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Ben Heineman

Mailing address

Littauer 362
79 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA, 02138

Ben Heineman

Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Contact:
Telephone: 617-496-7305
Fax: 617-495-8963
Email: ben_heineman@harvard.edu

 

Experience

Mr. Heineman is a graduate of Harvard College (1965), Oxford University (1967 -- graduate degree/political science) and Yale Law School (1971). A former Rhodes Scholar, editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal and law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, he practiced law in Washington before serving at HEW from 1977-1980, ending his tenure there as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. Mr. Heineman was then managing partner of the Washington office of Sidley & Austin, focusing on Supreme Court and test case litigation. He is the author of books on British race relations and the American presidency. In 1987, Mr. Heineman became Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the General Electric Company located in Fairfield, Connecticut. In 2004, he was named GE's Senior Vice President for Law and Public Affairs. Mr. Heineman is a member of the American Law Institute; a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; a member of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies; a member of the Board of Transparency International-USA; a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center; and a member of the Board of Managers and Overseers of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In May 2011, he was elected to the American Philosophical Society.

While at the Belfer Center, he will research and write on a wide variety of public and private sector issues, including the global anti-corruption movement, corporate citizenship and social responsibility,  the changing role of the corporate general counsel and the inside legal department, the corporate response to terrorism, corporate governance, and corporations and public policy.

 

 

By Date

 

2014

Ron Sachs/REX/AP Images

July 22, 2014

"GM's GC and Some Theories of Culpability"

Op-Ed, Corporate Counsel

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The role of General Motors Co. general counsel Michael Millikin in the deadly ignition-switch events should be a subject of intense interest and close scrutiny for lawyers working in, or for, complex corporations. But the recent—and I think overly simplistic— comments of prominent attorney John Quinn detract and do not add to a practical discussion about the responsibilities of general counsel.

 

 

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

June 6, 2014

GC and CEO Responsibility for GM's Dysfunctional Culture

Op-Ed, Corporate Counsel

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The report by Anton Valukas on the unconscionable multiyear delay by General Motors Co. in addressing safety issues caused by a malfunctioning ignition switch, focuses on the culpability of individuals in the past, including engineers, investigators and lawyers in the vast GM bureaucracy. What is missing, strikingly missing, is the failure of GM leaders—past CEOs and senior GM officers, including the current general counsel—to create a safety culture that would have immediately surfaced and addressed the particular switch issue and, more importantly, their failure to long ago and on their own initiative take the myriad safety culture, system and process steps which Valukas recommends today.

 

 

Getty Images

May 16, 2014

"Does the New York Times Know How to Fire Someone?"

Op-Ed, Harvard Business Review

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

As media observers explore every angle of Jill Abramson’s unceremonious sacking from the New York Times, one key Management 101 question is whether she was given a fair chance to address the management issues that, according to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr, led him to dismiss her.

 

 

Marco Ugarte / AP

May 15, 2014

"Who’s Responsible for the Walmart Mexico Scandal?"

Op-Ed, Harvard Business Review

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Walmart’s bribery scandal, and the sweep of the current investigation, have made this case a poster-child for the snares of corruption facing global companies, putting it in the same category as the towering bribery scandal faced several years ago by Siemens. Many boards and CEOs from around the globe cite corruption as one of the top issues they face in current globalization efforts — in this sense, “the whole world is watching” the Walmart case carefully.

 

 

AP / Pablo Martinez Monsivais

April 21, 2014

"Broader Clawback Policies, More Corporate Accountability"

Op-Ed, Corporate Counsel

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Corporations should go far beyond the frameworks in Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley in designing clawback and holdback policies, writes Senior Fellow Ben Heineman. Broadly and properly constructed, these mechanisms, now encompassed under the term of art “compensation recovery policies” are essential for ensuring high performance with high integrity.

 

 

AP / Hussein Malla

March 27, 2014

"General Sisi's Greatest Enemy: The Egyptian Economy"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Now that military strongman Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has declared his intention to run for Egypt’s presidency, he should keep something in mind: Both Hosni Mubarak and his successor, Mohammed Morsi, weren’t only ousted from the country’s highest office because they suppressed political and constitutional rights, writes Ben Heineman. They also fell because fitful economic reforms failed to address poverty and near-poverty, high unemployment, extremely high youth unemployment, and unchecked inflation.

 

2013

October 16, 2013

"6 Essential Tasks of the Board and the CEO"

Op-Ed, Corporate Counsel

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

According to former GE general counsel Ben Heineman Jr., there are six essential governance tasks for boards and business leaders to restore trust in corporations by fusing high performance with high integrity.

 

 

AP Images

October 3, 2013

"Too Big to Manage: JP Morgan and the Mega Banks"

Op-Ed, Harvard Business Review, HBR Blog Network

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Every casual reader of business news knows that JP Morgan Chase & Co. is in a world of legal hurt.  But, it is not alone.  Many other major  financial institutions — Bank of America,  Citigroup, HSBC, Barclay’s, Wells Fargo, UBS, etc. — have their share of big dollar controversies with regulators and private claimants.  The immediate news coverage is focused on the size of financial penalties for the institutions,  on the potential civil or criminal culpability of  bank officials and on the reputational harm to both the bank and its senior officers.

 

 

September 11, 2013

"No, GCs Should Not Be on the Board"

Op-Ed, Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

A provocative headline recently topped a CorpCounsel.com story: “Should GCs Be on the Board? GCs Say Yes.”

This former GC says “no.”

 

 

AP Images

September 9, 2013

"Why Chemical Weapons Are Different"

Op-Ed, The Atlantic

By Ben Heineman, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

The current global—and Congressional—debate about whether to deploy force against Syria for its use of sarin gas on civilians will depend, in part, on whether the reasons for a post-World War I agreement banning the offensive use of chemical and biological weapons continue to be honored.

 

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