James L. Heskett

UPS Foundation Professor of Business Logistics, Emeritus

James L. Heskett is UPS Foundation Professor of Business Logistics, Emeritus at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University. He completed his Ph.D. at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and has been a member of the faculty of The Ohio State University as well as President of Logistics Systems, Inc. Since 2000, he has authored a blog on the school's Working Knowledge web site.

He has served as a consultant to companies in North America, Latin America, and Europe.

Professor Heskett was the 1974 recipient of the John Drury Sheahan Award of the Council of Logistics Management, the 1992 Marketing Educator of the Year Award of Sales and Marketing Executives International, and the 2010 Distinguished Career Contribution Award in Services Management of American Marketing Association.

Among his publications are books, including authorship of The Culture Cycle (FT Press, 2011), co-authorship of The Ownership Quotient (Harvard Business Press, 2008), The Value Profit Chain (The Free Press, 2003); The Service Profit Chain (The Free Press, 1997); Corporate Culture and Performance (The Free Press, 1992); Service Breakthroughs: Changing the Rules of the Game (The Free Press, 1990); and The Service Management Course (The Free Press, 1991); authorship of Managing in the Service Economy (Harvard Business School Press, 1986); co-authorship of Logistics Strategy: Cases and Concepts (West Publishing Co., 1985); authorship of Marketing (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1976); co-authorship of Business Logistics, Revised Edition (The Ronald Press Company, 1974); and numerous articles in such publications as the Harvard Business Review, Journal of Marketing, Sloan Management Review, California Management Review, and others.

A member of the faculty of the Harvard Business School since 1965, he has at different times taught courses in marketing, business logistics, the management of service operations, business policy, and service management, general management, and the entrepreneurial manager as well as served as Senior Associate Dean in charge of academic programs. 

  1. Social Entrepreneurship

    by James L. Heskett

    This project is centered around an analysis of data and experiences of 31 executive directors of not-for-profit organizations who completed the Denali Initiative on social entrepreneurship, of which I was volunteer faculty chairperson, between 1999 and 2002. The purpose of the Initiative was to prepare individuals to help their organizations exploit alternative (in some cases, for-profit) sources of income to support their organizations' social purposes. Data under study includes information about the background of these individuals and their organizations, their governance structures, and the individual initiatives that each is pursuing. A longitudinal study of organizational and individual success and failure resulting from the Initiative is under way. This includes the collection of data relating alternative amounts of money expended and raised as well as desired social outcomes attributable to the entrepreneurial activity of these individuals and their organizations. The purpose is to explore the feasibility of efforts to develop social entrepreneurs. Preliminary findings suggest that it is just as important to include members of the boards of such organizations in the effort as it is executive directors. Governance issues have arisen as major challenges in the development of social entrepreneurs.
  2. Deep Indicators of Business Model Success

    by James L. Heskett

    The purpose of this study is to develop ways of helping practitioners identify and measure deep indicators of success in the business models being pursued by their organizations. The hypothesis is that success is dependent on these deep indicators. The indicators are not always obvious, and practitioners often have difficulty in identifying and, more importantly, tracking them in the normal course of business. This work represents an examination of systematic ways of discovering and measuring what Collins (Good to Great), Pascale, Christensen, Porter, and others deem essential to extraordinary success.