Sumantra Ghoshal
1948 - 2004

Humanist scholar, educator, and author.


Inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame, 2022.


Ranked #11 in 2003.

Previous positions:

#12 (2001).


Managing Across Borders listed by the Financial Times as one of the 50 most influential management books. 


Ghoshal’s 1999 book Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution, which he co-authored with Christopher Bartlett, was hugely influential and describes the emergence of a revolutionary corporate form – the transnational – and reveals how the nature of the global competitive game has fundamentally changed. Large enterprises, Ghoshal and Bartlett argued in their 1994 HBR article “Beyond Strategy to Purpose”, must move beyond strategy, structure, and systems to a framework built on purpose, process, and people. 

Ghoshal’s later work increasingly focused on the human side of management as opposed to the rational pressures of economics, which he saw as dangerous in denying the fundamental humanity of organizations. Ghoshal was critical of management thinking as “undersocialized and one-dimensional, a parody of the human condition more appropriate to a prison or a madhouse than an institution which should be a force for good.” 


Born in Calcutta, Ghoshal spent the later part of his professional career in Europe. He was a professor of strategic and international management at London Business School from 1994 and before that a professor at INSEAD from 1985. In India, he graduated from Delhi University with a physics major and went on to be the founding dean of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. He worked for the Indian Oil Corporation before going to the United States in 1981 on a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the MIT Sloan School of Management and Harvard Business School. 


Transnational Management: Text, Cases, and Readings in Cross-border Management (Cambridge University Press, 1992); The Individualised Corporation: A New Doctrine for Managing People (Harper Business, 1997); Managing Across Borders: The Transnational Solution (with Christopher Bartlett, HBR Press, 1999); A Bias for Action: How Effective Managers Harness Their Willpower, Achieve Results, and Stop Wasting Time (with Heike Bruch, HBR Press, 2004): Sumantra Ghoshal on Management (edited by Julian Birkinshaw and Gita Piramal, Financial Times/Prentice Hall, 2005).


Media picks


“A brilliant and original thinker in a field which needs more of them.”

The Guardian

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