Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter is the most influential management thinker in the world, according to the 2015 Thinkers50, a ranking published every other year.

The top 50 list and award ceremony, dubbed the “Oscars of management thinking”, was founded in 2001 by authors and management consultants Des Dearlove and Stuart Crainer to honour the world’s most influential business thinkers.

Described by Thinkers50 as “the father of modern business strategy”, Porter, an expert on strategy and competitiveness, is regarded as the leading authority in the field of management strategy.

1511B33-Influential management thinkers Michael Porter quote card

In second place on the 2015 list is bestselling author Clayton Christensen, who topped the ranking in 2011 and 2013. His 1997 book The Innovator’s Dilemma introduced the idea of disruptive innovation to a generation of managers.

In joint third position are INSEAD professors W Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, authors of blockbuster business book Blue Ocean Strategy and a string of highly influential articles in the Harvard Business Review.

Thinkers50 says Porter’s influence on business strategy has been “immense”, with his work taught in business schools around the world for the past two decades. His Five Forces model, which helps businesses determine how well they can compete in markets, was the definitive approach for decades.

Since the financial crisis, Porter’s Shared Value, a concept he devised with management consultant Mark Kramer, argues that companies can increase profits while tackling social problems. The theory has “led the way in a reevaluation of the role and expectations of capitalism”, according to Thinkers50.

Most recently, Porter has applied his ideas to show how smart, connected products are creating a technological revolution that will transform competition and have profound implications for society.

In addition to serving as the chair of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, Porter has consulted for dozens of companies and national governments. Porter previously topped the list in 2007.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Porter said: “Management thinking and a new conception of how corporations relate to society is one of the most powerful tools we have in addressing society’s pressing challenges.

“Through creating Shared Value – which Mark Kramer and I have written about – I think we can create solutions to problems like healthcare, nutrition, the environment education, and housing. Ideas truly do change the world, and management thinking unlocks value in every field, not just business.”

For female thinkers, this year has been the best-ever showing – with women capturing 14 places out of the top 50 (up from 13 in 2013, 11 in 2011, and just five in 2009). Women take four of the top 10 places in the new ranking, equalling the 2013 tally. This compares well with the solitary one female thinker in the top 10 in 2011.

For the 2015 ranking, more than 20,000 people named their favourite thinker at the Thinkers50 website and 1,200 people nominated thinkers for specific Distinguished Achievement Awards.

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Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.

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Author: Rosamond Hutt is a Senior Producer at Formative Content. 

Image: Pedestrians cross a road at Tokyo’s business district. REUTERS/Yuya Shino.