Learn More About Karthik Ramanna
Today, trust in both business and government, particularly among the young, is roughly the lowest it has been since the Great Depression. How do the institutions central to the functioning of society and the world economy begin to recoup that lost trust? Oxford academic Karthik Ramanna studies how organizations build trust with stakeholders and the role of innovative businesses in designing sensible and responsible “rules of the game.” A pragmatic advocate of democracy and free enterprise who also recognizes the need for change and adaptation, Ramanna helps both the corporate and public sectors reach out to skeptics and opponents, devise strategies for building confidence and reimagine their place in the great global debate over equity and trust.
Ramanna, a professor of Business and Public Policy at the University of Oxford, is an expert on business-government relations, sustainable capitalism and corporate reporting. A leading authority on corporate accounting standards and practices, Professor Ramanna unraveled a stark reality in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis: in their drive to profitability, companies were shaping the rules of the global economy in ways that subvert capitalism itself. He addressed these issues in his 2016 book, “Political Standards: Corporate Interest, Ideology, and Leadership in the Shaping of Accounting Rules for the Market Economy” (University of Chicago Press), which explored the role of industry experts in setting standards and norms for market behavior. Through his keynotes and advisory services, Ramanna guides companies on steps they can take to enshrine integrity, transparency and accountability within their governance structures. In doing so, firms can not only bolster their own reputations and leverage that to increase profits, but can also help remedy the essential problem of trust that afflicts modern capitalism, which could potentially be its downfall.
In addition to his work on reforming capitalism and building organizational trust, Ramanna is a leading scholar on how public institutions can sustain a reputation for excellence and serve as magnets for top-tier talent. Ramanna argues that a major contributor to the decline of trust in capitalism is the draining of capacity for action of public sector institutions. Using case studies of organizations that have successfully served as beacons of competence and prestige, Ramanna offers concrete lessons for institutions seeking to attract the best and brightest while doing good.
Professor Ramanna, who has authored dozens of research articles and case studies on non-market strategies in Africa, China, the EU, India and the U.S., has consulted with several leading professional service organizations worldwide. His scholarship has won numerous awards, including the Journal of Accounting & Economics Best Paper Prize and the Case Centre’s Outstanding Case-Writer prize, dubbed by the Financial Times as “the business school Oscars.” He is the faculty chair of the Transformational Leadership Fellowship, a bespoke, by-invitation, part-time program for senior corporate executives considering a second career that can bring their strengths to address broader societal challenges. Ramanna is also the inaugural director of Oxford’s Master of Public Policy program, a flagship one-year degree for current and prospective leaders in government. He is currently working on a book project that explores how the institutions of free-market societies must adapt to survive both declining public trust and transformational technologies like artificial intelligence.
Prior to his roles at Oxford, Professor Ramanna taught leadership, corporate governance and accounting at the Harvard Business School in both the MBA and senior executive education programs. He is a faculty associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and has a doctorate from MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He has served on the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including as co-editor of the interdisciplinary journal Accounting, Economics and Law.
Karthik Ramanna is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Investors and consumers alike are increasingly skeptical about corporations and capitalism. Meanwhile, governments are becoming more unpredictable as they respond to populist pressure. How should corporate boardrooms and C-suites approach these times of challenge and uncertainty? The answer varies based on the scale, capabilities and citizen expectations of individual corporations in their different geographies, notes Professor Karthik Ramanna. Building on his generalized framework of how business can legitimately respond to the trust crisis in capitalism, Professor Ramanna offers customized workshops with corporate leadership teams to develop specific action plans to navigate this age of outrage. Leveraging his unique insights into what drives public-service organizations, Ramanna helps corporations embed authentic empathy and civic responsibility into their corporate strategy.