Robert A Burgelman

Professor, Academic


Who is Robert A Burgelman?

Robert Burgelman carries out longitudinal field-based research on the role of strategy in firm evolution. He has examined how companies enter into new businesses (through corporate entrepreneurship and internal corporate venturing as well as through acquisition) and leave others (through strategic business exit), and how success may lead to co-evolutionary lock-in with the environment. His research has focused on organizations where strategic action is distributed among multiple levels of management. He has written some 100 case studies of companies in many different technology-based industries. He currently focuses on the challenges posed by nonlinear strategic dynamics.

Professor Burgelman is the Edmund W. Littlefield Professor of Management and the Executive Director of the Stanford Executive Program (SEP) of the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, where he has taught since 1981. He obtained a Licenciate degree in Applied Economics from Antwerp University (Belgium), and an MA in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Management of Organizations from Columbia University, where he studied with doctoral fellowships from the Ford Foundation (US) and ICM (Belgium). His research has focused on the role of strategy-making in firm evolution. In particular, he has studied the strategy-making processes involved in how companies enter into new businesses and exit from existing ones to secure continued adaptation. In 2003 he received a honorary doctorate from the Copenhagen Business School for his contributions to the study of corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. Professor Burgelman has been on the faculty of Antwerp University, New York University, Harvard Business School (as a Marvin Bower Fellow), and Cambridge University (as a Visiting Professor of Marketing Strategy and Innovation at the Judge Business School). He has published many articles in leading academic and professional journals. His books include Inside Corporate Innovation: Strategy, Structure, and Managerial Skills (Free Press, 1986), Strategy is Destiny: How Strategy-Making Shapes a Company’s Future (Free Press, 2002), Strategic Dynamics: Concepts and Cases (McGraw-Hill, 2006), and Strategic Management of Technology and Innovation (5th edition, McGraw-Hill-Irwin, 2009). Professor Burgelman has taught executive programs and led senior and top management seminars for major companies worldwide. He currently serves on the board of directors of SHOP.COM, a private company.

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  • Doctorate, Columbia University
    Philosophy in Management of Organizations
    ( - 1980)
  • Master of Philosophy, Columbia University
    Management of Organizations
    ( - 1978)
  • Master of Arts, Columbia University
    ( - 1978)
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Instructor –Assistant Professor, New York University
    (1978 - 1981)
  • Instructor –Assistant Professor, State University of New York System
    (1976 - 1977)
  • University of Antwerp
    (1970 - 1973)

on July 23, 2013


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