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

May 22, 2002

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.; 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:

  • Peter Drucker, a business philosopher and consultant for 60 years who is widely recognized as the father of modern management;


  • Peter Senge, MIT professor and author of The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization;


  • Gary Becker, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on human capital, and an Economics and Sociology professor at the University of Chicago;


  • Gary Hamel, Chairman of the boutique consulting firm Strategos, and author of Leading the Revolution;


  • Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock and The Third Wave;


  • Hal Varian, dean of the School of Information Management & Systems at the University of California at Berkeley, and author of Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy;


  • Daniel Goleman, journalist and author of the best seller Emotional Intelligence.

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:

  • Web hits using the Google search engine
  • Media mentions using the three Lexis/Nexis databases (major newspapers, magazine stories and transcripts) from April 1997 – April 2002
  • Scholarly citations found in the Science Citation and Social Sciences Citation indices during 1997-2002.

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. Porter 26. John Seely Brown
2. Tom Peters 27. George Gilder
3. Robert Reich 28. Kevin Kelly
4. Peter Drucker 29. Chris Argyris
5. Peter Senge 30. Robert Kaplan
6. Gary S. Becker 31. Esther Dyson
7. Gary Hamel 32. Edward De Bono
8. Alvin Toffler 33. Jack Welch
9. Hal Varian 34. John Kotter
10. Daniel Goleman 35. Ken Blanchard
11. Rosabeth Moss Kanter 36. Edward Tufte
12. Ronald Coase 37. Kenichi Ohmae
13. Lester Thurow 38. Alfred Chandler
14. Charles Handy 39. James MacGregor Burns
15. Henry Mintzberg 40. Sumantra Ghoshal
16. Michael Hammer 41. Edgar Schein
17. Stephen Covey 42. Myron S. Scholes
18. Warren Bennis 43. James March
19. Bill Gates 44. Richard Branson
20. Jeffrey Pfeffer 45. Anthony Robbins
21. Philip Kotler 46. Clay(ton) Christensen
22. Robert C. Merton 47. Michael Dell
23. C. K. Prahalad 48. John Naisbitt
24. Thomas H. Davenport 49. David Teece
25. Don Tapscott 50. Don Peppers

About Accenture
Accenture is the world's leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach–in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities–Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is http://www.accenture.com.

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