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Marshall Ganz

Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Chapter Member: Boston SSN

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About Marshall

Ganz teaches, researches, and practices public leadership, narrative, strategy and organization in social movements, civic associations, and politics. In 1991, after 28 years of organizing, he earned a BA in history and government; in 1993, an MPA, and in 2000, a PhD in sociology. He publishes in AJS, APSR, SSIR, and elsewhere. His first book, Why David Sometimes Wins was published in 2009. In 2007-8 he was a key designer of the grassroots organization of the Obama campaign. In 2010 he received an honorary DD from the Episcopal Divinity School. He works with the Leading Change Network to support social change around the world.


How Progressives Can Regain the Initiative

In the News

Theda Skocpol quoted by Dan Sisken, "Change is Coming: Grassroots Organizing, Democratic Politics and the 2018 Elections" Nation of Change, April 4, 2018.
Marshall Ganz quoted by Alan Gomez, "The Parkland Survivors Started a Movement when They Took on Gun Violence. Here's How It Happened." USA Today, February 22, 2018.
"Social Enterprise is Not Social Change," Marshall Ganz (with Jason Spicer and Tamara Kay), Stanford Social Innovation Review, February 15, 2018.
Marshall Ganz's research on "Lecture Explores Relationship between Leadership, Organising and Movement in Society," The Jordan Times, January 9, 2018.
Marshall Ganz quoted on addressing power structures and pushing against the status quo by Lolly Bowean, "Hundreds Gather in Chicago for First Obama Center Leadership Summit" Chicago Tribune, October 31, 2017.
Marshall Ganz's research on creating changes in health care discussed by Karen Feldscher, "Using People Power to Promote Public Health," Harvard News, April 6, 2017.
Interview on political organizing Marshall Ganz, Talking Points Memo, February 24, 2017.
"How the New Civil Rights Movement Can Build on the Lessons of the Old," Marshall Ganz, Bill Moyers, July 20, 2016.
"What Hillary Clinton Can Learn from Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump," Marshall Ganz (with Hahrie Han), The Nation, June 23, 2016.
"Doves, Serpents and the Iowa Primary," Marshall Ganz, Huffington Post, February 2, 2016.
Interview on student activism Marshall Ganz, The Conversation, November 23, 2015.
"Q&A: Marshall Ganz on Political Organizing," Marshall Ganz, Interview with Aaron Wherry, Maclean's, August 27, 2015.
Marshall Ganz quoted on Obama's campaign strategy by Jon Schwarz, "Bernie Sanders on Obama's 'Biggest Mistake'" The Intercept, June 15, 2015.
Marshall Ganz quoted on youth political activism by Nancy Scola, "Highly-Wired Millennials Remain Wary of Taking Their Politics Offline" The Washington Post, October 29, 2014.
Guest to discuss how social movements can inspire the less powerful and enable them to challenge and change entrenched injustices on Moyers & Company, Marshall Ganz, May 10, 2013.
"A Conversation with Marshall Ganz," Marshall Ganz, Interview with Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, February 2, 2011.
"How Obama Lost His Voice, and How He Can Get It Back," Marshall Ganz, Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2010.
"What’s Become of Obama’s Grassroots Political Movement?," Marshall Ganz, Interview with Ari Berman, The Nation, October 19, 2010.
"Leadership and Organizing," Marshall Ganz, Interview with Ari Berman, Harvard Cooperative Society, Cambridge, MA, October 18, 2010.


"Social Enterprise Is Not Social Change" (with Marshall Ganz and Jason Spicer). Stanford Social Innovation Review 16, no. 2 (2018).

Argues that social entrepreneurship has done little to impact the problems it aspires to solve and has risen to popularity despite a lack of evidence for its effectiveness.

" Social Entrepreneurship As Field Encroachment: How a Neoliberal Social Movement Constructed a New Field" (with Marshall Ganz and Jason Spicer). Socio-Economic Review 17, no. 1 (2019): 195–227.

Shows how new fields can emerge through field encroachment, whereby shifts among overlapping fields create structural opportunities for the ascendency of new fields, which may adapt logics borrowed from adjacent fields to construct legitimacy.

"Learning Civic Leadership: Leader Skill Development in the Sierra Club" in Interest Group Politics, edited by Allan J. Cigler and Burdett A. Loomis (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2011), 110-138.
Describes how participation in internal associational activity contributes to the develop of civic leadership skills.
"Public Narrative, Collective Action, and Power" in Accountability through Public Opinion: From Inertia to Public Action, edited by Sina Odugbemi and Taeku Lee (The World Bank, 2011), 273-289.
Shows how narrative is used to mobilize collective action.
"Leading Change: Leadership, Organization and Social Movements" in Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, edited by Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana (Harvard Business School Press, 2010), 509-550.
Spells out how leadership practice works in social movements.
"Leadership, Membership, and Voice: Civic Associations That Work" (with Kenneth Andrews, Matthew Baggetta, Hahrie Han, and Chaeyoon Lim). American Journal of Sociology 115, no. 4 (2010): 45-59.
Shows the critical role of leadership, especially collaborative leadership, in the effectiveness of civic associations.
"Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement" (Oxford University Press, 2009).
Presents conditions in which leadership resourcefulness can compensate for lack of resources in insurgent social movements.