Wednesday, May 04, 2005

A Case on HBS, at HBS 
Today in Strategy we discussed a case about HBS and the issue of globalization. For the last several cases we have talked about global enterprises and how businesses decide what functions should be located in what countries, and if it makes sense to go in as full owners, partners, or using arms-length contracts. The same issue applies to Harvard as it tries to decide whether to become more global, and if so, how? The school has clearly decided that it will focus on globalization, as shown in the third of the class that is foreign-born and the numerous overseas initiatives. However, many would argue (and I would agree) that the school is not currently a global institution. While it is likely more global than any other U.S. business school, most foreign-born students were already educated in the U.S. at some level or worked here. Thus, very few international students are truly international, and the school also has a difficult time convincing foreign faculty to move to Boston to teach.

There are several options open to HBS if it does want to become a truly global institution, and we discussed several of the more radical ideas. (Please note that is this pure conjecture and mental experimentation, and does not represent anyone's views.) One idea was to open a string of HBS's across the world, say one each in China, India, and Europe. Applicants would apply to HBS as a whole, but wouldn't know until acceptance which location they would be attending. This would force a global student body and global faculty. Clearly, implementation issues would be huge, and it would turn off a lot of applicants. Another option would be to only have another school in Beijing, with similar application rules. Personally, I liked the idea of two schools, but with all 2nd year classes in Boston. You force everyone (and the younger faculty) to spend the first year in Beijing being international and then you spend the second year in Boston. Of course, internship recruiting would be a bit of a problem, but I'm sure something could be worked out. Anyway, it was a pretty interesting discussion.

An interesting fact that came out: According to informal research by my professor, no university in history has stayed at the top of the education world for more than 250 years. This dates back to early history in Persia and all the way up to Oxford and now Harvard. Accordingly, Harvard's reign at the top should be ending very soon.

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