Innovative Research to Drive Change

The Center for Social Sector Leadership shapes the social sector by producing resources and cutting-edge research from industry thought-leaders.

The Center actively pursues opportunities to foster new, innovative thinking and use that knowledge to drive change. Recently launched faculty-led research initiatives include Multi-Sector Leadership, Networking for Change, Volunteerism in Ethnic Communities.

Faculty Research

Multi-Sector Leadership

Haas faculty Paul Jansen, Director Emeritus from McKinsey & Company and Nora Silver, Director of the Center and Adjunct Professor, along with a select group of Haas graduate students are examining a new profile of leaders in today’s multi-sector economy. This study is based on the premise that the level of engagement between private, public and nonprofit organizations is rising rapidly largely because each sector can often achieve its mission more effectively through cross-sector collaboration than with more adversarial approaches. In today’s increasingly inter-dependent world, many leaders engage in managerial, advocacy and leadership activities across the commercial, public, and social sectors—and yet business schools are not adequately preparing students for the future demands of cross-sector leadership.

The Multisector Career Arc: the role of cross sector affiliations and sector hopping in career acceleration

The Multisector Career ArcDownload the document here.

Telling the Whole Story: Voices of Ethnic Volunteers in America

Telling-the-Whole-StoryNora Silver highlights diversity and volunteerism in her new book, Telling the Whole Story: Voices of Ethnic Volunteers in America. The book presents findings from focus groups in seven ethnic communities–African American, American Indian, Central American, Chinese American, Japanese American, Korean American, and Mexican American communities—which explore the motivations, preferences and cultural meanings of voluntary engagement. The purpose of the research is to tell the untold story of ethnic volunteerism in the US, to highlight the contributions of people from ethnic communities, and to help organizations better engage these volunteers to meet their missions and achieve social impact. Silver provides a good introduction of the current state of the field and identifies four common themes that cut across the ethnic communities with implications for practice for those in the volunteer field. This book can be purchased online at

Networking for Change

Jane Wei-Skillern, former faculty member in the Social Enterprise group at Harvard Business School and Visiting Professor at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley and Nora Silver, Director of the Center and Adjunct Professor at Haas, recently launched research exploring nonprofit networks as an emerging leadership model. This model shifts the focus from building nonprofit institutions for social change, toward catalyzing networks. Management wisdom says that nonprofits must be large and in charge to do the most good. But some of the world’s most successful organizations instead stay small, sharing their load with like-minded, long-term partners. The success of these networked nonprofits in achieving mission impact suggests that organizations should focus less on growing themselves and more on cultivating their networks.

The Nonprofit Sector’s Impact on Jobs and the Economy

This research project takes a systemic look at how the economic output of the nonprofit sector affects the broader national economy.