantly, the Initiative comprises four research offices in Hong Kong, Japan, Buenos Aires and Paris. Each Research Center (RC) is led by an executive director that is both a Harvard MBA and a seasoned executive with a great career track record. Each RC also draws on the experience of a Regional Advisory Board which consists of twenty local CEOs and prominent business executives (including many HBS Alumni). The RCs are designed to disseminate the intellectual capital of HBS and serve as the local conduit and coordinator between the HBS Faculty and the local business community and academics.
Early Results of the Global Initiative
The time and energy dedicated to the Initiative had already yielded some dividends: 27% of case studies written in the academic year 2000/2001 were non-US, including some of the cases RCs are familiar with from this year’s course material – both the Corona and Caf‚ de Colombia cases, for example, were championed by the Latin America Research Center in Buenos Aires. Faculty members such as Marketing Professor Rohit Deshpande (who wrote both cases) have increasingly taken advantage of HBS’ global reach. Over 40 faculty members, for example, have visited the Hong Kong Research Center since its inception.
Quelch says that “the research centers are important in opening doors for faculty, making it easier for them to identify and visit key decision makers.” As a result, the mix of HBS cases has become increasingly international, with over 70 cases written in the last five years on organizations in China, Japan and the UK, for example.
With over half of all executive program participants now being international and an increasingly diverse student body both on the MBA (14% of MBA alumni live outside of the USA) and in Executive Education (44% of Executive Education alumni are foreign residents), it is only logical for HBS to increase its focus in international business issues and institutions.
Like many other HBS faculty members, Professor Quelch believes that there is a lot to be learned from other countries, and that focusing on the “best practices” in emerging economies can be extremely beneficial for HBS faculty members and students. He says that course materials drawing on international issues and leveraging the Global Initiative Program “will help develop a respect for cultural diversity and a sense of modesty that the United States is not the only source of business best practices in the world.”
In a world economy that is increasingly more global and interconnected, the Initiative will position HBS as the leading resource to the world in developing new thinking on management issues that are global in scope and impact. Furthermore, events such as September 11 have underlined the crucial need for international awareness and coalition building, a goal that is very much at the crux of the Global Initiative’s vision.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to learn more about the HBS Global Initiative, please go to www.hbs.edu/global