For over 20 years, Thinkers50 has been identifying, ranking, and sharing the very best in management thinking.


About the Thinkers50 Ranking

Published every two years, the Thinkers50 Ranking is the definitive list of the most influential management thinkers in the world and answers one simple question: who is the world’s most influential living management thinker?

Nominations for the Thinkers50 Ranking are open from May to July in the years that the ranking takes place (odd-numbered years). The public is invited to participate in the online nomination process by submitting the names and qualifications of thinkers they wish to put forward for consideration. Nominations are accepted and encouraged from individuals and organisations across the globe.

All nominations for the Thinkers50 Ranking are considered by the Thinkers50 Panel of Advisors. Each new ranking is announced at the Thinkers50 Awards Gala held in November every other year, culminating in a countdown of the top 10.

The Thinkers50 Ranking uses a proprietary methodology for evaluating management thinking. Thinkers50 founders Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove lead the process, with input and review from the Thinkers50 advisors. The criteria are evaluated on a weighted basis taking account of the thinker’s performance over the long term, as well as over the two years since the previous ranking.


Thinkers50 Ranking: The Selection Process

The methodology is organised by two broad concepts: Viability – the quality and relevance of ideas; and Visibility – the influence and impact of ideas in the world. These concepts are quantified using 10 criteria.


  • Relevance (applicability to current issues and management practice)
  • Rigour (quality of research and theory)
  • Reach (international reach and reach across sectors)
  • Resilience (the durability of ideas in a rapidly changing global economy).


  • Influence (a measure of citations and references)
  • Media coverage and profile (traditional and social media)
  • Presence (public speaking profile and popularity)
  • Communication skills (image, accessibility, and dissemination)
  • Affiliations (associated networks and institutions)
  • Tools and techniques (practical applications).

Nominations are accepted between 15 May and 31 July in odd-numbered years.

Thinkers50 Ranking 2011

#1 Clayton Christensen

The architect of disruptive innovation, twice topped the Thinkers50 rankings, in 2013 and 2011.

As the world’s foremost authority on innovation, Christensen is best known for his theory of disruptive innovation. His work explores how innovative approaches can lead to organizational transformation and create valuable new sources of growth. Christensen’s analysis of the ongoing failure of economic developments to generate sustainable growth – the prosperity paradox – shows how market-creating innovation holds the key to national prosperity.

#2W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne

Inventors of the ground-breaking “blue ocean strategy”, paving the way for organizations to break out of fixed market boundaries and create a whole new space…

#3Vijay Govindarajan

Leading expert on strategy and innovation, teaches how to facilitate and execute breakthrough ideas to generate growth…

#4Jim Collins

Socratic advisor to leaders, focusing on what makes a business great and not just good; introduced five levels of leadership and the flywheel effect…

#5Michael Porter

The father of modern business strategy, and the most cited scholar today in economics and business…

#6Roger Martin

Prolific researcher providing valuable insights in strategy, governance, democratic capitalism, and social innovation.

#7 Marshall Goldsmith

One of the world’s leading executive educators, coaches, and authors, who was inducted into the Thinkers50 Hall of Fame in 2018…

#8Marcus Buckingham

Originator of the strengths movement, who challenges and inspires people to find and apply their strengths…

#9Don Tapscott

One of the world’s leading authorities on the impact of technology on business and society, pioneer in the advancement of the blockchain…

#10Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is an award winning staff writer for the New Yorker magazine. He is also the author of several best-selling books.

#11 Sylvia Ann Hewlett

An economist and founding president of the Center for Work-Life Policy, a non-profit think-tank, Sylvia Ann Hewlett is the author or co-author of 11 books.

#12 Lynda Gratton

Psychologist, with a unique focus on organizational change, and the movement of business from a competitive to a more collaborative work space…

#13 Nitin Nohria

Nitin Nohria is the dean of Harvard Business School. Prolific and insightful, his books include Driven: How Human Nature Shapes our Choices (2001)…

#14Robert Kaplan & David Norton

Best known as the originators of the Balanced Scorecard, a strategic management tool that links a company’s current actions with its long-term goals…

#15 Gary Hamel

Bureaucracy buster, champion of management revolution, and advocate for innovation as the driver of wealth creation…

#16 Linda Hill

Top expert on leadership and innovation, focused on global strategies, and how to harness creativity and engagement for strategic implementation…

