Harvard Business School’s Amy Edmondson Tops Thinkers50 Ranking; Thinkers50 Award Recipients Announced

November 16, 2021

LONDON: Thinkers50, the premier ranking of global business thinkers, today announced its 2021 ranking of management thinkers and the recipients of its 11 Distinguished Achievement Awards.

For the first time the ranking is topped by Amy Edmondson of Harvard Business School. “Amy is already a Thinkers50 Award recipient and has risen steadily up the ranking over recent years,” says Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove.  “Her work on teamworking is significant and more recently she has been the pioneer of the concept of psychological safety and author of The Fearless Organization, a ground-breaking blueprint on creating a fear-free culture. Her work is repeatedly cited by the practitioners we talk to as practical and inspiring. It combines practicality with intellectual rigour.”

The new Thinkers50 ranking is the most diverse and global to date. It features a majority of women for the first time and includes thinkers from more than ten countries (including the US, China, the Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, the UK, Switzerland, Canada, Belgium and France). The new entrants to the ranking are: Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Chen Jin, Erica Dhawan, Frances Frei & Anne Morriss, Hubert Joly, Katy Milkman, Tsedal Neeley, Paul Polman & Andrew Winston, Navi Radjou, Megan Reitz, Laura Morgan Roberts, Sanyin Siang, and Amy Webb.

For the first time only the top ten are placed in ranking order with the remaining 40 listed alphabetically. “Events over the past two years really led us to question what we do and why we do it. Arranging the Thinkers50 in this way fits more readily with our belief that collaboration and community lie at the heart of the Thinkers50—and organizational success,” says Thinkers50’s Stuart Crainer.

Also announced at Thinkers50 2021 were the recipients of the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of Management Thinking”. The award recipients included the father of modern marketing, Philip Kotler, Reed Hastings (CEO of Netflix), and Hubert Joly (former CEO of BestBuy).  Among the Thinkers50 landmarks were the first Australian award recipient (Amantha Imber, recipient of the Innovation Award), the Trinidadian duo Leon Prieto and Simone Phipps for their work on cooperative advantage, and two Africa-based recipients: Louise van Rhyn (Ideas into Practice) and Nankhonde Kasonde-van den Broek (Coaching).


About Thinkers50

Founded in 2001, Thinkers50 identifies, ranks, and shares the very best management ideas globally. Every two years, the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards recognize individual achievement across a range of management categories, and the definitive global ranking of the 50 most influential business thinkers is published. The previous recipients are W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne, Roger Martin, Clayton Christensen, CK Prahalad, Michael Porter, and Peter Drucker.

Thinkers50 partners include the Business Ecosystem Alliance, Brightline Initiative, Fujitsu, the Haier Model Research Institute, the Haier Group, 100 Coaches, coaching.com, Executive Networks, India’s Institute for Competitiveness, ECSI Consulting, and Management Centre Turkey.


About Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove

Des Dearlove & Stuart Crainer are the founders and directors of Thinkers50. For two decades, they have been the recognized masters of finding and promoting the most accomplished and promising business and management thinkers worldwide. Internationally recognized experts on business ideas, they are the authors of more than 15 books available in 20 languages, editors of The Financial Times Handbook of Management, and are both former columnists to The Times. They advise thinkers and organizations worldwide.



Monika Kosman, communications director, Thinkers50





  1. Amy C. Edmondson (3)
  2. Rita G. McGrath (5)
  3. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne (1)
  4. Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (4)
  5. Roger L. Martin (2)
  6. Adam Grant (10)
  7. Scott Anthony (9)
  8. Whitney Johnson (14)
  9. Dan Pink (6)
  10. Linda Hill (22)

[Numbers 11 through 50 are arranged alphabetically]

Marshall van Alstyne & Geoff Parker
Sinan Aral
Rachel Botsman
Tiffani Bova
Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Chen Jin
Subir Chowdhury
Dorie Clark
Susan David
Erica Dhawan
Frances Frei & Anne Morriss
Francesca Gino
Heidi Grant
Lynda Gratton
Hal Gregersen
Anil K. Gupta & Haiyan Wang
Morten T. Hansen
Herminia Ibarra
Sheena Iyengar
Michael Jacobides
Hubert Joly
Frederic Laloux
Martin Lindstrom
Nilofer Merchant
Erin Meyer
Katy Milkman
Tsedal Neeley
Gianpiero Petriglieri
Paul Polman & Andrew Winston
Navi Radjou
Megan Reitz
Laura Morgan Roberts
Zhang Ruimin
Sanyin Siang
Simon Sinek
Michael Watkins
Amy Webb
Liz Wiseman
Ming Zeng




 “The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to someone who has had a long-term impact on the way people think about and practice management,” explains Thinkers50 co-founder Stuart Crainer. “Philip Kotler is truly the father of modern marketing.  Marketing Management has been the marketing bible for generations of students throughout the world.  But, much more than that, he has carried on over many decades as a pioneer of marketing in new industries and activities.  He has remained relevant, engaged and curious. To influence practice and theory over such an extended period is a remarkable achievement and to do this through genuinely groundbreaking ideas is even more so. It is a great thrill for us at Thinkers50 to celebrate Philip’s work.”

