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2002 News Archive

Accenture Study Yields Top 50 ‘Business Intellectuals’
Ranking of Top Thinkers and Writers on Management Topics

CAMBRIDGE, MA., May 22, 2002–Who are our best-known, highest-profile business intellectuals?

Accenture’s Institute for Strategic Change has compiled an intriguing ranking of the top 50 living business gurus, most of whom are business school academics, consultants, journalists or business executives. “For the purposes of this study, we define business intellectuals as influential thinkers and writers on business management topics,” said Tom Davenport, an Accenture partner and director of the Institute, which conducts original research focused on providing insight and ideas into strategic business issues.

The list was compiled as part of a broader study on the circulation of new ideas in business. A team of Institute researchers headed by Davenport conducted the study, which took seven months to complete. “The list is sure to cause some discussion around the water coolers of the business world,” said Davenport. “Yet it does give an objective, quantitative ranking of those individuals in the business arena whose ideas, writings, and teachings are forefront in the public consciousness.”

Topping the list is Michael E. Porter, who has been called the world’s most influential business school academic. The Harvard Business School professor and strategy expert is the author of Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, which is required reading for every Harvard MBA student.

Finishing tied for second are Tom Peters and Robert Reich. Peters is the management consultant who 20 years ago wrote In Search of Excellence, the bestseller on what it takes to compete and win in the world of business. Reich is the former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, a social and economic policy professor at Brandeis University, author of several books, including The Future of Success, and Democratic candidate for governor of Massachusetts. Completing the top 10 are:

The list uses the same criteria followed by Richard A. Posner in his book Public Intellectuals: A Study of Decline. Overall ranking is based on the sum of ranks in three separate groupings for each candidate based on the following:

Accenture’s Institute for Strategic Change began by compiling a list of approximately 300 names from various subjective guru rankings, and author lists of leading books and popular Harvard Business Review articles. The Business Intellectual rankings will also appear in a book written by Davenport and Laurence Prusak that is scheduled for publication by Harvard Business School Press in Spring 2003. The rankings will be expanded in the book.

The only women in the top 50 are Rosabeth Moss Kanter (11), a professor at Harvard and former editor of the Harvard Business Review, who is an expert on organizational change; and Esther Dyson (31), chairman of Edventure Holdings. The top non-US resident named on the list is Charles Handy (14), the UK-based author of The Age of Unreason and Age of Paradox. The top-ranking business executive is Bill Gates, Microsoft founder and chairman (19). Gates finished with the highest ranking in the media mentions and Google hits categories.

"Peter Drucker is clearly a globally recognized business guru, but his ranking wasn’t higher because he received fewer hits in non-business categories. On the other hand, I was surprised to see Reich’s ranking, which I attribute to the fact that he scored high in both the business guru list and the public intellectuals list," said Davenport, who as a prolific author, magazine writer and business school professor, was ranked 24 on the list. “I was pleased to see few purveyors of real schlock in the high ranks, yet disappointed to see so few women on the list and virtually all Americans.”

Other names in the top 50 include Michael Hammer, co-author of Reengineering the Corporation (16); Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People (18); Jack Welch, the former chairman of General Electric (33); Ken Blanchard, author of One Minute Manager (35); Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Records and Virgin Airlines (44); Anthony Robbins, the motivational speaker and author of the Personal Power series (45): and Michael Dell, the founder and chairman of Dell Computers (47).

1. Michael E. Porter26. John Seely Brown
2. Tom Peters27. George Gilder
3. Robert Reich28. Kevin Kelly
4. Peter Drucker29. Chris Argyris
5. Peter Senge30. Robert Kaplan
6. Gary S. Becker31. Esther Dyson
7. Gary Hamel32. Edward De Bono
8. Alvin Toffler33. Jack Welch
9. Hal Varian34. John Kotter
10. Daniel Goleman35. Ken Blanchard
11. Rosabeth Moss Kanter36. Edward Tufte
12. Ronald Coase37. Kenichi Ohmae
13. Lester Thurow38. Alfred Chandler
14. Charles Handy39. James MacGregor Burns
15. Henry Mintzberg40. Sumantra Ghoshal
16. Michael Hammer41. Edgar Schein
17. Stephen Covey42. Myron S. Scholes
18. Warren Bennis43. James March
19. Bill Gates44. Richard Branson
20. Jeffrey Pfeffer45. Anthony Robbins
21. Philip Kotler46. Clay(ton) Christensen
22. Robert C. Merton47. Michael Dell
23. C. K. Prahalad48. John Naisbitt
24. Thomas H. Davenport49. David Teece
25. Don Tapscott50. Don Peppers

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Ed Trapasso
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