Class participation

Visiting Associate Professor Harborne Stuart sees teaching as a dialogue between theorist and one-day practitioners

Professor Harborne Stuart

Professor Harborne Stuart calls teaching “a fruitful collision” between teachers, or abstract thinkers, and the students who will one day put those ideas into action.

Stuart worries that many professors do not share enough of their research with their students. “For many teachers, there is too much of a disconnect between the research they do and what they teach.” For Stuart, this is a mistake. “Our students are our proxy to the real world.”

For 2007-2008, Stuart (a professor at Columbia University) will share some of his expertise with MIT Sloan as a visiting associate professor teaching Core Strategy, an experience he said he is excited to have. “I enjoy working with students and helping them figure things out.”

As a teacher, Stuart believes he helps to shape “one of the few points in (our student's) lives when they have the time to think reflectively.” He does not waste that time; he shares his research with his students and includes them in the dialogue. As a teacher, Stuart holds his students to the same standards as his research partners, a technique he says “maintains high standards for our students and for ourselves.”

Developing a foundation

Stuart' s opinions about teaching were born when he was a student himself at Harvard University. He graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1978 and worked developing and implementing information systems in high-technology manufacturing companies. After eight years, he realized that it was time to take a break from the corporate world and study the foundations of business.

Stuart headed back to Harvard where he earned a PhD in Decision Sciences in 1992. Since then, much of his research has been devoted to the development of business theory using game-theoretic approaches.

One of Stuart' s first papers, “Value-Based Business Strategy,” viewed businesses as central players in economic value creation. According to Stuart and his co-author, Adam Brandenburger, a firm' s “added value” is a key determinant of its profitability. The work has become an important base for much of Stuart' s later research, which includes the further development of “interactive decision theory” (taking strategic uncertainty as the primary focus) and "added value theory" (using cooperative game theory to study businesses as the central players in economic value creation).

Stuart plans to share his work with his students and is intrigued by the benefits — both personal and professional — of his time back in his hometown. A long time rower, Stuart is excited to get back on the Charles River. In his time on land, he plans to explore new collaborations and ideas. “I am looking forward to being part of the larger MIT community.”