Mark R. Kramer

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Leading Authority on Strategies That Create Economic Value for Organizations and Society; Co-Creator (With Michael Porter) of the Shared Value Concept; Acclaimed Scholar Who Introduced the Ideas of Impact Investing, Catalytic Philanthropy, Collective Impact, and Strategic Evaluation; Co-Founder and Advisor, FSG; Senior Lecturer of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Biography

Professor Mark Kramer is Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS). He co-authored the concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV) with HBS colleague Professor Michael Porter in 2011. Since then, he has worked with companies around the world to find sources of competitive advantage by incorporating social purpose and sustainability into corporate strategy. He developed the curriculum for courses on “Creating Shared Value: Competitive Advantage through Social Impact” and “Purpose & Profit,” which he has taught to MBA and Executive Education students at HBS since 2014. His most recent research has focused on the change process necessary for large public companies to embrace shared value and social purpose, and for them to more effectively communicate the economic value of their sustainability efforts to shareholders.

In 2000, Professor Kramer co-founded, with Professor Porter, the social impact consulting firm, FSG. Kramer led FSG’s growth into a 150-person global consultancy with offices in Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, Geneva, Mumbai and London. FSG was created to bring rigorous strategy consulting skills to aid in solving society’s most challenging problems, recruiting consulting talent from McKinsey, BCG, Monitor and other top firms. FSG works with hundreds of the world’s largest foundations, corporations, development agencies and nonprofit organizations. Foundation clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Hewlett and Packard foundations. Corporate clients have included retailers such as Walmart and Target, technology companies such as Google and Intuit, financial institutions such as Truist and Wells Fargo, consumer product companies such as Nestle, Coca Cola, and Toyota, and health care companies such as United Health Group, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Abbott and Medtronic. In 2021, Professor Kramer stepped back from active management at FSG to explore opportunities in impact investing.

In 1999, Professor Kramer founded the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) with Professor Porter and served as Board chair until 2004. CEP is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to providing management tools to define, assess, and improve the performance of charitable foundations. CEP developed new measures of foundation performance, including the Grantee Perception Report, the first comparative measure of foundation performance, now in use by several hundred of the largest U.S. foundations.

Professor Kramer is a recognized thought leader in corporate strategy, sustainability, philanthropy and social impact. He is the author of numerous articles in Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) that pioneered new concepts in social impact such as catalytic philanthropy, collective impact, mission investing, strategic evaluation and creating shared value. These ideas have become recognized around the world, are taught at many universities, and have influenced the strategies of numerous organizations. Professor Kramer’s SSIR article on Collective Impact, co-authored with FSG colleague John Kania, is the most frequently viewed article in SSIR’s history and has been downloaded more than one million times. His articles in HBR have been reprinted in several books and won two McKinsey Awards for best HBR article of the year. Most recently, he has published new thinking in Institutional Investor on how investors can move beyond ESG ratings to create better financial returns through hybrid metrics that combine social and financial performance.

More than 500 public companies have committed to practicing CSV, and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding have supported the development of collective impact initiatives around the world. To support these efforts, Professor Kramer established the Shared Value Initiative, a Clinton Global Initiative commitment sponsored by 25 global corporations and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Initiative convenes more than 400 people at its annual conference and has trained more than 50 other affiliated consulting firms in 30 countries. He also launched the Collective Impact Forum – co-created with the Aspen Institute – which hosts meetings and offers research and training programs to a global community of more than 30,000 members.

Professor Kramer has been a featured speaker at conferences and events across the U.S. and in more than thirty other countries. He serves on the sustainability advisory boards for Kimberly Clark, Nestlé, and Maple Leaf Foods, and on the Supervisory Board of the World Benchmarking Alliance, established by the UN to measure the performance of 2,000 leading global companies on their contribution to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. He has served on the planning committee for the Clinton Global Initiative, the selection committee for CECP’s Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award, and as a grant reviewer for the White House Office of Social Innovation.

Professor Kramer is presently a member of the Aspen Philanthropy Group, a board member of the Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong, Shared Value Project Australia, and President of the Kramer Charitable Foundation. Prior to starting FSG, he served for twelve years as President of Kramer Capital Management, a boutique venture capital investment and consulting firm providing strategy consulting, financial advisory services and investment capital to early-stage companies in health care, retail and technology. He began his career as an attorney at Ropes & Gray after clerking for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Kramer holds a BA, summa cum laude, from Brandeis University, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD, magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he was an Articles Editor on the Law Review and was awarded the Order of the Coif and the Gemmill Prize in Tax Research.

