Michael W. Toffel

Associate Professor of Business Administration

Faculty Fellow, Harvard Environmental Economics Program
Faculty Affiliate, Harvard University Center for the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Kennedy School of Government Center for Business and Government Regulatory Policy Program

Mike Toffel's research focuses on operational discipline by examining companies' environmental, occupational safety, and quality programs and performance. His work seeks to identify which types of programs distinguish participating companies as having superior environmental, safety, or quality management or performance, and which of these programs help companies improve their performance in these domains. His work ranges from academic articles based on econometric analyses of large datasets to case studies of individual companies. His work on quality management systems and environmental management systems has been profiled by LRQA Business Assurance and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board. His research on occupational health and safety has been profiled by the head of U.S. OSHA and featured in the national press including US News & World Report, BusinessWeek, and Scientific American.   His work has been published in scholarly journals including Administrative Science Quarterly, Management Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Organization Science, in practitioners journals including Sloan Management Review and California Management Review, and in mainstream outlets including The Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek/DailyBeast, and Grist.

Prof. Toffel serves on the Editorial Boards of the Strategic Management Journal and Organization Science. He serves as a founding board member of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS), which organizes a leading annual conference to foster high-quality research on corporate sustainability and to build collaboration among scholars engaged in these topics. 

His co-authors include Julia Adler-MilsteinRonnie Chatterji, Magali Delmas, Anil Doshi, Glen Dowell, Kira Fabrizio, Andrea Hugill, Chonnikarn (Fern) Jira, Matthew Johnson, Andrew King, David Levine, Julian Marshall, Chris Marquis, Melissa Ouellet, Lamar Pierce, Erin ReidTim Simcoe, Sara SingerJodi Short, and David Vogel.

He recommends the HBS Business & Environment InitiativeEnvironmental Leader, Grist, Ethical Corporation, and SustainableBusiness.com to keep up on corporate environmental news.

Toffel has organized several conferences related to his research, includig conferences on corporate sustainability at HBS (2010), the role of information disclosure in corporate transparency and accountability at the National Press Club in Washington DC (2009), business and human rights in operations and supply chains at HBS (2008), and industry self-regulation at HBS (2007) .

Professor Toffel received a Ph.D. from the Haas School of Business' Business and Public Policy department at the University of California at Berkeley, an MBA from the Yale School of Management, a Master’s in Environmental Management (Industrial Environmental Management) from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, and a BA in Government from Lehigh University.  He has worked as the Director of Environment, Health and Safety at the Jebsen & Jessen (South East Asia) Group of Companies, based in Singapore. He has also worked as an environmental management consultant for Arthur Andersen, Arthur D. Little, and Xerox Corporation. He started his career as an operations management analyst at J.P. Morgan.

Prof. Toffel has served on the Advisory Panel of the Newsweek Green Rankings and on the School Site Council of the Edward Devotion School, a public school in Brookline, MA.

 

  1. NBS Research Impact on Practice Award : Winner of the 2014 NBS Research Impact on Practice Award from the Network for Business Sustainability and the Academy of Management (AOM) Organizations and Natural Environment (ONE) Division for his article with Lamar Pierce, “The role of organizational scope and governance in strengthening private monitoring.”

  2. Winner, Grant Competition, Demonstrating How Low-Cost Randomized Controlled Trials Can Drive Effective Social Spending, Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Winner (with Matthew Johnson and David I. Levine) of the 2014 Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy Grant Competition on the subject of “Demonstrating How Low-Cost Randomized Controlled Trials Can Drive Effective Social Spending.”

  3. ARCS Emerging Scholar Award: Winner of the inaugural ARCS Sustainable Scholar Award from the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) in 2014. This research career award seeks to recognize the leading pre-tenure scholar “in the area of corporate sustainability who is likely to make significant contributions to the advancement of corporate sustainability scholarship and practice.”

