U-M’s Hoffman named visiting climate fellow at Harvard Business School

April 12, 2023
Written By:
Barbara DeLollis, Harvard Business School

University of Michigan organizational management researcher Andrew Hoffman has been named one of five 2023 visiting scholars at Harvard Business School’s Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society.

Andrew Hoffman
Andrew Hoffman

The five BiGS Visiting Fellows will focus exclusively on climate change, deepening the school’s commitment to accelerating research aimed at mitigating and adapting to this global issue, according to the Harvard Business School announcement.

Hoffman is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at U-M, a position that holds joint appointments at the Ross School of Business and the School for Environment and Sustainability.

Integrating physical, social and political science into business decision making, Hoffman plans to conduct a systematic examination of how businesses and business schools can improve their approach to combating climate change, arguing for large-scale action.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to devote my time entirely to research on climate change with a cohort of four other like-minded scholars and within a new academic environment,” Hoffman said.

“This comes at an opportune time in my career, as I am closer to the end than the beginning. So, I will use this time to develop new research that brings together my many interests into one comprehensive piece of work.”

The five visiting climate fellows will advance research projects that range from examining how the United States can best take an inclusive approach to building electric vehicle infrastructure to figuring out ways to bolster climate resilience in vulnerable developing countries.

Having researched the intersection of business and the environment for nearly 30 years, Hoffman plans to look at climate change as a systems breakdown, rather than an environmental issue.

“My research will begin with the presumption that climate change is not, in its truest sense, an environmental issue. It is a systems breakdown,” he said. “To fix a systemic breakdown, one must focus on systemic solutions. In this realm, that system is business, the market and capitalism.

“I plan to push the boundaries of business in society to examine the kinds of systemic changes that are beginning to happen and will continue to happen in the face of the existential challenge of climate change”

Slated to arrive on campus in July, the 2023 climate fellows will collaborate with faculty and researchers across multiple schools, initiatives and units within Harvard. They will temporarily relocate to Harvard Business School from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Oxford University, the University of Michigan, Duke University and the University of California, Berkeley.

“We are delighted to welcome our second cohort of BiGS Visiting Fellows to elevate the global dialogue around how business can help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change,” said Harvard Business School Professor Debora Spar, who leads the Institute for the Study of Business in Global Society.

“From Kathmandu to London to Atlanta, these scholars are working on projects with a real potential to help prevent further climate change or reduce deadly consequences.”