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List of business theorists

This is an annotated list of important business theorists. It is in alphabetical order based on last name. To facilitate reading, only names are hyperlinked. For quick navigation, click on one of the letters:


Business theorists:


  • D. Aaker - marketing strategy (1980s)
  • Derek Abell - strategic windows (1980s)
  • Russell L. Ackoff - operations research and systems theory (1950s - 2004)
  • Karol Adamiecki - management (1890s-1930s)
  • Kenneth Andrews - corporate values (1990s)
  • Chris Argyris - SWOT analysis, learning systems (1970s, 1980s, 1990s)


  • Charles Babbage - early scientific approach (1830s)
  • Chester Barnard - executive leadership (1920s, 1930s)
  • Jay Barney - resource based strategies (1980s, 1990s)
  • P. Blackett - operations research (1930s, 1940s)
  • Matthew Boulton - work methods (1800s)
  • R. Buzzell - PIMS study on market share (1970s, 1980s)


  • Robert Camp - benchmarking (1980s)
  • Alexander Church - functional management (1910s)
  • Ronald Coase - transaction cost analysis, industrial and organizational economics (1950s) [Nobel Prize in 1991]
  • James Collins - vision, mission, objectives and BHAG (1990s)
  • Philip Crosby - quality control (1980s) - "Quality is Free"


  • George Day - marketing (1970s)
  • Francisco DiMarco - cost accounting (1390s)
  • Harold Deming - quality control (1970s)
  • W. Edwards Deming - management, quality (1950s, 1960s)
  • Keith Denton - continuous improvement (1990s)
  • H. Dodge - statistical quality control procedures (1920s)
  • Peter Drucker - management theory, MBO (1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s)
  • J. Duncan - the first college textbook in management (1911)



  • Henri Fayol - the inter-relationships of the various parts of management (1910s)
  • Armand Feigenbaum Total Quality Control, "Quality is what the customer says it is."
  • Ronald Fisher - statistical management (1920s)
  • Mary Follett - group problem solving (1930s)
  • T. Fry - statistical queuing theory (1920s)


  • B. Gale - PIMS study on market share (1970s, 1980s)
  • Henry Gantt - gantt charts (1900s)
  • David Garvin - eight dimensions of quality
  • P. Ghemawat - experience curve (1980s)
  • Sumantra Ghoshal - strategic leadership, Individualised Corporation
  • James Gilbert - profit pools (1990s)
  • Frank Gilbreth - time and motion study (1900s), Cheaper by the Dozen
  • Eliyahu M. Goldratt - theory of constraints, critical chain project management (1980s)


  • Gary Hamel - core competencies, strategy as revolution (1990s)
  • Michael Hammer - reengineering (1990s)
  • F. Harris - economic lot size model (1910s)
  • Frederick Hertzberg - motivation theory
  • Frederick Hallsey - wage and compensation plans (1890s)


  • Kaoru Ishikawa (1915 - 1989) Total Quality, Ishikawa (fishbone) diagram


  • Joseph M. Juran - (1904-) Internal customer, quality trilogy


  • Robert Kaplan - balanced scorecard (1990s)
  • Philip Kotler - marketing management, marketing warfare (1970s, 1980s, 1990s)
  • John Kotter - leadership (1980s, 1990s)


  • Peter Lawrence - the Peter Principle (1970s)
  • E. Learned - SWOT analysis (1970s, 1980s)
  • W Leffingwell - office management (1910s)
  • Theodore Levitt - marketing (1960s, 1970s)
  • John Lintner - finance (1970s)


  • Mahajan - strategic models (1970s, 1980s)
  • Constantinos Markides - strategy dynamics (1980s)
  • Henry Markowitz - portfolio diversification (1960s, 1970s)
  • Elton Mayo - the sociology of business interactions (1920s)
  • Daniel McCallum - organizational charts (1850s)
  • Regis McKenna - real-time management (1990s)
  • Leo Melamed - futures exchanges (1980s - 1990s)
  • Henry Metcalfe - the science of administration (1880s)
  • Merton Miller - corporate finance (1970s)
  • Henry Mintzberg - organizational behaviour
  • Franco Modigliani - corporate finance (1970s)
  • James Moncrieff - strategy dynamics (1990s)
  • Hugo Musterberg - the psychology of work (1910s)



  • Kenichi Ohmae - strategic thought processes (1970s, 1980s)
  • David Ogilvy - advertising (1960s, 1970s)
  • Robert Owen - mutually beneficial personnel practices (1810s)


