China’s Complicated Relationship With Mother Nature


Despite its name, the Great Wall of China began as a series of smaller, isolated defensive fortifications. Those structures grew and were later unified into the imposing structure that exists today.

The Great Wall is a great metaphor for the Chinese economy. By empowering regional governments to pursue economic development, and rewarding officials on that basis, the country as a whole has been transformed into an entrepreneurial and industrial powerhouse. Case in point: China’s economy enjoyed a sustained growth rate of 10 percent between 1979 and 2010, and the International Monetary Fund projects that it will overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy by the end of 2014. But as the Great Wall exemplifies the great feats of Chinese unity, so too does it reflect a tradition of environmental subjugation for national gain.

Harvard Business School professor William C. Kirby has long been following and chronicling the rising superpower’s complicated relationship with Mother Nature. His new case study, China’s Environmental Challenge, tells of a great nation at a critical crossroad: moving toward leading the world’s markets

The Real Jobs Tragedy in the US Weve Lost the Skills


With a final deal reached on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), prepare for another cacophony of protest in Congress that America is signing away jobs to other parts of the world. The naysayers will be overlooking one small fact. Even without trade pacts, America bled away hundreds of thousands of jobs over the past few decades.

And while trade deals undoubtedly play a role in the global topography of jobs, today many American jobs may hang in the balance based upon a completely different factor: the availability of skilled talent in America. Clearing the malaise that has afflicted the domestic skills market is far more relevant to the future of American workers than potential job losses through expanded trade with other Pacific-rim nations.

Signs of distress

The long-term structural decline of American jobs began well before the Great Recession. Between the 1970s and 2000, the United States economy maintained a steady pace in job growth of about 2 percent a year. The US labor force participation rate reflected that, growing robustly for the four decades from 1947 to 1997. Around 2001, both those indicators of the

Globalization Hasn’t Killed the Manufacturing Cluster


Globalization hasn’t made manufacturing clusters obsolete, but the geographically concentrated pockets of industry have to be smart to ensure their survival, according to new research from Harvard Business School.

Gary P. Pisano, the Harry E. Figgie, Jr. Professor of Business Administration at HBS, and researcher Giulio Buciuni, of the University of Venice Ca’ Foscari, address the question of when clusters survive and when they fail in their May 2015 working paper, Can Marshall’s Clusters Survive Globalization?

“I think people in general think well, there’s globalization so there’s no need for clusters”

Pisano and Buciuni looked to four industrial clusters in northeastern Italy for their answer. Italy “is a great laboratory because it’s been historically organized around these very specific districts all over the country. Every area is associated with a particular industry,” Pisano says.

Clusters are not a new concept, notably studied in the United Kingdom by Alfred Marshall—he called them industrial districts—in the early 1900s. Manufacturing clusters can seemingly happen in any industry in any location, from winemaking in Northern California to automaking in Detroit. Clusters typically build up around a geographic location where natural