James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
Nancy Koehn is a noted historian and the premier authority for providing analysis on the social and economic impact of entrepreneurship and on leadership in turbulent times. Looking at current economic and political issues facing Americans through a historical lens, she is able to offer solutions tailored to solve today’s problems.
As the James E. Robison Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School, Koehn teaches the MBA elective Entrepreneurial Leadership in Turbulent Times. Her research focuses on entrepreneurial leadership and how leaders, past and present, craft lives of purpose, worth and impact. She has been a Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School since July 2001. From July 1992 through June 1997, she was as Assistant Professor and from July 1997 through June 2001, she was an Associate Professor at Harvard Business School.
Professor Koehn is the author of three books and a contributor to six more. Her most recent work “The Story of American Business: From the Pages of The New York Times” (Harvard Business Press, October 2009) tells the story of American business history as seen through the lens of The New York Times news reporting. The book encompasses more than 100 articles spanning two centuries with a focus on three major themes: the corporation, the changing nature of work, and defining moments in technology. Her second book “Brand New: How Entrepreneurs Earned Consumers’ Trust from Wedgewood to Dell” (Harvard Business Press, March 2001) is a valuable study in brand development and entrepreneurship that is part business book, part marketing manual, and part pattern recognition of key cycles. Her keen insight into six well-know entrepreneurs has made her a sought after and often quoted expert on consumerism and branding.
In addition to numerous books, Koehn has also written and supervised case studies on Bono and U2, Oprah Winfrey, Whole Foods, Starbucks Coffee Company, Ernest Shackleton, Josiah Wedgwood, Estée Lauder, Henry Heinz, Milton Hershey, Celeste Walker, Marshall Field, Dell Computer and other leaders and organizations.
Outside of her career in academia, Koehn works closely with senior executives at a number of large companies on issues including strategic branding and leadership. She has worked extensively as a consultant and executive coach in the advertising and fashion industries. For many years, she has served as an advisor to a range of entrepreneurial enterprises. Koehn has also served as a director for Tempur-Pedic International since 2004 and as a director for the health care company Seniorbridge since 2003. She is a member of ING North Americas Advisory board where she has served since 2004.
An energetic and insightful orator, Koehn’s recent speaking engagements include “Connecting with Customers in Turbulent Times “and “Leading in Turbulent Times.” In the past year, she has presented this work to senior executives in the retail, restaurant, financial and information technology industries.
Koehn has appeared on "Good Morning America," CNBC's "Moneywheel," "Nightly Business Report," and "Street Signs," "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer," A&E's "Biography," CNN's "Money Line" and many other television programs and is a frequent commentator on National Public Radio. In 2001, Business 2.0 named Ms. Koehn one of 19 leading business gurus in the United States.
She holds a B.A. degree from Stanford University, an M.A. degree in Public Policy from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government and an M.A. degree and a Ph.D. degree in European History from Harvard University.