Monday, March 04, 2002

Page Six Sigma

Richard Johnson, call your office. The Wall Street Journal reports today that the editor of The Harvard Business Review is under fire for allegedly having a "romantic relationship" with former GE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch. Here are the first few paragraphs from the story:

There's a staff mutiny afoot at the vaunted Harvard Business Review.

Four top Review editors have written letters to the editorial director of Harvard Business School's publishing operation, seeking the resignation of their boss, Editor Suzy Wetlaufer. Citing perceived ethical breaches by Ms. Wetlaufer, some of the letter writers said she had lost the confidence of a majority of the magazine's top editors.

The revolt was catalyzed by an aborted article by Ms. Wetlaufer, in which she interviewed former General Electric Co. Chairman Jack Welch. In late December, after the article was in its final editing stages, Ms. Wetlaufer called her boss, Walter Kiechel, editorial director for Harvard Business School Publishing, to recommend that it be scrapped, according to people familiar with the situation.

The reason Ms. Wetlaufer gave was that she "had become too close to Jack" to avoid the appearance that the article wouldn't be objective, these people say. Several weeks before the story was pulled, Ms. Wetlaufer told at least three Review staffers that she and Mr. Welch were having a romantic relationship, people familiar with the conversations say.

The Harvard Business Review has long been a stage set for office coups and intrigue. But this may well be the first time HBR becomes fodder for the tabs and Entertainment Tonight. Larry Summers, call your office.