Haas Newsroom

October 4, 2011


twitter Find Haas' top business experts. Follow us @Haas4Media

Defining the New Business Leader from Corporate to Community


Watch Nora Silver talk about the research.


Business schools are churning out a new breed of MBA graduates who want to use their leadership skills toward effecting social good. The University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business is the first business school studying "multi-sector leadership," according to Nora Silver, adjunct professor and director of the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership at Berkeley Haas.


"Multi-sector leadership is the degree to which leaders work beyond their own sectors. Corporate leaders are active in non-profit and public life. Public officials serve on nonprofit boards. It's that kind of activity that we believe is the future of leadership," says Silver.


The first-of-its-kind research will eventually help the Haas School develop new courses focused on teaching students to successfully operate and contribute in the corporate, public and nonprofit/philanthropic environments simultaneously. The study, says Silver, answers a pressing need for business schools to prepare students for the future demands of cross-sector leadership.


The working paper, Multi-Sector Leadership, is co-authored by Silver and Haas faculty member Paul Jansen, director emeritus of McKinsey & Company. Student contributors to the research include Christina Shibue, MBA 10, Chris Grape, MBA 11, Levi Goertz, MBA 11, and Kate Zimmerman, MBA 11.


The core of the research focuses on the extent to which current leaders work across these sectors and how they do so. The sample includes 1500 leaders in Fortune 200 companies, 300 public sector leaders (such as cabinet members, senators, and mayors), and 200 nonprofit leaders from the country's largest non-profit and philanthropic organizations.


Questions include:

  • Is working across sectors beneficial for their careers and their organizations?
  • What skills and knowledge do they need to be effective in one sector versus another?
  • What skills and knowledge do we need to develop in our business students so they can be effective multi-sector leaders in the future?

    "Corporate executives deal with strategy, partnerships and relationships, talent development, functional areas such as marketing and finance - all of those are translatable to creating affordable housing, economic development, or the kind of issues the public and non-profit sectors face," says Silver. "Research seems to indicate as people move up to the CEO level they have more affiliations within their sector and across sectors. In fact, some of the leaders have never been asked about the connection before and what it means for their professional lives and institutions they lead."


    The researchers hope leaders will not only become more effective across sectors but organizations in all sectors will increase their effectiveness by gaining multi sector leaders on their boards - and in their leadership positions--people who can give the organizations a broader view of how its strategy fits into the market and creates impact. Silver says the key is engagement and developing partnerships such as those created by Haas alum and Bank of America President of Home Loans Barbara Desoer, who sits on several nonprofit boards in her community.


    Silver says Berkeley Haas' defining leadership principles - Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself - inspired the research.


    "It makes sense to me that Haas would be the first to look at this because our students really push us and we're interested in creating leaders who would develop these kinds of values, knowledge and skills as multi-sector leaders."



    Pamela Tom

    (510) 642 - 2734


    Ute Frey

    (510) 642 - 0342