Social Enterprise & Nonprofit

104 Results

 

The Unfulfilled Promise of Educational Technology

With 50 million public school students in America, technology holds much potential to transform schools, says John Jong-Hyun Kim. So why isn't it happening? Open for comment; 8 Comments posted.

Research Symposium 2014

Harvard Business School professors presented their research to colleagues, with topics including speaking up at work, a manager's responsibility to capitalism, and a strategy to fix the health care system. Open for comment; 0 Comments posted.

The Role of the Corporation in Society: An Alternative View and Opportunities for Future Research

Neoclassical economics and several management theories assert that the corporation's sole objective is maximizing shareholder wealth. Despite these theoretical approaches, however, actual corporate conduct in some cases is inconsistent with shareholder value maximization as the sole objective of the corporation. In fact, corporations are now engaging in environmental and social causes with multiple stakeholders in mind and this is especially true for the world's largest corporations. Overall, the author presents an alternative view of the role of the corporation in society where the objective of the corporation is a function of its size. Specifically, the largest corporations are forced to balance different stakeholders' interests instead of simply maximizing shareholder wealth. The author attributes this change in the role of the corporation to the increasing concentration of economic activity and power in a few corporations which has resulted in 1) a few companies having a very large impact on society, 2) corporations and influential actors which are easier to locate, and 3) increasing separation of ownership and control. These events have led to what scholars Berle and Means (1932) predicted more than 80 years ago: both owners and "the control" accepting public interest as the objective of the corporation. Further research on the topics outlined in this paper may increase our understanding of corporate behavior and the role of these corporations in society. Read More

The Surprising Link Between Language and Corporate Responsibility

Research by Christopher Marquis shows that a company's degree of social responsibility is affected by a surprising factor—the language it uses to communicate. Open for comment; 20 Comments posted.

Speaking of Corporate Social Responsibility

While many scholars have observed that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a deeply cultural process, there are inconsistent findings on the specific cultural mechanisms by which culture affects CSR. This paper suggests that the way in which corporations use language is a strong predictor of their CSR and sustainability practices. It addresses two questions: 1) Why do CSR practices vary significantly across countries? And 2) How does the future-time orientation of companies' working languages affect their adoption of, compliance to, and engagement in corporate social responsibility programs? Building on the future-time criterion of scholars Dahl (2000) and Chen (2013), which separates languages into two broad categories-those languages that require future events to be grammatically marked when making predictions, and those that do not-the authors examine thousands of global companies across 59 countries from 1999 to 2011. The empirical results support the hypothesis that languages that grammatically separate the current tense from the future tense can significantly affect how corporations perceive future-oriented strategies, and so make corporate behavior less future-oriented. Overall, the authors introduce a new way to think about underlying variation in global CSR practices. As they show in this paper, it is crucial to examine language as an important underlying feature that shapes cultural values and the norms in a society. The study also builds on research into the ways in which perceptual category systems focus the attention, and subsequently, the behaviors, of corporate leaders. Read More

Private Sector, Public Good

What role, if any, does business have in creating social good? A new seminar series at Harvard Business School tackles this complex question. Open for comment; 11 Comments posted.

How the Zebra Got Its Stripes: Imprinting of Individuals and Hybrid Social Ventures

Creating hybrid organizations that combine existing organizational forms is a complex process. Given the legitimacy challenges facing hybrid organizations, why are they created in the first place? The authors focus on the role of "environmental imprinting" on individuals: this means the persistent effects that individuals' environments during sensitive periods have on their subsequent behaviors. After constructing and analyzing a novel dataset of over 700 founders of social ventures, all guided by a social welfare logic, the authors suggest that individual imprinting helps to explain why an entrepreneur founding a social venture might create a hybrid by incorporating a secondary, commercial logic. Overall, the paper contributes to the understanding of hybrid organizations by providing the first large-scale, empirical examination of the antecedents of the widely-discussed type of hybrids that combine social welfare and commercial logics. Read More

‘Hybrid’ Organizations a Difficult Bet for Entrepreneurs

Hybrid organizations combine the social logic of a nonprofit with the commercial logic of a for-profit business, but are very difficult to finance. So why would anyone want to form one? Julie Battilana and Matthew Lee investigate. Closed for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Prosocial Bonuses Increase Employee Satisfaction and Team Performance

