Knut Haanaes

Professor of Strategy

Knut Haanaes is Professor of Strategy. His research and teaching focuses 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 like demands 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 plan to 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.

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

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.

At IMD, Haanaes is 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).

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 best-selling 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 and 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 articles in top publications such as Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review and 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 the 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 also a member of the CEO’s Sustainability Advisory Board at Carlsberg and a board member at private bank Alpian, and he previously served as Chairman of BI Norwegian Business School, 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
Article
How the university of the future must adapt to train future leaders
Education will change significantly over the next decade as competitiveness becomes increasingly driven by learning. Many higher education systems were designed for the needs of the past century an...
Published 8 January 2020
Article
Your strategy needs a strategy
In a business environment that is changing ever more quickly and becoming increasingly uncertain and complex, it has never been more important – or more difficult – to choose the right approach to ...
Published 29 June 2017
Article
Making sustainability profitable
Emerging economies are often thought of as environmental laggards; they're perceived to be focused more on addressing poverty than on protecting the planet. But when the Boston Consulting Group and...
Published 1 March 2013
Article
How serious is climate change to business?
This is the third year that MIT Sloan Management Review has teamed up with the Boston Consulting Group on their Sustainability and Innovation Global Executive survey, to which more than 4,700 execu...
Published 1 November 2013
Article
Sustainability as adaptability
Most corporations now view sustainability as a key requirement for competitive advantage, but few claim to have achieved it. One of the key obstacles separating intention from execution is that the...
Published 1 May 2012
Article
Sustainability nears a tipping point
MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group recently conducted their third annual sustainability survey of executives and managers worldwide. The survey results indicate that an inc...
Published 23 January 2012
Article
New sustainability study: The 'Embracers' seize advantage
Despite the economic downturn and tenuous recovery, more than two-thirds of businesses are strengthening their commitment to sustainability, according to a new global study by MIT Sloan Management ...
Published 1 May 2011
Academic publications
Article
Sustainability as adaptability
Most corporations now view sustainability as a key requirement for competitive advantage, but few claim to have achieved it. One of the key obstacles separating intention from execution is that the...
Published 1 May 2012
Article
New sustainability study: The 'Embracers' seize advantage
Despite the economic downturn and tenuous recovery, more than two-thirds of businesses are strengthening their commitment to sustainability, according to a new global study by MIT Sloan Management ...
Published 1 May 2011
Article
First look: Highlights from the third annual sustainability global executive survey
This is the third year that MIT Sloan Management Review has teamed up with the Boston Consulting Group on their Sustainability and Innovation Global Executive survey, to which more than 4,700 execu...
Published 2 September 2011
Article
How serious is climate change to business?
This is the third year that MIT Sloan Management Review has teamed up with the Boston Consulting Group on their Sustainability and Innovation Global Executive survey, to which more than 4,700 execu...
Published 1 November 2013
Article
Sustainability nears a tipping point
MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group recently conducted their third annual sustainability survey of executives and managers worldwide. The survey results indicate that an inc...
Published 23 January 2012
Insight for Executives
Article
Business schools must do more to address the climate crisis
Business schools have much to contribute to the fight against climate change. They are experts in organizational transformation, performance measurement, operations, marketing, leadership, and gove...
Published 1 February 2022
Report
Business schools for climate leadership
CHAPTER 5 (IMD contribution) Climate change and Business Transformation: As we act to mitigate and adapt to climate change, we are undergoing the biggest business transformation the world has ever ...
Published 10 November 2021
Four steps to stay ahead with sustainability
Video
Four steps to stay ahead with sustainability
Sustainability is like a new Olympic sport – some are champions and their businesses are winning, others are lagging behind. At OWP liVe, Lundin Chair Professor of Sustainability Knut Haanaes will ...
Published 18 May 2021
Sustainability: A better way to shape the future
Video
Sustainability: A better way to shape the future
A new mini case study series
Published 9 October 2020
Reshaping Industries: Embracing the New Normal
Video
Reshaping Industries: Embracing the New Normal
A new mini case study series
Published 17 August 2020
Report
Neste and IMD: Partnering for renewal
When Matti Lievonen became the CEO of Neste in 2009, the Finnish oil refining company was facing strong headwinds – a sharp fall in oil prices, market overcapacity, falling margins and new carbon e...
Published 28 February 2018
Article
Making sustainability profitable
Emerging economies are often thought of as environmental laggards; they're perceived to be focused more on addressing poverty than on protecting the planet. But when the Boston Consulting Group and...
Published 1 March 2013
Article
The power to adapt: Building one of the world’s largest renewables power producers
In just two decades Statkraft has grown from a state-owned, Norwegian-focused power supplier to one of the world’s largest renewables power producers. Statkraft now generates 57 Terawatt hours per ...
Published 11 August 2011
Programs
New On campus
Driving Sustainability from the Boardroom

Chart your company’s ESG path to long-term success 

Enables you to fulfill your role of influencing and steering the integration of sustainability into your company's strategy. In collaboration with WBCSD.

Location: Lausanne Length: 2 days Fee: CHF 7,500 Next start: 14 November 2022
Blended New
Leading Sustainable Business Transformation

Build your smart roadmap for a sustainable business future

This program provides you with a complete business transformation journey through the lens of sustainability.

Location: Blended Length: 3 days liVe virtual, 5 weeks online, 3 days on campus Fee: CHF 9,900 Next start: 10 May 2023