Harvard Business School – 100 years old

Greetings from the third floor of the magnificent Baker library at Harvard Business School on a glorious Sunday evening. The trees are in their autumn beauty, as WB Yeats might have said, had he been here.

I have come here to attend a three-day conference to mark HBS’s centennial. Jeff Immelt of GE is speaking tomorrow, as is eBay’s Meg Whitman and Microsoft’s Bill Gates. The FT’s Niall Ferguson (he teaches at Harvard in his spare time) will be performing too.

Perhaps it’s the champagne, the trio of musicians providing delightful chamber music, or maybe it’s the late autumn sunshine. Whatever the reason, current market turmoil seems to have been temporarily forgotten by most people here.

On arrival I noticed two banners hanging up on the ivy-clad (really) walls. One read: “What is the future of market capitalism?” The other said: “What will globalization bring?” These banners reminded me a little of the ones you used to see up on the walls of buildings in eastern European capitals in the Soviet era, which said things like: “If we want to build socialism we are going to have to work for it.”

Perhaps we will find out over the next few days what sort of future market capitalism will have. We should get a slightly calmer and more coherent answer here than on Wall Street, in the City of London, or in the world’s other major markets.

I will try and keep you posted on the highlights of this historic event.

STOP PRESS (or blog equivalent – 00.30 BST, 19.30 local)

HBS Dean Jay Light has just challenged the carefree atmosphere with a serious opening address. The current financial crisis represents a collective failure of financiers, business leaders, politicians – we all have much to learn. But management education, and the MBA, are more not less relevant, and important.



About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

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