- IMD Business School
 - IMD Business School
Knut Haanaes

Professor of Strategy and Lundin Chair Professor of Sustainability

Knut Haanaes is Professor of Strategy and Lundin Chair Professor of Sustainability. His research and teaching focus on strategy, sustainability, strategic renewal, and business models. He says these different pillars enable him to help companies think about their path for the future and take account of new trends, including the demand for greater sustainability.

Sustainability now plays an important part in his work. He was the driving force behind the creation of the Business Schools for Climate Leadership (BS4CL) alliance of eight leading European business schools, which was launched in 2021 to address the climate crisis. The schools collaborate on research to identify and shape best practices and work across industries to accelerate the business community’s response to climate change, and Haanaes continues to play a leading role in the group’s activities.

He is also deeply involved in IMD’s strategic partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), which aims to equip business leaders with the skills to accelerate the pace of sustainable business transformation and create the most sustainability-centered MBA program in the world.

The very best organizations are those that are excellent at both improving their current business and exploring new opportunities.

At IMD, Haanaes is Co-Director of the Leading Sustainable Business Transformation (LSBT) program and Co-Director of Driving Sustainability from the Boardroom (DSB), a program developed as part of IMD’s collaboration with WBCSD. He is also head of the sustainability stream in the MBA program and teaches in many of the school’s key open programs, including the Advanced Management Program (AMP), Breakthrough Program for Senior Executives (BPSE), and Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP). He designed and developed the IMD COP simulation, which was “highly commended” at the Financial Times Business Education Awards 2024.

Through his work with clients, Haanaes has also accumulated extensive experience in a number of industries on issues of strategy. He believes that the secret to creating lasting, impactful companies is to find a balance between doing what you’re good at (exploitation) and looking for new challenges to take on (exploration).

At IMD, he has helped run custom programs for Neste, CMS, Technip FMC, Coca-Cola Bottling, Mondelez, Maybank, Rio Tinto, and Iberdrola.

Haanaes’ teaching on strategy is underpinned by his bestselling book Your Strategy Needs a Strategy. The book won praise from the likes of World Economic Forum founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, Pfizer Chairman and CEO Ian C Read, and Benetton CEO Marco Airoldi after being published by Harvard Business Review Press in 2015. It has since been translated into seven other languages.

He is also a successful TED speaker. His TED talk Two reasons companies fail – and how to avoid them has attracted more than two million views.

Haanaes has published multiple articles in both Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review and also in Stanford Social Innovation Review, as well as research reports for the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the World Economic Forum, and MIT.

He joined IMD in 2016 from BCG, where he was a senior partner and Global Leader of Strategy Practice. He also led BCG’s collaboration with MIT on sustainability, developing one of the largest databases globally of how executives address the topic, and founded the BCG Global Sustainability Initiative.

Haanaes was Dean of the Global Leadership Institute at the World Economic Forum between 2018 and 2020. He is a member of the CEO’s Sustainability Advisory Board at Carlsberg and was previously Chairman of BI Norwegian Business School, a board member at private bank Alpian, a member of the Global Agenda Council on New Economic Growth Models at the World Economic Forum, Executive Director of the Research Council of Norway, and a visiting scholar at Stanford University.

Selected publications
Academic publications
Insight for Executives