Associate Professor, MBA Class of 1966 Faculty Research Fellow
Nava Ashraf is an Associate Professor in the Negotiations, Organizations, and Markets Unit at Harvard Business School. Professor Ashraf’s research combines psychology and economics, using both lab and field experiments to test insights from behavioral economics in the context of development projects in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Her experiments address behavior change in health and health services delivery, in agricultural production, and in microfinance. She has conducted research on questions of intra-household decision making in the areas of finance and fertility, with a special focus on women’s empowerment. Her research is published in leading journals including the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Professor Ashraf designed and teaches a second year MBA course called Managing Global Health: Applying Behavioral Economics to Create Impact. She also teaches a University-wide Ph.D. course in Field Experiments. She has also taught in the first year MBA sequence on Negotiation, and is part of the Executive Education program of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative, where she teaches Impact Evaluation and Performance Measurement for Nonprofit Management.
She is a Faculty Affiliate of the Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT, dedicated to the use of randomized trials as a tool for learning what works in international development, and a Fellow of the National Bureau of Economic Research. Prior to joining HBS, she worked at the World Bank on trade negotiations between Morocco and the European Union, as a consultant for several nonprofit organizations in developing countries, and as founder of a business skills training institute for women in west Africa.
Professor Ashraf received her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University in 2005, and her BA in Economics and International Relations from Stanford University. She has been awarded a Queen's Jubilee Medal for service by the Government of Canada, and is the youngest person ever to receive the Order of British Columbia.
Learn more about Professor Ashraf's research in a Harvard magazine cover article.
Professor Ashraf's research applies insights from psychology, sociology, and economics to understand and affect behavior in development. Her current research interests fall into three broad categories: technology adoption, motivation and incentive design, and intra-household decision making.
Motivation and Incentive Design
Intra-Household Decision Making
"Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines." (with Dean Karlan and Wesley Yin)Quarterly Journal of Economics 121, no. 2, 2006.
"Female Empowerment: Further Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines." (with Dean Karlan and Wesley Yin) April 2009, World Development. 38, Issue 3, March 2010
"Deposit Collectors." (with Dean Karlan and Wesley Yin) Advances in Economic Analysis &Policy, Vol. 6, No. 2, Article 5, March 2006.
"Remittances and the Problem of Control: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador." (with Diego Aycinena, Claudia Martinez A., and Dean Yang).
"Spousal Control and Intra-Household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines." American Economic Review 99, no. 4, September 2009.