Books & Research

Exploring the matters which impact today’s businesses

Current Research

  • Competitiveness

    While the bulk of my work has focused on company-level issues, I have long been interested in national economic performance and questions about why some countries (or regions) prosper more than others. I have been particularly interested in the question of whether manufacturing really matters to a country’s economic well-being. This is a topic that has been hotly debated for many decades. My work on this question has shed new insights on the conditions under which manufacturing matters and the organizational factors and policies that tend to support competitiveness.

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  • Innovation

    Over the past three decades, I have explored how companies build and exploit innovation capabilities, examining such questions as:

    • How should companies think about the choice between internal R&D vs. external partnering for innovation?
    • How does organizational design affect innovative performance? How does culture impact innovation?
    • How can companies formulate and execute effective innovation strategies?

    My most recent work—described in my book “Creative Construction” – looks at how companies can sustain their capacity to innovate as they grow.

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  • Company Growth

    One of the most pressing issues for senior leaders is enterprise growth. Yet shockingly, little is known about the factors driving and impeding organizational growth. My research in the past few years has aimed to rectify this gap in our knowledge. I have begun a long-term research project, involving both statistical analysis and in-depth case studies, to understand why some organizations grow faster than others and why some organizations stop growing. This research has, so far, formed the basis of my second year MBA course at Harvard Business School called Managing Growth. It is a topic I will continue to explore thoroughly in coming years.

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  • Strategy and Organizational Learning

    Historically, research on strategy has focused on how companies can identify and select attractive markets in which to compete. Over the past few decades, I have been on the vanguard of a fundamentally different approach to strategy that emphasizes the creation and exploitation of unique capabilities. With my collaborator David Teece of the University of California, Berkeley, I was instrumental in developing what is now referred to as the “dynamic capabilities” approach to strategy. This framework sees strategy as fundamentally a problem of selecting and building unique operating capabilities that lead to sustained advantage.

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  • Commercializing Science

    Since the early 1980s, I have done extensive research, case writing and consulting in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. Through this work, I became deeply interested in the fundamental question of how science moves from the lab to the market. I am particularly intrigued by the convergence between the worlds of science and business and the implications for both society and companies.

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  • Producing Prosperity
    Producing Prosperity
    Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance

    Companies compete on the decisions they make. For years – even decades – in response to intensifying global competition, companies decided to outsource their manufacturing operations in order to reduce costs. But we are now seeing the alarming long-term effect of those choices: in many cases, once manufacturing capabilities go away, so does much of the ability to innovate and compete. Manufacturing, it turns out, really matters in an innovation-driven economy. "Producing Prosperity" highlights the disastrous consequences of years of poor sourcing decisions and underinvestment in manufacturing capabilities and reveals how today's undervalued manufacturing operations often hold the seeds of tomorrow's innovative new products.

  • Science Business
    Science Business
    The Promise, the Reality, and the Future of Biotech

    Why has the biotechnology industry failed to perform up to expectations – despite all its promise? This question is answered in “Science Business” by providing an incisive critique of the industry. Not only does it reveal the underlying causes of biotech's problems; it offers the most sophisticated analysis yet on how the industry works.

  • Operations, Strategy and Technology
    Operations, Strategy, and Technology
    Pursuing the Competitive Edge

    Operations, Strategy, and Technology” takes a fresh look at the foundations of corporate success, addressing the basic principles that guide the development of a powerful operations organization, and describing how a company's operating and technological resources can be applied to create a sustainable competitive advantage in today's "new" (global and IT-intensive) economy.

  • Strategic Operations
    Strategic Operations
    Competing through Capabilities

    Designed for the second-year elective opted by a third of the student body at the Harvard Business School, Hayes, Pisano and Upton break new ground in this text/casebook by emphasizing the manufacturing process itself as a competitive weapon. Today, companies typically adopt one or more of a growing number of improvement programs, such as TQM (Total Quality Management), JIT (Just-in-Time) production, and DFM (Design for Manufacturability). The majority of these improvement efforts, according to recent surveys, have not been successful. By pinning their hopes on a few best-practice approaches, managers implicitly abandon the central concept of a strategy in favor of a generic approach to competitive success. In clear, accessible prose, the authors propose a new explanation for the problems companies face by specifying the kind of competitive advantage each company is seeking in its marketplace and articulates how that advantage is to be achieved.

  • Manufacturing Renaissance
    Manufacturing Renaissance
    A Harvard Business Review Book

    Twenty articles from the "Harvard Business Review" discuss manufacturing strategy, organizational requirements, performance measurements, and investments in new technology.