Robert G. Eccles

Professor of Management Practice

Robert G. Eccles first joined the faculty in 1979 and received tenure in 1989. He left in 1993 to work in the private sector and rejoined the faculty in 2007. Right after receiving tenure, Professor Eccles started doing research on corporate reporting, a topic which remains of great interest to him from a research, managerial practice, and public policy perspective. He has written three books on this subject, The ValueReporting Revolution: Moving Beyond the Earnings Game (with Robert H. Herz, E. Mary Keegan and David M. H. Phillips), Building Public Trust: The Future of Corporate Reporting (with Samuel A. DiPiazza Jr.), and One Report: Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Strategy (with Michael P. Krzus), which is the first book on this subject. One Report was the winner of the 2010 PROSE award in the category of Business, Finance, & Management. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the International Integrated Reporting Committee (http://www.integratedreporting.org/) and the Chairman of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)( www.sasb.org). Dr. Eccles is the co-founder, with Professor George Serafeim of Harvard Business School, of the Innovating for Sustainability social movement (https://www.facebook.com/innovatingforsustainability), and a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Sustainable Value Creation (https://www.conference-board.org).

Professor Eccles continues his active research program on integrated reporting. Within the past few years a new trend has begun for “integrated reporting” in which a company combines its financial and non-financial reports into “One Report” with varying degrees of integration. Examples of companies practicing integrated reporting in the United States are Southwest Airlines, American Electric Power, and United Technologies Corporation. Examples of companies in other countries include Philips in the Netherlands, BASF in Germany, Novo Nordisk in Denmark and Natura in Brazil. Of course, One Report doesn’t mean only One Report since the Internet can also be used to provide more detailed information and analytical tools of particular interest to different stakeholder groups. Importantly, integrated reporting is about more than a company’s external communications. It also involves leveraging the Internet to improve dialogue and engagement with all stakeholders.

In collaboration with Professor George Serafeim, Dr. Eccles teaches the MBA elective field course “Innovating for Sustainability” as well as the executive education program of the same name and the new executive education program “Building Client Management Capabilities in Professional Service Firms.” “Innovating for Sustainability” is focused on innovations in processes, products, and business models by both corporations and investors in order to improve both financial and sustainability (defined in terms of environmental, social, and governance issues) performance. Eccles and Serafeim also teach a doctoral seminar called “The Role of the Corporation in Society.”  Together they have a broad and multimethod research program on how companies can create more sustainable strategies that contribute to a more sustainable society.

In collaboration with Professor Das Narayandas of Harvard Business School Dr. Eccles is also working on a book about professional service firms with the working title of Building Capabilities: Ensuring Long-Term Success in a Professional Service Firm. The key idea is that professional service firms need to balance short-term capacity utilization with long-term capability building. The latter is done at the individual and organizational level by properly managing the talent market and the client market in an integrated way.

In 2011, Dr. Eccles was selected as one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior - 2012 for his extensive, positive contribution to building trust in business.

Dr. Eccles received an S.B. in Mathematics and an S.B. in Humanities and Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1973) and an A.M. (1975) and Ph.D. in Sociology (1979) from Harvard University.

  1. Summit TV, South Africa

    Bob Eccles and George Serafeim Harvard Business School on their investigation into the King Code of Governance and how it has impacted the way corporates do business in South Africa.
  2. Integrated Reporting: Supporting Sustainable Strategies for a Sustainable Society

    One Report Book CoverOne Report - Integrated Reporting for a Sustainable Society

    Robert G. Eccles & Michael P. Krzus

    Integrated reporting begins with a single document, One Report, combining an organization’s financial and nonfinancial (environmental, social and governance) performance and illuminating the relationship between the two. But it also extends beyond a paper document, utilizing the Internet to facilitate the integration of performance reporting, as well as provide detailed information of particular interest to different stakeholders. It is about listening as much as talking - a conversation with all stakeholders about their expectations of the company's commitments and the performance metrics that ensure sustainability in economic, environmental, social and governance terms.

    To learn more about integrated reporting, please visit the Web site of the International Integrated Reporting Committee at http://www.integratedreporting.org

  3. Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards 2012

    The Inaugural Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards (EIA) took place on 5 September in Johannesburg. The guest speakers were Professors Robert G. Eccles and George Serafeim of Harvard Business School. The EIA recognized the top 100 South African companies successfully integrating critical financial and non-financial performance measures into their reporting.
  4. The Need for One Report

    Harvard Business School professor Robert G. Eccles and Grant Thornton partner Michael Krzus discuss the growing trend of integrated reporting worldwide and how their book ONE REPORT will help companies succeed in the transition to this new transparency.
  5. Global Reporting Initiative 2010: Justmeans' Martin Smith Interviews Robert Eccles

    Global Reporting Initiative 2010: Justmeans' Martin Smith Interviews Robert Eccles,Senior Lecturer of Business Administration,Harvard and co-Author of "One Report"
  6. Big Think: China Needs to Lead

    Harvard Business School professor Robert Eccles comments on a recent video interview with Gro Harlem Brundtland, a U.N. Special Envoy on Climate Change.

  7. Big Think: We Need to Reposition Copenhagen

    Harvard Business School professor Robert Eccles comments on a recent video interview with Peter Brabeck, the Chairman of Nestle.
  8. Innovating for Sustainability

    Every major company is grappling with the meaning and application of sustainability in relation to its geographic location, industry and business model. Similarly, more and more institutional investors are incorporating sustainability into their resource allocation decision making process. As a result, we are seeing the emergence of a new view of the role of the corporation in society, one that simultaneously meets shareholders' and other stakeholders' objectives. This new model is only beginning to emerge, but some of its outlines are already clear such as a longer-term time horizon, more holistic performance measurement and reporting, more active corporate governance, and greater engagement with shareholders and other stakeholders. 

    Achieving sustainability - for corporations, investors, analysts, information intermediaries, and other forms of organisations - often requires innovations in processes, products, and business models in order to optimise both financial and nonfinancial (e.g., environmental, social, and governance [ESG]) outcomes. Innovation is a critical element, because in the absence of it managers often need to make trade-offs between financial and ESG goals. Therefore, innovation is the mechanism that allows companies to extend the performance frontier.