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 2015

#1 Michael Porter

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

Porter’s “five forces framework” has been the definitive approach to business strategy for decades and is still taught in every business school in the world. His theory of “shared value” has led to a re-evaluation of the role and expectations of capitalism. Porter has devised strategy concepts and economic theory to tackle problems such as market competition, the environment, health care, and economic development. More recently he has demonstrated how new, smart technology will transform competition, with profound implications for society. His 2020 book, The Politics Industry (with Katherine M Gehl), examines America’s dysfunctional political system and identifies concrete action steps to fix it.

#2Clayton Christensen

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

#3W. 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…

#4Don Tapscott

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

#5Marshall Goldsmith

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

#6Linda Hill

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

#7 Roger Martin

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

#8 Herminia Ibarra

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

#9 Rita McGrath

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

#10 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…

#11 Richard D’Aveni

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

#12 Eric Ries

Best-selling author, entrepreneur, and business visionary, applying lean business principles to the reinvention of Wall Street…

#13 Vijay Govindarajan

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

#14 Richard Florida

Urbanist, champion of gentrification and the positive role of the “creative class” on city neighbourhood rejuvenation…

#15 Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur

The brains behind the world-renowned “business model canvas” – instrumental in helping new businesses put strategy into practice…

#16 Amy Edmondson

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

#17 Jeffrey Pfeffer

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

#18 Martin Lindstrom

International branding expert, who has led deep research into the minds of buyers, applying insights from neuroscience to develop the concept of “buyology”…

#19 Pankaj Ghemawat

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

#20 Steve Blank

Serial entrepreneur, and creator of the customer development method that launched the renowned lean startup movement.

#21 Teresa Amabile

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

#22 Daniel Goleman

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

#23 Seth Godin

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

#24 Henry Chesbrough

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

#25 Adam Grant

Specialist in organizational psychology, focusing on originality, motivation, non-conformity, generosity, meaningful work, and success…

#26 Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

Launched into the thought leadership stratosphere in 2014 with The Second Machine Age, their work continues to provide a road-map for success in a digital economy.

#27 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… 

#28 Jim 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…

#29 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…

#30 Gary Hamel

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

#31Lynda Gratton

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

#32Sylvia 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.

#33Fons Trompenaars

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

#34Morten Hansen

Author, professor, and management theorist, with award-winning work on social networks, collaboration, knowledge management, and corporate innovation…

#35Tammy 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…

#36Jennifer Aaker

A highly creative and innovative business professor, teaching courses ranging from happiness, humour, purpose, and empathy to augmented reality…

#37John Kotter

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

#38Zhang Ruimin

World-renowned entrepreneur, creating a unique, innovative, evolving business model that fuses management philosophies of east and west…

#39Subir 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….

#40Nirmalya Kumar

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

#41Sydney Finkelstein

Award-winning professor renowned for his research on leadership, strategy, and corporate governance and how to become a “superboss”…

#42Julian Birkinshaw

Recognised expert on innovation, entrepreneurship, and renewal in large corporations; prolific author making unique contributions on work practices…

#43Liz Wiseman

Best-selling author, proponent of talent development through leadership, advocates the power of harnessing collective intelligence…

#44Doug Ready

Doug Ready is the founder and CEO of the International Consortium for Executive Development Research and senior lecturer at MIT’s Sloan School of Management.

#45Umair Haque

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

#46Hal Gregersen

Catalytic questioner and global innovator, exploring how asking the right questions builds leadership and innovation, and drives purposeful change…

#47Anil Gupta

Anil K. Gupta is the Michael Dingman Chair in Strategy and Globalization at The University of Maryland at College Park. He is the author of several highly…

#48Nilofer Merchant

Prominent thought leader and strategist on the future of work in the social era, advocating for people in a technology-driven workspace…

#49Whitney Johnson

Expert on the powers of disruption, and the ways to grasp the opportunities of change, starting with the personal…

#50Amy Cuddy

Best-selling author, award-winning lecturer, and social psychology expert on the behavioural science of power, presence, and prejudice…

Thinkers50 Ranking 2015

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Thinkers50 Awards Gala 2023

Join us in celebration of the best in business and management thinking.