World’s 50 Best Business School Professors


There is near consensus about what these profs think is the worst part of the job: grading. As Ronald Wilcox, who teaches the marketing of financial services, at Virginia’s Darden School, puts it: “Grading papers is mindless. Numb. Bored. Self-Flagellation. Get me out of here!” There’s often another pet peeve admitted by few profs. Academic politics. Stanford’s Robert Sutton recalls a 90-minute meeting with 25 people devoted to the sole topic of how to regulate the office supply cabinet.  “Of course,” he says,  “no decisions were made but we all wasted a lot of time. I confess, however, that I wouldn’t sit through that meeting now. I have learned that when a meeting is overly political or overly boring, and I am not central, that it is better for me to just walk out–not just because it wastes my time, but because I am prone to say things I regret.”

Truth is, these professors are at the top of their game partly because they have risen far above academia’s internal politics to achieve  pervasive influence in their chosen fields. They hail from the most prestigious business schools worldwide, yet their impact is in no way confined to the proverbial ivory tower. Instead, they’ve advised governments and organizations on nearly every continent on the map, thus making their ability to reshape the way we think about and do business—in one word—undeniable.

Tom Davenport of Babson College is one example. His research on leveraging consumer data as part of a company’s strategic plan pre-dates Google Analytics and other data management buzzwords we’ve heard. Davenport has authored 13 books on business analytics, some of which are the first texts ever written on the subject.


You can also add Harvard’s Michael Porter and London Business School’s Lynda Gratton to this list of game changers. Because of his thought leadership centered on strategic competitiveness, Porter is simply known as the father of modern strategy. In 2008, he received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for his contribution to economic development. He has spearheaded Harvard’s highly ambitious initiative to draw attention to policy changes needed to make the U.S. more globally competitive.

London’s Professor Gratton, meantime, has been recognized as the business thinker most likely to make a real difference over the next 10 years for her academic work in human resource management. In her latest book, The Shift, Gratton prophetically exclaims the future of work is already here as she hones in on five forces that will fundamentally change the way individuals view and engage in work over the next decade: globalization, society, demography, technology, and energy. In addition to The Shift providing a glance into the crystal ball of workforce management, there’s an app for it. The book’s app—available on iTunes—includes Gratton’s daily tips and advice for individuals seeking to shape their work futures.

Not all of the professors on this list had a meteoric rise from the first day they walked in front of a classroom filled with MBA students. Consider Pankaj Ghemawat, who now teaches strategy at Spain’s IESE Business School. To say Ghemawat’s teaching career got off to a rocky start would be putting it nicely. At just 23 years old, all but three of his students were older than he was at the time. He was visibly nervous as he gave his first lecture. He even reached a point where his vocal chords became paralyzed, leaving him in a state of near total paralysis. “All I could do was point a finger to signal which student would speak next.”

To make matters worse, Ghemawat says, “I was teaching the class Porter had launched. So the students weren’t too thrilled when they showed up for class and saw me instead of him.” The “Porter” Ghemawat refers to is the Michael Porter. Eventually, Ghemawat found his stride. He not only went on to teach at HBS for 25 years, he also became the youngest full professor in the school’s history.

  • AugustineThomas

    I have to point out that everyone who is badmouthing the list seems to just be upset that their favorites didn’t make it..

  • AugustineThomas

    Quit being such a modern brat. Just because your favorite isn’t on there doesn’t mean the list is worthless.

  • AugustineThomas

    Nobel prize recipients are often mediocre at best and are just as likely to be more pleasing to the judges than important to the world.

  • AugustineThomas

    Europe is free to stop committing population and cultural suicide and start contributing to the world again in its own right whenever it wants to.. (If nothing else, it would be great for it to stop enticing America down the cultural toilet!)

  • Giraffe

    Why only the best at top recognized B schools? Why not the various smaller liberal arts or even some state schools have fantastic professors. I am tired of the biased stories that keep perpetuating the false myth that keep favoring the perceived same top schools when in reality there are many schools that produce great results and even very good research.

  • Melanie G

    Thanks for this. I was looking into this program and this has made me reevaluate the issue.

  • Misty Johnson
    UCLA NUS Executive MBA Program Jochen Wirtz Academic Director Abusive Egomaniac Overpaid Fraud

  • CatoDevil

    At Fuqua – John Graham and Doug Breeden are excellent as well and should be on the list.

  • Jeff

    FYI, Ron Wilcox is a part of Darden’s Marketing department, not Finance. Also, VERY surprised Ed Freeman, one of the founders of stakeholder theory, is not included on this list.

  • Jochen Wirtz, Head of NUS UCLA EMBA is the most self-absorbed and egotistical person on the face of the earth.

  • Daniel


    There are Nobel prizes at Booth that are really good professors, at par or even better than professors like Goolsbee. However, Goolsbee appears a lot in the media.
    Rajan, great professor, is also in media all the time. He has done some research too, but cannot compare with that of Murphy, Becker, Fogel, and others.

  • Gotta agree with some of the comments here. This list seems like a trailing indicator (who were the best professors of the past 20 years) as opposed to who are the best professors right now.

    For my money, the best professors at Wharton (at least for innovation and entrepreneurship) are Karl Ulrich, David Wessels, Pete Fader, and Kartik Hosanagar. Alex Edmans (Finance), Peggy Bishop Lane (Accounting), and Nicolaj Siggelkow (Strategy) are also professors doing a great job teaching in the core. All of these professors are actively producing academic work and helping build great companies for the future…

  • NZ

    No Gary Hamel? No Phanish Puranam? No Andrew Scott? No Richard Portes? mmmm…..

  • JohnAByrne


    The list isn’t of the best business school teachers, but the best professors overall. So we sought to find professors who were at the top of their game in both teaching and scholarly research. That’s why student evaluations of teaching won’t fully capture what we were aiming for in this story.

  • WSoxFan77

    Booth EMBA here and have to agree with you. In my opinion, Steven Kaplan is the best professor at Booth, a school renowned for finance. This list is made of people who are popular / known in the media. Although, there are some names like Damodaran, Porter, Christensen, etc. that are universally acknowledged as some of the best professors in the country.

  • Daniel

    This list has little credibility. I’m a Booth second year student, and although Goolsbee and Rajan are really good professors, there are at least 8 other professors than are ranked above them in the professors evaluations that students have to fill after every class, such as Schrager, Kaplan, Deutsch, Murphy, Hurst, etc.

  • 80%Poet20%Quant

    The fact that Scott Neslin of Tuck is not on this list is a tragedy. He’s a luminary in the fields of sales promotions and database marketing – he practically invented them – and a wonderful teacher & mentor.

  • John

    No Zeynep Ton from MIT on here? This list now has no credibility.

  • Rngr

    Correction: It should be “America’s best professors with a few london profs together list”..oh I forget! America IS the world…damn me! how could I forget that?

  • Editor

    Quick correction – Balasubramanian teaches at Kenan-Flagler not Bahsubrama

  • Lucas D’Alessandro

    Andrea: I found one mistake. Adam Galinsky is now part of Columbia Business School. Cheers!

  • JAW

    I had Peter Morici as a teacher for undergrad…most self-absorbed and egotistical person I have ever met and one of the worst teachers I had over my 4 years of college. Everyone in his class got an A and he taught nothing but made us watch his TV clips for an hour.

    Joke of a man