Behind some of the world’s biggest trends in business are management thinkers whose research influences powerful executives and scrappy entrepreneurs alike.
You can credit Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, for example, for sowing the seeds that became Silicon Valley’s obsession with “disruption.” And there are INSEAD professors W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, whose book “Blue Ocean Strategy” has sold 3.5 million copies and been translated into 42 languages over the past decade, making it one of the most popular business books of all time.
To honour these thought leaders, authors, and management professors, Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer started Thinkers50 in 2001, a biennial award ceremony that the Financial Times dubbed the “Oscars of management thinking.” The Thinkers50 team selects its top 50 list by determining the tangible impact of the individual’s ideas on the global marketplace.
We’ve highlighted the careers of the 15 top-ranked thinkers below, and you can find the full list at the Thinkers50’s site.
Florida, who serves as the director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Business, is best known for his research on the growing importance of creative types across all industries, as well as how that's affected the evolution of American cities.
In 2009, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth professor Govindarajan worked with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to develop an approach of 'internal disruption' that was later codified in his 2012 book 'Reverse Innovation.' It explains innovations made in the developing world due to a lack of resources should be adopted by major corporations as a way to stay nimble and efficient.
Ries is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who shook up the Valley with his 2011 book 'The Lean Startup.' It advocates for an approach to business where founders or managers experiment before finding something that sticks and pursuing it aggressively as a way to maximise the potential of scarce resources.
D'Aveni, a professor at the Tuck School of Business, is best known for his theory of hypercompetition, his research on commodities markets, and most recently for his 2012 book 'Strategic Capitalism,' which explores the 'Cold War' between the US and China versions of capitalism.
Ibarra, an INSEAD professor, is a widely read and regular contributor to the Harvard Business Review and Financial Times, among others. Her latest book is 2015's 'Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader,' an unconventional career guide on how to take advantage of today's fast-moving job market to rise to a position of leadership.
Martin is the former dean of the Rotman School of Management and current chair of Productivity and Competitiveness research. His 2013 book 'Playing to Win' is co-written with former Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley and tells the story of how together they 'doubled P&G's sales, quadrupled its profits, and increased its market value by more than $US100 billion in just 10 years.'
Hill is a professor at Harvard Business School, where she chairs the school's Leadership Initiative. Her latest book, 2014's 'Collective Genius,' explores case studies on how large organisations can use their size as an advantage to compete with highly innovative startups.
Tapscott is the founder and CEO of Global Solutions Networks, which publishes research on emerging networks driving global markets, and the CEO of the Tapscott Group, which works with both companies and national governments undergoing transformations. His current research is focused on the ways the technology behind Bitcoin is changing the world.
Kim and Mauborgne are INSEAD professors who first published 'Blue Ocean Strategy' in 2005, which proposed a system that would allow businesses to 'create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant.' In the past decade, they have worked with INSEAD to develop a robust Blue Ocean Strategy network that has inspired leaders across industries and sectors, from Box CEO Aaron Levie to the mayor of Orlando, Florida.
Christensen's 1997 book 'The Innovator's Dilemma' is widely considered to have captured so well the dynamic of how fast-moving startups can destroy major corporations or even industries that it's regarded as one of the best business books ever written. Christensen is a Harvard Business School professor and is considered one of the premiere experts on innovation.
Porter's books and research papers have established him as the leading authority in the field of management strategy -- Thinkers50 calls him 'the father of modern business strategy' -- and his work has been taught in business schools around the world for the past two decades. In addition to serving as the chair of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, Porter has worked with dozens of companies and national governments.
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