Associate Professor of Business Administration
Alnoor Ebrahim is an Associate Professor in the Social Enterprise Initiative at the Harvard Business School. His research and teaching focus on the challenges of performance management, accountability, and governance facing organizations with a social purpose. He is also affiliated with the Hauser Institute for Civil Society at the Center for Public Leadership, Harvard University.
Professor Ebrahim is author of the award-winning book, NGOs and Organizational Change: Discourse, Reporting, and Learning, and is co-editor, with Edward Weisband, of Global Accountabilities: Participation, Pluralism, and Public Ethics (both with Cambridge University Press), which compares accountability dilemmas in nonprofits, business, and government. He has been the recipient of awards for best article in the journals Nonprofit Management and Leadership, and the Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly.
He teaches the MBA required course, "FIELD 3" and an elective course "Managing Social Enterprise." He has previously taught "Leadership and Organizational Behavior" (LEAD), and "Leading and Governing High-Performing Nonprofit Organizations." In the HBS executive education portfolio, Professor Ebrahim servers as faculty chair of "Governing for Nonprofit Excellence" and co-chair of "Performance Measurement of Effective Management of Nonprofit Organizations" while also teaching in "Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management."
Professor Ebrahim's research is closely integrated with practice. He serves on a working group of the Social Impact Investing Taskforce established by the G8, and on an advisory board of the Global Impact Investing Network. He has authored commissioned reports on civil society relations with the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, and he consults to international NGOs on their challenges of global governance and accountability. Over the past two decades, he has worked on projects with a number of nongovernmental organizations including ActionAid International, CIVICUS: The World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the World Resources Institute in Washington, D.C., the Tata Energy Research Institute in New Delhi, and the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme in western India.
Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, Alnoor taught at Virginia Tech for several years, where he was a founding codirector of the Institute for Governance and Accountabilities. He holds a BSc degree from MIT (1991) in civil and environmental engineering, and a PhD from Stanford University (1999), where he studied environmental planning and management.
Measuring Impact, Report of the Impact Measurement Working Group, Social Impact Investing Task Force established by the G8
Measuring Impact was developed by the Impact Measurement Working Group (IMWG) of the Social Impact Investment Taskforce established under the UK’s presidency of the G8. The combined work elevates existing best practices and aligns with the European Standard for Social Impact Measurement (developed by GECES). The IMWG was established in June 2013 at the G8 Social Impact Investment Forum in London to develop measurement guidelines for impact investors, as well as a vision for impact measurement in the years ahead.
The IMWG is comprised of 29 thought leaders in impact investing and measurement—including private investors, foundations, academics, nonprofits, and intermediaries—representing diverse sectors and geographies. It was co-chaired by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN) and New Philanthropy Capital (NPC).
The full Measuring Impact report and the accompanying case studies were launched in September 2014. More information about the Social Impact Investment Taskforce and the full Taskforce report, Impact Investment: The Invisible Heart of Markets, can be found on the resource page or on the Taskforce website:www.socialimpactinvestment.org.
Sizing Up Social Impact
Quantifying results in the social sector comes down to the tricky work of measuring social good.
Let's Be Realistic About Measuring Impact
"Measure impact" has become a mantra for creating social change. Claims about making a difference are no longer sufficient; evidence of how much difference you're making is now required. We should applaud this trend, because results are sometimes ambiguous and claims often go unsubstantiated. But does it really make sense for all mission-driven organizations to measure their long-term impact on society?
Accountability is seen as an essential feature of governments, businesses and NGOs. This volume treats it as a socially constructed means of control that can be used by the weak as well as the powerful. It contributes analytical depth to the diverse debates on accountability in modern organizations by exploring its nature, forms and impacts in civil society organizations, public and inter-governmental agencies and private corporations. The contributors draw from a range of disciplines to demonstrate the inadequacy of modern rationalist prescriptions for establishing and monitoring accountability standards, arguing that accountability frameworks attached to principal-agent logics and applied universally across cultures typically fail to achieve their objectives. By examining a diverse range of empirical examples and case studies, this book underscores the importance of grounding accountability procedures and standards in the divergent cultural, social and political settings in which they operate.
U.S. Congressional Hearing: The World Bank’s Disclosure Policy Review and the Role of Democratic Participatory Processes in Achieving Successful Development Outcomes
Testimony of Alnoor Ebrahim, Associate Professor, Harvard University before the Committee on Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives, September 10, 2009, Washington, D.C.
Video of the hearing can be seen here
NGOs and Organizational Change
The organizational dynamics of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become increasingly complex as they have evolved from small local groups into sophisticated multinational organizations with global networks. Alnoor Ebrahim's study analyses the organizational evolution of NGOs as a result of their increased profile as bilateral partners in delivering aid. Focusing on the relationships between NGOs and their international network of funders, it examines not only the tensions created by the reporting requirement of funders, but also the strategies of resistance employed by NGOs. Ebrahim shows that systems of reporting, monitoring, and learning play essential roles in shaping not only what NGOs do but, more importantly, how they think about what they do. The book combines original case studies and research with an extensive review of literature. It draws from multiple fields including organizational behaviour, social and critical theory, civil society studies, and environmental and natural resource management.