Nitin Nohria

George F. Baker Professor of Administration
Dean of the Faculty

Nitin Nohria became the tenth dean of Harvard Business School on 1 July 2010. He previously served as co-chair of the Leadership Initiative, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Development, and Head of the Organizational Behavior unit.

As Dean, building on input from faculty, students, staff, and alumni, he has identified five priorities for Harvard Business School:  innovation in the School's educational programs, beginning with the MBA Program; intellectual ambition that advances ideas with impact in practice; continued internationalization, through building a global intellectual footprint; creating a culture of inclusion, where every member of the community can do their best work in support of the School's mission; and fostering a culture of integration within HBS and across Harvard University that acts as a catalyst for entrepreneurship.  Recent examples of activities in support of these priorities include:

• A new year-long course in the Required Curriculum of the MBA Program, Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD), that provides students with intensive, immersive, small-group opportunities to develop leadership, global, and integrative intelligence.
• The U.S. Competitiveness Project, a multi-faculty research-led effort to understand and improve the competitiveness of the United States—that is, the ability of firms operating in the U.S. to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for Americans.
• The launch of the Harvard Innovation Lab, an initiative to foster team-based and entrepreneurial activities and deepen interactions among Harvard students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and members of the Allston and Greater Boston community.

Dean Nohria's intellectual interests center on human motivation, leadership, corporate transformation and accountability, and sustainable economic and human performance.  He is co-author or co-editor of 16 books.  The most recent, Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, is a compendium dedicated to advancing research on leadership based on a colloquium he organized during HBS’s centennial celebrations.  Dean Nohria is also the author of over 50 journal articles, book chapters, cases, working papers, and notes.  He sits on the board of directors of Tata Sons and Massachusetts General Hospital.  In addition, he serves as an advisor to the Piramal Group.  He has been interviewed by ABC, CNN, and NPR, and cited in Business Week, Economist, Financial Times, Fortune, New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Prior to joining the Harvard Business School faculty in July 1988, Dean Nohria received his Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (which honored him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2007).  He was a visiting faculty member at the London Business School in 1996.

He and his wife live in the Boston area with their two daughters.

  1. Advancing Leadership: Research and Teaching

    by Nitin Nohria

    Despite the fact that most business schools' mission statement proclaim their commitment to developing leaders who can contribute in a meaningful way to the betterment of their organizations and society, research and teaching on leadership remains a fragmented and often marginal enterprise in most schools. This project is designed to stimulate research on leadership that is rigorous and relevant--advancing theory, teaching, and practice.  It aims to mobilize a community of scholars and educators who are committed to advancing that state of research and teaching on leadership.
  2. A Hippocratic Oath for Management

    by Nitin Nohria

    The conduct of doctors is guided by the Hippocratic Oath, which provides a normative framework that shapes their identity and orientation towards society.  In light of the diminished public trust in business managers, is it time for management to embrace its own hippocratic oath, that would spell out a common understanding of their role in society and the conduct expected of them?  Would such an oath be useful?  What would be the content of such an oath? How would it get institutionalized (become accepted and taken for granted)?  How would it be enforced?  These are the questions that animate this line of research.

    Rakesh Khurana and I have been writing about making management a profession and the importance of such an oath. HBS students have now taken the lead in this area. See the oath they have formulated and its signatories here. Read about it in Wikipedia, too!

  3. Leadership in Context

    by Nitin Nohria

    What can we learn from the great business leaders of the 20th century? To answer this question, we have assembled a unique database of 1000 American business leaders, each of whom has left an important legacy. Some of the initial insights we are gleaning from this database is that there is no single characteristic that defines great business leaders. There are many paths to success. We also find that leadership is context-sensitive; to be an effective leader in one era may be quite different from being an effective leader in another. This leads us to conclude that leaders need to have contextual intelligence--they must be able to sense changing contextual circumstances and the business opportunities and challenges they present.
  4. Understanding Human Nature

    by Nitin Nohria

    Recent advances in biological sciences provide great insights into the workings of the human brain and thereby into human nature. Drawing upon this research, my colleague Paul Lawrence and I propose a neo-Darwinian theory of human motivation based on four basic human drives that stem from our common evolutionary heritage as a species. These drives are: D1: the drive to Acquire; D2: the drive to Bond; D3: the drive to Comprehend or make sense of the world; and D4: the drive to Defend. We are now trying to test this theory through experimental and survey research. We are also searching for ways to test the theory more directly using the latest brain imaging technology..
  5. What Really Works: Fundamental Drivers of Corporate Performance

    by Nitin Nohria

    Based on a systematic examination of over 200 management practices that have been hypothesized to influence corporate performance, we identify eight management practices that appear to be the most robust drivers of long term corporate success. We are now trying to test if these fundamental drivers are recognized by investment analysts and if they can prospectively help us better predict future corporate performance.
  6. Globalization & Corporate Transformation in India

    by Nitin Nohria

    Political and economic reforms in India, which started in 1992, have led to a dramatic transformation of Indian companies. The first decade of this transformation focused on improving operational efficiency to rival world class competitors. Having proved to themselves that they can survive in a globally competitive arena, Indian companies are looking to the future with a new optimism. Their goals are now to unleash the latent demand in the Indian market (both in the burgeoning middle class and the huge pool at the bottom of the pyramid). Equally, Indian firms are looking to grow abroad, as the wave of recent global acquisitions attests. This research project aims to understand this new phase of globalization and corporate transformation in India
  7. Globalization of Human Capital

    by Nitin Nohria

    One of the most significant dimensions of the current wave of globalization is the globalization of human capital. Whether it is low cost, skilled manufacturing workers in China, software and customer service professionals in India, or highly skilled employees in Eastern Europe, companies now have the ability to access new pools of human capital across the globe that can have a profound influence on their strategy and structure. The availability of a global pool of human capital also presents new challenges on how firms should organize themselves to take advantage of this opportunity. This research project aims to examine the evolving human capital strategies of firms from different parts of the world to study how they are responding to this important dimension of globalization.  One aspect we are especially interested in studying is the mobility of talent across national boundaries within a company and the circumstances in which such mobility works more or less well.