2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Gorgi Krlev, ESCP Business School

Congrats to Gorgi Krlev of the ESCP Business School for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Gorgi Krlev

ESCP Business School

“I was fortunate enough to have been a student of Gorgi’s and was greatly impressed by his enthusiastic teaching style and sincere passion for the subject matter. Gorgi had a remarkable ability to connect theoretical business concepts with real-world applications, which was truly inspiring. His teaching methods were very interactive and had a profound impact on all of his students. As a renowned authority on social entrepreneurship, innovation, and impact, Gorgi’s teachings have motivated countless students to bring about sustainable change in their personal and professional lives. His lessons go beyond the classroom, inspiring students to make a positive difference in their local communities and the wider world.” –  Arpit Aggarwal

Gorgi Krlev, 38, is an assistant professor of sustainability at ESCP Business School in Paris. 

His research deals with social entrepreneurship, social innovations, and impact, with a particular focus on how cross-sector collaborations and new field emergence promote societal transformations and contribute to addressing environmental and social sustainability challenges.

He has won numerous awards for his research, teaching, and impact work. Most prominently is First Prize by the Roman Herzog Institute for research (on social impact) that matters to society. He won a best book award from the Academy of Management for “Social Innovation: Comparative Perspectives,” and a Responsible Business Education Award for TRANSFORM from the Financial Times. In 2021, his MOOC “Accelerating Investment Readiness” on social entrepreneurship and impact investing was recognized for its impact on stakeholders by the U.S. Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE).

His new book “Social Economy Science: Changing the Economy and Making Society more Resilient” is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Krlev serves on the Board of Directors of Euclid Network, the international network of impact-driven leaders supported by the European Commission.


At current institution since what year? 2022

Education: MSc Business and Management (University of Mannheim; exchange semester Kedge Business School, Bordeaux), Ph.D./DPhil University of Oxford, Habilitation Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (ongoing)

List of MBA courses you currently teach: Sustainability. The course focuses on social and environmental sustainability in an integrative way.  It spans from understanding planetary boundaries to societal causes for our sustainability challenges to developing effective solutions to meet those challenges. It not only covers the role of corporate responsibility but also deals with entrepreneurial approaches, civic engagement, and policies—all of which are indispensable for sustainable transformation.


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I realized that we need more and better evidence to help society move from injustice to equity, from exclusion to cohesion, and from conflicts to collaboration. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I have extensively studied social innovation and societal impact. One of my core arguments is that we fail to support either effectively if we try to understand them by way of their commercial counterparts. Instead, we need to remodel our mindsets, norms, and resources to cope with their inherent complexity and collaborative nature. Many of these aspects are covered in Social Economy Science which will be published soon.  

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would be running the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, which is currently vacant. I would do it to preserve a place where academics can invest substantial amounts of time to think about their masterpiece. Just as the 12 years Tolkien spent working on the Lord of the Rings. And undoubtedly, it would be great fun.  

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I am passionate about what I teach and I believe I have the ability to ignite that passion in my students. 

One word that describes my first time teaching: Enthused 

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: How much of a difference you can make if you truly combine research, teaching, and impact work, which I use to refer to engaging deeply with practitioners and policymakers. And also: how hard it is to do all of that within an academic system that is still narrowly focused on publishing papers.

Professors I most admire and why: Gayle Avery and Robert Isaak because they unleashed my drive to become an academic by demonstrating how you can convey important messages in a university classroom in an entertaining way and how management research can be meaningful. More generally, those academics have succeeded in changing established patterns. Such as Amartya Sen because of his new approach to understanding poverty or the late Pierre Bourdieu because of his work that uncovered how social inequalities manifest in society.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? That I can have a direct influence on the minds, deeds and souls of future leaders. 

What is most challenging? Their imagination and creative spirit is often crowded out by thinking in terms of business models or by their urge to use classical, rather simplistic management tools. It takes quite some effort to make them focus on how they could solve complex social problems more effectively.

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Strict. But generous when I see the profound effort.


What are your hobbies? I love spending time with my two daughters and I enjoy being outside, for example when hiking through the woods or in the mountains. I used to box, but I have become lazy in the past few years.

How will you spend your summer? My family and I will be visiting Boston and NYC and spending some time on Cape Cod. We had planned this trip several years ago right before my wife got seriously ill and we had to cancel everything. Now is the occasion to do it, eventually!

Favorite place(s) to vacation: The main thing for me is that a vacation comes with experiences. It can be where it’s hot or cold, in the mountains or at the sea. I like places that are a bit off the beaten track, and a holiday that combines some relaxation and nature, with exploring a new city. 

Favorite book(s): The Strike novels, for J.K. Rowling’s amazing versatility in storytelling. The Name of the Wind, for Patrick Rothfuss’ sheer power of imagination. And Jostein Gaarder’s Sophie’s World because it teaches us to think (differently) about who we are and the purpose of life.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I recently watched King Richard about Venus and Serena Williams’ father. You can only admire the humility, dedication, and confidence through which he helped his daughters become some of the greatest athletes on the planet. One of my all-time favorites, however, is one of Fatih Akin’s early movies called In July. A wonderfully light, fun, and charming road movie about love and fate that takes us from Hamburg to Istanbul.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? In particular indie rock and hip-hop. But I love any kind of music as long as it is moving, in the physical or emotional sense.  


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… It would care deeply about whether it makes a positive difference to the world. Gladly, when it comes to that, I am in a very good place at present. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Imagine what they can achieve together rather than do alone. I refer to this as a move towards Integrative Strategy.

I’m grateful for… People who know what it is worth to be kind.


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