If any institution is equipped to handle questions of strategy, it is Harvard Business School, whose professors have coined so much of the strategic lexicon used in classrooms and boardrooms that it’s hard to discuss the topic without recourse to their concepts: Competitive advantage. Disruptive innovation. The value chain.
But when its dean, Nitin Nohria, faced the school’s biggest strategic decision since 1924 — the year it planned its campus and adopted the case-study method as its pedagogical cornerstone — he ran into an issue. Those professors, and those concepts, disagreed.