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Nitin Nohria named next dean of Harvard Business School

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Nitin Nohria
Nitin Nohria

Mr Nitin Nohria, the Richard P Chapman Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS) in Boston, Massachusetts, has been appointed as the School's next dean, its President Drew Faust announced on Tuesday.

An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, Mr Nohria has previously served as the school's senior associate dean for faculty development and chair of its organizational behavior unit.

Current co-chair of the HBS Leadership Initiative and a member of the HBS faculty since 1988, he will take up his new role on July 1, the announcement said.

Mr Nohria will succeed Mr Jay Light, who had announced in December 2009 his plans to retire at the end of the 2009-10 academic year after five years as dean and four decades of distinguished service on the HBS faculty, the announcement posted on the school's website said.

"At a pivotal moment for Harvard Business School and for business education more generally, I'm delighted that Nitin Nohria has agreed to lead HBS forward," Ms Faust said.

"He's an outstanding scholar, teacher, and mentor, with a global outlook and an instinct for collaboration across traditional boundaries. He has an intimate knowledge of the School and a strong appetite for innovation. He cares deeply about the School's commitment to both rigor and relevance — to serious scholarship that has a powerful impact on practice. And he's a person who not only studies leadership but embodies the qualities of a leader in how he engages people and ideas, in how he thinks about organizational change, and in how he sees the consequential challenges ahead," she added.

"I am grateful to President Faust for this opportunity, and I feel humbled and privileged to follow many outstanding deans, including Jay Light," Mr Nohria said.

"I feel a profound sense of responsibility for continuing Harvard Business School's proud legacy of groundbreaking ideas and transformational educational experiences. With business education at an inflection point, we must strive to equip future leaders with the competence and character to address emerging global business and social challenges. As we enter our second century, I look forward to working with the School's faculty, staff, students, and alumni to forge a vision for Harvard Business School that will enable it to remain a beacon for business education for the next 100 years," he said.

Mr Light said Mr Nohria was widely respected within the extended community as a perceptive scholar of leadership and as a thoughtful and able academic leader. He felt Mr Nohria would be a "wonderful dean" of HBS.

"He believes deeply in the distinctive mission of the School and its role in the world. He will effectively carry forward the objectives and the strategies that make this institution a very special place," he said.

Mr Nohria passed out of IIT Bombay with a degree in chemical engineering in 1984. The institute had awarded him its distinguished alumnus medal in 2007.

He took his Ph.D. in management in 1988 from teh Masachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, where he earned the outstanding doctoral thesis award in behavioral and policy sciences. He joined the HBS faculty as an assistant professor in 1988, was appointed associate professor in 1993, was promoted to tenure in 1997, and became the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration in 1999.

The HBS announcement said Mr Nohria's current academic interests include the theory and practice of leadership, the study of human motivation, the analysis of management practices critical to corporate success, and the strategic and organizational challenges of globalization.

He has co-written or co-edited 16 books, and is author of more than 50 articles and dozens of teaching cases and notes. His most recent book, "Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice" (2010, co-edited with Rakesh Khurana), reflects a colloquium he organized as part of the HBS centennial in 2008 to stimulate serious scholarly research on leadership.

Nohria has served in a series of senior roles at HBS over the years: chair of the organizational behavior unit from 1998 to 2002, director of the division of research in 2003 to 2004, and senior associate dean for faculty development from 2006 to 2009. He became co-chair of the HBS Leadership Initiative in July 2009 and sits on the executive committee of the University's interfaculty initiative on advanced leadership.

Nohria has taught across the Business School's M.B.A., doctoral, and executive education programs. He is past head of the required first-year "Leadership and Organizational Behavior" course, and he co-directed the team that designed the required first-year course on "Leadership and Corporate Accountability." He recently taught in such executive education programmes as "Building a Global Enterprise in India" and the "New CEO Workshop."

A dedicated mentor to many HBS doctoral students over the past two decades, he also taught for years in the interfaculty Ph.D. program in organizational behavior and chaired HBS task forces on case writing and course development, as well as the leadership curriculum. Earlier this year, he was one of four instructors from Harvard Schools who co-designed and taught a January term workshop on "Faith and Leadership in a Fragmented World."

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