The pair were ranked the world's most influential management thinkers for their thought-leadership on companies that seek out “blue oceans” of untapped market space, rather than competing head-to-head in “red oceans”.

By Ian Horswill


Posted on November 21, 2019

Renée Mauborgne, a professor of strategy at INSEAD, one of the most distinguished business schools, has become the first woman to be named the world’s most influential management thinker.

Renée Mauborgne shared the top of the bi-annual Thinkers50 2019 ranking, widely regarded the “Oscars of Management Thinking”, with W. Chan Kim, an INSEAD Professor of Strategy and International Management who is the first person from Asia to be ranked at the top.

Read next: Everything a new CEO needs to know to hit the ground running

It is also the first time professors from a European business school have been named as the world’s most influential management thinkers.

W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne are co-authors of the New York Times bestseller and a #1 Wall Street Journal bestseller, Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing – Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth, and the global bestseller Blue Ocean Strategy.

The pair were ranked the world’s most influential management thinkers for their thought-leadership on companies that seek out “blue oceans” of untapped market space, rather than competing head-to-head in “red oceans”.

Blue Ocean Strategy is recognised as one of the most iconic and impactful strategy books written. It has sold over four million copies and is published in a record-breaking 46 languages. It is a bestseller across five continents.

“At Thinkers50 we believe there is nothing so practical as a great idea, and the concepts and tools developed by Kim and Mauborgne have been utilised throughout the world,” said Thinkers50 co-founder Stuart Crainer. “We have first-hand experience of how blue ocean strategy has been used not only by businesses but also by schools and governments. And Kim and Mauborgne’s recent work on non-disruptive innovation provides intriguing new insights.”

Thinkers50, founded in 2001, identifies, ranks, and shares the very best management ideas globally. Every two years, the Thinkers50 Distinguished Achievement Awards recognise individual achievement across a range of management categories, and the definitive global ranking of the 50 most influential business thinkers is published. Previous top-ranked thinkers include Roger Martin, Clayton Christensen, CK Prahalad, Michael Porter, and Peter Drucker.

Thinkers50 partners include Accenture, Brightline PMI, Cognizant, Executive Networks, Fujitsu, the Haier Group, 100 Coaches, India’s Institute for Competitiveness, Management Centre Turkey, the UK’s National Centre for Leadership & Management, the Oman Business Forum, and The World Business & Executive Coaching Summit.

These are the Thinkers50 ranking for 2019 (2017 ranks in brackets):

  1. W Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne (4)
  2. Roger L Martin (1)
  3. Amy C Edmondson (13)
  4. Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur (7)
  5. Rita G McGrath (10)
  6. Dan Pink (11)
  7. Richard A D’Aveni (9)
  8. Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee (12)
  9. Scott Anthony (34)
  10. Adam Grant (8)
  11. Simon Sinek (18)
  12. Eric Ries (16)
  13. Lynda Gratton (29)
  14. Whitney Johnson (30)
  15. Zhang Ruimin (26)
  16. Hal Gregersen (24)
  17. Liz Wiseman (35)
  18. Herminia Ibarra (20)
  19. Pankaj Ghemawat (17)
  20. Martin Lindstrom (36)
  21. Francesca Gino (49)
  22. Linda Hill (15)
  23. Steve Blank (14)
  24. Subir Chowdhury (27)
  25. Anil K Gupta and Haiyan Wang (28)
  26. Morten T Hansen (41)
  27. Nilofer Merchant (22)
  28. Ming Zeng (-)
  29. Michael Watkins (-)
  30. Rachel Botsman (46)
  31. Gary Hamel (32)
  32. Erin Meyer (39)
  33. Susan David (40)
  34. Seth Godin (33)
  35. Amy Cuddy (43)
  36. Marshall van Alstyne and Geoff Parker (-)
  37. Gianpiero Petriglieri (47)
  38. Marcus Buckingham (-)
  39. Frederic Laloux (-)
  40. Gary Pisano (-)
  41. Jim Collins (31)
  42. Sheena Iyengar (-)
  43. Stew Friedman (38)
  44. Sydney Finkelstein (23)
  45. Julian Birkinshaw (45)
  46. David Burkus (48)
  47. Heidi Grant (50)
  48. Dorie Clark (-)
  49. Michael Jacobides (-)
  50. Tiffani Bova (-)

The rankings and awards are based on a set of metrics and input from advisors led by the award’s founders. It has ten established criteria including originality and practicality of ideas, international outlook, ability to inspire, and presentation style. Every two years, Thinkers50 salutes the leading business and management ideas of the current age with its Ranking of Management Thinkers and its awards for distinguished achievement in a number of specific management categories. Its annual Radar list introduces emerging thinkers with the potential to make lasting contributions to management theory and practice.