Ethan Bernstein (@ethanbernstein) is an Assistant Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at the Harvard Business School. He teaches the first-year MBA course in Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD), a PhD course on the craft of field research, and various executive education programs including Global Strategic Management. His teaching and research address topics related to leadership, global collaboration and teamwork, design thinking, and learning in organizations.
Professor Bernstein’s work has been published in journals including Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Harvard Business Review, Research on Organizational Change and Development, Cornell Law Review, and the Stanford Journal of Law, Business, and Finance, and it has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, NPR, Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, Businessweek, MSNBC’s Bottom Line, Yahoo! Finance, Esquire, United Hemispheres, Nikkei Business, Nikkei Shimbun, Le Monde, Maeil Business (Korea), and TEDx Boston, among others. He is a 2014 HBR McKinsey Award Finalist, and his research has won awards including the inaugural J. Richard Hackman Dissertation Award, the Academy of Management’s 2013 Outstanding Publication in Organizational Behavior award, the Academy of Management’s 2013 Best Publication in Organization and Management Theory award, the Academy of Management's 2014 Outstanding Practitioner-Oriented Publication in Organizational Behavior award, the Academy of Management's 2014 Best Paper Based on a Dissertation Award, the INGRoup 2014 Best Paper award, the 2013 Fredric M. Jablin Doctoral Dissertation Award from the International Leadership Association, the HBS Wyss Award, and the Susan G. Cohen Doctoral Research Award.
In his current research, Professor Bernstein examines how, and under what conditions, privacy makes groups more productive—and specifically how the sharing of information across and within boundaries affects learning, innovation, and organizational performance. In a world obsessed with transparency, his findings suggest that boundaries may sometimes provide unanticipated benefits and be an underutilized managerial performance lever. Put differently, attention matters for performance, and boundaries can be strategically important in directing it.
Professor Bernstein earned his doctorate in management at Harvard, where he also received a JD/MBA degree. While a doctoral student, he was a Kauffman Foundation Fellow in Law, Innovation, and Growth, and he remains a member of the New York and Massachusetts Bar Associations. He holds an AB in Economics from Amherst College, which included study at Doshisha University in Kyoto.
Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Bernstein spent a half-decade at The Boston Consulting Group in Toronto and Tokyo. Tapped by Elizabeth Warren to join the implementation team at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he spent nearly two years in executive positions, including Chief Strategy Officer and Deputy Assistant Director of Mortgage Markets, at the newest United States federal agency.
In addition to his organizational behavior courses, Professor Bernstein has taught a wide range of topics and students, including Accounting and Finance in the HBS MBA Analytics program, Operations at the Samsung Premier Leadership Development Program, Economics at Harvard College, and the Business Leadership Program at HBS.
Professor Bernstein is a self-declared culinary adventurer and avid cyclist, runner, skier, reader, and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me listener. Originally from Los Angeles, he lives in Newton with his wife, Maly (HBS MBA 2006), and young son.