Doctoral Student

Michael Y. Lee

Michael Y. Lee is a doctoral student in Management at Harvard Business School and studies novel organizational designs and how structure can be leveraged to foster greater organizational effectiveness. His current research focuses on a novel organizational system called Holacracy that enables organizations to rapidly iterate their structure. He explores the implications of this ability on coordination and flexibility. 

Michael has worked in a variety of organizational contexts and sectors. Most recently, he served as an engagement leader for the Parthenon Group, a global management consulting firm, where he advised corporate, private equity, and social sector clients. Michael earned his AB in Social Studies from Harvard University and an MBA from U.C. Berkeley. He has trained in large group meeting facilitation and self-managed teaming as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, and is an experienced student in Vipassana (Insight) meditation.

Journal Articles

  1. Beyond the Holacracy Hype: The Overwrought Claims—and Actual Promise—of the Next Generation of Self-Managed Teams

    Ethan Bernstein, John Bunch, Niko Canner and Michael Lee

    Holacracy and other forms of self-organization have been getting a lot of press. Proponents hail them as "flat" environments that foster flexibility, engagement, productivity, and efficiency. Critics say they're naive, unrealistic experiments. We argue, using evidence from a multi-year research agenda at several mainstream organizations that have adopted these forms, that neither view is quite right. Although the new forms (built upon a half-century of research on and experience with self-managed teams) can help organizations become more adaptable and nimble, most companies shouldn't adopt their principles wholesale. A piecemeal approach usually makes sense. Organizations can use elements of self-management in areas where the need for adaptability is high and traditional models where reliability is paramount.

    Keywords: Self-Managed Organizations; Self-Managed Teams; reliability; adaptability; holacracy; organization design; organization structure; organizational design; Organizational Charts; organizational architecture; organizational forms; organizational structure; Organizational Design; Organizational Structure; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Performance Effectiveness; Performance Productivity; Management Practices and Processes; Management Systems; Managerial Roles; Human Resources; Apparel and Accessories Industry; Manufacturing Industry; Retail Industry; Public Administration Industry; Technology Industry; North America;


    Bernstein, Ethan, John Bunch, Niko Canner, and Michael Lee. "Beyond the Holacracy Hype: The Overwrought Claims—and Actual Promise—of the Next Generation of Self-Managed Teams."Harvard Business Review 94, nos. 7-8 (July–August 2016): 38–49. View Details