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Learn More About Mark Kramer

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®.

Mark Kramer was last modified: August 5th, 2022 by

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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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