Mark Kramer is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Media

WBUR radio logo

Russia is Repeating its Brutal History in Ukraine

May 4, 2022

Profit Meets Purpose: Power of Shared Value

June 21, 2021

Larry Fink Isn’t Going to Read Your Sustainability Report

January 20, 2021

The 10 Commitments Companies Must Make to Advance Racial Justice

June 4, 2020

CSR v CSV: The Difference and Why It Matters

November 3, 2020

Where ESG Ratings Fail: The Case for New Metrics

September 7, 2020

Dove: Maintaining a Brand with Purpose (Audio)

December 22, 2020

Where ESG Fails

October 16, 2019

Fortune logo

Delivering on the Promise of Purpose Beyond Profits

August 19, 2019

Harvard Business Review logo

The Backlash to Larry Fink’s Letter Shows How Far Business Has to Go on Social Responsibility

January 31, 2019

Harvard Business Review logo

End the Corporate Health Care Tax

October 24, 2018

The Water of Systems Change

May 15, 2018

NAB Not Walking the Shared Value Talk ($)

May 9, 2018

Harvard Business Review logo

The Right Way for Companies to Publicize Their Social Responsibility Efforts

April 2, 2018

Don't CEOs Understand That Racial Inequality Is Bad for Business?

October 2, 2017

financial review logo

Shared value added $70 million to NAB's bottom line in 2016

July 3, 2017

Huffington Post logo

CSV and the SDGs - Creating Shared Value Meets the Sustainable Development Goals

April 20, 2017

Business Day logo

Ask a Millennial If You Need to Know More About Shared Value

March 27, 2017

The Lesson Behind Fortune's 'Change the World' List

August 18, 2016

How Big Business Created the Politics of Anger

March 8, 2016

Introducing Fortune's Change the World List: Companies That Are Doing Well by Doing Good

August 20, 2015

Shared Value Creator Mark Kramer: Let's Redefine Prosperity

October 15, 2014

Nonprofit Management is as Important as the Mission and Services They Offer

June 18, 2014

Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World

Summer 2014

The MBA Blind Spot

April 22, 2014

Embracing Emergence: How Collective Impact Addresses Complexity

January 21, 2013

Shared Value: How Corporations Profit from Solving Social Problems

June 8, 2012

Forbes logo

The Real Benefits of Capitalism

April 17, 2012

Channeling Change

January 2012

Collective Impact

Winter 2011

How Global Healthcare Firms are Finding Ways to Create Shared Value

October 3, 2011

First, Make Money. Also, Do Good

August 13, 2011

Do More Than Give: The Power of Microfinancing

April 1, 2011

Creating a Shared Social Value

March 13, 2011

Harvard Business Review logo

Creating Shared Value

January 2011

Catalytic Philanthropy

Fall 2009

Biography

Professor Mark Kramer is Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at Harvard Business School (HBS). He co-authored the concept of Creating Shared Value (CSV) with HBS colleague Professor Michael Porter in 2011. Since then, he has worked with companies around the world to find sources of competitive advantage by incorporating social purpose and sustainability into corporate strategy. He developed the curriculum for courses on “Creating Shared Value: Competitive Advantage through Social Impact” and “Purpose & Profit,” which he has taught to MBA and Executive Education students at HBS since 2014. His most recent research has focused on the change process necessary for large public companies to embrace shared value and social purpose, and for them to more effectively communicate the economic value of their sustainability efforts to shareholders.

In 2000, Professor Kramer co-founded, with Professor Porter, the social impact consulting firm, FSG. Kramer led FSG’s growth into a 150-person global consultancy with offices in Boston, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco, Geneva, Mumbai and London. FSG was created to bring rigorous strategy consulting skills to aid in solving society’s most challenging problems, recruiting consulting talent from McKinsey, BCG, Monitor and other top firms. FSG works with hundreds of the world’s largest foundations, corporations, development agencies and nonprofit organizations. Foundation clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Hewlett and Packard foundations. Corporate clients have included retailers such as Walmart and Target, technology companies such as Google and Intuit, financial institutions such as Truist and Wells Fargo, consumer product companies such as Nestle, Coca Cola, and Toyota, and health care companies such as United Health Group, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Abbott and Medtronic. In 2021, Professor Kramer stepped back from active management at FSG to explore opportunities in impact investing.

In 1999, Professor Kramer founded the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) with Professor Porter and served as Board chair until 2004. CEP is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to providing management tools to define, assess, and improve the performance of charitable foundations. CEP developed new measures of foundation performance, including the Grantee Perception Report, the first comparative measure of foundation performance, now in use by several hundred of the largest U.S. foundations.