For over 50 years Philip Kotler has taught at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University where he is the S. C. Johnson Distinguished Professor of International Marketing.  “I am delighted to receive the Thinkers50 Lifetime Achievement Award,” he says. “Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off. The marketer’s watchwords are quality, service, and value. In this Age of Disruption marketing is increasingly important.

“The disrupter needs marketing to win new business and the incumbent needs marketing to defend existing business.  Both need innovation and marketing to create value and move forward.  Marketing may take a short time to learn but it requires a lifetime to master.   Business itself is a race without a finishing line. Within five years, if your company is in the same business that you are in now, you’re going to be out of business.”



Mohi U. Ahmed is a Bangladesh-born Canadian, currently working in Tokyo, Japan where he is the Executive Adviser on Open Innovation at Shimizu Corporation. “Mohi is a practitioner who realises the power of ideas,” says Thinkers50 cofounder Des Dearlove. “We have known him for more than a decade and have always admired and been inspired by his enthusiastic embrace of the latest management thinking and his willingness to put ideas to work first at Fujitsu and now at Shimizu. He puts collaboration and innovation at the heart of all his endeavours.”

Ahmed is the coauthor of Living Service — How to Deliver the Service of the Future Today, served as a visiting professor at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University in Japan, and established and managed the Open Innovation Gateway — Powered by Fujitsu based in Silicon Valley, California. He also served as the Principal Strategist at Fujitsu HQ in Japan.   He says: “I am thrilled and honored to receive this award from Thinkers50 which is an organization I have known of and worked with over the last decade. It is recognition of the people I have worked with and the fantastic collaborations I have enjoyed with the great thinkers like Ikujiro Nonaka, Henry Chesbrough, Steve Blank, Lynda Gratton, Amy Edmondson, Alex Osterwalder, Navi Radjou, Scott Anthony to name a few from the Thinkers50 community. Stuart and Des like to say there is nothing so practical as a great idea with purpose, and I hope I have gone some way to proving that during my time at Fujitsu and now at Shimizu.”


Joly is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, the former chairman and CEO of Best Buy and author of The Heart of Business – Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism (HBR, 2021). Thinkers50 says: “Hubert Joly brilliantly demonstrates how we can reinvent capitalism so that it contributes to a sustainable future.”


In partnership with Executive Networks

Meyer and Hastings are the authors of No Rules Rules (Penguin, 2020).  Hastings is the CEO of Netflix, the company he co-founded in 1995 after selling his first company Pure Software. Erin Meyer is a professor at INSEAD and author of The Culture Map (Profile, 2014).  Thinkers50 says: “Meyer puts the Netflix talent deck into a new global and cultural context. Together with reed Hastings they chart a powerful new way forward for maximizing talent.”


Dedicated to the legacy of CK Prahalad

Prieto and Phipps are the authors of African American Management History: Insights on Gaining a Cooperative Advantage  (Emerald, 2019). Prieto is an associate professor of management at Clayton State University and Phipps is an associate professor of management in the School of Business at Middle Georgia State University. Both are associate research fellows at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Social Innovation.

Says Thinkers50: “Cooperation really could — and should — be the future. Prieto and Phipps are potentially setting the new course of business advantage.”


In partnership with Fujitsu
Imber is an organizational psychologist and founder of behavioural science consultancy Inventium. She hosts the How I Work podcast which has had over 2 million downloads, and is the author of The Creativity Formula (Liminal Press, 2009) and The Innovation Formula (Wiley, 2016).  Says Thinkers50: “Amantha Imber is a bold and original voice in the world of work and innovation.”


In partnership with 100 Coaches and coaching.com

Kasonde-van den Broek is an executive coach, development activist and entrepreneur. She is the lead consultant at Nankhonde Kasonde Consultancy, and Founder and CEO of ZANGA African Metrics. She is a pioneer in the use of technology to develop affordable, accessible coaching and human capital development solutions for Africa. Says Thinkers50: “Nankhonde provides a boldly entrepreneurial and African centred take on coaching.”


Sinan Aral is the author of The Hype Machine (Currency, 2020) and is the David Austin Professor of Management, Marketing, IT and Data Science at MIT, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and a founding partner at Manifest Capital. Says Thinkers50: “Sinan Aral is a clear and persuasive guide to the realities of the new tech reality.”


In partnership with the Brightline Initiative
Milkman is the James G. Dinan Professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, host of Charles Schwab’s popular behavioural economics podcast Choiceology, and the former president of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making. She is the author of How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You are to Where You Want to Be (Portfolio, 2021).  Says Thinkers50: “Katy Milkman is an important and illuminating new voice on what change is really all about.”


Gotian is the chief learning officer and assistant professor of education in anesthesiology and former assistant dean of mentoring and executive director of the Mentoring Academy at Weill Cornell Medicine. She is the author of The Success Factor (Kogan Page, 2022).  Says Thinkers50: “Success redux: the humane route to success is presented with compelling clarity by Ruth Gotian.”


In 2010 Van Rhyn launched Partners for Possibility (along with Principal Ridwan Samodien). It has gone on to impact over 1,400 under-resourced schools, 44,000 teachers, 590,000 families and more than one million learners in South Africa. Says Thinkers50 : “Anyone looking for a fieldbook of turning ideas into impact, should study the work of Louise van Rhyn. She has changed lives for the better.”


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