Rosabeth Moss Kanter holds the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professorship at Harvard Business School, where she specializes in strategy, innovation, and leadership for change. Her strategic and practical insights have guided leaders of large and small organizations worldwide for over 25 years, through teaching, writing, and direct consultation to major corporations and governments. The former Editor of Harvard Business Review (1989-1992), Professor Kanter has been named to lists of the "50 most powerful women in the world" (Times of London), and the "50 most influential business thinkers in the world" (Accenture and Thinkers 50 research). In 2001, she received the Academy of Management's Distinguished Career Award for her scholarly contributions to management knowledge, and in 2002 was named "Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year" by the World Teleport Association.
Kanter is well known for her classic 1977 study of "tokenism" on how being a minority can affect one's performance due to enhanced visibility and performance pressure. She is the author or co-author of 17 books, focused largely on business management techniques, especially change management. Her most recent book, America the Principled: 6 Opportunities for Becoming a Can-Do Nation Once Again sets forward a positive agenda for the nation. Her previous book, Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End was a New York Times business bestseller and a BusinessWeek #1 bestseller. The book draws on more than 300 interviews with leaders in business, sport and politics to explore the role confidence plays in the performance of institutions and individuals.
Question: What impact does your work have on the world?
Rosabeth Moss Kanter: I would love to feel that my work has an impact in the world; but I also need to approach this question with a certain degree of humility. I mean we at Harvard sometimes think that we're part of the greatest university in the world. But there are lots of other places now that are also doing great things. My work, if I have influenced some people some people in leadership positions to do things differently, that's the important thing. I do have many, many people who read my books. They quote me. I am sometimes recognized in airports. But I also sit at meetings with world leaders where I am convinced of my utter irrelevance. So I think that I have had an impact in terms of the term “empowermen", and the importance of empowering people. I think my work on change has guided many, many organizations not only through my books, but through a change toolkit on the World Wide Web that is being used by many companies and governments around the world. I think that the ideas have entered into the vocabulary of leadership so much so that people sometimes forget that I thought of it first. And I guess that's what's important because I'm gonna go on to the next idea.
Recorded on: 6/13/07
The major investment that’s required for the future is in human capital.