Joseph L. Badaracco

John Shad Professor of Business Ethics

Joseph L. Badaracco is the John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School. He has taught courses on business ethics, strategy, and management in the School's MBA and executive programs.

Badaracco is a graduate of St. Louis University, Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar, and Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA and a DBA. In recent years, Professor Badaracco served as Chair of the MBA Program and as Housemaster of Currier House in Harvard College. He has also been chairman of the Harvard University Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility and has served on the boards of two public companies. Badaracco has taught in executive programs in the United States, Japan, and many other countries and has spoken to a wide variety of organizations on issues of leadership, values, and ethics. He is also the faculty chair of the Nomura School of Advanced Management in Tokyo.

Badaracco's current research focuses on what counts as sound reflection for busy men and women who have serious responsibilities and face hard, practical problems. He has written several books on leadership, decision-making, and responsibility. These include Defining Moments: When Managers Must Choose between Right and RightLeading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right ThingQuestions of Character, and The Good Struggle: Responsible Leadership in an Unforgiving World. These books have been translated into ten languages.

Badaracco has three children and lives with his wife, Patricia O'Brien, in Brookline, Massachusetts.

  1. Rethinking Responsible Leadership

    by Joseph L. Badaracco

       This project asks whether the model of responsible leadership that evolved during the twentieth century needs to be recast for the emerging economic and social world in which managers now work and live.  The project involves three basic steps.  The first is distilling a small set of fundamental questions about responsible leadership.  The second, which is now underway, is studying 100 cases studies of contemporary entrepreneurs and 50 historical studies of entrepreneurs in order to understand their implicit or explicit views of responsible leadership.  Entrepreneurs were chosen because they face, often in acute form, the management challenges of high uncertainty, instability, and intense performance pressure that characterize more and more of the economy today. The third step is developing a set of broad principles and practical guidelines for responsible leadership in the face of these challenges.