Designing effective incentive schemes is a central challenge for a wide range of organizations, from multinational corporations to academic departments. In pursuit of identifying the most effective strategies, organizations have devised an impressive variety of such bonuses, from fixed salaries to pay-per-performance, from commissions to end-of-year bonuses. In this paper, the authors suggest that the wide variety in such schemes masks a shared assumption: That the best way to motivate employees is to reward them with money that they then spend on themselves. The authors—Lalin Anik, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, Elizabeth W. Dunn, and Jordi Quoidbach—propose an alternative means of incentivizing employees—what they term "prosocial bonuses"—in which organizations provide employees with bonuses used to engage in positive actions towards charities and coworkers, from donating money to remote countries to taking a coworker to lunch. The authors examine the impact of these prosocial bonuses on employee satisfaction and team performance, by reporting results from field experiments in settings ranging from bank employees in Australia to pharmaceutical sales representatives in Belgium to dodgeball teams in Canada. Overall, results suggest that a minor adjustment to employee bonuses—shifting the focus from the self to others—can produce measurable benefits for employees and organizations. Read More

Non-Standard Matches and Charitable Giving

In this article, Michael Sanders, Sarah Smith, and Michael I. Norton review evidence suggesting that matching schemes—an increasingly common strategy used by nonprofits and firms to increase giving in which organizations match employee donations to charity—may not always prove effective. The authors offer several novel matching schemes designed to improve the effectiveness of matching, some focused on individual donors in isolation and some focused on donors embedded in organizations. The authors' hope is to spur further research assessing the efficacy of these schemes, reducing the tendency for matching schemes to crowd out donations and making them more likely to increase charitable behavior. Read More

How Local Events Shake Up Corporate Philanthropy

Large-scale events like the Olympics lead to a dramatic, albeit short-term increase in otherwise steady charitable-giving patterns among corporations headquartered near the event's host city, according to research by András Tilcsik and Christopher Marquis. Closed for comment; 1 Comment posted.

Pulling Campbell’s Out of the Soup

Campbell Soup had lost its way when Douglas Conant took charge in 2001. His first task: get out of his quiet zone and apply bold measures. Open for comment; 5 Comments posted.

How CEOs Sustain Higher-Ambition Goals

At a recent conference, executives underscored the importance of employee engagement, contributing to the community, and creating sustainable environment strategies. Closed for comment; 6 Comments posted.

Punctuated Generosity: How Mega-events and Natural Disasters Affect Corporate Philanthropy in US Communities

Even in a global age, local communities offer a critical context for organizational behavior. This paper asks: Since corporate giving is often locally focused, what happens to local firms' philanthropy when a major event disrupts the life of the community? Mega-events might be actively solicited (such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, political conventions), or natural (floods and hurricanes). In particular, the authors studied how major events within communities affected the philanthropic contributions of locally headquartered corporations in the US between 1980 and 2006. There are three main findings: 1) Actively solicited mega-events had a positive effect in the event year, but also displayed more complex time-dependent dynamics. In some cases, the effects on corporate philanthropy were visible two years before the event and lasted up to six years, before eventually tapering off. 2) The impact of destructive, unexpected events depended on their magnitude. While major natural disasters depressed philanthropic spending by local corporations, smaller-scale disasters stimulated it. 3) Organizational and community factors moderated some of the effects of events. Overall, findings demonstrate the theoretical importance of looking at geography and events in tandem. Mega-events shape institutional processes in significant ways. This paper is forthcoming in Administrative Science Quarterly. Read More

No Margin, No Mission? A Field Experiment on Incentives for Pro-Social Tasks

Organizations from large corporations to NGOs use a range of nonfinancial performance rewards to motivate their employees, and these rewards are highly valued. While theory has suggested mechanisms through which nonfinancial incentives can elicit employee effort, evidence on the mechanisms, and on their effectiveness relative to financial incentives, remains scarce. This paper helps to fill this gap by providing evidence from a collaboration with a public health organization based in Lusaka, Zambia, that recruits and trains hairdressers and barbers to sell condoms in their shops. This setting is representative of many health delivery programs in developing countries where embedded community agents are called upon to deliver services and products, but finding an effective way to motivate them remains a significant challenge. Findings show the effectiveness of financial and nonfinancial rewards for increasing sales of condoms. Agents who are offered nonfinancial rewards ("stars" in this setting) exert more effort than either those offered financial margins or those offered volunteer contracts. Read More

New Agenda for Corporate Accountability Reporting

Professor Karthik Ramanna explains three ways to make corporate accountability reports potentially more useful to constituencies that include shareholders, communities, bondholders, and customers. Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Want People to Save More? Send a Text

What's the most effective way to encourage people to save their money? The answer lies in a combination of peer pressure and text messages, according to new research by Assistant Professor Dina D. Pomeranz. Open for comment; 6 Comments posted.

A Pragmatic Alternative for Creating a Corporate Social Responsibility Strategy

Many companies preach and practice corporate social responsibility, but their efforts often lack an overall strategy that dilutes their effectiveness. Professor "Kash" Rangan and colleagues offer a pragmatic solution. Closed for comment; 8 Comments posted.

