Heidi K. Gardner

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Heidi K. Gardner is an Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Organizational Behavior unit at Harvard Business School.  

Professor Gardner researches, teaches and speaks on topics related to leadership, collaboration and teamwork in knowledge-based organizations, focusing especially on professional service firms.  Her current research explores issues of peer collaboration (such as between partners in professional service firms) in complex, knowledge-based, high autonomy environments where people can choose whether to work solo or jointly, and where collaboration is especially challenging because it stretches over time and across projects.  This work analyzes the benefits and costs to firms and individuals of working collaboratively, and investigates elements of leadership and organizational design that support (or hinder) the collaboration and innovation necessary for high-quality client service. She has also extensively investigated issues that allow project teams to most effectively use their members’ expertise in order to achieve their fullest potential. 

Professor Gardner’s research was awarded the Academy of Management Organizational Behavior Division’s prize for Outstanding Practical Implications for Management. She has published articles in the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, and Journal of Organizational Behavior, as well as chapters in edited volumes focusing on organizational behavior, multinational teams, and the management of professional service firms.  She serves on the editorial board of Administrative Science Quarterly.  Her research has been featured in media such as The Economist, Boston Globe, MSN.com, CNN Money, Fortune.com and CBSNews.com. 

She currently teaches the Leading Professional Service Firms course both in the Executive Education program and as a second-year MBA elective.  Professor Gardner also teaches a number of executive offerings at both the Business School and Harvard Kennedy School focusing on professional service firms, talent management  and teamwork.  Previously she taught the required Leadership and Organizational Behavior (LEAD) course in the MBA program.

Prior to her academic career Professor Gardner worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Co. in London, Johannesburg and New York, as well as a manager for Procter & Gamble. She also held a Fulbright fellowship in Germany and previously lived in Japan while majoring in East Asian studies as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania (graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). More recently, Professor Gardner earned a Masters degree (with distinction) from the London School of Economics and a Masters and PhD in Organizational Behavior from London Business School.

  1. Current Research

    Professor Gardner’s research investigates two primary research questions, both particularly relevant to the management of professional service firms:  (1) How are project teams able to most effectively use their members’ expertise in order to achieve their fullest potential, and why are some teams better than others at doing so?, and (2) What elements of organizational design support (or hinder) effective coordination and knowledge-based innovation necessary for high-quality client service?   Professor Gardner is developing a nascent research initiative to unite these two research streams: investigating the role of teams (both project teams and senior leadership teams) as integrating mechanisms to enhance coordination and knowledge sharing across intra-organizational boundaries.