Harvard Business School’s case method is getting a twenty-first century upgrade. The school announced that it has received a $5 million gift that will go toward creating case studies focused on artificial intelligence.
The donation, from Blackstone chairman, CEO and cofounder Stephen Schwarzman, launches the Schwarzman Research Fund, which will be used to support HBS members in writing new case studies involving AI.
According to HBS, topics addressed by these case studies could include AI’s implications for productivity, organizational structure and new market creation as well as the broad ethical challenges posed by AI.
HBS dean Nitin Nohria says that business schools need to take into account the new paradigms AI is leading to, and that Schwarzman’s gift will help HBS do exactly that.
“We believe it is imperative to provide our students with opportunities to explore how these changes will affect the role of managers,” says Nohria. “Steve’s generous gift will accelerate faculty research in this area, advancing understanding and exposing business leaders around the world to this increasingly important topic.”
Schwarzman, for his part, agrees that “executives need to understand how to anticipate, act on, and manage these changes.” His conviction on this point comes from his experience at Blackstone, where he has “seen firsthand the impact that rapid technological change has on businesses and industries.”
Schwarzman’s relationship with the university he is contributing $5 million to didn’t start off in such a promising way. As an undergraduate applicant, Schwarzman was rejected by Harvard, which was his top choice. According to Schwarzman, Harvard’s admissions dean later admitted that was a mistake.
So Schwarzman went to Yale for college, but eventually found himself on the Harvard campus anyway, completing an MBA at HBS in 1972. He then became a managing director at Lehman Brothers before cofounding the Blackstone Group in 1985.
As a philanthropist, Schwarzman has supported a variety of educational institutions.
He gave his former high school $25 million, the largest donation ever to a single public school. Other gifts include $150 million to establish the Schwarzman Center at Yale and $550 million for the Schwarzman Scholars program at Tsinghua University.
With his donation to HBS, Schwarzman helps the school build on its hallmark case method. HBS’s extensive use of case studies is one feature that sets the school apart, and the creation of new case studies addressing AI will only make HBS’s collection more comprehensive.