Associate Professor of Business Administration
Tatiana Sandino is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Accounting and Management Unit, teaching the first-year required MBA course Financial Reporting and Control. Prior to joining the HBS faculty, she was an assistant professor at the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, where she taught management accounting to evening MBA students and undergraduate accounting majors, and received the Dean’s Award for Research Excellence.
Professor Sandino's research examines how organizations use different control mechanisms to lead employees at the executive, middle management, and lower levels toward the achievement of common goals in an organization. She is particularly interested in chain organizations, where control mechanisms can allow firms to successfully replicate a business model across different locations, and in issues concerning executive compensation. Her work has been published in The Accounting Review, the Journal of Accounting and Economics, the Journal of Accounting Research, and Contemporary Accounting Research, and it has been featured in media venues such as The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The Huffington Post, and CNBC.
Professor Sandino earned a DBA in accounting and management at Harvard Business School; an MBA at INCAE Business School, Managua, Nicaragua; and a BS in industrial engineering at the Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica.
In studying management control, Professor Sandino focuses on understanding how different control mechanisms can lead employees at varied levels within an organization, to achieve common goals. Her work builds on contingency theory by exploring environmental, strategic, and operating conditions that may affect the effectiveness of an organization’s control mechanisms, and on agency theory by examining the efficacy of various control mechanisms in aligning the interests of those performing the work and those delegating it. She investigates two lines of research, one related to chain organizations and one related to executive compensation.
Control Mechanisms in Chain Organizations
This line of research examines problems that top management faces in controlling employees who operate in organizations with large numbers of “like” business units. By enabling organizations to leverage their knowledge and expertise broadly, control mechanisms allow firms to scale up their services. Working primarily with retail organizations, Professor Sandino provides insights on the types of organizational design and control choices (such as introducing budgets and other types of internal controls, franchising, standardizing operations, setting compensation and incentives, and delegating decision rights) that can be used to enhance the coordination of operations across multiple units, provide incentives that are consistent with the local environments where the units operate, ensure that employees in diverse units are engaged with the organization’s goals, and enable firms to use information from multiple units to learn about the effectiveness of their core business models.
Professor Sandino analyzes the process by which executive pay is set, the different constituencies that influence this process, and the circumstances that may lead to more or less effective compensation packages. Understanding these matters is not only relevant to academics but also to regulators, investors, and the public in general, who have increasingly questioned the levels of executive pay in the United States and the incentives created by executive compensation packages. According to some critics, executive compensation plans contributed to triggering various financial crises over the past decade. Following this line of research, Professor Sandino has assessed the impacts on executive pay of shareholder activism, various uses of compensation consultants, and fraud in peer firms.