Mihir A. Desai

Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance
Senior Associate Dean for Planning and University Affairs

Mihir A. Desai is the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance and Senior Associate Dean for Planning and University Affairs at Harvard Business School and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He received his Ph.D. in political economy from Harvard University; his MBA as a Baker Scholar from Harvard Business School; and a bachelor's degree in history and economics from Brown University. In 1994, he was a Fulbright Scholar to India.  

Professor Desai's areas of expertise include tax policy, international finance, and corporate finance.  His academic publications have appeared in leading economics, finance, and law journals. His work has emphasized the appropriate design of tax policy in a globalized setting, the links between corporate governance and taxation, and the internal capital markets of multinational firms.  His research has been cited in The Economist, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, and several other publications. His C.V. is available here.  He is a Research Associate in the National Bureau of Economic Research's Public Economics and Corporate Finance Programs, and served as the co-director of the NBER's India program.

His general interest publications include opinion pieces on varied topics, including tax policy and the effects of globalization on domestic welfare, in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Tax Notes and The New York Times.  He has also written for practitioners in the Harvard Business Review on the role of the Global CFO and the appropriate ownership structure of global operations.  His contribution to the HBS 2011 Summit on Competitiveness emphasized incentives and the rise of "the Giant Fib;" this piece will appear in the March 2012 Harvard Business Review.  He has testified several times to Congressional bodies, including most recently to a joint session of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.      

Professor Desai has taught extensively as an award-winning teacher at HBS and at Harvard University.  As a second-year professor teaching finance in the required curriculum, he received the Student Association Award for teaching excellence from the HBS Class of 2001.  He subsequently built a second-year elective on International Financial Management, and his many cases on international finance are collected in a casebook published by John Wiley and are taught around the world.  Since 1999, he has co-taught Public Economics (EC 1410) at Harvard College.  He has also taught seminars and classes on tax policy at Harvard Law School, NYU Law School, and Columbia Law School.  Most recently, Professor Desai has been active in delivering various executive education programs at HBS, including the General Managers Program (GMP), on campus and around the world.  In 2011, Professor Desai launched, with Professor Joe Lassiter, the first offering at HBS for Harvard undergraduates, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, that was also included as part of the General Education curriculum at Harvard College.  

From 2008 to 2011, Professor Desai led HBS's doctoral programs, which include the DBA and joint programs with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In that role, he led the restructuring of various programs and initiated a terminal master's program. Beginning in 2010, Professor Desai became the Senior Associate Dean for Planning and University Affairs, where he is part of the senior management team of the Business School focused on integration with the rest of the University.  Specifically, he has launched a program for Harvard undergraduates to collaborate on research with HBS professors (PRIMO), led the course for undergraduates described above, helped launch the Harvard Innovation Lab, worked on campus planning efforts including the design of Tata Hall, serves on the newly created Harvard Libraries Board, and co-leads the University-wide committee on creating more integrative, cross-school teaching opportunities at the University.  

His professional experiences include working at CS First Boston (1989-1991), McKinsey & Co. (1992), and advising a number of firms and governmental organizations. He is also on the Advisory Board of the International Tax Policy Forum.   

For Professor Desai's home page, click here. For a list of Professor Desai's publications, click here.

  1. Capital Flows, Taxation, and Institutional Variation

    Recent research has advanced our understanding of the role of taxation and investor protections on capital flows and patterns of FPI. We also have considered the causes and consequences of tax avoidance activity; we have established how foreign and domestic activity interact in order to inform new welfare measures; and we have elaborated on how investment and financing decisions by multinational firms reflect the effects of taxes and varying institutional regimes.
  2. International Finance: A Casebook

    These case studies offer a unique perspective on making financial decisions in a globalizing world. The cases build the basics of understanding international financial markets — including the economics of exchange rates and international asset allocation — and then consider how firm financing and investment decisions must adapt to international circumstances. The cases provide the opportunity to consider the most critical firm financial decisions — from foreign exchange hedging strategies, the financing of multinational firm subsidiaries, cross-border valuation, to how to measure and manage the risks of operating in emerging markets.

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  3. Offshore Jobs Play Role in Campaigns And Economy

    Outsourcing jobs is a hot topic in this election, but experts find it inevitable for globalization.