Top 20 HR Most Influential International Thinkers 2011

Being able to communicate articulately and using all channels to do so is a vital element in influence – and a look at the Most Influential International Thinker ranking finds many authors. Top of these is our second placed International Thinker, Stephen Covey, whose international bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages. 7 Habits is called a “classic – used time and time again” as well as “incredibly influential in our understanding of the importance of self-awareness in leadership”.

Michael E Porter, Bishop William Lawrence professor at Harvard Business School, is in third place. His influence is on business, not just HR, and his work is regarded as central to understanding competitive advantage. He is described as challenging orthodoxy, with one saying HR directors should read Porter’s work more often, while another said: “Having read many of his thought-provoking books, he comes a close second to Dave Ulrich.”

And it is Ulrich, professor at Ross Business School, University of Michigan, who tops the Most Influential International Thinker list for the second year. In fact, he has been in a number one thinker spot in these rankings since they launched back in 2005. With comments such as “the HR guru” and “the father of modern HR”, it is no surprise he continues to be influential.

One respondent said he was “the great HR consultant whose concepts are understood and used in the workplace”, while another said he was “always pushing the boundaries and making us think”. Moreover, he is still highly active in chronicling the evolution of HR performance and professionalism. He is currently leading with Wayne Brockbank the latest Human Resource Competency Study – a global five-year study co-sponsored by the Ross School of Business and RBL Group. He is investigating the people questions behind why investors invest in companies, with plans to define how investors can begin to look at leadership and other HR issues.

Ulrich has also just produced an eBook for HR magazine, in conjunction with Norm Smallwood, examing what leadership is.

There are many HR director and thinkers who are having a major impact on their businesses and on the development of people strategy. These rankings feature the people that those in the field believe have the most influence on themselves, their business, strategy and in the general economy. In HR, they represent the very best.


Top 20 HR Most Influential International Thinkers 2011
2011 2010 Name, title and company
1 1 Dave Ulrich, professor Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and partner RBL Group
2 2 Stephen R Covey, author and profesor at the Jon M Huntsmen School of Business, Utah State University
3 5 Michael E Porter, Bishop William Lawrence University professor, Harvard Business School
4 3 Jim Collins, business researcher and author
5 10 Malcolm Gladwell, author and staff writer The New Yorker magazine
6 4 Chris Argyris, James Bryant Conant emeritus professor of education and organizational behaviour, Harvard Business School
7 18 Edward E Lawler III, director, center for effective organizations and distinguished professor of business, University of Southern California
8 15 Rosbeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L Arbuckle professor of business administration, Harvard Business School
9 new Barry Posner, Accolti professor of leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University
10 16 Marcus Buckingham, author and member of the secretary of state's advisory committee on leadership and management
11 12 Stephen M R Covey, author of Speed of Trust and lead for Global Speed of Trust Project
12 6 Paul Stoltz, author, guest lecturer, Harvard Business School executive education programme and CEO Peak Learning
13 8 Fons Trompenaars, author and founder Trompenaars Hampden-Turner
14 9 Robert S Kaplan, Baker Foundation professor, Harvard Business School
15 16 Manfred Kets de Vries, Raoul de Vitry d'Avaucourt chair of leadership development and organizational change, Insead
16 11 Jim Kouzes, dean's executive, professor of leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University
17 new Peter Cappelli, George W Taylor professor of management, The Wharton School, and director of Wharton's center for human resources
18 12 Robert K Cooper, author and founder of Cooper Strategic LLC
19 new Patrick Wright, William J Conaty GE professor of strategic human resources in the ILR School (Industrial annd Labor Relations), Cornell University
20 new John W Boudreau, professor and research director, center for effective organizations, University of Southern California