#17 Seth Godin

Marketing pioneer, unleashing the power of the consumer and the importance of building trust, connections, and positioning in the market place…

#18 Teresa Amabile

Teresa Amabile is the Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at Harvard Business School…

#19 Rita McGrath

Globally recognized expert on strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship; champion of harnessing disruptive influences for competitive advantage…

#20 Richard Rumelt

Shortlisted for the 2013 Thinkers50 Strategy Award, Richard Rumelt is the Harry and Elsa Kunin Chair in Business and Society at UCLA Anderson School…

#21 Richard D’Aveni

Expert on competitive dynamics and disruptive production, and a powerful voice on the future impact of technology…

#22 Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University Graduate School of Business…

#23 David Ulrich

Dave Ulrich, a professor at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, at the University of Michigan, has a prodigious output of HR, leadership… 

#24 Tom Peters

Born in Baltimore in 1942 “with a lacrosse stick in one hand and oars over my shoulder,” Peters resided in California, mainly Silicon Valley…

#25 Rosabeth Moss Kanter

A master of strategic and practical insights focusing on leadership and responsible capitalism…

#26 Nirmalya Kumar

Lee Kong Chian Professor of Marketing at Singapore Management University & Distinguished Fellow, Emerging Markets Institute at INSEAD.

#27 Pankaj Ghemawat

Strategy professor and globalization expert, renowned for his robust analysis of global trends…

#28 Herminia Ibarra

Distinguished authority on leadership and career development, advocating the importance of strategic networks, and the value of collaboration…

#29 Daniel Pink

Recognized expert on the science of motivation, the science of timing, and the business zeitgeist; writes and creates at the intersection of work…

#30 Henry Mintzberg

Henry Mintzberg is Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies, at the Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University in Montreal….

#31 Costas Markides

Professor of strategic and international management and holds the Robert P. Bauman Chair of Strategic Leadership at the London Business School…

#32 Thomas Friedman

Triple Pulitzer Prize winner best known for his work on globalization and as an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.

#33 Tammy Erickson

Leading analyst of the changing workforce, with a focus on generational differences, and how organizations can engage the hearts and minds of their employees…

#34 John Kotter

John Kotter is a world-recognized expert on change management and leadership. He is the Konosuke Matsushita emeritus professor at Harvard Business School.

#35 Amy Edmondson

Pioneer and champion of psychological safety, studies people, projects and organizations to uncover the secrets of succesful teaming…

#36 Kjell Nordström & Jonas Ridderstråle

 Achieved fame as the authors of Funky Business – Talent Makes Capital Dance (1999) and collaborated on Funky Business Forever: How to enjoy capitalism (2007).

#37 Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs professor of cognition and education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

#38 Henry Chesbrough

Innovation thought leader who launched the “open innovation” paradigm; his research focuses on technology management and innovation strategy…

#39 Daniel Goleman

Author, psychologist, and science journalist, Daniel Goleman is best known as the champion of Emotional Intelligence.

#40 Vineet Nayar

Vineet Nayar is the vice chairman and CEO of HCL Technologies, a global information technology services company based in India.

#41 Rakesh Khurana

The Marvin Bower professor of leadership development at Harvard Business School.

#42 Fons Trompenaars

Author of the award winning Riding the Waves of Culture, Understanding Cultural Diversity in Business ( with Charles Hampden-Turner, 1994).

#43 Ken Robinson

Professor emeritus at the University of Warwick in the UK and speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education.

#44 Andrew Kakabadse

Andrew Kakabadse is one of the world’s leading experts on top teams, boardroom effectiveness and governance practice. 

#45 Stew Friedman

“Total leadership” guru, award-winning teacher, and best-selling author who explores how good leadership goes hand in hand with a richer life…

#46 Adrian Slywotzky

Adrian Slywotzky is a consultant and author of several books on economic theory and management. He is best known for his work on profitability and growth…

#47 Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey is best known for his 1989 book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The modern equivalent of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends

#48Sheena Iyengar

Leading expert on choice, studying the factors that influence the choices we make and how choice and meaning are intertwined…

#49 Umair Haque

Director of Havas Media Lab, founder of Bubblegeneration, and frequent tweeter and contributor to the online Harvard Business Review.

#50 Subir Chowdhury

“The quality prophet”, and best-selling author on “six sigma” philosophy, with insightful research on how quality affects all levels of business function and public policy….

Thinkers50 Ranking 2011

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