W. Earl Sasser

Baker Foundation Professor

Earl Sasser is a Baker Foundation Professor at Harvard Business School and has been a member of the faculty there since 1969. He received a B.A. in Mathematics from Duke University in 1965, an MBA from the University of North Carolina in 1967, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Duke University in 1969.

Sasser developed the School's first course on the management of service operations in 1972. Professor Sasser has taught a variety of courses in the MBA program including Production and Operations Management, Decision Making and Ethical Values, The Operating Manager, and Service Management. In 1982, Sasser's excellence in the classroom was recognized in an article in Fortune profiling eight professors from business schools throughout the country. Professor Sasser was Chairman of the MBA Program from 1988 to 1991. He was also faculty chair of the Advanced Management Program executive education program from 1992-1995. From 1995-2000 Professor Sasser served as Senior Associate Dean of Executive Education. He served as Chairman of the Board of Harvard Business School Interactive, a not-for-profit corporation, from 2000 to 2003. Sasser is the past faculty chair of executive education's Program for Leadership Development [PLD] -- a program for which he served as the principal architect in 2004. He presently teaches in the Owner/President Management Program and serves as faculty chair of several week-long leadership programs.

In 1990 he co-authored (with HBS Professor James L. Heskett and former HBS assistant professor Christopher W.L. Hart) Service Breakthroughs: Changing the Rules of the Game. Based upon five years of extensive research in fourteen service industries, it explains how one or two firms in each industry are constantly able to set new standards for quality and value that force competitors to adapt or fail. Sasser has co-authored several other books in the field of service management including Management of Service Operations and The Service Management Course, The Service Profit Chain and The Value Profit Chain (with Professor James L. Heskett and Leonard A. Schlesinger) The Free Press: 2003. Professor Sasser's new book, Ownership Quotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage (with Professor James L. Hesket and Joe Wheeler), was published by the Harvard Business School Press, 2008.

Sasser has written or co-written ten articles for Harvard Business Review, including "Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work," "The Profitable Art of Service Recovery," "Zero Defections: Quality Comes to Services," "Match Supply and Demand in Service Industries," and "Why Satisfied Customer Defect."

Professor Sasser serves as a consultant to a number of companies in North America, Asia and Europe.

  1. The Value Profit Chain: Treat Employees Like Customers and Customers Like Employees

    by W. Earl Sasser

    W. Earl Sasser, Jr., Leonard A. Schlesinger, and James L. Heskett complted a multi-firm study that provides further empirical verification of relationships established in their earlier examinations of 'breakthrough' service and the service profit chain. Towards that end, Heskett, Schlesinger and Sasser are continuing to work on a broadened framework [The Value Profit Chain] for modeling the economics of customer and employee loyalty. Their latest findings were published by The Free Press in 2003 in the book, The Value Profit Chain: Treat Employees Like Customers and Customers Like Employees. The three co-authors  worked with Harvard Business School Interactive to create an action learning program designed to help change agents around the world successfully implement the Value Profit Chain concepts within their own organizations.
  2. Ownership Qutotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage

    by W. Earl Sasser

    Professors Jim Heskett and Earl Sasser, in collaboration with Joe Wheeler have been examining cuatomer and employee ownership behaviors which have a profound impact on long term profit and growth. Their findings are published in Ownership Quotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage. Customer/owners are those who actually recommend a company's products or services, recruit new business, and provide constructive feedback resulting in product, service or profit improvements.  Employee/owners recruit talent to an organization while also providing ideas for new or improved products, services, and processes.  A customer/owner may be worth more than a hundred customers with more casual relationships with an organization.  A series of case studies is presented to illustrate ways in which organizations measure, create, sustain, and build ownership behaviors among customers and employees.  This work is an extension of research into the design and effectiveness of service profit chain relationships.