Harvard | Mr. Public Finance
GMAT 720, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Startup
GRE 327, GPA 3.35
Darden | Mr. Leading Petty Officer
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Harvard | Ms. Almost Ballerina
GRE ..., GPA ...
Darden | Mr. Federal Consultant
GMAT 780, GPA 3.26
Stanford GSB | Mr. Rocket Scientist Lawyer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65 Cumulative
Harvard | Mr. Polyglot
GMAT 740, GPA 3.65
Darden | Mr. Engineer Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Stanford GSB | Mr. Navy Officer
GMAT 770, GPA 4.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Systems Change
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Tuck | Mr. Consulting To Tech
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Harvard | Ms. Ambitious Hippie
GRE 329, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Milk Before Cereals
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Harvard | Mr. Sales To Consulting
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INSEAD | Ms. Hope & Goodwill
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INSEAD | Mr. Airline Captain
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB to PM
GRE 338, GPA 4.0
IU Kelley | Ms. Biracial Single Mommy
, GPA 2.5/3.67 Grad
Darden | Ms. Unicorn Healthcare Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBA Class of 2023
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Chicago Booth | Mr. Guy From Taiwan
GRE 326, GPA 3.3
Stanford GSB | Mr. Energy Reform
GMAT 700, GPA 3.14 of 4
Ross | Mr. Verbal Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
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Kellogg | Mr. Danish Raised, US Based
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Wharton | Mr. Sr. Systems Engineer
GRE 1280, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Semiconductor Guy
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Harvard Profs Dominate Leading Thinkers List

Harvard's Clay Christensen is a masterful, spell-binding teacher and one of the world's great thought leaders

Harvard’s Clay Christensen is a masterful, spell-binding teacher and one of the world’s great thought leaders

Which business school can boast the largest number of the world’s most influential management thinkers?

Hands down, Harvard Business School has emerged the leading home of the most important thought leaders in management once again, according to the Thinkers50, a biennial ranking published today (Nov. 11).

Harvard has nine of the top 50 thinkers on the list, including No. 1 Clayton Christensen, the originator of the theory of disruptive innovation. Christensen topped the list for the second consecutive time, an achievement matched only by Peter Drucker and C.K. Prahalad.


Harvard’s dominance on the list was striking. HBS has more than four times the representation as Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business which managed to get two of the top 50. INSEAD landed four professors on the Thinkers50, including No. 2 W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, the authors of Blue Ocean Strategy, a book that has sold more than two million copies. The London Business School had a quartet of profs on the top 50 list led by No. 14 Lynda Gratton, a well-known expert on leadership.

Despite the relatively smaller size of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and  the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, each school boasted  three players in the top 50. Tuck’s three thought leaders were No. 4 strategy maven Vijay Govindarajan, No. 17 Richard D’Aveni, and No. 43 Sydney Finkelstein, who studies leadership. The world’s most famous executive coach, Marshall Goldsmith, who was tenth on the list of leading thinkers, also teaches at Tuck–but in its executive education programs. Meantime, Rotman can claim  former Dean Roger Martin, who came in third, consultant and speaker Don Tapscott, who came in fourth, and Richard Florida, the economist, who came in 25th.

The list–put out by the consulting firm of Crainer Dearlove–is widely followed by leadership and management professors, consultants and observers. While business school professors tend to dominate the list, it also includes a fair number of consultants, executive coaches and corporate executives, including Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Procter & Gamble’s A.J. Lafley.

The Thinkers50, hyped by its publisher as the ‘Oscars of management thinking,” largely reflects the fields of leadership, management and strategy and not all the disciplines of a business school, such as accounting, finance, operations, and marketing (the latter of which is poorly represented on the list.) The list, moreover, is hardly the result of a rigorous review of each person’s contributions, but rather open voting on a website that encourages get-out-the-vote campaigns by some of the people on the list.


As usual, Harvard left every other business school in the dust, with six of its nine entries in the top 25. Besides No. 1 Christensen, the school had No. 7 strategy guru Michael Porter, No. 8 leadership expert Linda Hill, No. 15 leadership professor Amy Edmondson, No. 21 HBS Dean Nitin Nohria, No. 22 entrepreneurship professor Teresa Amabile. Long-time leadership veteran John Kotter was 32nd, while management expert Rosabeth Moss Kanter was 38th. Rakesh Khurana, who has written about business schools and MBA education, was No. 46th.

Most business schools–including Columbia, Wharton, Duke, and Michigan–all had one professor who made the list.

Thinkers50 asks those who vote to use the following criteria to assemble its list:

1. Relevance of ideas

2. Rigor of research

3. Presentation of ideas

4. Accessibility/dissemination of ideas

5. International outlook

6. Originality of ideas

7. Impact of ideas

8. Practicality of ideas

9. Business sense

10. Power to inspire

Voters are asked to consider the first five criteria based on how the candidates have performed since the last ranking. They consider the next five looking at the long term.

(See following page for a table of all the business school professors on the list)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.