America’s most prestigious ivy-league school, Harvard University, has a complex, intertwined relationship with the Monitor Group. The school administration has kept a low profile amidst a growing controversy about the role of the Cambridge, Massachusetts international consulting firm in assisting dictator Muammar Khadafy.
Monitor Group, under investigation by the Department of Justice for unregistered lobbying activity in behalf of Libyan regime, has claimed it failed to register as a foreign agent because of a “misunderstanding” of the law. The company was founded in the mid-1980’s by a group of Harvard Business School professors who mixed academia with profit.
The relationship of the Libyan lobby team to Harvard was explored recently in the Harvard Crimson. The student paper headlined Monitor Group in its commencement edition reviewing a partial history of the controversial firm’s links to Harvard.
The Crimson article stated: “The consulting group carries a distinct Harvard flavor. On its website, the company touts the Harvard ties of several of its founders and current leaders. Of the 16 “thought leaders” who head the company, six mention positions at Harvard--mostly at the Business School in their biographies on the company website.”
Former Dean of the College Harry Lewis has called on the University President to chastise the Libyan work done by Harvard professors for Monitor Group. The Crimson explains: “Lewis has focused the discussion on [Michael] Porter, who has come under the most intent critical gaze among the professors involved due to his high positions in both the company and the University.”
Porter has refused to discuss his Monitor Group work issuing a terse statement to the Crimson, “As it became clear…that vested interests and conservatives had succeeded in halting the reform process, I stopped my work in Libya.” Porter conveniently left out of his statement that he handed the business off to Mark Fuller, Monitor Group CEO, also a Harvard Business School alum.
Harvard President Drew Faust has refused to be critical of Monitor Group and told the Crimson, “That’s an independent organization and business.”
However, despite Faust’s claim that Monitor is independent of Harvard, the company seems to be on the inside track at Harvard Business School where the premier publication Harvard Business Review frequently publishes Monitor Group articles authored by the Libyan lobby firm
Some of the Monitor Group articles are: The Globe: Is the Bottom of the Pyramid Really for You?; Monitor’s Opportunity in India: New Rules for Bringing Innovations to Market; Letter to the Chief Executive; Accounting Transparency Gap; How Will You Know How to Manage When Boom Times are Over?; and Tailored Logistics: The Next Advantage.
Monitor Group’s article in Harvard Business Review by Joseph Fuller titled Letter to the Chief Executive is filled with irony. Fuller, one of the company founders, is identified as Monitor Group CEO in the byline. However, Mark Fuller, another co-founder, was actually CEO of the consulting firm during the multi-million dollar contracts with Libya.
Fuller wrote, “I will spare you a sermon on the need for integrity in our financial reporting.” Had Joseph Fuller delivered the sermon to Mark Fuller, Monitor Group might not be facing an investigation by the Department of Justice for its unregistered work as a foreign agent for Khadafy’s murderous regime.
The Harvard Business Review article continued: “I’m not concerned about the level of your compensation or dealing in our stock. Nonetheless, we must guard against even the appearance of rapaciousness or self-dealing, lest we invite scrutiny from the business press, the union, and institutional investors.” As it turned out, Fuller should have been concerned by his CEO’s rapaciousness which has landed Monitor Group at the center of unwanted international attention for the dealings with Khadafy’s regime.
Fuller’s article in the Harvard publication, written in 2002, was almost prophetic. “In retrospect, it is now clear that because of our desire to “meet or beat the street” we made a number of strategic choices and instigated a series of changes to the underlying management system that caused us to fall harder and faster than necessary.”
To view all of the Monitor Group articles click HERE