Associate Professor of Business Administration
Dennis W. Campbell is an Associate Professor in the Accounting & Management Unit at Harvard Business School. He is currently the course head for the HBS required MBA course Financial Reporting and Control. He also teaches the elective MBA course Managing Service Operations as well as in the HBS doctoral program and several executive education programs including Driving Corporate Performance (U.S. and China), Achieving Breakthrough Service, and Consumer Financial Services.
Professor Campbell's research, teaching, and case writing focus on designing and integrating organizational structures, performance measurement, and incentive systems to foster empowerment, mitigate risk, and enable organizational learning and long-term value creation. He has studied these issues extensively in both the U.S. and international services sectors. In this context, his work has more specifically focused on how leaders can design organizations and management systems to compete effectively on differentiated customer experiences. His research has been published in leading academic journals including Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, and Management Science.
Professor Campbell received his DBA from Harvard Business School and his B.S. degrees in mathematics and economics from the University of Redlands (Redlands, CA). Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, he worked at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. on research and policy related to the structure, conduct, and performance of U.S. banking institutions and markets. He enjoys living in Sudbury, MA with his wife, son, daughter, and two dogs.
Management Control and the Customer Experience
In this line of research, I explore the design of management control systems when the strategic objective is to differentiate on service or the customer experience more broadly. The service sector represents an increasingly important class of organizations which have unique coordination and control problems whose solutions are not well understood.
Most notably, services are difficult to fully standardize as cost and quality are heavily influenced by heterogeneous customer behaviors, needs, and preferences; they are often delivered by geographically dispersed employees far removed from the executive level of the organizational hierarchy; and they are difficult to measure both in terms of service output and financial outcomes. These characteristics combine to establish a need for control (due to decentralization) in a context in which managers are significantly constrained in their ability to use two of the primary conventional mechanisms for establishing it – monitoring (due to constraints on standardization) and incentive alignment through explicit performance contracting (due to constraints on measurement).
Focusing my work on studying this problem has led to interdisciplinary contributions to the accounting and operations management literatures and to more general insights into the problem of coordinating and controlling organizations when managers are constrained in their ability to use traditional performance measurement and incentive systems.
Keywords: Management Control Systems;
management accounting and control systems;
Cost Measurement and the Profitable Delivery of Financial Products and Services
I am currently exploring how consumer financial service organizations can use cost measurement techniques to design services that are both viable for low to moderate income consumers and profitable and sustainable for the firms providing them. This is an important issue given increasing regulatory pressure on different fee-based revenue streams in the U.S. banking industry, the importance of consumer access to basic financial services, and the income levels and structure of consumer markets in developing countries around the world.
While technology-based delivery channels have long held out the promise of profitable delivery of financial services, my prior research shows that such “low cost” channels can alter consumer behavior in ways that paradoxically lead to increases in the overall cost-structure of financial organizations. This work suggests that identifying business models and delivery strategies for providing sustainable access to basic banking services will be a difficult challenge with respect to low and moderate income consumers segments. I am currently working on case studies and empirical research projects aimed at investigating the following questions in U.S. and African banking markets:
- What product and delivery innovations are currently being used to provide financial services to low and moderate income consumers?
- How are the cost and profitability of these innovations being measured? How can cost measurement systems be used to inform the design of product and delivery innovations for these consumer segments?
- What consumer behaviors with respect to these innovations are the most important cost drivers, and how can these behaviors be managed effectively through product and delivery channel design, pricing, or other mechanisms?
Design and Implementation of Analytic Performance Management Systems
Analytic performance management, based on systematic analysis and feedback on the underlying drivers of firm performance, is often held out as an ideal. However, there has been little real documentation on the actual practices associated with it.
My research in this area, largely conducted through field-based cases, illustrates different analytic performance management practices; demonstrates the risks of failing to implement them when using formal systems like the balanced scorecard; and highlights measurement, data, and structural requirements to obtaining the benefits of these practices.