Cynthia A. Montgomery

Timken Professor of Business Administration
Director of Research

Professor Montgomery's research centers on strategy and corporate governance. Of particular interest are the unique roles leaders play in developing and implementing strategy; the means organizations use to create value across multiple lines of business; and issues related to corporate boards of directors. Her work has appeared in nearly a dozen top-tier managerial and academic outlets, including Harvard Business Review, Financial Times, American Economic Review, Rand Journal of Economics, Strategic Management Journal, The Academy of Management Journal, Management Science, The Journal of Business, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, and others. She is the author of The Strategist: Be the Leader your Business Needs (HarperBusiness, 2012); the co-author of Corporate Strategy: Resources and the Scope of the Firm (with David J. Collis), the editor of Resource-Based and Evolutionary Theories of the Firm, and the co-editor of Strategy: Seeking and Securing Competitive Advantage (with Michael E. Porter).

At Harvard Business School, Professor Montgomery received the Greenhill Award for her contributions to the School’s pedagogical mission. Prior to Harvard, Montgomery taught at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Michigan and at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management where she was recognized with its Outstanding Teacher of the Year award.  Her dissertation work on corporate level strategy won the General Electric Award for Outstanding Research in Strategic Management.  

Montgomery has served on the Board of Directors of two Fortune 500 companies--NewellRubbermaid, Inc. and UnumProvident--and a number of mutual funds managed by BlackRock, Inc. She has also served on several not-for-profit boards, including Harvard Business Publishing and McLean Hospital.

  1. The Role of Leadership in Strategy

    Professor Montgomery's current research centers on the human side of strategy, and in particular the unique and abiding role leaders play in the formulation and implementation of strategy.  Her article "Putting Leadership Back into Strategy," published in Harvard Business Review,  January 2008, presents an overview of this stream of work.  A  book is in process. 

  2. Risk, Trust and Escalation Behavior of Owner Managers

    Professor Montgomery and Professor Deepak Malhotra (HBS), together with scientists from Harvard's Program on Evolutionary Dynamics, are studying risk-related decision making of owner managers in newly-founded and established companies.  This experimental research examines contextual and biological influences on managerial risk taking.  Topics being investigated include the risk taking behavior of first and second generation entrepreneurs, the impact of family business heritages on risk taking propensity, and the relationship between industry competitiveness and individual risk-taking behavior.     
  3. Talent and Ownership on Corporate Boards

    This research, with co-author Emilie Feldman,  examines the performance of firms whose boards include directors with sizeable ownership stakes and relatively low levels of business experience. In contrast to theories that predict a strong positive correlation between share ownership and firm performance, this research shows that that relationship is moderated by talent:  directors with high levels of ownership coupled with low levels of talent are associated with low, not high, levels of firm performance.  These results raise a number of concerns about the composition of corporate boards and the opportunity costs of directors who are highly motivated but lack the talent to deliver.