Mihir A. Desai

Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance

Mihir A. Desai is the Mizuho Financial Group Professor of Finance at Harvard Business School and a 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, BusinessWeekThe 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 PostThe 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, on how to reform the U.S. tax system, and how changing incentive systems have contributed to the degradation of American competitiveness.  He has testified several times to Congressional bodies, including most recently to the Senate Finance Committee on corporate tax reform and inversions.      

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 is also included as part of the General Education curriculum at Harvard College. In the fall of 2014, Professor Desai began teaching Taxation at Harvard Law School.

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. From 2010 to 2014, Professor Desai was the Senior Associate Dean for Planning and University Affairs, where he was 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 and served on the newly created Harvard Libraries Board.  

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 and the Centre for Business Taxation at Oxford University.   

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

  1. Pearson/Prentice Hall Prize for Best Paper in Financial Management: Won with C. Fritz Foley the 2008 Pearson/Prentice Hall Prize for Best Paper in Financial Management for their paper (with James R. Hines Jr.) "Dividend Policy inside the Multinational Firm" (2007).

  2. Michael Brennan Award: Runner up for the 2009 Review of Financial Studies-Michael Brennan Best Paper Prize for his paper with C. Fritz Foley and Kristen Forbes, "Financial Constraints and Growth: Multinational and Local Firm Responses to Currency Crises" (November 2008).

  3. Journal of Financial Economics. Jensen Prize. Second Place: Winner of the Second Place 2007 Jensen Prize presented by Journal of Financial Economics in the Areas of Corporate Finance and Organizations for his paper with Alexander Dyck and Luigi Zingales, "Theft and Taxes" (June 2007).

  4. HBS Student Association Faculty Teaching Award: Received the Student Association Award for Teaching Excellence from the HBS Class of 2001.

  5. Barclays Global Investors Prize. Best Symposium Paper: Won the 2004 Barclays Global Investor Best Symposium Paper for his paper with Daniel Bergstresser and Joshua Rauh, “Managerial Opportunism and Earnings Manipulation: Evidence from Defined Benefit Pension Plans.”