  • L. Paccioli - double entry bookkeeping (1340s)
  • Jeffrey Pfeffer - organizational development (1980s)
  • Henry Poor - the principles of organization (1850s)
  • Michael Porter - strategic management, value chain, generic strategies, 5 forces (1970s, 1980s, 1990s)
  • Tom Peters - Excellence theories (1970s, 1980s)
  • C K Prahalad - core competency (1980s)



  • Frederick Reichheld - the loyalty effect (1990s)
  • Al Reis - positioning theory (1980s)


  • Don Schultz - integrated promotional strategy (1990s)
  • Walter Scott - the psychology of personnel management (1920s)
  • Patricia Seybold - e-marketing, e-commerce (1990s)
  • Oliver Sheldon - the philosophy of business (1920s)
  • J. Sheth - business strategy (1990s)
  • Walter A. Shewhart - Bell Labs 1920's-30's - control charts
  • Shigeo Shingo - (1909-) Zero Quality, Poka-Yoke
  • Herbert A. Simon - (1916-2991) "Satisficing," Nobel Prize 1978
  • Adrian Slywotzky - value migration (1990s)
  • Adam Smith - microeconomic foundations of business, specialization of labour (1770s)
  • the Soranzo brothers - journals and ledgers (1410s)


  • Genichi Taguchi (1924-) How product specification can become cost effective production
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor - Scientific Management (1900s)
  • Ordwat Tead - the psychology of industry (1910s)
  • Henry Towne - the science of management (1890s)
  • Jack Trout - positioning theory (1980s)




  • Richard Waterman - Excellence theories (1970s, 1980s)
  • James Watt - standard operating procedures, cost control (1810s)
  • Joseph Wharton - first college course in business management (1881)
  • Eli Whitney - interchangeable parts, cost accounting (1810s,1820s)
  • Oliver Williamson - transaction cost analysis (1970s)
  • Yoram Wind - strategic behavioural models (1970s, 1980s)




Harvard Business Review Survey

The Harvard Business Review asked 200 management gurus—the business thinkers most often mentioned in the media and management literature—who their gurus were. Below are their responses.

Eight Mentions Peter Drucker: Management theory

Seven Mentions James March: Social scientist at Stanford

Six Mentions Herbert Simon (1916–2001): Nobel laureate economist and organizational theorist

Five Mentions Paul Lawrence: Organizational researcher at Harvard Business School

Four Mentions Richard Beckhard (1918–1999): Management theorist at MIT • Fernand Braudel (1902–1985): French historian • Henry Mintzberg: Management writer and critic at McGill • Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950): Economist at Harvard • Karl Weick : Social psychologist at the University of Michigan

Three Mentions Russell Ackoff : Operations and systems theorist at Wharton • Warren Bennis: Leadership theorist and writer at the University of Southern California • Ronald Coase: Nobel laureate economist at the University of Chicago • W. Edwards Deming (1900–1993): Statistician and quality consultant • Erving Goffman (1922–1982): Sociologist • Gary Hamel: Consultant and management writer • Jay Lorsch : Organizational researcher at Harvard Business School • Michael Porter: Professor of strategy and competitiveness at Harvard Business School • C.K. Prahalad : Management theorist at the University of Michigan • Jack Welch: Former CEO, General Electric • Oliver Williamson: Organizational economist at the University of California, Berkeley

Two Mentions Chris Argyris: Organizational psychologist at Harvard • Kenneth Arrow: Nobel laureate economist at Stanford • Gregory Bateson (1904–1980): Anthropologist • Daniel Bell: Sociologist at Harvard • John Seely Brown : Former chief scientist at Xerox • Alfred Chandler : Historian at Harvard Business School • C. West Churchman: Systems theorist • James Collins : Management writer and consultant • Eric Erikson (1902–1994): Psychological-growth theorist at Harvard • Michel Foucault (1926–1984): French polymath • Anthony Giddens: British sociologist • Andrew Grove: Former CEO, Intel • Everett Hughes (1897–1983): Sociologist • Michael Jensen : Organizational strategist and former professor at Harvard Business School • Stuart Kauffman: Biologist, chaos and complexity theorist • Kurt Lewin (1890–1947): Social psychologist • Karl Marx (1818–1883): German economist and social theorist • Douglas McGregor (1906–1964): Management theorist at MIT • Robert K. Merton (1910–2003): Sociologist at Columbia • Geoffrey Moore: Management writer and consultant • Richard Pascale : Management writer and consultant • Jeffrey Pfeffer : Business professor at Stanford • Paul A. Samuelson: Nobel laureate economist at MIT • Edgar Schein: Psychologist and management scholar at MIT • Adrian Slywotsky : Management writer and consultant • Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856–1915): The “father of scientific management” • John Van Maanen : Ethnographer at MIT • Sidney Winter : Economist at Wharton

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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45