Thomas W Malnight

Professor of Strategy and General Management and Faculty Director of the Business Transformation Initiative (BTI)

Mobile Menu

Thomas W Malnight is Professor of Strategy and General Management and Faculty Director of the Business Transformation Initiative (BTI). His fields of interest are strategy, leading and accelerating transformational organizational change, and the role of purpose in redefining businesses and their impact on society.

Malnight works extensively with top leadership teams in challenging how they view their emerging volatile and uncertain competitive landscape, how they shape future strategies and organizations for moving forward, and how they engage and align priorities and actions across their organizations and leadership teams. This work has led to the creation of the BTI at IMD, focused on partnering with senior business leaders as partners and provocateurs in addressing and co-creating responses to major challenges.

His research focus has been on trends reshaping the future of business strategies and organizations. He is the co-author of Put Purpose at the Core of Your Strategy (2019), The 3Rs of Preparing Your Organization for the Future, Must Win Battles: How to Win Them, Again and Again and Accelerating International Growth. Malnight co-authored the Global Trends Reports 2011, 2012, and 2013 and has written for Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Journal, McKinsey Quarterly, Strategic Management Journal, the Journal of International Business Studies, and the Academy of Management Journal. He has also authored more than 30 case studies on various aspects of global strategy and organization.

Prior to joining IMD, he was on the faculty of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania from 1992 to 1999. He has attended graduate studies at Harvard Business School, Boston, MA where he obtained a Doctorate of Business Administration and wrote a dissertation on Managing the Globalization Process: An Exploratory Study. He obtained an MBA from The Wharton School in 1979 and a BA from Northwestern University in 1977. Prior to his doctoral studies, he worked for 10 years at Mitsubishi International Corporation, including two years working in Japan.

Malnight also consults extensively with companies from around the world on the topic of emerging future strategies and organizations.

