Michael W. Toffel

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, including 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. Overview

    by Michael W. Toffel

    Professor Toffel teaches Environmentally Sustainable Strategy & Operations, an MBA elective based on the award-winning Business and the Environment course he co-developed with Forest Reinhardt.

    Toffel also helped create the required Business Education for Scholars and Teachers (BEST): Foundations course to all HBS doctoral students, and has taught the Technology and Operations Management portion of this course. Each Spring, Toffel teaches the Doctoral Seminar in Technology and Operations Management, a work-in-progress seminar he created to help doctoral students develop research ideas, design studies, conduct robust analysis, and clearly present insights.

    Toffel has also taught the required first-year MBA course Technology and Operations Management (TOM).

    Keywords: Environmental Sustainability; Operations; Supply Chain Management; Government Legislation; Non-Governmental Organizations; Multinational Firms and Management;