An alleged conflict of interest has led to calls for a shake-up at the Harvard Business Review.
Some magazine staffers have demanded the resignation of Editor Suzy Wetlaufer after she acknowledged a relationship with an interview subject, former General Electric Co. Chairman Jack Welch.
After Wetlaufer interviewed Welch, she told Walter Kiechel, editorial director of Harvard Business School Publishing Co., that she had grown too close to Welch and recommended that her article be scrapped.
Kiechel said he agreed, and reassigned the article. Senior editors Diane Coutu and Harris Collingwood re-interviewed Welch and wrote the new version, which appeared in the February issue.
Wetlaufer “was concerned that it might in some respect — among people who didn’t understand the situation — call into question the integrity of the Harvard Business Review,” Kiechel said Monday.
Coutu, Collingwood, and executive editors Sarah Cliffe and Nicholas Carr demanded that Wetlaufer step down, according to two sources with knowledge of the dispute who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
While not confirming the number or names of those demanding Wetlaufer’s ouster, Kiechel said that staff have sought her resignation.
“That’s true. There have also been editors who continue to say that she’s the best editor they’ve ever worked for,” he said.
Wetlaufer, 42, declined to comment Monday.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the dispute, Wetlaufer denied she had lost the trust of a majority of the senior and executive editors. “Of course, in times like this it is possible that some disgruntled people may be making comments like that,” she said.
Carr, Collingwood and Cliffe all declined requests for comment from the AP. Coutu did not respond to messages requesting comment.
Rosanne Badowski, a spokeswoman for Welch, declined to make a statement about the dispute, saying “it’s a personal matter.”
The Journal said Welch, 66, described his relationship with Wetlaufer as one of “friendship.”
“I am fully convinced that nothing that has happened has compromised the integrity of anything we’ve published in the Review, or plan to publish,” Kiechel said.
The review is published by Harvard Business School Publishing Corp., a nonprofit company owned by Harvard University. The publishing arm also puts out books by prominent business authors and management guides.
Asked if Wetlaufer would resign, Kiechel refused to comment, saying “we don’t discuss our personnel decisions, past, present or future.”
In the wake of the dispute, the magazine is revisiting guidelines for staff conduct, he said.
“What we’re clearly going to do is think about the guidelines for behavior in our community. We’ve had guidelines, but we probably haven’t made them as available as we should have,” he said.