Alnoor Ebrahim

Associate Professor of Business Administration (Leave of Absence)

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.

  1. Managing Social Enterprise (MSE)

    by Alnoor Ebrahim

    This course examines how to create, develop and scale high-performing social enterprises - be they nonprofit, for-profit, or hybrid organizations. Unlike the business world where most stakeholders agree on the definition of success and are driven by market forces, managers of social enterprises must have the ability to navigate conflicting goals, fragmented capital markets, and complex performance measures. Yet these challenges make the role of disciplined management even more critical. Students will focus on the managerial and leadership skills necessary for building organizations and ecosystems that address societal problems.
  2. Field Course: Social Innovation Lab

    by Alnoor Ebrahim

    This course provides students an opportunity to address a social enterprise topic with the discipline of business tools and techniques. Students will work in teams, choosing among three types of projects: a) developing a business plan for your own social enterprise; b) solving a strategic problem for a client organization; c) analyzing and developing policy or strategy guidelines for an industry or a group of organizations/companies.

    The course emphasizes learning by doing, supported by intensive faculty coaching and field work. A small number of formal class sessions will provide structure to the course, but with a focus on collaborative problem solving. Each student team will work primarily with one faculty member.

    Examples of past projects include: advising on impact measurement for a global impact investor and a philanthropic foundation, identifying a sustainable revenue strategy for an educational organization, developing a national scaling strategy for an urban youth services organization, and exploring multiple business models for a startup social enterprise in healthcare.


  3. FIELD 3: Integrative Intelligence

    by Alnoor Ebrahim

    FIELD 3 brings the entire first-year experience together by challenging students to synthesize the knowledge, skills, and tools acquired in the RC within a real microbusiness they must design and launch themselves. Building on HBS's historic strength in the case method, FIELD pushes an MBA education beyond learning management principles in an action-oriented discussion context and into direct experiences, that, through integrated study, practice, and reflection, develop graduates capable of inspired leadership.
  4. Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD)

    by Alnoor Ebrahim

    This first-year MBA course focuses on how managers become effective leaders by addressing the human side of enterprise.  The first modules examine teams, individuals, and networks; the intermediate modules look at successful leaders "in action"; and the final module introduces a model for strategic career management.