Michael Yaziji

Michael Yaziji
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.
Michael Yaziji

Michael Yaziji 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 and how they 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 also focusing increasingly on sustainability as companies come under growing pressure from NGOs to take more action in this area.

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 Strategy and Management PhD 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, and politicians and regulators. He is a board member, trustee, advisor 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 he was one of the earlier management school professors to give a TED Talk. In his 2012 talk on rethinking the structure of corporations, he argued that existing corporate structures were no longer optimally suited to the needs of society or of 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.

Selected publications

Looking for opportunity in the midst of crisis (MIT Sloan Management Review, 2020)

Developing unique business models: Going beyond services/solutions (Perspectives for Managers, 2013)

The role of ideological radicalism and resource homogeneity in social movement organization campaigns against corporations (Organization Studies, 2013)

Corporate-NGO collaboration: Co-creating new business models for developing markets (Long Range Planning, 2010)

NGOs and Corporations: Conflict and Collaboration (Cambridge University Press, 2009)

Time to rethink capitalism? (Harvard Business Review, 2008)

Turning Gadflies into Allies (Harvard Business Review, 2004)

Toward a theory of social risk (International Studies of Management & Organization, 2004)


Academy of Management Social Issues in Management Division Best Book Award (2014)


BA (Analytic Philosophy and Logic)

University of California

MA (Analytic Philosophy and Ethics)

University of California

PhD (Analytic Philosophy)

University of California

Master's degree (Strategy and Management)


PhD (Strategy and Management)


Orchestrating Winning Performance
IMD's signature program, OWP, brings you the latest business trends, thought leadership and insights to revitalize your business, drive innovation and lead you forward. Fully customizable schedule. For executives and teams.
All IMD programs
Michael Yaziji's Publications
COVID-19: People and organizations under pressure
Leading in turbulent times webinar series: 7 deadly sins of virtual communication
Developing unique business models: Going beyond services/solutions