No News Is Good News: CSR Strategy and Newspaper Coverage of Negative Firm Events

This study examines the gatekeeping role of the media in determining which negative corporate events reach a broader audience. Jiao Luo, Stephan Meier, and Felix Oberholzer-Gee test the idea that investments in corporate social responsibility (CSR) create public good will, leading the media to treat companies with a superior CSR track record in a favorable manner. They find the opposite. Newspapers are more likely to report negative news about companies if the companies invested heavily in CSR. For example, oil companies that invest in clean energy face a greater risk of media coverage in the event of an oil spill. An analysis of the tone of media coverage shows that news reports are no more positive for CSR leaders than for the average company. Read More

Why Every Company Needs a CSR Strategy and How to Build It

Despite certain criticisms, more and more companies in the world practice some form of corporate social responsibility. This paper offers a pragmatic alternative framework for CSR with a view towards developing its practice in an evolutionary way. The authors' extensive experience working with CSR practitioners convinces them that exhorting companies to hone their CSR practice under a shared value framework does not reflect the reality for a majority of businesses. CSR executives oversee a variety of social initiatives that may or may not directly contribute to a company's business goals. The role of an executive is to achieve the difficult task of reconciling the various programs, quantifying their benefits, or at least sketching a logical connection to the business, and securing the support of his or her business line counterparts. This role, when performed well, would lead to the development of a CSR strategy for the company. Read More

Beyond Heroic Entrepreneurs

Research in progress by Harvard Business School's Julie Battilana and Matthew Lee reveals that a large number of social entrepreneurs are focused on local rather than global change, and on sustainable funding. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

The New Measures for Improving Nonprofit Performance

In this era of scarce economic resources, the pressure on nonprofit managers to show quantifiable results is greater than ever. Alnoor S. Ebrahim and philanthropist Mario Morino discuss the differences and similarities between performance measurement in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Open for comment; 4 Comments posted.

Charitable Giving When Altruism and Similarity Are Linked

Harvard Business School professor Julio J. Rotemberg looks at what makes people decide to contribute to a charity. He focuses on two psychological factors: that people feel better about themselves when other people agree with them, and that people tend to be more charitable to other like-minded people. Read More

HBS Cases: Making Lincoln Center Cool Again

When Reynold Levy took over as president of New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, he faced challenges ranging from crumbling buildings to an aging customer base. How could the venerable institution get its high notes back? Open for comment; 2 Comments posted.

Market Interest in Nonfinancial Information

During the past two decades, there have been many ideas for improving business reporting of nonfinancial information such as on a company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) performance. Using data from Bloomberg, authors Robert G. Eccles, Michael P. Krzus, and George Serafeim provide insights into market interest in nonfinancial information at a level of granularity not available until now. They identify exactly what information is of greatest interest, contrasting both the global and U.S. market across the full spectrum of ESG information and for each component of ESG, as well as Carbon Disclosure Project metrics. They also show variation in interest across asset classes and firm types, and present preliminary explanations for these differences. Read More

How ‘Hybrid’ Nonprofits Can Stay on Mission

As nonprofits add more for-profit elements to their business models, they can suffer mission drift. Associate Professor Julie Battilana says hybrid organizations can stay on target if they focus on two factors: the employees they hire and the way they socialize those employees. Open for comment; 14 Comments posted.

Who Is Governing Whom? Senior Managers, Governance and the Structure of Generosity in Large U.S. Firms

Analyzing several Fortune 500 firms over the period of 10 years, Christopher Marquis and Matthew Lee discuss the factors that influence corporate philanthropy, using the subject to theorize about and test how structural features of organizations help senior leaders to shape firm strategy. Read More

Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Finance

Corporate social responsibility may benefit society, but does it benefit the corporation? Indeed it does, according to a new study that shows how CSR can make it easier for firms to secure financing for new projects. Research was conducted by George Serafeim and Beiting Cheng of Harvard Business School and Ioannis Ioannou of the London Business School. Read More

Mobile Banking for the Unbanked

A billion people in developing countries have no need for a savings account–but they do need a financial service that banks compete to provide. The new HBS case Mobile Banking for the Unbanked, written by professor Kash Rangan, is a lesson in understanding the real need of customers. Closed for comment; 27 Comments posted.

Leading and Lagging Countries in Contributing to a Sustainable Society

To determine the extent to which corporate and investor behavior is changing to contribute to a more sustainable society, researchers Robert Eccles and George Serafeim analyzed data involving over 2,000 companies in 23 countries. One result: a ranking of countries based on the degree to which their companies integrate environmental and social discussions and metrics in their financial disclosures. Closed for comment; 11 Comments posted.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting: It’s Effective

In a growing trend, countries have begun requiring companies to report their environmental, social, and governance performance. George Serafeim of HBS and Ioannis Ioannou of London Business School set out to find whether this reporting actually induces companies to improve their nonfinancial performance and contribute toward a sustainable society. Open for comment; 12 Comments posted.

