Dr. Austin holds the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration, Emeritus at Harvard Business School.
Previously, he held the John G. McLean Professorship and the Richard Chapman Professorship. He has been a member of the Harvard University faculty since 1972. He was the Co-Founder and Chair of the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative.
Corporate Social Entrepreneurship
This research is examining the process by which companies engage in strategic corporate social responsibility as an integral part of their enterprise strategy and operations. The research has conceptualised this process as entrepreneurial in nature and defined it as Corporate Social Entrepreneurship. The initial publication emerging from this on-going work is ‘Corporate Social Entrepreneurship: The New Frontier’ (with H.Leonard, E. Reficco, J. Wei-Skillern, forthcoming in The Accountable Corporation: Corporate Social Responsibility).
This on-going research project is examining the motivations, dynamics, and effectiveness determinants of partnering between nonprofit organisations, businesses, and government entities. The first major output of the research focusing on nonprofits and businesses was the book The Collaboration Challenge: How Nonprofits and Businesses Succeed Through Strategic Alliances (Jossey-Bass, 2000) and the article Strategic Alliances Between Nonprofits and Corporations (Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 2000). A second major research effort was undertaken by the Social Enterprise Knowledge Network (SEKN), a research collaborative of leading business schools in Ibero-America, resulting in the publication in 2004 of Social Partnering in Latin America (Harvard University Press). Other publications include Business Partnering Frontiers: Social Purpose Alliances (New Academy Review); Cross Sector Collaboration: Lessons from the International Trachoma Initiative with D. Barrett and S. McCarthy (in Public-Private Partnerships for Public Health); The Age of Ethical Alliances (Financial Times); Principles for Partnership (Leader to Leader); and Strategic Alliances between Nonprofits and Businesses (Nonprofit & Voluntary tor Quarterly). Continuing research is looking at other partnering configurations.
Business Leadership Coalitions
This multiyear research project has been studying the creation and functioning of the organisations business leaders have created in order to mobilise their collective capabilities to address significant issues and problems facing them and their communities. These Business Leadership Coalitions (BLCs) have a strong social purpose but also create value to the businesses by strengthening their communities. The research has studied the evolution of BLCs in several major U.S. cities. Several publications have emerged: Business Leadership Lessons from the Cleveland Turnaround (California Management Review); Business Leadership Coalitions (Business & Society); and Business Leadership Coalitions and Public-Private Partnerships in American Cities: A Business Perspective on Regime Theory (Journal of Urban Affairs).
Business Leaders and the Social Sector
This research involved a multifaceted, multi-year study of corporate and business leader involvement in the social sector. This examined: the extent and nature of, and motivation for, Harvard Business School graduates’ involvement with nonprofit and social-sector organisations; corporate approaches towards engagement with nonprofits and attitudes towards managers’ pro bono work in the social sector; and the challenges facing business leaders who serve on the boards of nonprofits. This has led to the publications The Invisible Side of Leadership (in Leader to Leader) and Business Leaders and Nonprofits (in Nonprofit Management & Leadership).
Nonprofits and the Net
This research examined the strategic use of the internet by existing nonprofit organisations and the creation of new internet based organisations that are operating in the social sector, particularly in the philanthropic segment. The resulting publications are: The E-Philanthropy Revolution is Here to Stay (The Chronicle of Philanthropy) and Survivor: The Brave New World of ePhilanthropy (Leader to Leader).
Dr. Austin received the 2008 Ashoka Award for Entrepreneurship Education from the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program. The Aspen Institute, through its Faculty Pioneer Awards, recognizes exceptional professors who are leaders in integrating social and environmental issues into their teaching and research.