Author Details

Robert J. Dolan

Baker Foundation Professor; Harvard Business School

Robert J. Dolan is the Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and began his academic career in 1976 as a faculty member at the Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago. He joined the Harvard Business School faculty in 1980 and became the Edward W. Carter Professor of Business Administration. He served as the Chairman of the Marketing area from 1986 to 1994. He has also been a visiting professor at IESE in Barcelona, Spain.

In 2001, he became the Dean of the University of Michigan Business School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The School offered the broadest portfolio of degree programs among the leading business schools with the following degrees: Bachelor’s of Business Administration, MBA (offered in five different formats – Day, Evening, Weekend, Executive and Global), Master’s in Supply Chain Management, Master’s in Accounting, and Ph.D.  In addition, the School collaborated with two schools at the University to offer two joint Master’s programs – the Erb Program in Sustainability (joint with the School of Natural Resources and Environment) and the Tauber Program on Global Operations (joint with the College of Engineering).

Under Dolan’s leadership, the School embarked on a strategy of differentiation via a focus on action-based learning where teams of students undertook field-based projects under the supervision of the faculty. For MBA students, this took the form of the Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP) program in which two months at the end of the first year required courses were dedicated to working on high level projects with leading companies around the world. To afford students an opportunity for a global experience, over half the projects were outside the United States. These projects were deliberately not pre-defined for the students, affording them the opportunity to define issues and operate in an “opportunity sensing” rather than just “problem solving” mode. As a result of these investments in innovative action-learning programs, the School was twice named the Best MBA Program in the world by the Wall Street Journal, based on their polling of recruiters. The Aspen Institute recognized the school as the best in training on issues of sustainability. To obtain the financial resources to support this strategy and the needed infrastructure, the School embarked on a Capital Campaign, raising nearly $400 million, including the $100 million dollar gift obtained by Dolan from Stephen M Ross, a New York real estate developer. At the time, it was the largest gift ever made to a business school and still is the largest ever given to the University of Michigan. The Schools is now known as the Ross School of Business. While at Michigan, Dolan was also President of the William Davidson Institute for Global Economies and the Zell-Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. He was also special counsel to the Provost on Visioning the future at the University.

An expert in marketing and, in particular, issues of pricing and new product development, Dolan has authored or coauthored eight books and has published in a wide variety of journals including the Harvard Business Review, Marketing Science and the Journal of Marketing. His case studies and technical notes developed at Harvard Business School are among the most widely used in academia, selling over 2.5 million copies. One of his cases, Sealed Air Corporation, with sales of over 300,000 copies, was recently designated by Harvard as one of the three “classics” in the Harvard collection. He has consulted with and provided executive education for leading firms throughout the world including General Electric, IBM and Henkel. He also was the marketing expert in several of the landmark cases tried in the United States including for Polaroid in its award of over $1 billion for patent infringement from Kodak and for the Justice Department of the United States in its actions against the tobacco companies. He has been on the board of directors of four publicly traded companies. He is currently working on his ninth book on contemporary marketing issues.

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Tata Motors: A Profile of the Tata Nano
This is a profile of Tata Motors, a division of The Tata Group, and its development of the Tata Nano – the world’s most inexpensive car when launched in 2009.…
Publication Date: 05/11/2011 Product ID: 1-429-174
Zipcar, Inc.
Though Zipcar’s cost-effective approach to car ownership is known for being a great “best new idea” story, this case asks how CEO Scott Griffin can turn Zipcar from “best” and…
Publication Date: 12/23/2010 Product ID: 1-429-159
Note on the Value Proposition and Business Models
This note introduces students to a Value Proposition. It walks students through identifying a company’s “VPC story” (Value to the customer, Price the product is sold at, Cost to provide…
Publication Date: 12/07/2010 Product ID: 1-429-009
Note on Sensing Opportunity
The majority of new product ideas never make it to market. This note is a concise description of what separates the winners from the losers. In other words, what are…
Publication Date: 12/07/2010 Product ID: 1-429-008
Six Flags
This case is about Six Flags, a national theme park chain, as its CEO, Mark Shapiro (former Executive VP at ESPN), strives to turn around the company’s fortune. Attendance was…
Publication Date: 04/22/2010 Product ID: 1-429-076
Lehman Brothers
This informational case details the story of Lehman Brothers in the wake of the recent financial crisis. In doing so, the case also provides background about mortgage-backed securities and the…
Publication Date: 03/17/2010 Product ID: 1-429-055
Snapple Beverages
How do you blow a $1.7 billion merger? You buy a company with a popular brand name, dilute the brand, and sell it for a fifth of what you paid…
Publication Date: 03/10/2010 Product ID: 1-429-057
Sealed Air Corporation: The Road From 1980-2000
This mini-case is an update to “Sealed Air Corporation”, a case published by Harvard Business School (HBS 9-582-103), which gave students a snapshot of Sealed Air Corporation in 1980 as…
Publication Date: 02/03/2010 Product ID: 1-429-029
Build-A-Bear Workshop
This mini-case describes Build-a-Bear, an interactive store where customers can make their own teddy bears. In 2007, Build-a-Bear was the 10th largest toy retailer in the United States. One of…
Publication Date: 01/28/2010 Product ID: 1-429-019
Glaxo and Zantac: The Life, Times, and Near Death of the World’s Best-Selling Drug
This case details the history of Zantac, one of Glaxo’s most successful products, from inception to deterioration when faced by the rise of generics. In doing so, the mini-case describes…
Publication Date: 01/06/2010 Product ID: 1-429-007

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