The Difficult Transition from For-Profit to Nonprofit Boards

In the new book Joining a Nonprofit Board: What You Need to Know, authors F. Warren McFarlan and Marc J. Epstein observe that service on a nonprofit board can be a frustrating experience for executives grounded in a for-profit world. Read our excerpt. Closed for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Searching for Better Practices in Social Investing

Social change requires innovation, not just in organizational practices but in funding practices, as well. This was a key message at "Social Investing: Emerging Trends in a Changing Landscape," a recent panel discussion at Harvard Business School in which several professional philanthropists explored how best to support social change. Open for comment; 10 Comments posted.

Data.gov: Matching Government Data with Rapid Innovation

Data.gov is a young initiative of President Barack Obama for making raw data available on the Web. In an HBS executive education class for technology specialists, professor Karim Lakhani and the US Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, sparked dialogue about new routes to innovation. Read More

One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy

What a company externally reports shapes how it behaves internally. The key question is, "What should companies report?" Read More

HBS Workshop Encourages Corporate Reporting on Environmental and Social Sustainability

The concept of integrated reporting could help mend the lack of trust between business and the public, Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria tells attendees at a seminal workshop. Closed for comment; 7 Comments posted.

The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility on Investment Recommendations

Security analysts are increasingly awarding more favorable ratings to firms with corporate socially responsible (CSR) strategies, according to this paper by Ioannis Ioannou and HBS professor George Serafeim. Their work explores how CSR strategies can affect value creation in public equity markets through analyst recommendations. Read More

The Limits of Nonprofit Impact: A Contingency Framework for Measuring Social Performance

The social sector is in the midst of a search for metrics of impact. Over the past 20 years, there has been an explosion in methodologies and tools for assessing social performance and impact, but with little systematic analysis and comparison across these approaches. In this paper, HBS professors Alnoor Ebrahim and V. Kasturi Rangan provide a synthesis of the current debates and, in so doing, offer a typology and contingency framework for measuring social performance. Their contingency approach suggests that—given the varied work, aims, and capacities of social sector organizations—some organizations should be measuring long-term impacts, while others should stick to measuring shorter-term results. The researchers provide a logic for determining which kinds of measures are appropriate, as driven by the goals of the organization and its operating model. Read More

The Hard Work of Measuring Social Impact

Donors are placing nonprofits on the hot seat to measure social performance. Problem is, there is little agreement on what those metrics should be. Professor Alnoor Ebrahim on how nonprofit managers should respond. Read More

Earth Day Reflections

On the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, April 22, Harvard Business School professors Robert G. Eccles, Rebecca Henderson, and Richard H.K. Vietor shared their views on the sustainability-related challenges and opportunities facing today's business leaders. Read More

One Report: Better Strategy through Integrated Reporting

Stakeholders expect it. And smart companies are doing it: integrating their reporting of financial and nonfinancial performance in order to improve sustainable strategy. HBS senior lecturer Robert G. Eccles and coauthor Michael P. Krzus explain the benefits and value of the One Report method. Plus: book excerpt from One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy. Read More

The Many Faces of Nonprofit Accountability

Nonprofit leaders face multiple, and sometimes competing, accountability demands: from numerous actors (upward, downward, internal), for varying purposes (financial, governance, performance, mission), and requiring differing levels of organizational response (compliance and strategic). Yet is it feasible, or even desirable, for nonprofit organizations to be accountable to everyone for everything? The challenge for leadership and management is to prioritize among competing accountability demands. This involves deciding both to whom and for what they owe accountability. HBS professor Alnoor Ebrahim provides an overview of the current debates on nonprofit accountability, while also examining the tradeoffs inherent in a range of accountability mechanisms. Read More

Investing in Improvement: Strategy and Resource Allocation in Public School Districts

The operating environments of public school districts are largely void of the market forces that reward a company's success with more capital and exert pressure on it to eventually abandon unproductive activities. Stacey Childress describes the strategic resource decisions in 3 of the 20 public school districts that she and colleagues have studied through the Public Education Leadership Project at Harvard. The stories in San Francisco, New York City, and Maryland's Montgomery County occurred largely before the districts faced dramatic decreases in revenues, though they show the superintendents facing budget concerns near the end of the narratives. Even so, the situations share common principles that superintendents and their leadership teams can use to make differentiated resource decisions—reducing spending in some areas and increasing it in others with a clear rationale for why these decisions will produce results for students. Read More

Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior

Helping others takes countless forms and springs from countless motivations, from deep-rooted empathy to a more calculated desire for public recognition. Social scientists have identified a host of ways in which charitable behavior can lead to benefits for the giver, whether economically via tax breaks, socially via signaling one's wealth or status, or psychologically via experiencing well-being from helping. Charitable organizations have traditionally capitalized on all of these motivations for giving, with a recently emerging focus on highlighting the mood benefits of giving—the feelings of empowerment, joy, and inspiration that giving engenders. Indeed, if giving feels good, why not advertise the benefits of "self-interested giving," allowing people to experience that good feeling while increasing contributions to charity at the same time? HBS doctoral candidate Lalin Anik, Professor Michael I. Norton, and coauthors explore whether organizations that seek to increase charitable giving by advertising the benefits of giving are making claims supported by empirical research and, most importantly, whether such claims actually increase donations. Read More

Corporate Social Responsibility in a Downturn

Financial turmoil is not a reason to scale back on CSR programs—quite the opposite, says HBS professor V. Kasturi "Kash" Rangan. As a marketing scholar Rangan is optimistic about strategic CSR efforts that provide value in communities and society. Q&A Read More

Informed and Interconnected: A Manifesto for Smarter Cities

To make our cities and communities smarter, we must become a little smarter ourselves, seeking information and an agenda to forge connections enabling collaboration, according to HBS professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter and IBM's Stanley S. Litow. Their vision is that someday soon, leaders will combine technological capabilities and social innovation to help produce a smarter world. That world will be seen on the ground in smarter cities composed of smarter communities that support the well-being of all citizens. This paper outlines eight challenges facing cities and the communities they encompass, based on experience in the United States. Kanter and Litow provide examples of practices and programs led by both government and nonprofit organizations, many technology-enabled, that point the way to solutions, and they conclude with a call for leaders to embrace an agenda for change. Read More

Truth in Giving: Experimental Evidence on the Welfare Effects of Informed Giving to the Poor

It is often difficult for donors to predict the value of charitable giving because they know little about the persons who receive their help. While there is substantial evidence that individuals use information about recipients to decide how generous a donation to make, we know surprisingly little about how much donors care to help their preferred types. To start closing this gap, HBS professor Felix Oberholzer-Gee and Carnegie Mellon University coauthor Christina Fong study transfers of income to real-world poor people in the context of experimental games. Their findings have implications for governments and nongovernmental organizations that seek to increase the financial and political support for wealth transfer programs. Read More

Business Summit: The Role of Social Entrepreneurship in Transforming American Public Education

Amid formidable barriers, a set of passionate social entrepreneurs are disrupting the status quo in education with innovative and effective approaches that are producing measurable results. The challenge now is to build support so these solutions can be applied elsewhere. Read More

Corporate Social Entrepreneurship

Accelerated organizational transformation faces a host of obstacles well-documented in the change management literature. Because corporate social entrepreneurship (CSE) expands the core purpose of corporations and their organizational values, it constitutes fundamental change that can be particularly threatening and resisted. Furthermore, it pushes the corporation's actions more broadly and deeply into the area of social value creation where the firm's experiences and skill sets are less developed. The disruptive social innovations intrinsic to the CSE approach amplify this zone of discomfort. Fortunately, the experiences of innovative companies such as Timberland and Starbucks show how these challenges may be overcome. Read More

The Surprisingly Successful Marriages of Multinationals and Social Brands

What happens when small iconic brands associated with social values—think Ben & Jerry's—are acquired by large concerns—think Unilever? Can the marriage of a virtuous mouse and a wealthy elephant work to the benefit of both? Professors James E. Austin and Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard discuss their recent research. Read More

Achieving Excellence in Nonprofits

Nonprofit boards and executives are confronted by a confusing landscape of conflicting demands, rapidly evolving rules, and changing opportunities for finding resources. How can organizations stay focused? Harvard Business School professor Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard discusses today's challenges and his Executive Education program on Governing for Nonprofit Excellence. Read More

The Coming Transformation of Social Enterprise

A new generation of business leaders and philanthropists is experimenting with hybrid forms of social enterprises while demanding more transparency and accountability from the organizations they are funding. Harvard Business School professor Kash Rangan discusses what he sees as a sector on the brink of transformation. From the HBS Alumni Bulletin. Read More

The Value of Environmental Activists

With decidedly non-profit goals leading them on, how do environmental protection groups such as Greenpeace and World Wildlife Fund create value? Can it be measured? A Q&A with Harvard Business School professor Ramon Casadesus-Masanell and case writer Jordan Mitchell. Read More

