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Baker News

january 2006

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

Top Story

AMP Participants Dig into Customized Research

Each spring and fall, 150 senior executives temporarily leave their jobs to enter Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. And waiting for them from Baker Research Services (BRS) is a four-page analysis of their own company that offers unique, customized insights into corporate performance.

"Throughout the program, as we are learning analytic techniques, each participant receives relevant financial data about his or her firm on the program Web site," says William Fruhan, who holds the George E. Bates Professorship and teaches financial management in the program.

The ability of BRS to offer customized learning tools contributes much to the success of AMP, he says.

The spreadsheet contains ten years of financial data on the first page, which is used to make financial performance ratios and graphs on the subsequent pages, says BRS' Chris Allen, who supports Fruhan's financial management course in AMP. "It is all dynamic, so if the participant makes changes on one page, the ratios and graph all reflect those changes."

As participants review how the ratios have changed over time, they can see whether these changes have added to or subtracted from the amount of value their management teams have created for shareholders, says Fruhan. Similar reports are developed showing each participant's firm-specific cost of equity capital, stock option value, and expectation of future profitability and revenue growth rate implicit in the current stock price. (AMP participants who don't work for public companies, and thus can't have customized spreadsheets built for them, use data from public firms.)

In addition to providing customized financial information, Allen updates two dozen exhibits used in the course that show how capital markets operate and track the sources and destinations of money.

"The combination of highly firm-specific and unambiguous financial performance information delivers a very powerful learning experience," Fruhan says. "Participants are delighted to discover that we are committing the resources necessary to personalize the learning experience they gain from other firms' case studies."

Spotlight on Historical Collections

Chandler Scholar Investigates History of Corporate Strategy

When French professor Ludovic Cailluet came to HBS to investigate the history of corporate strategy practices, he quickly learned that Historical Collections could offer him more than access to its Historic Corporate Reports Collection.

During his three-month fellowship here, he pored through corporate reports as well as Baker Old Class books, HBS course catalogs, official registers of studies, faculty papers, student projects, and cases. He even viewed a one-of-a-kind Beta video of an HBS classroom lecture on careers for corporate planners, filmed in 1975.

Cailluet, a business historian who teaches strategy at the Graduate School of Management of Toulouse Social Sciences University, plans to coauthor a book with Oxford's Richard Whittington on the history of corporate strategy practices in France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. between the end of World War II and the present.

"I began by looking systematically at annual reports. Historical Collections has a diverse and important collection of annual reports. But I came to realize that the resource was not as exploitable as I had thought," he said, because users must apply precise search terms. Cailluet found it more efficient to supplement the corporate reports of companies such as General Electric and Norton with European and American companies' proxy statements, pamphlets, and other documents. He also began to learn more by browsing the array of books in Baker Old Class ("That was extremely valuable") and supplementing these materials with case studies.

That research led Cailluet to dive into a selection of processed and non-restricted faculty papers: interviews conducted for the preparation of case studies, correspondence, and consulting work. (Restrictions commonly exist for the HBS faculty collections.) The most useful was the archive of Kenneth R. Andrews (1916-2005), considered the father of corporate strategy, who was on the Harvard Business School faculty for forty years.

Asked how other users might exploit similar materials in Historical Collections, Cailluet said that oral historians, for instance, would be interested in HC's many interviews with practitioners. Another line of study was suggested to him by a recent HBS seminar by prominent historian Mary A. Yeager of UCLA. "She gave a very interesting talk on gender and the body in business history," he said. "These Historical Collections interviews, including those by Kenneth Andrews, always offer a physical description of the person being interviewed."

"There is more in this collection than just business history," he said.

Cailluet, who returned to Toulouse last month, was a fellowship recipient of the Alfred D. Chandler Jr., International Visiting Scholar in Business History Program.

Contact: Historical Collections

Information Mine

Economática: Finding Financials on Latin American Companies

Economática is an equity analysis tool that contains financial and other information for most publicly traded companies in seven Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, and for a related subset of U.S. companies. The database includes items such as: name/country/ticker/industry/, daily stock prices, financial reports, news and capital actions, exchange rates, price levels and inflation, and offers stock screening, sectorial analysis, and graphing. When possible, historical data are available back to 1986. However, financial reports are frequently available only for parent companies, though prices and other information may be available for subsidiaries as well. Data is retrieved via a graphical user interface that provides direct access to company screening or filtering, cross-section and time-series data, graphical analyses, and analytical reporting tools. Data may also be downloaded as text or cut/pasted into other applications, such as Excel, for further analysis.

Access is limited to current HBS faculty, doctoral students, and staff via Baker Research Services. Contact Sarah Eriksen.

Research Tip

Researching Corporate Governance

Baker subscribes to several data sources that help with corporate governance research.

Board Analyst contains information on boards and directors of the top 3,000 United States firms. You can examine the board of a particular company, or find the boards on which a particular executive serves. The database rates each board on nine different criteria (litigation, accounting, shareholder responsiveness, strategic decision making, etc), and also identifies so-called problem directors who may have conflicts or have served on especially weak boards. Committee assignments, shareholder resolutions, and auditor information are also included. Data are easily screened and downloaded. The Corporate Library's Web site, which produces Board Analyst, is also very helpful.

Another source for biographical data on corporate boards is Capital IQ. This data does not rate the boards or the executives, but covers a much larger group of U.S. companies.

Both databases are available to authorized users from the Baker Library Web site.

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