Professor of Strategy and Leadership
Michael Yaziji is Professor of Strategy and Leadership. He is an award-winning author whose work spans leadership and strategy. He is recognized as a world-leading expert on non-market strategy and NGO-corporate relations, and has a particular interest in ethical questions facing business leaders. His latest research includes the world’s largest survey on psychological drivers, psychological safety, and organizational performance and explores how human biases and self-deception can impact decision making as well as how these factors can be mitigated.
His earlier survey on NGO campaigns against corporations is the world’s largest and most comprehensive on the topic and was the backbone for his seminal book NGOs and Corporations: Conflict and Collaboration. He is focusing increasingly on sustainability as companies come under growing pressure from NGOs to take more action in this area.
The dance of the ‘non-market’ of politics, NGOs, and the media – where business intersects society – is fundamentally different from the market, where business leaders are more familiar with the steps. Strategy, ethics, political science, and psychology intersect in a complex push and pull of ideologies and interests, conflict, and collaboration. Tomorrow’s leaders need to be better choreographers.
Holding separate doctorates in ethics and strategy gives him a unique perspective which enables him to integrate different academic and practical approaches in his work. His PhD in strategy and management from INSEAD centered on non-market strategy and provides the foundations for his ongoing work on NGO-corporate relations, while his PhD in analytic philosophy from the University of California focused on ethics, ontology, and epistemology and underpins his current interest in ethical questions around the roles and responsibilities of leaders and corporations. He also specializes in race-to-the-top strategies, new capitalism based on governance changes, cross-sectoral ecosystem business models, and personal leadership.
Yaziji helps board members, senior leaders, and organizations sharpen their thinking and develop solutions for working with non-market stakeholders such as media, NGOs, politicians, and regulators. He is a board member, trustee, adviser, and executive teacher for several Fortune 500 companies (e.g., Microsoft, Shell, PepsiCo, Ericsson, PwC, Lufthansa, Sumitomo, Bosch, Vestas, NTT, Munich Re, Hydro, Grundfos, Maersk, Bunge Alimentos, Holcim) and for organizations such as the Red Cross, the University of California, and the World Economic Forum. He is currently working on a research agenda on sustainability with Capgemini.
He teaches on IMD’s Leading Sustainable Business Transformation program and was previously Director of the IMD Corporate Sustainability Management Center and the architect of a partnership between the school and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
He has been published in academic and managerial journals such as Harvard Business Review, and was one of the earlier management school professors to give a TED Talk. In his 2012 talk Rethinking the structure of corporations, he argued that existing corporate structures were no longer optimally suited to the needs of society – or of the corporations themselves.
Yaziji’s book NGOs and Corporations: Conflict and Collaboration won praise from Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, former Unilever Chairman and CEO Antony Burgmans, Anglo-American Chairman Mark Moody-Stuart, and PepsiCo Vice-Chairman Michael D White.
He joined IMD in 2004 from INSEAD where, as well as completing his second PhD, he was the founding director of the school’s Business and Society Forum and lectured on the MBA program. An American and Swiss national, he has spent most of his life as an expat global citizen, having lived in Italy, France, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and the United States.
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