The Time is Right for Creative Capitalism

Bill Gates has it right. Business is the most powerful force for change in the world right now and gives the idea of creative capitalism real power, writes Harvard Business School professor Nancy F. Koehn. Read More

HBS Cases: Reforming New Orleans Schools After Katrina

The New Orleans public school system, ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, is now getting a boost from charter schools—today about half of the city's 80 schools are charter schools, says HBS lecturer and senior researcher Stacey M. Childress. She explains what New Orleans represents for entrepreneurial opportunities in U.S. public education. Read More

The Future of Social Enterprise

This paper considers the confluence of forces that is shaping the field of social enterprise, changing the way that funders, practitioners, scholars, and organizations measure performance. The authors trace a growing pool of potential funding sources to solve social problems, much of it stemming from an intergenerational transfer of wealth and new wealth from financial and high-tech entrepreneurs. They further examine how these organizations can best access the untapped resources by demonstrating mission performance, and then propose three potential scenarios, outlined below, for how this sector might evolve. Read More

Putting Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector

Despite the best of intentions and trillions of dollars worth of assets, nonprofits have been unable to solve many of society's worst ills. A new casebook by 4 Harvard Business School professors argues that the social sector should take an entrepreneurial approach. Q&A with coauthor Jane C. Wei-Skillern. Read More

What Do Non-Governmental Organizations Do?

Non-governmental organizations play an increasingly important role in international development. They serve as a funnel for development funds both from individual donors in wealthy countries and from bilateral aid agencies. At the same time, NGOs are frequently idealized as organizations committed to "doing good" while setting aside profit or politics—a romantic view that is too starry-eyed. Development-oriented NGOs, which have existed for centuries, have played a growing role in development since the end of World War II; there are currently 20,000 international NGOs. This paper argues that the strengths of NGOs and their weaknesses easily fit into economists' conceptualization of not-for-profit contractors. Read More

Mapping Polluters, Encouraging Protectors

Where are the biggest polluters? And what is your company doing to protect the environment? A new Web site—both a public service and a research tool—posts managers' data in real time, allowing a balanced view of industrial environmental performance. HBS professor Michael W. Toffel and senior research fellow Andrew A. King explain. Read More

One Laptop per Child

The One Laptop per Child initiative wants to develop and distribute $100 laptops to poor children around the world. Despite eager observers and exciting breakthroughs technologically, it has found the path to customers more rocky than anticipated. Marketing has some answers, as a new case study details. Q&A with HBS professor John Quelch. Read More

Six Steps for Reinvigorating America

In the early stages of the 21st century, America has lost its way both at home and in the world, argues Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter. In her new book, America the Principled, she details 6 opportunities for America to boost its economic vitality and democratic ideals. Q&A plus excerpt. Read More

Company Town: Fixing Corrupt Governments

Too many democracies are ruled by corrupt leaders, says HBS professor Eric Werker. So how about letting good corporate citizens run for elected office in Third World regions? Read More

Self-Regulatory Institutions for Solving Environmental Problems: Perspectives and Contributions from the Management Literature

What role can business managers play in protecting the natural environment? Academic research on when it might "pay to be green" has advanced understanding of how and when firms achieve sustained competitive advantage. The focus of such research, however, has begun to change in light of limits to available "win-win" opportunities and to gaps in regulation. This paper, intended as a book chapter, reviews current literature and explores the potential of self-regulatory institutions to solve environmental problems. Read More

Industry Self-Regulation: What’s Working (and What’s Not)?

Self-regulation has been all over the news, but are firms that adopt such programs already better on important measures like labor and quality practices? Does adopting a program help companies improve faster? In this Q&A, HBS professor Michael Toffel gives a reality check and discusses the trends for managers. Read More

Do Corporate Social Responsibility Ratings Predict Corporate Social Performance?

Ratings of corporations' environmental activities and capabilities influence billions of dollars of "socially responsible" investments as well as consumers, activists, and potential employees. But how well do these ratings predict socially responsible outcomes such as superior environmental performance? Companies can enhance their environmental image in one of two ways: by reducing or minimizing their impact on the environment, or by merely appearing to do so via marketing efforts or "greenwashing." This study evaluates the predictive validity of environmental ratings produced by Kinder, Lydenberg, Domini Research & Analytics (KLD), and tests whether companies that score high on KLD ratings generate superior environmental performance or whether highly rated firms are simply superior marketers of the factors that these rating agencies purport to measure. The data analysis examines all 588 large, publicly-owned companies in the United States that were both regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and whose social performance was rated by KLD at least once during 1991-2003. This paper may be the first to examine the predictive validity of social or environmental ratings. Read More

Public Education Goes to School

Harvard's schools of Business and Education are bringing management skills to nine school districts across the country—and positive results are starting to show. Read More

The Geography of Corporate Giving

Where a company is headquartered influences the types of social programs it supports, such as housing assistance, disease research, and the arts, according to new research by professor Christopher Marquis and his coauthors. Is social spending too confined by geography? Read More

Corporate Responsibility and the Environment: What is the Right Thing To Do?

