The mission of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government is to advance the state of knowledge and policy analysis concerning some of society’s most challenging problems at the interface of the public and private sectors. The scope of its work ranges from the local to the global. Drawing on the unparalleled intellectual resources of the Kennedy School and Harvard University, and bringing together thought leaders from both business and government, the center conducts research, facilitates dialogue, and seeks answers that are at once intellectually rigorous and policy relevant.
The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government traces its history to the late 1970s. Several individuals figure prominently in the center’s founding—Harvard President Derek Bok, Kennedy School Dean Graham Allison, Harvard alumnus Frank Weil (AB’53; JD’56), and Lamont University Professor John Dunlop being chief among them.
John Dunlop advocated for the creation of the center in essays and writings appearing in 1978. Dunlop had served as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (1969–1973) and as Secretary of Labor in the Ford Administration (1975–1976). He returned to Harvard as the Lamont University Professor to teach at both the Business School and the Kennedy School of Government and launched an examination of the University’s role in promoting a better understanding of the relationship between business and government. One result of that effort was his proposal for Harvard to hire new professors and support staff so that the Business School and the Kennedy School could pursue convergent work on business-government relations. It was these initial explorations that led, a few years later, to the founding of the Center for Business and Government.
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Appearing later in the same publication was an elaboration of this theme: "At Harvard’s School of Government, this dual responsibility— to build intellectual capital and bridge the public and private sectors — will be fulfilled by six new research centers…. [The Center for Business and Government] will build on the initiative of Professor John T. Dunlop who is coordinating the development of a joint venture between the Business School and School of Government—the new Program on Business and Public Policy. The center will include the School of Government’s Regulatory Reform Project…(and) will also serve as a focus for research on such topics as capital formation, the interrelationships of policy planning in business and government, and opportunities for less adversarial relations between business and government consistent with the public interest — opportunities for a new partnership…[T]he Center will attempt to bridge the gap between researchers and those with practical experience in addressing the problems of business and government. Perhaps even more importantly, it will attempt to link members of the public and private sectors in collaborative efforts at problem solving."
Based on John Dunlop’s initial explorations, Derek Bok’s and Graham Allison’s vision for a revitalized Kennedy School, and Frank Weil's generous support and recruitment of first director
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The Center was formally renamed the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government during a special conference on December 14, 2005. The renaming recognized a generous endowment gift from Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani and her husband, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani, a Kennedy School alumnus, that allows the center to expand its long-term capacity for research, scholarship, and teaching on some of society’s most challenging problems at the intersection of business and government.
In the years since its founding, the center has benefited from the involvement of many distinguished faculty. Click here to learn more about the center's Distinguished Service Awards.
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John T. Dunlop
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Richard Cavanagh, former executive dean of the Kennedy School, partner at McKinsey and Co., and future president of The Conference Board, served the center as director from 1991-1993. From 1977–79, in the Carter Administration, Cavanagh was an executive director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he instituted cash management improvements that the General Accounting Office said had saved the Government $12 billion annually. Under Cavanagh’s direction, the Center initiated a program of Case Studies in Business and Government intended to reflect private sector contributions to public policy. A major event was a telecommunications conference to assess the fast-changing international telecommunications marketplace and discuss how to make Massachusetts an international center for the burgeoning telecommunications industry. Congressman Edward Markey, Governor William Weld, Lt. Governor Paul Cellucci, and CEOs from telecommunications companies were some of the more than 300 participants that gathered for the event. Under Cavanagh’s tenure, the Center also co-sponsored a large conference on Globalization and the New England Economy, hosted several events on energy issues following the volatility in oil prices after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, increased its consulting role to the government of the new country of Ukraine (following the dramatic breakup of the Soviet Union), and extended the growth of the fellows program significantly.
John P. White joined the center as director in 1993, following his active involvement in both the Perot and Clinton presidential campaigns in 1992, and served until 1995. White then became the Robert and Renée Belfer Lecturer at the Kennedy School and the Managing Partner of Global Technology Partners, LLC. His extensive government service includes Deputy Secretary of Defense; Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Assistant Secretary of Defense, Manpower, Reserve Affairs, and Logistics; and as an officer in the U.S.Marine Corps. In the private-sector he served as Chairman and CEO of Interactive Systems Corporation from 1981 to 1988 and, following its sale to the Eastman Kodak Company in 1988, as General Manager of the Integration and Systems Products Division and as a Vice President of Kodak until 1992. In nine years with The RAND Corporation, he was the Senior Vice President for National Security Research Programs and a member of the Board of Trustees. White continued to advance the original mission of the Center and devoted much of his time raising the core endowment needed to maintain the Center’s day-to-day operations. During his tenure as director, the Center organized conferences on electricity regulation, taxation, retirement policy, and numerous other topics. Under White’s leadership, the Center also supported Professor Bill Hogan’s Electricity Forum, the Bretton Woods Conference, and the first Ray Vernon Conference held in Washington, D.C.
