Baker Library | Bloomberg Center

Baker News

november 2005

We create and manage the information and knowledge sharing experience in which Harvard Business School exchanges and uses information and knowledge assets.

Top Story

Baker Exchange Brings Wall Street to HBS

HBS may be 200 miles north of New York City, but faculty and students are using the new Baker Exchange to hook into improved business research resources and real-time company earnings announcements as if they were on Wall Street.

The Exchange, which sits in Baker's south entrance hall, includes eight flat panel displays that continuously pump out the latest business news from CNN, Bloomberg, and other sources; newspapers from around the world; and eight dedicated computers with access to databases including Bloomberg and S&P Ratings Direct. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Thomson StreetEvents is accessible via both computers and display screens (StreetEvents provides video, audio, and transcripts of company merger announcements and annual and quarterly earnings presentations to analysts, some dating back five years.

Rich Thomas (HBS MBA 2006) makes the Exchange a routine part of his HBS daily life. In addition to morning and afternoon visits to catch up on news, Thomas uses the Exchange to research case studies and other projects.

"I was able to get the short interest information on stock from Bloomberg and get the last earnings call from StreetEvents, so I could see what the analysts are interested in learning about," he said. "While researching Salomon Brothers, I was able to look into the historical information on its acquisition, and research Warren Buffett's acquisition into the company. For another class, I used Bloomberg to find prices of bonds and options of a company as it approached and emerged from a restructuring."

The Exchange collects many valuable resources in one place, he said, providing one-stop shopping for researchers. "You have current events on the T.V. and if you see something interesting, you can look into it on Bloomberg or Factiva. If you are doing research for a class, you have StreetEvents and Bloomberg as well as other products."

Finance professor Luis Viceira is the first faculty member to incorporate the Baker Exchange into his course platform. For his Investment Management course, Viceira worked with business librarian Ann Cullen, who manages the Baker Exchange, to offer students the option of hands-on training for using Bloomberg terminals. "Bloomberg is essential for any money manager," says Viceira, "but it's not easy to use." Cullen also created supporting materials that Viceira added to the Course Platform.

The relationship between the teaching side of the school and the research resources at Baker "has been a fantastic partnership," Viceira said. "I hope people learn that they can leverage more resources for their teaching."

He plans on using the Exchange more in the future, Viceira added. "This was a trial period, and it worked quite well. Hopefully we will hear from the students on how we can improve."

Spotlight on Historical Collections

United Fruit Images Bring Research Alive

The vast array of images from the United Fruit Company in Baker Library's Historical Collections is increasingly attractive to scholars, allowing them to enrich the MBA curriculum and their own research with highly evocative historical resources. HC maintains an archive of seventy-five photograph albums encompassing 10,400 images from 1891 to 1962 that show United Fruit's industrial processes as well as the lives of its workers and managers.

Professor Geoffrey Jones and former Harvard-Newcomen Fellow Marcelo Bucheli, now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have written a case, "The Octopus and the Generals: The United Fruit Company in Guatemala," which Jones has taught to MBA students during the second year elective, Entrepreneurship and Global Capitalism.

Loading Bananas
Loading bananas, Guatemala

According to Jones, "[Our] case was concerned with the efforts of a Guatemalan government in the early 1950s to expropriate some of United Fruit's land in order to distribute to the country's large landless class. The images were effective in bringing the reality of the time and place alive to the class, and thus providing the basis for a more informed class discussion on a topic and region far removed from the experience of most of today's MBAs."

Alexis Lefort, who provided research assistance to Jones, said the images provided gripping multimedia material that kept students interested in the case discussion and visually drove home points such as "the huge difference in living conditions between the workers and the managers, as illustrated by the shots of the employee barracks compared to the managers' estates."

Bucheli, who wrote Bananas and Business: The United Fruit Company in Colombia, 1899-2000, originally perused the collection looking for a possible book cover image. "I was amazed by the amount of photographs, their quality, and the wide scope of issues they cover..." he said. "I was particularly interested also in some very political photographs. For the Colombian case, the company had images of the consequences of the riots and strikes it faced in 1928. They have some very [arresting] images of burnt company buildings. These photographs were taken after the strike (which they call a 'revolution') and are some of the very few images of that event that exist."

Manager House
Manager's house, Bananera, Guatelmala, first half of twentieth century

Lara Putnam, a history professor at the University of Pittsburgh and author of The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960, said the United Fruit collection provided her "unique insight into the company's evolving interests in representing different aspects of their plantation empire."

"It is not coincidental that photographs under the heading of 'welfare,' portraying the housing, religious, and educational infrastructure provided for workers' families, were collected by the company for the first time in the 1920s, precisely when the company faced sustained public allegations of exploitative conditions on their plantations. The images generated in this period, ranging from workers' baseball teams on the company's Cuban sugar plantations, to Afro-Caribbean schoolmasters leading children in calisthenics in Honduran company towns, to South Asian immigrant families on Jamaican banana plantations, are a priceless source of information about the social and cultural history of the early twentieth century Greater Caribbean," said Putnam.

The albums are organized by region and by nation; other categories include crops; spraying and irrigation; facilities; and recreation and miscellaneous. An offline finding aid is available.

Contact: Historical Collections.

New Services and Products

IFS Database Available Remotely

The International Financial Statistics database, previously available only by visting the library, is now accessible online. The IMF database provides data on exchange rates, foreign exchange, reserves, gold, money supply, international interest rates, consumer prices, exports, imports, and industrial production for countries throughout the world. The database is updated monthly.

New Services and Products

South Africa Added to ISI Emerging Markets

ISI Emerging Markets has added South Africa to the countries it covers. This is a great source for company information, analyst reports, macroeconomic data, market data, and industry descriptions for developing countries.

Information Mine

Hoover's Online

What's in it?

Covers public, private, and international companies. Includes overviews, major industry trends, industry links, and IPO information. Baker subscribes to ProTools only. Some options in Hoover's, such as D&B and Multex reports, require additional payment. Please contact a reference librarian to locate free alternative resources.

Who has access?

HBS faculty, researchers, students, and authorized Baker visitors.

Where is it?

Available at Baker Library and via the Baker Web site (see link above).

Research example:

"I need the names of directors on the boards of Fortune 500 fragrance companies..."

Research Tip

Speed Your Search for Full-text Articles

When looking for full-text articles, rather than surfing the Web or searching dozens of databases, start with Citation Linker. Using the Article tab, type in as much information about the article as available, including year, volume, page numbers, and author. Many publications are linked so that you will be directed immediately to the article. For others, you may be asked to select the appropriate journal, such as when there is more than one with a similar title. Often the article is available as a PDF and can be downloaded for personal use.

Baker Library | Bloomberg Center, Harvard Business School, Soldiers Field, Boston, MA 02163, 617-495-6040