Does it make legal, ethical, or economic sense for companies to participate in environmental corporate social responsibility programs? A new book from HBS professor Richard Vietor and colleagues Bruce Hay and Robert N. Stavins attempts to separate fact from fiction on the debate. Read More

Promoting a Management Revolution in Public Education

Public school districts are difficult to lead and manage, and the idea of applying business principles to school reform is popular. But is it practical? This paper describes the work of Harvard's Public Education Leadership Program as it helps school districts grapple with performance challenges, including student achievement that compares unfavorably with other countries, and a significant performance gap between white and minority students. Complicating the picture: The concept of managing for accountability is new in education. The authors studied the effects of improved management on public school student performance by comparing fifteen large urban school districts with similar peer districts. Read More

How Organizations Create Social Value

A study of smart practices by social and business organizations in Iberoamerica. Research by HBS professor James Austin, HBS senior researcher Ezequiel A. Reficco, and UNIANDES professor Roberto Gutiérrez. Read More

Nonprofit Networking: The New Way to Grow

How can a nonprofit increase its social impact? Many would say it needs to grow big to be strong. Instead, says HBS professor Jane Wei-Skillern, the answer could be in the power of strategic networks. Read More

The Tricky Business of Nonprofit Brands

Coca-Cola, move over. Many of the world's best-known brands belong to nonprofits, but the brand management issues these organizations face can be quite different. A conversation with professor John A. Quelch and collaborator Nathalie Laidler-Kylander. Read More

Motivation and the Cross-Sector Alliance

Corporate partnering with social organizations is beneficial for both, as seen in fruitful relationships built in the Americas. But first you must understand the motives of each party. Read More

Microfinance: A Way Out for the Poor

Microfinance is not a magic ticket out of poverty, but it can help both the loan receiver as well as the loan giver, says Harvard Business School’s Michael Chu. Read More

Why We Don’t Study Corporate Responsibility

What can business do to improve social welfare? In fact, we don’t know because too little study has been given the issue, argues HBS professor Joshua Margolis and colleagues. Read More

HBS Celebrates Social Enterprise Initiative

On the eve of the Social Enterprise Initiative’s 10th anniversary, HBS professor James E. Austin talks about bringing social enterprise to the forefront of business education. Read More

It’s Back to Business-Basics for Nonprofits

Moving from theory to practice: Former HBS professor Jeff Bradach shares practical advice on how nonprofits can improve their strategy and produce measurable results for their cause and donors. Read More

How Corporate Responsibility is Changing in Asia

Expectations are changing on the role multinational corporations play in improving the Asian communities in which they serve. Read More

The Hard Numbers on Social Investments

The field of social-purpose investing is growing and becoming more sophisticated. Should investors expect lower returns to benefit society? A new Harvard Business School study examines the question. Read More

The Growth of the Social Enterprise

To branch or affiliate? Different organizational structures have different strategic implications for nonprofit expansion, say HBS’s Jane Wei-Skillern and Duke-based colleague Beth Battle Anderson. Read More

How Businesses Can Respond to AIDS

Partnerships among business, government, and advocacy groups are crucial to halting AIDS. A report from an influential conference at Harvard Business School. Read More

When Protestors Knock at Your Door

You may not enjoy being targeted by a non-governmental organization, but you better learn how to manage that relationship, say HBS professor Debora Spar and Lane LaMure. Read More

The Organizational Model for Open Source

A surprising entity has emerged to protect the interests of open source software developers: the non-profit foundation. HBS professor Siobhán O'Mahony discusses this emerging organizational model. Read More

The Challenge of the Multi-site Nonprofit

Multi-site nonprofit organizations shouldn’t be run like companies that make money, say HBS professors Allen Grossman and V. Kasturi Rangan. The key for nonprofit managers is to embrace a balance between affiliation and autonomy. Read More

Business Plan Winner Targets India Dropouts

Gyaana means "knowledge" in Sanskrit—a fitting name for a business that aims to fight the 50 percent dropout rate in India by offering microfinance loans to families. Read More

AIDS in Africa—What’s the Solution?

The tragedy of AIDS has the potential to decimate society—and of course workforces, too. African-based experts in health care and the pharmaceutical industry traded ideas for alleviating this scourge in a session moderated by Harvard Business School Professor Debora L. Spar. Read More

Education, Technology, and Business: What’s the Catch?

