Julie Battilana

Associate Professor of Business Administration

Julie Battilana is an Associate Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School. She currently teaches the second-year Power and Influence course and in previous years has taught the first-year Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) course in the MBA program.  She also teaches in executive education offerings, including the Colloquium on Participant-Centered Learning and the High Potentials Leadership Program.

Professor Battilana's research examines the process by which organizations or individuals initiate and implement changes that diverge from the taken-for-granted practices in a field of activity. In times like these, when the question of how to reform deeply rooted systems such as healthcare and financial systems has taken on great urgency, understanding how actors can break with the status quo is crucial. Aiming to do so, Professor Battilana first studied the implementation of healthcare reforms in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Her work examines (1) the conditions that enable actors to initiate organizational change that diverges from the institutional status quo, and (2) the key factors of success in implementing such change.

Continuing to explore how actors can break with taken-for-granted norms, Professor Battilana's most recent research focuses on hybrid organizations that combine aspects of both corporations and not-for-profits. These hybrids, which pursue a social mission while engaging in commercial activities in order to generate revenues that sustain their operations, diverge from the model of both the typical corporation and the typical not-for-profit. Commercial microfinance organizations are an example of such organizations. Professor Battilana's research aims to understand how hybrids can sustainably combine the social welfare and commercial logics. She has articles published or forthcoming in Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Management Science, Strategic Organization, Leadership Quarterly, Organization, Research in Organizational Behavior and The Academy of Management Annals, as well as in handbooks of organizational behavior and strategy. Her research has been featured in publications like BusinessWeek, the Huffington Post, and the Stanford Social Innovation Review. She is also a regular contributor to the French newspaper Le Monde.

A native of France, Professor Battilana earned a B.A. in sociology and economics, an M.A. in political sociology and an M.Sc. in organizational sociology and public policy from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan.  She also holds a degree from HEC Business School, and a joint Ph.D. in organizational behavior from INSEAD and in management and economics from Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan.

Devex Impact

Amanda Gibson

Devex Impact spoke with Battlilana about the key findings of her research, and the challenges hybrid organizations face as they grow.

Stanford Social Innovation Review
Spring 2011

Jessica Ruvinsky

Politically radical social workers didn’t expect to be working in a bank any more than white-collar bankers expected to be holding meetings in a crowded public market.  The microfinance loan officer is a unique sort of professional, and when commercial microfinance began, there weren’t any of them.

Le Monde
Huffington Post, The Blog
April 9, 2012

Tanyella Evans

When we think of "social entrepreneurship", we tend to focus on the really big organizations that have had a huge impact, groups like Teach for America or Grameen that are dealing with national or global issues of poverty, inequality and justice.  Yet research suggests that social entrepreneurship is also making an impact on the local economy.

April 9, 2012

Jill Richmond

An increasing number of social entrepreneurs are experimenting with ways to use commercially generated revenue to grow and maintain their social impact.

February 1, 2012

Rachel Signer

A duo of researchers at the Harvard Business School recently set out to investigate movers in the field of social entrepreneurship beyond the big names who attract the most attention.