Rebecca M. Henderson

John and Natty McArthur University Professor

Rebecca Henderson is the John and Natty McArthur University Professor at Harvard University, where she has a joint appointment at the Harvard Business School in the General Management and Strategy units and is the Co-Director of the Business and Environment Initiative. Professor Henderson is also a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her work explores how organizations respond to large-scale technological shifts, most recently in regard to energy and the environment. She teaches Innovation in Business, Energy, and Environment and Reimagining Capitalism in the MBA Program.

From 1998 to 2009, Professor Henderson was the Eastman Kodak Professor of Management at the Sloan School of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she ran the strategy group and taught courses in strategy, technology strategy, and sustainability. She received an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from MIT and a doctorate in business economics from Harvard. 

Professor Henderson sits on the boards of Amgen and of IDEXX Laboratories, and she has worked with both members of the Fortune 100 and small, technology-orientated start-ups. She was retained by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with the remedies phase of the Microsoft trial, and in 2001 she was named Teacher of the Year at the Sloan School. Her work has been published in a range of scholarly journals including Administrative Science Quarterly, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Strategic Management Journal, Management Science, Research Policy, The RAND Journal of Economics, and Organization Science.

Her most recent publication is Accelerating Energy Innovation: Insights from Multiple Sectors, edited jointly with Richard Newell and published by the University of Chicago Press for National Bureau of Economic Research.

  1. Accelerating Energy Innovation: Insights from Multiple Sectors

    Accelerating energy innovation could be an important part of an effective response to the threat of climate change. Written by a stellar group of experts in the field, this book complements existing research on the subject with an exploration of the role that public and private policy have played in enabling—and sustaining—swift innovation in a variety of industries, from agriculture and the life sciences to information technology. Chapters highlight the factors that have determined the impact of past policies, and suggest that effectively managed federal funding, strategies to increase customer demand, and the enabling of aggressive competition from new firms are important ingredients for policies that affect innovative activity.

  2. Interview with Harvard's Professor Rebecca Henderson

    Rebecca Henderson is introduced, talks about her view of the millennial generation, and tells us what she’s interested in at the moment.

  3. What Do Managers Do? Exploring Persistent Performance Differences among Seemingly Similar Enterprises

    Social networks and social groups have both been seen as important to discouraging malfeasance and supporting the global pro-social norms that underlie social order, but have typically been treated either as pure substitutes or as having completely independent effects. In this paper, I propose that interpersonal relationships between individuals with different social identities play a key role in linking local and global norms, and in supporting social order. Specifically, I show that social identity derived from group memberships moderates the effects of social relationships on pro-social norm observance. I test my predictions using a novel empirical setting consisting of a large online virtual environment. I show that the number of within-group relationships increases and the number of an individual's across-group relationships reduces the prevalence of anti-normative behavior. Furthermore, I show that network closure has a qualitatively different effect between within-group ties and across-group ties. The effects of within-group and across-group ties are moderated by both group characteristics and actor experience, providing boundary conditions on the mechanisms presented here. My findings illustrate the need for a more nuanced view of the complex interrelations between institutions, identity, and networks.