Professor Kramer is a recognized thought leader in corporate strategy, sustainability, philanthropy and social impact. He is the author of numerous articles in Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) that pioneered new concepts in social impact such as catalytic philanthropy, collective impact, mission investing, strategic evaluation and creating shared value. These ideas have become recognized around the world, are taught at many universities, and have influenced the strategies of numerous organizations. Professor Kramer’s SSIR article on Collective Impact, co-authored with FSG colleague John Kania, is the most frequently viewed article in SSIR’s history and has been downloaded more than one million times. His articles in HBR have been reprinted in several books and won two McKinsey Awards for best HBR article of the year. Most recently, he has published new thinking in Institutional Investor on how investors can move beyond ESG ratings to create better financial returns through hybrid metrics that combine social and financial performance.

More than 500 public companies have committed to practicing CSV, and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding have supported the development of collective impact initiatives around the world. To support these efforts, Professor Kramer established the Shared Value Initiative, a Clinton Global Initiative commitment sponsored by 25 global corporations and the Rockefeller Foundation. The Initiative convenes more than 400 people at its annual conference and has trained more than 50 other affiliated consulting firms in 30 countries. He also launched the Collective Impact Forum – co-created with the Aspen Institute – which hosts meetings and offers research and training programs to a global community of more than 30,000 members.

Professor Kramer has been a featured speaker at conferences and events across the U.S. and in more than thirty other countries. He serves on the sustainability advisory boards for Kimberly Clark, Nestlé, and Maple Leaf Foods, and on the Supervisory Board of the World Benchmarking Alliance, established by the UN to measure the performance of 2,000 leading global companies on their contribution to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. He has served on the planning committee for the Clinton Global Initiative, the selection committee for CECP’s Excellence in Corporate Philanthropy Award, and as a grant reviewer for the White House Office of Social Innovation.

Professor Kramer is presently a member of the Aspen Philanthropy Group, a board member of the Shared Value Initiative Hong Kong, Shared Value Project Australia, and President of the Kramer Charitable Foundation. Prior to starting FSG, he served for twelve years as President of Kramer Capital Management, a boutique venture capital investment and consulting firm providing strategy consulting, financial advisory services and investment capital to early-stage companies in health care, retail and technology. He began his career as an attorney at Ropes & Gray after clerking for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Professor Kramer holds a BA, summa cum laude, from Brandeis University, an MBA from The Wharton School, and a JD, magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where he was an Articles Editor on the Law Review and was awarded the Order of the Coif and the Gemmill Prize in Tax Research.

Mark Kramer is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Creating Shared Value: Redefining the Role of Business in Society

In recent years, business increasingly has been viewed as a major cause of social, environmental, and economic problems. Companies remain trapped in an outdated approach that views value creation narrowly, optimizing short-term financial performance in a bubble while ignoring the broader influences that determine longer-term success. The alternative, says Mark Kramer, is to embrace shared value: create economic value in a way that also creates value for society by addressing its needs and challenges. He defines shared value not as social responsibility, philanthropy or even sustainability, but as a new way to achieve economic success that can give rise to the next major transformation of business thinking and drive a new wave of innovation and productivity growth in the global economy.  Drawing from a growing number of companies around the world that have already embarked on important efforts to create shared value by reconceiving products and markets, redefining productivity in the value chain, and enabling local cluster development, he details how and why businesses acting as businesses – not as charitable donors – are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing societal issues we face.

Do More Than Give: How to Solve Social Problems While Making Money

Despite spending vast amounts of money and helping to create the world’s largest nonprofit sector, U.S. philanthropists have fallen short of solving America’s most pressing problems. What the nation needs, argues Mark Kramer, is “catalytic philanthropy” – individuals igniting social change around a specific issue through more strategic giving. Pointing to several examples of the approach in practice by some of the world’s most innovative donors, he examines how it helps catalyze social change and discusses four distinct reasons why catalytic philanthropists are so effective: 1. They have the ambition to change the world and the courage to accept responsibility for achieving the results they seek; 2. They engage others in a compelling campaign, empowering stakeholders and creating the conditions for collaboration and innovation; 3. They use all of the tools that are available to create change, including unconventional ones from outside the nonprofit sector, and 4. They create actionable knowledge to improve their own effectiveness and to influence the behavior of others.

Impact Investing

Philanthropy has fundamentally changed in the last decade from generating headlines about generosity to an explicit focus on results. We’re asking not “How much money was given?” but “What did the money accomplish?” More than ever, investors and entrepreneurs are deploying capital in solutions designed to generate a positive social or environmental impact, while also having the potential for a financial return – rejecting the notion that they must choose between making a profit and contributing to a good cause. Mark Kramer shares his views on the promise and challenges of impact investing, and explores the emerging and expanding “tool kit” supporting and driving its growth, from new financial tools to better metrics for social impact to new impact investing funds. He also discusses the various impact investment opportunities – found in any country, across all asset classes, and at many different levels of risk and return: backing local social entrepreneurs, capitalizing microfinance providers, pooling funds to finance construction of charter schools, or developing better delivery channels for medical technologies.

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Kramer, Mark R.