Michael Beer

Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus


Mike Beer is Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School, co-founder and Chairman of TruePoint Partners, a management consultancy that works with senior executives to develop effective high performance and commitment organizations, and the Center for Higher Ambition Leadership, a not for profit organization dedicated to increasing the number of companies and leaders committed to creating economic and social value. Mike has researched and written widely about organization effectiveness, organizational change, high commitment, high performance organizations, leadership, as well as human resource management. Mike has had extensive teaching and consulting experience in those fields. 

Professor Beer has taught in HBS’ MBA program and executives in the Advanced Management Program, the International Senior Management Program and Managing Organizational Effectiveness and Change, which he founded and chaired.  Mike taught and led first year MBA courses in organizational behavior and human resource management; the latter developed under Mike’s leadership is the first required HRM course in business schools with a strategic general management perspective.

In addition to numerous book chapters and articles in academic and business journals, Mike is author or co-author of eleven books. Among them is the ground breaking Managing Human Assets and the award winning The Critical Path to Corporate Renewal. His most recent books are High Commitment, High Performance in 2009, and Higher Ambition: How Great Leaders Create Economic and Social Value published in 2011.

Mike has consulted to senior management in several industries--manufacturing, services (hospitality, professional and financial), consumer packaging, high tech., pharmaceutical and medical technology.  Among others he has worked with Becton Dickinson, Hewlett Packard, Ernst & Young, Agilent Technologies, Merck and Whitbread PLC. Mike has served on several professional, not-for-profit and corporate boards.

The recipient of professional honors and awards, Mike is a Fellow of the Academy of Management and the recipient of its Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award, a Fellow of the Academy of Human Resource Management, a Fellow of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and recipient of its Distinguished Professional Contributions Award, and recipient of the Harry and Miriam Levinson Award for outstanding contributions to organizational consulting psychology from the American Psychological Foundation.  He is the 2007 recipient of the Society for Human Resource Management’s prestigious Michael R. Losey Research Award and the 2013 recipient of the Herbert Heneman Jr. Career Achievement Award from the Human Resource Division of the Academy of Management. Mike and Russ Eisenstat received the 1998 Organizational Development Institute Award for the most outstanding contribution to the field for the development of the Strategic Fitness Process at Becton Dickinson and its application there and in numerous other corporations around the world..

Prior to joining the Faculty at Harvard in 1975, Mike served as Director of Organizational Research & Development at Corning Inc., a department he founded and led for eleven years.  The work of the department led to several innovations in organizing and managing the company’s businesses and people.  He holds a B.A. from Queens College, a BA from Harvard University (honorary), an M.S. from North Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and business from Ohio State University.

  1. Higher Ambition

    Meeting the new standard for leadership. Higher Ambition is required reading for every leader who refuses to compromise between people and performance. Choosing one or the other may have worked in the past, but it won't work now. As global competition stiffens and businesses face increased public scrutiny and renewed government regulation, leaders must win on all fronts-with their people, their customers, their communities, and their shareholders. In short, they must deliver superior economic and social value. Brimming with powerful stories and thoughtful advice from CEOs themselves, Higher Ambition equips leaders with the practical insights they need to meet this new and higher standard.
  2. High Commitment High Performance: How to Build A Resilient Organization for Sustained Advantage

    How to create the high-performance, high-commitment organization.

    Integrating knowledge from strategic management, performance management, and organization design, strategic human resource expert and Harvard Business School Professor Michael Beer outlines what the high-commitment, high-performance organization looks like and provides practitioners with the transformation process to help them get there. Starting with leaders who have the right values, Beer shows how to weave together a complete system that includes top-to-bottom communication, organization design, HR policies, and leadership transformation process, and outlines what practitioners must do in HR, structure, systems, goals, culture, and strategy to create high-performance organizations.

  3. How to Develop an Effective Organization

    Organizations underperform and sometimes fail because their leaders are unable tolearn the unvarnished truth from relevant stakeholders about how the design and behavior ofthe organization is misaligned with its goals and strategy. The Strategic Fitness Process (SFP)was designed to enable leaders to overcome organizational silence about the misalignment with the environment and chosen strategy. By enabling an honest, organization-wide andpublic conversation, senior management teams, working collaboratively with scholar-consultants and organizational members, have access to valid data (the unvarnished truth),can conduct a valid diagnosis, and can develop a valid plan to change the structure, processes,and behavior of an organization while at the same time developing commitment that ensuresexecution. SFP is also a research method. By applying SFP iteratively to new and challenging situations, scholar-consultants can invent new organizational prototypes as well as learn if a standardized and institutionalized organizational learning process like SFP can enhance dynamic capabilities. The SFP model is illustrated with an application to Hewlett-Packard’s Santa Rosa Systems Division.
  4. Make Your Company a High Commitment, High Performance Organization

    Mike Beer discusses a number of big ideas in these Big Think videos, including:

    • Sharp Ways to Cut Costs
    • Silent Killers of High Performance
    • Effective Leadership for Business Sustainability
    • Make Your Company High Commitment High Performance