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Robert Behn Photo
Senior Lecturer in Public Policy
Assistant: Juanne Zhao

Robert D. Behn, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, focuses his research, teaching, and thinking on the leadership challenge of improving the performance of public agencies. He is the faculty chair of the School's executive program, Driving Government Performance: Leadership Strategies that Produce Results and conducts custom-designed executive education programs for government jurisdictions and public agencies. 

Bob writes the on-line monthly Bob Behn's Performance Leadership Report. It's free, so subscribe now! Currently, he is working on a book titled: The PerformanceStat Potential: A Leadership Strategy for Producing Results.

Bob has led executive seminars on six continents: in Bangkok, Berlin, Bogat, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Guatemala City, Kuala Lumpur, Lisbon, Madrid, Monterrey, Oslo, Ottawa, Reykjavik, Sydney, and Wellington. (Don't the folks in Antarctica need help improving performance?)

If you want to figure out what makes Bob tick, you can watch him clarify the purpose of the Kennedy School's Driving Government Performance, outline the challenge of Leading and Performing, or describe the content of MLD-602, his degree course on Performance Leadership.

Bob holds a BS in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a PhD in decision and control from Harvard. He has served on the staff of Governor Francis W. Sargent of Massachusetts, as a scholar in residence with the Council for Excellence in Government, and on the faculty of the Harvard Business School and Duke University's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy where he was director of its Governors Center. Bob is also a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Bob grew up a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. At the end of the 1967 season, however, he went to Fenway Park for the Boston Red Sox last game. (If you fail to appreciate the significance of this, he will explain it in more detail than you want to know. He can also decipher both the theory and the technicalities of the infield fly rule.) Bob's newspaper pieces include: "A Professor's Ode to the Red Sox," The Wall Street Journal; "Red Sox Lessons for Our Elite," The Washington Post; "The Next Ted Williams? I'm Your Man," The New York Times; and "Before the Curse," The Boston Globe.

Bob believes that his mental health is inversely related to how long it has been since he slept in a tent.

Bob's books include:

To learn what the students who took Bob's course (MLD-602) in the Spring of 2016 thought about the course, click here.

Transparent Engagement

Harvard Kennedy School is proud of its energetic involvement in the world. To better understand how to solve public problems by improving policy and leadership, we engage directly with policymakers, public leaders, governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit businesses whose activities affect those problems. However, we recognize that such engagement can raise questions about perceived and potential conflicts of interest, so we disclose publicly the key professional activities of our faculty outside the Kennedy School.

Outside Professional Activities For Robert Behn

In addition to my teaching and research responsibilities as a member of the Harvard faculty, I am occasionally compensated for my participation in outside activities, such a speaking, writing, consulting, or conducting workshops for public executives on performance leadership.


I have received compensation of $500 or more from the following organizations:


            City of Orange, California


            City of Los Angeles

            The Australia and New Zealand School of Government

            Efron International Academic Program

            Wyoming Heritage Foundation and Wyoming Business Council

            City of Los Angeles


            The Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison

            PWC Denmark

            Crime and Justice Institute

            The Australia and New Zealand School of Government


            Real Colegio Complutense

            Robbins-Gioia LLC


            Concordia University

            Charles River Center (Malaysia)


            Society of Local Government Managers (New Zealand)

            Charles River Center (Malaysia)


            Jefferson County Colorado


Phone: 617-495-9874
Assistant: Juanne Zhao


Cities & Communities
Public Leadership & Management

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138