BOSTON- Harvard Business School (HBS) has received a gift from Joseph L. Bower, Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus, to support and strengthen case writing. The Joseph Bower Family Fund
will enable faculty members to produce cases with deep learning and insights about important phenomena in business. To begin, the fund will provide support for cases focused on advancing racial equity and the unique challenges facing Black managers, and with diverse protagonists.
“I am delighted to be able to support what I consider to be the lifeblood of Harvard Business School,” said Professor Bower. “I’ve seen first-hand the power that HBS cases have to change the management practice of individuals, organizations, and even entire industries. Fundamental concepts such as informal organization, management accounting, and corporate strategy have their origins in case research. Cases also play an important role in connecting new generations of faculty to the most interesting challenges in business.”
Joseph L. Bower, Donald K. David Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus
Photo Credit: Russ Campbell
Harvard Business School has played a leading role in the preparation, dissemination, and fullest use of business cases around the world for nearly a century. Faculty members at the School continually invest in updating and refreshing about a third of course content annually to ensure relevance to current and emerging practice. Today, the faculty produce hundreds of cases each year, and 80% of cases used at business schools worldwide are from the HBS case collection.
“Joe’s gift reflects both his commitment and his generosity—qualities that are hallmarks of his tenure at the School,” noted Dean Nitin Nohria. “He understands how cases deepen understanding for students and faculty alike. Today, developing a body of cases that address issues of racial equity and how organizations can best advance these aims is vitally important to our curriculum and to management practice.”
A graduate of Harvard University AB ’59 (magna cum laude), MBA ’61 (Baker Scholar with high distinction), and DBA ’63, Professor Bower has been a leader in general management at Harvard Business School for more than five decades. He served in many administrative roles, including as Senior Associate Dean, and in 1995, he founded The General Manager Program (TGMP, now GMP) at the School. An expert on corporate strategy, organization, and leadership, he has devoted much of his teaching and research to challenges confronting corporate leaders in today’s rapidly changing hypercompetitive conditions.
Introduced to business education in 1921 by HBS faculty, cases remain a powerful learning vehicle—the foundation of the School’s pedagogy and the cornerstone for business education in much of the world. Case studies describe real‐world business situations and require students to work together to make difficult decisions under typical management conditions, including incomplete information, complex tradeoff situations, and time pressure. Case preparation and in‐class discussions provide a dynamic environment in which students develop their capacity for leadership in a complex and changing world.
Beyond the benefits to students and in the classroom, effective case development is central to a strong faculty at the School. Case writing, particularly for field cases, allows faculty members to build their understanding of trends and strategic issues facing organizations, and strengthens both their understanding of general management and their ability to engage with firms.