19 Nov 2021

New Faculty Profiles: Rebecca Karp


HBS faculty comprises more than 300 scholars and practitioners who bring leading-edge research, extensive experience, and deep insights into the classroom, to organizations, and to managers. We asked new faculty at HBS about their background, their new roles, and their interests.

Rebecca Karp, assistant professor, Strategy

What is your educational background?
I attended the University of Michigan (go Blue) and majored in English. I was very lucky at Michigan to have professors who pushed me to really hone my writing and critical thinking skills, which helped me acquire my first job in advertising.

After a few years in advertising, I became very interested in how firms develop and transform their strategies, so I went back to school and received an MBA from Cornell. Post Cornell, I spent quite a bit of time as a consultant before pursuing my PhD at Boston University. In consulting you sort of learn as you go, or by trial and error. During my time as a consultant, I learned a lot about how firms execute on their strategies, grow, organize, etc. In fact, much of what I observed in that role influences my research today.

What’s your area of research and what led you to it?
My research focuses on how firms execute on their strategies and grow. I am particularly interested in the role innovation plays in this process and how the way organizations introduce and utilize innovations shape their growth trajectories.

My research is truly influenced by what I have observed in practice. I frequently leverage ethnographic and field methods to conduct research. This means that I often embed myself within an organization for long periods of time to really understand the organization, and its challenges. These experiences truly shape my approach to research and the research questions I pursue.

What will you be teaching here?
I will be teaching the Strategy Required Curriculum class.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a professor?
I would be a novelist.

Where are you from?
I grew up outside of Philadelphia, but I have lived in Boston for the last 12 years.

What is something you like to do outside of your academic work?
I love to play tennis (though I am not very good); swim, cook, and of course spend time with my family. I have a two-year old son.

What’s your favorite book, movie, or piece of art?
My favorite book is The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. My favorite piece of art is At the Moulin Rouge: The Dance by Toulouse-Lautrec.

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