  4. Outstanding Conference Paper: Winner of the Outstanding Conference Paper Award from the 2014 Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) Annual Conference for his paper with Susan Kayser and John Maxwell, “How multinational corporations can leverage stakeholder scrutiny to identify socially responsible suppliers.”

  5. Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching: Received the 2013 Apgar Award for Innovation in Teaching.

  6. Paul Kleindorfer Award in Sustainability: Winner of the 2013 Paul Kleindorfer Award in Sustainability from the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS). The award recognizes “young scholars who have already distinguished themselves through the breadth and innovativeness of their scholarly work on questions related to sustainable operations and the social and environmental impact of business."

  7. Doctoral Award for Excellence in Mentoring: Won the 2012 Doctoral Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Established by doctoral students, the awards recognize HBS faculty "who exemplify a deep commitment to fostering the personal and professional development" of HBS doctoral students.

  8. Strategic Management Society Best Conference Paper Prize for Practice Implications: Nominated in 2012 by the Strategic Management Society (SMS) for Best Conference Paper for Practice Implications at the SMS 32nd Annual International Conference for "Competition and Illicit Quality" (Bennett, Pierce, Snyder, Toffel, HBS Working Paper No. 12–071, February 2012).

  9. Strategic Management Society. Best Conference Paper Prize: Nominated in 2012 by the Strategic Management Society (SMS) for Best Conference Paper at the SMS 32nd Annual International Conference for "Competition and Illicit Quality" (Bennett, Pierce, Snyder, Toffel, HBS Working Paper No. 12–071, February 2012).

  10. Marvin Bower Fellowship: Awarded the Marvin Bower Fellowship in 2011 by Harvard Business School.

  11. Best Theory-to-Practice Paper : Won the 2011 Best Health Care Management Theory-to-Practice Paper Award in the Health Care Management Division of the Academy of Management for his paper with Julia Adler-Milstein and Sara J. Singer, “Managerial Practices that Promote Voice and Taking Charge among Frontline Workers.”

  12. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings : Selected for the 2011 Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management for his paper with Julia Adler-Milstein and Sara J. Singer, "Managerial Practices that Promote Voice and Taking Charge among Frontline Workers."

  13. Doctoral Award for Excellence in Mentoring: Runner up for the 2010 Doctoral Award for Excellence in Mentoring. Established by doctoral students, the awards recognize HBS faculty "who exemplify a deep commitment to fostering the personal and professional development" of HBS doctoral students.

  14. Emerging Scholar Award, Academy of Management's Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) Division: Won the 2010 Emerging Scholar Award from the Academy of Management's Organizations and the Natural Environment (ONE) Division. The award recognizes "a stream of research that has substantial ONE content and that has been published in premier scholarly outlets."

  15. Page Prize for Sustainability Issues in Business Curricula: Won the 2009 D. Alfred N. and Lynn Manos Page Grand Prize for Sustainability Issues in Business Curricula for the HBS Elected Curriculum course, "Business and the Environment" with Forest Reinhardt.

  16. Charles H. Levine Award for Best Conference Paper: Winner of the 2006 Charles H. Levine Award for Best Conference Paper from the Public and NonProfit Division of the Academy of Management for "Coerced Confessions: How Regulatory Deterrence Drives Self-Policing" (with Jodi L. Short, Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings, 2006).

  17. Academy of Management. Organizations and Natural Environment Division. Best Dissertation Award: Runner up for the 2006 Academy of Management Best Dissertation Award from the Organizations and Natural Environment Division for "Voluntary Environmental Management Initiatives: Smoke Signals or Smoke Screens?" (University of California at Berkeley, 2005).

  18. Academy of Management. Social Issues in Management Division. Best Dissertation Award: Winner of the 2006 Academy of Management Best Dissertation Award from the Social Issues in Management Division for "Voluntary Environmental Management Initiatives: Smoke Signals or Smoke Screens?" (University of California at Berkeley, 2005).