20 Years of Impact

Nonprofit Strategy & Governance

From the start, the Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) adopted a broad scope of inquiry, focusing on mission driven enterprises across the sectors. Soon after its founding, the SEI launched an MBA elective course on entrepreneurship in the social sector (1994), and Executive Education programs on strategy for nonprofit leaders (1995) and Governing for Nonprofit Effectiveness (1996). These courses led to the adaptation of management theories and fueled the development of new frameworks tailored to the unique strategy considerations within the social sector. Expanding its early focus on helping nonprofits operate more efficiently to the emerging space of social enterprises and the challenges of measuring social impact, the HBS faculty has developed a body of knowledge that encompasses leadership, strategy, and governance of mission-driven organizations across the spectrum, from entrepreneurial ventures to more established firms

MBA Course Spotlight: Managing Social Enterprise

Building high-performing social enterprises requires strong managerial and leadership skills to align an organization's business model with its social change model. Leaders must have the ability to navigate conflicting goals, fragmented capital markets, and complex performance measures. Managing Social Enterprise equips MBAs with the skills to run an organization with business techniques for high social impact.

“This course impressed upon me that managing in the social sector is as complex as managing in the private sector, if not more. It provided the crucial nuts and bolts for being an effective and visionary leader.”

Eleanor Joseph Leadership Fellow, City of BostonMBA 2014

Alnoor Ebrahim Associate Professor

“This course asks students to apply what they've learned in two years at HBS to address some of the most difficult challenges in society”
 
 

Alumni Making an Impact

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Bertina CeccarelliExecutive Vice President for Global Resources, Wildlife Conservation SocietyMBA 1993

“How do you activate a legion of people who want to volunteer in a way that is meaningful and productive without compromising an organization's own efficiencies?”

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Jim Gibbons President and CEO, Goodwill Industries InternationalMBA 1994

“By using the tools already at their disposal, corporate leaders can ensure that social entrepreneurship is not a passing trend, but rather a movement that will make a difference on a large scale.”

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Featured Research

Article

1994

Herzlinger, Regina E. "Effective Oversight: A Guide for Nonprofit Directors," Harvard Business Review 72, No. 4 (July—August 1994): 52—60.
Note

1998

Austin, James E. and Elaine V. Backman. Overview of the Nonprofit Sector, Harvard Business Publishing Note, 1998. Subjects covered include: entrepreneurship, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropies.
Article

1998

Dees, J. Gregory. "Enterprising Nonprofits," Harvard Business Review (January 1998).
Book

1999

Ryan, William P., Allen Grossman, and Christine W. Letts. High Performance Nonprofit Organizations: Managing Upstream for Greater Impact, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
Article

1999

McFarlan, F. Warren, . "Working on Nonprofit Boards: Don't Assume the Shoe Fits," Harvard Business Review 77, No. 6 (November—December 1999).
Book
Article

2000

Grossman, Allen, V. Kasturi Rangan, and Elaine Backman. "New Directions in Nonprofit Strategy," Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 29, No. 1 (March 2000).
Article

2004

Rangan, V. Kasturi. "Lofty Missions, Down-to-Earth Plans," Harvard Business Review 82, No. 3 (March 2004).
Book

2004

Austin, James E., Ezequiel Reficco, Gabriel Berger, Rosa Maria Fischer, Roberto Gutierrez, Mladen Koljatic, Gerardo Lozano, and Enrique Ogliastri. Social Partnering in Latin America, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004.
Article

2004

Quelch, John A., James E. Austin, and Nathalie Laidler-Kylander. "Mining Gold in Not-for-Profit Brands," Harvard Business Review (April 2004).
Article

2006

Austin, J.E., Howard Stevenson, Jane Wei-Skillern. "Social Entrepreneurship & Commercial Entrepreneurship: The Same, Different, or Both?," Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice (January 2006).
Book

2007

Wei-Skillern, Jane, James Austin, Herman Leonard, and Howard Stevenson. Entrepreneurship in the Social Sector, Sage Publications, 2007.
CD-ROM

2007

Leonard, Herman B. Strategy, Leadership, and Performance Management in the Social Enterprise Sector, Social Enterprise Faculty Seminar Series: Harvard Business Publishing, March 2007.
Note

2008

Childress, Stacey and Allen Grossman. Note on the Nonprofit Coherence Framework Harvard Business Publishing Note, 2008. Subjects covered include: change management, improving performance, nonprofit organizations, organizational structure, stakeholders, and strategy.
Note

2008

Grossman, Allen and Naomi Greckol-Herlich. Note on the Nonprofit Sector Harvard Business Publishing Note, 2008. Subjects covered include: nonprofit organizations, social capital, and social enterprise.
Working Paper

2008

The Future of Social Enterprise (Rangan, V. Kasturi, Herman B. Leonard, and Susan McDonald, 2008). Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 08-103, June 2008.
Article

2010

Ebrahim, Alnoor and V. Kasturi Rangan. "Putting the Brakes on Impact: A Contingency Framework for Measuring Social Performance," Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings (August 2010).
Book

2011

Epstein, Marc J. and F. Warren McFarlan. Joining a Nonprofit Board: What You Need to Know, Jossey-Bass, 2011.
Article

2013

Ebrahim, Alnoor. "Let's be Realistic about Measuring Impact," The Conference Board "Giving Thoughts" Blog Series (December 2013).

Classic Cases

Population Services International: The Social Marketing Project in Bangladesh, (Austin, James E., 1990). Subjects covered include: developing countries, exchange rates, marketing management, and marketing planning.

Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, India: In Service for Sight, (Rangan, V. Kasturi, 1993). Subjects covered include: goal setting, nonprofit marketing, social enterprise, and strategy formulation.

Mt. Auburn Hospital, (McFarlan, F. Warren and Jaan Elias, 1996). Subjects covered include: mergers and social enterprise.

Trinity College, (McFarlan, F. Warren and Jaan Elias, 1996). Subjects covered include: crisis management, social enterprise, and succession planning.

National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, (Sawhill, John C. and Susan S. Harmeling, 2000). Subjects covered include: change management, social enterprise, and social issues.

ApproTEC Kenya: Technologies to Fight Poverty and Create Wealth, Rangan, V. Kasturi, 2002). Subjects covered include: economic development, entrepreneurs, fraud, innovation, and nonprofit organizations.

Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, (Grossman, Allen, Jane Wei-Skillern, and Kristin J. Lieb, 2003). Subjects covered include: implementing strategy, leadership, organizational change, and social enterprise.

The Nature Conservancy, (Grossman, Allen, Jane Wei-Skillern, and Kristin J. Lieb, 2003). Subjects covered include: environmental protection, globalization, reorganization, social enterprise, and success.

Habitat for Humanity—Egypt, (Wei-Skillern, Jane and Kerry Herman, 2006). Subjects covered include: entrepreneurship, innovation, networks, nongovernmental organizations, and social enterprise.

Manchester Bidwell Corp., (Heskett, James L., 2006). Subjects covered include: business growth, entrepreneurial management, and social services.

Year Up: A Social Entrepreneur Builds High Performance, (Grossman, Allen and Naomi Greckol-Herlich, 2008). Subjects covered include: board of directors, children and youth, nonprofit organizations, and strategic planning.

Youth Villages, (Grossman, Allen, William Foster, and Catherine Ross, 2008). Subjects covered include: growth strategy, health, health care policy, and nonprofit organizations.

Endeavor: Creating a Global Movement for High-Impact Entrepreneurship, (Sahlman, William A., 2009). Subjects covered include: social enterprise.