Karthik Ramanna

Associate Professor of Business Administration

Karthik Ramanna is an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School, where he is also the Henry B. Arthur Fellow, an appointment supporting the research and teaching of business ethics, and a Marvin Bower Fellow, an appointment to help faculty launch innovative new research agendas. Additionally, Karthik is a faculty associate in the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts & Sciences and an associate editor of the Journal of Accounting & Economics. Karthik teaches the first-year M.B.A. course “Leadership and Corporate Accountability,” where he is particularly involved in studying the responsibilities of business leaders worldwide in lobbying regulators and combating corruption. Previously, Karthik taught the first-year M.B.A. course “Financial Reporting and Control.” Occasionally, he co-teaches in HBS’s executive education programs (“Finance for Senior Executives”) and its doctoral programs. In November 2012, he helped launch “Leadership and Corporate Accountability—India” an executive program at HBS’s new classroom in India.

Karthik has research interests in two distinct, but interrelated, fields. The first is the political economy of accounting standard-setting. Accounting standards, in facilitating resource allocation across competing ventures, are central to the functioning of complex economies. Karthik’s research examines how corporate lobbying, regulatory ideologies, power politics, and other political incentives interact to shape the nature of accounting standards and financial reports. He has explored these ideas both in the U.S. (e.g., through studies of the Financial Accounting Standards Board) and in the context of accounting’s globalization, as seen through countries’ adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards. Karthik is also interested in the political economy of various conceptual ideas in accounting such as accounting conservatism and fair-value accounting.

The second field of Karthik’s research is corporate accountability. Motivated by evidence of special-interest capture of the accounting standard-setting process in the U.S. and abroad, he is interested in examining business leaders’ broader responsibilities to society, particularly when engaging in public policy. This stream of research explores, across countries, the role of transparency as an instrument of accountability, particularly in addressing corruption and building responsible models of corporate lobbying. The central thesis here is that theories of transparency from accounting can be applied to develop and improve systems of corporate accountability.

Karthik has published several articles and case studies in his areas of interest, including in Accounting, Economics & LawAccounting Horizons, CPA Journal, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Accounting & EconomicsJournal of Accounting Research, and Review of Accounting Studies. His research has been awarded the Journal of Accounting & Economics’ Best Paper Prize and the American Accounting Association’s FARS Best Dissertation Prize. He has a Ph.D. in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

  1. Marvin Bower Fellowship: Awarded the 2013 Marvin Bower Fellowship by Harvard Business School to support research by outstanding scholars.

  2. Henry B. Arthur Fellow: Henry B. Arthur Fellow, 2012-2014.

  3. Elsevier/Journal of Accounting & Economics. Best Paper Prize: Received the 2008 Elsevier/Journal of Accounting & Economics Best Paper Prize for "The Implications of Unverifiable Fair-Value Accounting: Evidence from the Political Economy of Goodwill Accounting" (Journal of Accounting & Economics, 45, nos. 2-3, August 2008).

  4. American Accounting Association. Financial Accounting and Reporting Section. Best Dissertation Award: Received the 2008 Best Dissertation Award from the Financial Accounting and Reporting Section of the American Accounting Association for "The Implications of Unverifiable Fair-Value Accounting: Evidence from the Political Economy of Goodwill Accounting" (Ph.D. diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2007).