Robert S. Kaplan

Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus

Robert S. Kaplan is the Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School. He joined the HBS faculty in 1984 after spending 16 years on the faculty of the business school at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he served as Dean from 1977 to 1983. Kaplan received a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from M.I.T., and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University. He has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Stuttgart (1994), Lodz (2006), and Waterloo (2008).

Kaplan’s research, Executive Education teaching, and consulting focus on linking cost and performance management systems to strategy implementation. His current research focuses on two topics: measuring and managing organizational risk and, in a joint project with Michael Porter, measuring the cost of delivering health care and linking patient costs to outcomes.

Kaplan was co-developer of both activity-based costing and the Balanced Scorecard. He has authored or co-authored 14 books and more than 150 papers including 23 in Harvard Business Review. Recent books include The Execution Premium: Linking Strategy to Operations for Competitive Advantage, the fifth Balanced Scorecard book co-authored with David Norton, and Time-Driven Activity-Based Costing with Steve Anderson. His previous books with Norton include Alignment, Strategy Maps, named as one of the top ten business books of 2004 by Strategy & Business and amazon.com, The Strategy-Focused Organization, named by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young as the best international business book for year 2000, and The Balanced Scorecard: Translating Strategy into Action, which has been translated into 24 languages and won the 2001 Wildman Medal from the American Accounting Association for its impact on practice. He also co-authored Cost and Effect, Implementing Activity-Based Cost Management, and Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting, which received the American Accounting Association Seminal Contributions to Literature Award in 2007.

Elected to the Accounting Hall of Fame in 2006, Kaplan received the Lifetime Contribution Award for Distinguished Contributions to Advancing the Management Accounting Profession from the Institute of Management Accountants in 2008, and the Lifetime Contribution Award from the Management Accounting Section of the American Accounting Association (AAA) in 2006.  He received the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award in 1988 from the AAA, the 1994 CIMA Award from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (UK) for "Outstanding Contributions to the Accountancy Profession," and the 2001 Distinguished Service Award from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) for contributions to the practice and academic community. Kaplan speaks globally on performance and cost management systems.

  1. Performance Management Systems

    Kaplan's research on performance management systems includes further applications of strategy maps and The Balanced Scorecard for effective strategy execution. His recent research encompasses using strategy maps and scorecards for inter-organizational alignment particularly for creating shared value with customers, suppliers, strategic alliance partners, and communities. In another stream of work, Kaplan is demonstrating how to integrate enterprise risk management into the BSC strategy execution system.
  2. Cost Management Systems

    Robert S. Kaplan continues to explore the design and use of activity-based cost management systems for manufacturing and service companies. His most recent work, done collaboratively with Professor Michael E. Porter, applies time-driven activity-based costing (TDABC) to measure and manage the costs of health care delivery. Currently, he is leading pilot projects in about a dozen hospitals to demonstrate the feasibility and benefits of this approach.
  3. Risk Management Systems

    Along with Assistant Professor Anette Mikes and Associate Professor Dennis Campbell, Kaplan continues to explore how companies can implement risk management processes that reflect their strategies. The research involves case writing, teaching in executive program, and writing articles for general managers and risk professionals.