Academic publications
Article
Globalization of an ethnocentric firm: An evolutionary perspective
The globalization process is investigated at one traditionally ethnocentric firm, Eli Lilly and Co. Whereas there has been substantial research on how multinational corporations (MNC) structure and...
Published 1 February 1995
Article
Emerging structural patterns within multinational corporations: Toward process-based structures
This study investigated the nature and extent of organizational change in the context of globalization through a longitudinal matched-pair analysis of two leading pharmaceutical companies. The stru...
Published 1 December 2001
Article
The transition from decentralized to network-based MNC structures: An evolutionary perspective
The transition process within established multinational corporations (MNCs) in moving from decentralized toward network-based structures is investigated and modeled. Whereas there has been substant...
Published 1 January 1996
Insight for Executives
Article
L’ancienneté, un avantage stratégique
A few years ago, as part of our work with large legacy companies, we built a mock graveyard with the names of industrial giants that had gone bankrupt early or were being sold off at a loss - Kodak...
Published 14 April 2022
Article
Here's how incumbents can win in the disruption battle 
Established firms can bridge the advantages of market power, long-standing customer relations and industry insights to triumph over rivals.
Published 17 March 2022
Article
The strategic advantage of incumbency
For most of the 20th century, size, longevity, and a large market share were seen as assets in business. Then they began to be viewed as vulnerabilities, putting many companies in a defensive stanc...
Published 1 January 2022
How not to define your purpose
Article
How not to define your purpose
An organization’s purpose is too often segregated from strategy and associated with long-term rather than short-term gains, impeding future success.
Published 14 April 2021
How to put purpose at the core of strategy:
Article
How to put purpose at the core of strategy:
Competition for new growth and opportunity is fierce and relentless. In this fight, business leaders are often left puzzled as to why their strategies, the result of arduous planning and painstakin...
Published 8 April 2021
Article
‘Never let a crisis go to waste’ : How three CEOs helped their companies thrive in a pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted different responses from company CEOs seeking to ensure their businesses survive. Keeping their employees safe has been the first priority, but beyond that, their...
Published 24 November 2020
Article
Put purpose at the core of your strategy
Eight years ago, Malnight, Buche, and Dhanaraj launched a study of high growth in companies, looking at three strategies known to drive it: creating new markets, serving broader stakeholder needs, ...
Published 1 September 2019
Article
When machine intelligence meets main street
AlphaGo may have been about games. But the broader implications are clear: We can expect imminent advances in commercial applications of many kinds. Demis Hassabis, who heads Google’s machine-learn...
Published 7 September 2016
Article
The best companies aren't afraid to replace their most profitable products
The fundamental advantage of large companies is in their ability to integrate and reconfigure offerings and services based on their prior capabilities. Startups may move fast, but they lack experie...
Published 14 July 2016
Article
Ten thoughts for the future
CASSANDRA has decided to revisit her fellow forecasters Thomas Malnight and Tracey Keys to find out what their predictions are for 2014. Once again they have produced a collection of trends for the...
Published 17 December 2013
Article
Addressing the short-term trap in a changing world
We live in a rapidly changing world. The economic centre of gravity is shifting from West to East. The generational centre of gravity is shifting from baby boomers to Gen X, Gen Y and beyond. Compe...
Published 8 July 2013
Article
Global trends for 2013: A top ten for business leaders
The great global redistribution of economic and social power will continue over the next 12 months. Power will flow away from traditional institutions that have failed to deliver progress – especia...
Published 19 December 2012
Article
Global trends for 2013: A top ten for business leaders
The great global redistribution of economic and social power will continue over the next 12 months. Power will flow away from traditional institutions that have failed to deliver progress – especia...
Published 30 November 2012
Article
Global trends for 2013: A top ten for business leaders
The great global redistribution of economic and social power will continue over the next 12 months. Power will flow away from traditional institutions that have failed to deliver progress – especia...
Published 26 November 2012
Report
Recasting business around relationships...not transactions
Majors trends are fundamentally reshaping the future environment in which business will operate - from the growth of connectivity, falling geographic and industry boundaries, new technology revolut...
Published 8 April 2011
Report
Preparing for a connected future: Beyond thinking outside the box, is it time to throw away the boxes
Published 1 January 2011
Report
LCF interview with Harish Manwani President - Unilever Asia, Africa, Central & Eastern Europe
LCF: I would like to start by asking you a general question. What do you think the challenges and opportunities are for Asia as a whole?¦Harish Manwani: The biggest opportunity for Asia is truly a ...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
LCF interview with Adi Godrej Chairman, Godrej group
LCF: Let’s start off talking about India as a whole. If you look at the five-to ten-year period¦going forward, what do you see as the major opportunities and challenges facing India, particularly i...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
LCF interview with Leo Yip Chairman, EDB - Singapore economic development board
LCF: How do you see the opportunities and challenges for Singapore in the next five to ten years?¦Leo Yip: The major backdrop against which we see our opportunities over the next five to ten years ...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
Leadership challenges in South Africa, a land of contradictions: Trip summary insights report
South Africa. The land of apartheid and Nelson Mandela. In many ways a first world player among third world neighbors. A land of mineral wealth, and a land of poverty. A land of hope and opportunit...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
LCF interview with Mike Brown CEO - Nedbank group ltd
Uncertainty and fluidity around many policy and regulatory issues puts South Africa in the bottom ten countries in the world as a mining investment destination, which is appalling for us as a count...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
LCF interview with Peter Staude: CEO - Tongaat Hulett
As a CEO, you allocate 90% of your thinking and interface time to short∞]term and 10% to long∞]term corporate activities, making sure you deal with both time frames successfully. It is 90% focus th...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
Sustainable leadership in the connected future - rethinking emotional intelligence
Since psychology and New York Times Science writer Daniel Goleman introduced the term Emotional Intelligence (EI) in his book: "Emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ" (1995), the t...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
When cheap becomes chic, the new global challengers take the lead
What are the implications for your business when cheap becomes chic in the developed world – and the companies ready to meet emerging customer and consumer demands are the new global challengers?¦“...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
The influence landscape: The evolving power of shapers and influencers
Type the word “influence” into Google and it returns 142 million results. What is going on? The last two decades have seen major changes in the world which have reshaped the influence landscape – w...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
10 key trends to watch
Taking a holistic view of the global trends impacting how we live and work is critical. So too is making sense of which are the trends which are going to be most important to watch in the short-to ...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
Who's looking after you? The challenge of blurring industry boundaries
How do you think about the issues of health and wellness for yourself, for your children and family, for your aging parents, for society as a whole? Who is helping you to address the challenges you...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
Bringing global trends alive in your organization today: Tools and approaches: Part 1
Does the current obsession with short-term, quarterly results limit our ability to bring long-term thinking into today's reality? If so, what does it take to bring Global Trends into our business p...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
Retail banking: Adapting to the new realities of personal finance
If you are a banker, are you focused on the consumer of the future or the new regulations and rules on capital that will impact your operations? Following on from our Sepcial Report Who\'s Looking ...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
Corporate clout distributed: The influence of the world's largest 100 economic entities
Of the world's 100 largest economic entities in 2009, 44 are corporations. If you look at the top 150 economic entities, the proportion of corporations rises to 59%.¦The largest in 2009, Wal-Mart S...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
Who’s looking after your money? The democratization of personal finance
In a world where free market capitalism is under fire, bank liquidity difficulties continue, and the public has lost trust in the traditional financial services industry, the world of personal fina...
Published 1 January 2010
Report
The power of Chinese medicine
China. To the uninitiated Western mind, it is a place of suppression and central control and home to a huge and aging population, cheap goods and unchecked pollution. The reality is a stark contras...
Published 1 January 2010
Article
Making the most of corporate social responsibility
For companies that see CSR as an opportunity to strengthen the business, the big challenge is execution. Smart partnering can provide a practical way forward.¦Too often, executives have viewed corp...
Published 1 December 2009
Article
Lipton ou comment étendre le territoire d'une marque
La marque de thé du groupe anglo-néerlandais Unilever a réussi, en partant de zéro en 1993, à devenir un acteur majeur du marché des soft-drinks. Le résultats de campagnes marketing extrêmement agg...
Published 1 October 2006
From data to insights to action
The Global Trends Fieldbook