The world’s leading expert on competitiveness and business strategy
2015 Ranking: #1
Regarded as the father of modern business strategy, Michael Porter is the outstanding business thinker of his generation. Porter’s influence on business strategy has been immense. His Five Forces Framework is still taught in every business school in the world. Since the financial crisis of 2008, Porter’s theory of Shared Value has led the way in a re-evaluation of the role and expectations of capitalism.
A renowned economist, Porter returned to the No. 1 place in the Thinkers50 in 2015 after previously topping the list in 2007. According to Fortune magazine, he has “influenced more executives – and more nations – than any other business professor on earth.”
Porter’s first book, Competitive Strategy (Free Press), has defined the modern strategy field since its publication in 1980. Throughout his career at Harvard Business School, he has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies, including market competition and company strategy, economic development, the environment, and health care.
Named a University Professor by Harvard University – the highest recognition that can be awarded to a Harvard faculty member – Porter and his competitive doctrine continue to spur catalytic change across global business, government and social sectors.
Since 2001, Porter has devoted considerable attention to competition in the health care system. And most recently, he has applied his ideas to show how smart, connected products (those containing embedded sensors, processors and software to create connectivity) are creating a technological revolution that will transform competition and have profound implications for society.
Porter’s work remains as relevant as ever. His Harvard Business Review article, “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition” (November 2014), details a new era in competition driven by information technology and the Internet of Things.
He has also written about economic development and competitiveness, focused on the micro-economic underpinnings of national and regional economic development. His book The Competitive Advantage of Nations (Free Press, 1990) was the initial foundation of this body of work. He also created the Cluster Mapping Project, which pioneered the rigorous measurement of economic geography.
Porter plays an active role in U.S. economic policy with the Executive Branch and Congress, and has led national economic strategy programs in numerous countries. In environmental policy, Porter proposed the “Porter Hypothesis” in the early 1990s, which put forward the novel theory that strict environmental standards were not in conflict with company profitability or national competitiveness, but could enhance both.
Porter also developed a body of work on the role of corporations in society. His ideas have changed the way companies approach philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, and he introduced the concept of creating shared value in a 2011 paper with Mark Kramer that shows how capitalism itself can be the best route to real solutions to many social problems.
He has also led the development of the conceptual framework underlying the new Social Progress Index. First released in 2014 and covering 132 countries, the Index rigorously measures each country’s social progress across multiple dimensions to complement traditional measurement focused solely on economic performance and GDP per capita.