Roger B. Porter
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Ira A. Jackson served as director of CBG from the fall of 2000 to the summer of 2002. He had previously been chief of staff for Boston Mayor Kevin White, senior associate dean of the Kennedy School during the School’s transformative years in the early 1980s, Commissioner of Revenue for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and executive vice president of BankBoston. He is now Dean and Professor of Management at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management at the Claremont Colleges in California. As director of CBG, Jackson strengthened the Regulatory Policy Program, brought the School’s Asia Programs within CBG and helped launch the Environmental Economics Program with Professor Robert Stavins. He also encouraged Professor Dick Light to launch the Young Faculty Leaders Program; Dr. Jerry Grossman to mount the Health Care Delivery Policy Group; Tom Vallely to extend the Fulbright Teaching Program in Vietnam; Professor Tony Saich to begin the China Public Policy Program with Tsinghua University and the Taiwan Leaders Program; and, with financial assistance and intellectual energy from Frank Weil, started the Weil Program on Collaborative Governance. Also during this period, CBG hosted major conferences and produced books that focused on entrepreneurship and public policy; DNA, technology, and justice; and a major review of economic policy-making during the Clinton years, led by Professor Jeffrey Frankel.
John G. Ruggie
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Lawrence H. Summers became center director in January 2011. His is President Emeritus of Harvard University. During the past two decades he has served in a series of senior policy positions, including Vice President of development economics and chief economist of the World Bank, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, Director of the National Economic Council for the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2011, and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, from 1999-2001. He is currently the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University. He received a bachelor of science degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and was awarded a PhD from Harvard in 1982. In 1983, he became one of the youngest individuals to become a a tenured member of the Harvard University faculty. In 1987, Summers became the first social scientist ever to receive the annual Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and in 1993, he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, given every two years to an outstanding American economist under the age of 40.
John Haigh became center co-director in January 2011. He is an Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, and teaches a seminar on business and government interactions to second year Master in Public Policy students. He focuses on teaching general management skills along with addressing issues of competition, technology, innovation and regulation. From 2005 through 2017, he served as the Executive Dean of the Kennedy School, engaging in strategic decisions and overseeing the operating and financial activities of the school. From 1996-2005, he was an officer at AT&T and subsequently AT&T Wireless, where he held a variety of strategic and leadership positions. Prior to joining AT&T, he was at Mercer Management Consulting for 13 years, where he was a partner. Haigh holds a BA from Grinnell College, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and the President's Medalist, and an MPP from the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
M-RCBG established a Distinguished Service Award in 1998. Recipients constitute an elite group of individuals with remarkable contributions not just to the Center, but to the Kennedy School and their professions beyond Harvard.
Thomas Healey (2010) is a long-time advisor and supporter of the Center, serving as a Kennedy School faculty member and M-RCBG senior fellow. He is a senior director of Goldman Sachs, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury for Domestic Finance under President Ronald Reagan, a past member of the U.S. Department of Labor’s ERISA Advisory Council, and was a Presidentially appointed Director of the Securities Industry Protection Corporation.
Robert Glauber (2009) has been on the Harvard faculty for more than 30 years and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Securities Dealers (now FINRA), Under Secretary of the Treasury for Finance in the first Bush administration, and Executive Director of the Task Force (Brady Commission) appointed by President Reagan to report on the October 1987 stock market crash.
Stephen Peterson (2007) spent 12 years in Ethiopia with Harvard and the Center, overseeing the development of modern budgeting and accounting systems for the Ethiopian national and local governments, making an extraordinary contribution to one of the world’s poorest countries.
Cary Coglianese (2006) specialized in the study of regulation and regulatory processes, founded the Center’s Regulatory Policy Program, and produced over 20 books and other edited volumes in regulatory policy during his tenure at the Kennedy School.
Jack Donahue (2005) has worked at the Center since its founding, directed two of its research programs, written or edited twelve policy books, and served in the Clinton Administration as an Assistant Secretary and as Counselor to the Secretary of Labor.
Bill Hogan (2000) founded the Harvard Electricity Policy Group and is the leading academic nationally focused on the interaction of energy economics and public policy.
F.M. Scherer (2000) was chief economist at the Federal Trade Commission whose research has covered a wide spectrum of issues, from the economics of technological change and growth to industrial organization economics.
John Dunlop (1999) played a pivotal role in the founding of the Center, was a widely respected labor economist and adviser to many U.S. presidents, and served as Secretary of Labor in the Ford administration.
Ray Vernon (1998) was a pillar of the Center since its founding in 1982 and a leading scholar on multinational enterprises, the global trading system, privatization and regulation.