Business Review Editors Resign
Sex scandal angers staff
Harris Collingwood ’77 and Alden Hayashi walked out of a Harvard Business Review staff meeting Friday morning at which the terms of the agreement between the Review and editor Suzy Wetlaufer were announced.
Wetlaufer became the center of controversy when she asked that an article she was writing about former General Electric CEO Jack Welch be pulled from last month’s edition of the Review on the grounds that she had become too close to Welch and the integrity of both the article and the Review might be called into question.
After she submitted the request, at least four editors of the Review—including Collingwood—wrote letters to the editorial director of Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP), Walter Kiechel, calling for Wetlaufer’s resignation.
In an e-mail sent Friday to the entire staff of the Review, Wetlaufer wrote that “the recent controversy has caused many on the staff to lose confidence in my ability to steer this organization.”
“Because I want what’s best,” she wrote, “for this great institution, it’s clear that it’s time for me to step aside.”
The terms of Wetlaufer’s resignation, Collingwood said, require her to take a six-week leave of absence, after which she will be reinstated as an editor-at-large. She will continue to occupy her old office.
Collingwood said Friday that his decision to resign was not solely based on the recent scandal.
“If my dispute with Suzy Wetlaufer and the senior management of Harvard Business School Publishing was solely, or even primarily, about her relationship with Jack Welch, I would not have resigned,” Collingwood said.
“It’s extremely painful for me to let down my colleagues like this, but I really feel like I had no other choice,” he said. “I have the greatest respect for the people who put out the Harvard Business Review, and they deserve management that’s worthy of them.”
Collingwood also said that the situation has caused tension at HBSP, where he says little work has been accomplished since the Wall Street Journal reported last Monday that editors had called for Wetlaufer’s resignation.
“Things are crazy right now,” he said.
A source at HBSP who asked to remain anonymous said turmoil within the organization runs deep.
“The culture of HBSP is riddled with falsity. People talk in evasions and circumlocutions,” said the source, who attended Friday’s meeting.
“[The Review] publishes articles that say if you have a star performer who is poisoning the culture, you have to be strong enough to let that person go,” he said. “We didn’t do this. As they say in the business world, we didn’t eat our own cooking.”
Hayashi, the other editor to resign Friday, declined comment yesterday.
Wetlaufer released to the media the e-mail she sent the Review staff on Friday, but she declined further comment.