In a panel discussion on current and future business opportunities in the American education market, four entrepreneurs hashed out the pros and cons of entering this tricky sector. There are opportunities—for the daring and undaunted. HBS professor Alan MacCormack moderated this panel at the Conference on Social Enterprise held recently at Harvard Business School. Read More

The Widening Rift Between Corporations and Society

Managerial capitalism is hanging on by its fingertips, say James Maxmin and HBS professor Shoshana Zuboff. In this e-mail interview with HBS Working Knowledge and in an excerpt from their new book, The Support Economy, the authors lay out the problem and offer savvy solutions for business and consumers. Read More

Using Big Business to Fight Poverty

Can an international alliance of global corporations win a war on poverty? Yes, if such an alliance is well planned and formed soon, according to HBS professor emeritus George C. Lodge. Read More

Profits for Nonprofits: Earning Your Own Way

"Profit" need not be a dirty word at a nonprofit organization. In a discussion led by HBS professor James E. Austin, three experienced managers discuss the advantages and pitfalls of building a for-profit unit within a nonprofit. Read More

Are Assets Only for America’s Wealthy?

It's a crucial question: How can this country's poor build up their assets and jump out of the spiral of poverty? The challenge is to create asset-building programs that go beyond savings, expanding into other financial services with higher return rates and greater opportunities, with a big assist from technology, argues Harvard Business School professor Peter Tufano. Read More

The Trick of Balancing Business and Government

Institutions, such as a competent judiciary, an efficient civil service, and a good highway system, are all important for African countries. But who creates them? And what should be the role of business in the mix? At an Africa Business Conference panel session called "Institutional Foundations," five experts weighed in. Read More

Connecting With Nonprofits

Nonprofits and business have a long history of collaboration, and the benefits run both ways. In this excerpt from HBS professor James Austin's latest working paper, three levels of collaboration are detailed. Plus: Austin Q&A. Read More

Parents’ Guide to Harvard Business School

Video Presentation: Want a glimpse into the HBS classroom experience? Das Narayandas, associate professor of marketing, introduces the school's teaching methods to students' parents—and provides his own thoughts on business education. Read More

Does Misery Love Companies? How Social Performance Pays Off

Is there a relationship between a company's social performance and its financial performance? HBS associate professor Joshua D. Margolis and University of Michigan colleague James P. Walsh make the connection in their latest working paper. PLUS: Margolis Q&A. Read More

Entering the Age of Alliances

Collaborative relationships between nonprofits and corporations working together to contribute to society is the wave of the future—and makes excellent strategic sense. HBS Professor James E. Austin explains why in The Collaboration Challenge. Read More

Cross-Sector Collaboration: Lessons from the International Trachoma Initiative

Alliances between for-profit and nonprofit organizations are evolving from arms-length relationships into strategic partnerships. A study of the collaboration between the Clark Foundation and Pfizer, Inc. reveals what it takes to make them work. Read More

Getting It Done: Improving Nonprofit Performance

The disorderliness and complexity of the existing philanthropic environment distract nonprofit management, says HBS Professor Allen Grossman, shifting focus away from organizational performance and putting nonprofits at a competitive disadvantage. Read More

No Place Like Home: America’s Housing Crisis and Its Impact on Business

Affordable housing is a bottom-line issue, one that American business ignores at its own peril. New research and initiatives of HBS Professors William J. Poorvu and Michael A. Wheeler and others show why business needs to take a more provocative stance to assure that moderate- and low- income workers can afford to live near where they work. Read More

Social Capital Markets: Creating Value in the Nonprofit World

Money given away to nonprofit organizations used to be considered "charity." No longer. Donations to nonprofits are increasingly viewed as capital investments of precious resources. HBS faculty members Jed Emerson and Allen Grossman have launched an interdisciplinary effort to study and understand these "Social Capital Markets." Read More

Strategic Alliances

Businesses and nonprofit organizations are joining together in alliances to create value for themselves and society that far surpass the sum of their parts. HBS Professor James Austin studies these new alliances and sees mutual benefits and a new business-nonprofit relationship emerging. Read More

From Spare Change to Real Change: The Social Sector as a Beta Site for Business Innovation

U.S. companies have too often viewed the social sector as a dumping ground for their spare cash, obsolete equipment, and tired executives, but that mind-set, says HBS Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, has hardly created lasting change. In this excerpt from an article in the Harvard Business Review, she issues a call for corporate social innovation, an approach, says Kanter, that's more R&D than it is charity. Read More

Bringing the Environment Down to Earth

Does it pay to be green? When it comes to questions about business and the environment, says HBS Professor Forest L. Reinhardt, there are no simple yes-or-no answers. In this excerpt from his article in the Harvard Business Review, Reinhardt stresses the importance of applying traditional business principles to environmental issues. Read More