May 22, 2022

Electronic Publishing: Two Op-Eds on Access to Harvard Business School Case Studies

Both op-ed pieces were published (yesterday and today) by the Financial Times on

Yesterday’s Op-Ed

“Harvard Business Review should pay a price for its fees” by Joshua Gans, professor and area co-ordinator of strategic management and the Jeffrey Skoll Chair in technical innovation and entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

He writes:

While this [a recent change]has been brewing for four years, this summer, Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP), which handles the publication of Harvard Business School’s teaching cases, decided to enforce a dormant clause in its contracts with academic institutions. Even though those institutions’ libraries had a subscription to HBR that allowed students and teaching faculty to access them, these articles were “not intended for use as assigned course material in academic institutions”. This does not only apply to articles copied into course packs as required readings. It applies to everything else, including links from class web pages or even mere suggestions given to students to deepen their understanding of certain areas. HBSP would now only permit institutions to do any of those common activities if they paid a fee for each article and for each student enrolled in the course (whether the student accessed the article or not).

Read the Full Text

Today’s Op-Ed (Response)

Harvard Business Review answers its critics” by Das Narayandas, senior associate dean of Executive Education and Publishing and the James J. Hill professor of business administration at Harvard Business School.

He writes:

We discovered, though, that some institutions were using Ebsco access as a substitute for paying the normal course material fees. This summer, therefore, we designated 500 of the more than 13,000 HBR articles available in Ebsco – those most widely used in other schools’ curricula – as read-only and removed persistent linking to them. At the same time, we contacted schools and libraries to discuss institutional volume discounts. Any associated licence fees are not incremental or new; they simply shift the payment for these articles from the school to the library.

These articles remain available for researchers and research use – we simply limited the means by which they can be assigned and distributed as course materials. And, contrary to Prof Gans’ assertion, students can continue to gain access via libraries and other research portals to HBR articles faculty members would like to recommend.

Read the Full Text Op-Ed

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.