2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Chak Fu Lam, City University of Hong Kong

Congrats to Chak Fu Lam of City University of Hong Kong for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Chak Fu Lam

City University of Hong Kong

“Chak Fu was a phenomenal professor that had a major impact on me both personally and professionally. While many others choose to keep the status quo and lecture, his classes were always lively and full of engagement. I actually felt motivated to read case studies in advance so I could come to class prepared to engage. One time, after a presentation, I knew wasn’t that impressive, and he told me very bluntly I have to be better. The relationship we had built helped; I knew he genuinely cared and knew I was capable of more. He also was extremely good at getting the class to stand up for our beliefs and be leaders in our personal and professional lives.” – Tyler Toscani 

Chak Fu Lam, 39, is an associate professor of management at the City University of Hong Kong. 

His research examines employee voice behavior — the upward communication of ideas, suggestions, or concerns to an employee’s leader, which is intended to benefit their work unit or organization. He is also interested in well-being and self-determination at work. 

His work has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Annals, Academy of Management Perspective, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Personnel Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 

He currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Psychology and Journal of Organizational Behavior, and he was recognized as one of the five Best Editorial Reviewers for his services to the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2021.

He won the College of Business First Year Lecture Teaching Award in 2018 and an Assurance of Learning award in 2022.


At current institution since what year? 2017

Education: PhD in Management and Organization, University of Michigan, Ross School of Business (Go Blue!); BA in Psychology and Economics, Middlebury College 

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Organizational Behavior and Leadership


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I began to recognize my skills in regard to conducting academic research. I have always been interested in applied psychology and focused on educational psychology, clinical psychology, and work psychology when conducting research as an undergraduate. Eventually, I had the opportunity to work with an esteemed leadership and team research scholar, who responded to emails I sent about an unpaid internship during the summer of my junior year. She inspired me to become a business school professor, and the rest is history!

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My current research seeks to answer the question, “How can employees manage the voice process successfully?” In this field, I explore three areas: communication tactics that enhance leader endorsement of voice, when and why leader voice endorsement may not be beneficial to voicing employees, and the development of voice as a habit and its consequences. 

My research shows that, although voice is often assumed to be risky and dangerous due to its challenging nature, there are many strategies employees can use to successfully speak up to their leader (e.g., building up their credibility, speaking up in a direct and respectful manner, or using questions to speak up to a dominant leader) and reap benefits from doing so (e.g., getting support from their leader in terms of implementation or ensuring they will receive credit for coming up with ideas or suggestions). If employees in an organization are able to manage the voice process correctly, they can yield incredible influence within their organization. 

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would definitely become a salesperson. The feeling associated with selling a product is so gratifying. And think about it: We are really selling ideas to peers, students, and practitioners.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I am able to apply theoretical knowledge to practical situations and deliver my message in a humble and humorous way. 

One word that describes my first-time teaching: Enthusiastic.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: It’s not (just) about publishing your ideas; it’s (also) about not getting your ideas rejected.

Professor I most admire and why: So many! Those who devote their lives to academic research and mentoring students; those who make an impact theoretically and/or practically; those who are able to combine their theoretical knowledge with practical implementation; those who write well; and those who are well-known and successful, yet remain humble and ethical.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Getting real-life business questions from top MBA students, and having answers to those questions in terms of both the why and the how. 

What is most challenging? It is sometimes challenging to empower and engage students enough that they feel completely comfortable responding to your questions; as a result, we may at times lose an opportunity to learn. 

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Open-minded.

In a word, describe your least favorite type of student: Disengaged.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… developmental. 


What are your hobbies? What are hobbies? Just kidding! I enjoy hiking, going to the gym, and playing video games, as well as watching all sorts of competitive sports (including on American Ninja Warrior and World Chase Tag). 

How will you spend your summer? Conducting research, attending seminars, and traveling with family.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I prefer to stay home and chill! If I must pick one: Rome.

Favorite book(s): First Break All the Rules; The Knowing-Doing Gap; The Three Kingdoms; and Guns, Germs, and Steel.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Amazing Race. What other TV show in the world has pushed people to their limits while encouraging them to succeed? There is a reason why the series has lasted for 30-odd seasons and counting.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Together by Sia. “Together, we can take it higher.”


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…Two things. First, stronger bridges between the knowing-doing gap. It’s not only possible but if done correctly, the effect is transformational. For example, business schools can help connect academic scholars with practitioners to enable scholars to incorporate real-life organizational examples in their lectures. Business schools can also encourage scholars to publish academic research that has clear practical implications and provide a forum for scholars to share their findings with practitioners. 

Second, further development opportunities are available for leaders as people. It would be great to be better able to help students understand that being a leader involves far more than just delivering the bottom line; it’s a character development journey that requires one to demonstrate empathy, compassion, gratitude, and humility, all while upholding ethical standards. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… balancing profit and social impact. 

I’m grateful for… all those who support me—my colleagues, co-authors, mentors, and family members. There are certainly bumps along the way, but I feel extremely lucky to have the support of those who matter most. I still have a lot to learn and room to grow as a teacher and a scholar, and I am grateful to be in a position to continue learning, improving, and sharing my knowledge with others every day.



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