Revving up for Relief: Harley-Davidson at the ITC

Dorothy Robyn, for the case program at the Kennedy School of Government.


Published in 1986, this Kennedy School case tells the story of Harley-Davidson's application to the ITC for temporary relief from high levels of imported Japanese motorcycles. The case lays out, in considerable detail, Harley's justification for protection and the Japanese manufacturers' counterarguments. The case is presented in two parts, the first focusing on the extent of the "injury" an the second on the nature of the relief Harley requested.

Learning Goals

This case can be used to reinforce ideas of comparative advantage, to understand the idea of "injury" from trade, to apply the analysis of a tariff, to identify the gainers and losers from trade policy and discuss the political economy of policy formation.

Context for Use

This could be used in courses in international trade and political economy.

Description and Teaching Materials

The case, teaching note, and a sequel, can be purchased at KSG Harley-Davidson Case.

Teaching Notes and Tips


During class discussion you should be able to quickly see which students have understood the meaning of comparative advantage by the quality of the answers to the questions. The case can also be used as the basis of writing assignments, an example of which can be found at:
Velenchik Paper Assignment (Microsoft Word 115kB Jun1 09)

References and Resources

The Teaching Note that can be purchased with the case is excellent.