Michael Beer

Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus

MICHAEL BEER

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. Developing Organizational Capabilities to Compete

    by Michael Beer

    Michael Beer's current research is concerned with how leadership teams can shape an effective high performing company capable of implementing its strategy and learning. Working in cooperation with Becton Dickinson, a global medical technology company, he and Russell Eisenstat developed a process that a top management team at the corporate or business unit level could use to diagnose and reinvent their organization. That process, called Organizational Fitness Profiling (OFP), has been applied in approximately eighteen corporations and over 150 units with these companies. Using action research methods, Beer and Eisenstat have been able to identify six core barriers to strategy implementation and change. Because these barriers are known to everyone but are undiscussible they have called them 'silent killers.' Their action research has also begun to identify a number of factors that materially influence the capacity of a company to reinvent itself. And, they have been able to use the many applications of OFP to improve its power in reshaping an organization's 'fitness' to compete.

    Beer and Eisenstat's findings have been reported in a number of cases, working papers, book chapters, and articles. The most recent article 'The Silent Killers to Strategy Implementation and Learning' appeared in the summer 2000 issue of The Sloan Management Review. Taken together, the findings and cases developed from Beer's and Eisenstat's research form the core of Strategic Human Resource Management, a program for senior human resource and line executives offered by the Harvard Business School.