Bill Barnett

Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations, Stanford, CA, USA
As a professor he has studied why some people get ahead while others do not. And he can tell the difference between who is an authentic entrepreneur and who is a poser


Meet Professor William P. Barnett, one of the first academics to examine Jack Ma and Mark Zuckerberg as examples of nonconformist entrepreneurs who were willing to take the risk and buck the trend. Don’t miss the chance to learn from Stanford’s professor about how to spot authentic entrepreneurs versus those that are posing as part of the trend.



Stanford professor of Strategy and author of 39 published research papers, Bill Barnett is an expert in what makes people and organizations competitive. In an abstract of a paper, he quotes Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass” in which the Red Queen, having just led a chase with Alice in which neither seems to have moved from the spot where they began, explains to the perplexed girl: “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

By studying the strategies and behaviors of fierce international competitors, such as Taobao vs. Ebay China, Barnett shows the drivers and distinguishers of competitiveness that firms engage in order to stay on top of their game. His latest research examines entrepreneurship – namely, how to spot authentic entrepreneurs versus those that are posing as part of the trend.

Read more in our blog – and hear him explain the differences at WORLDWEBFORUM 2019.

Stanford Graduate School of Business

The Stanford Graduate School of Business is one of the seven schools of Stanford University. Stanford GSB offers a general management Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, the MSx Program (MS in Management for mid-career executives) and a Ph.D. program, along with joint degrees with other schools at Stanford including Earth Sciences, Education, Engineering, Law and Medicine. The school belongs to the Magnificent Seven group of elite business schools that recognize each other as peers, consisting of Chicago , Columbia, Harvard, Northwestern, MIT, Stanford and Penn.

Leadership Strategies for Sustainability

From Stanford University

Does it pay to be green? How environmental practices trigger innovation. Why “greenwashing” makes for a cynical public. With a shift in consumer preferences toward products and services that are better for the environment some companies today compete not only on product features and benefits; but also on the environmental impact of their activities. These firms have the potential to revolutionize how business is carried out says Professor Barnett. His research on competition among organizations and why firms win and lose found that industrial evolution is driven more by innovations developed in response to competitive threats than by explicit corporate strategies. Green businesses particularly those cooperating with non-governmental environmental organizations or aligning their business models with government environmental policies, can steer their industries evolutionary path. And green companies that develop internal leaders at various levels of the organization can influence their supply chain’s business practices further increasing their environmental impact.

The Red Queen among Organizations

From Princeton University Press

Barnett examines the effects — and unforeseen perils — of competing and winning. He takes a fascinating, in-depth look at two of the most competitive industries — computer manufacturing and commercial banking — and derives some startling conclusions. Organizations that survive competition become stronger competitors — but only in the market contexts in which they succeed. Barnett shows how managers may think their experience will help them thrive in new markets and conditions, when in fact the opposite is likely to be the case. He finds that an organization’s competitiveness at any given moment hinges on the organization’s historical experience. Through Red Queen competition, weaker competitors fail, or they learn and adapt. This in turn heightens the intensity of competition and further strengthens survivors in an ever-evolving dynamic. Written by a leading organizational theorist, The Red Queen among Organizations challenges the prevailing wisdom about competition, revealing it to be a force that can make — and break — even the most successful organization.

Structured Value-Creation through Innovation Strategies

From Advanced Program in Business – Innovation Institute

Lecture focuses on understanding the role of a leader as an industry progresses from its creation through growth to maturity, and strategies companies can implement to strengthen and/or change their competitive position in a dynamic game of innovation and imitation. Prof. Barnett will discuss (a) how companies can purchase innovations, and the boundary conditions of these strategies for smaller companies (from global perspective); and (b) how companies should create value by ensuring product-market fit in case of radical innovations where markets do not exists. While purchasing of innovation is a short-term strategy that can ensure survival, continuous building of innovation capabilities is paramount for long-term company success. Such strategy implies strategic management of calculated risks that help a company learn through failure to deliver local/regional/global unicorn innovations. Lecture will discuss opportunities to pursue strategy in innovation, where planning is inherently difficult, and strategy “cannot work”.



Bill Barnett (born 1958) is an American organizational theorist, and is the Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

He is the BP Faculty Fellow in Global Management; Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford; Director of the Center for Global Business and the Economy; Director of the Business Strategies for Environmental Sustainability Executive Program; and Codirector of the Executive Program in Strategy and Organization. Barnett received his BA in Economics and Political Science in 1982, and his PhD in Business Administration in 1988, from University of California, Berkeley.

He then joined the University of Wisconsin as assistant professor. In 1991 he joined the Stanford Graduate School of Business as an Assistant Professor. He became an Associate Professor in 1994 and received tenure in 1996, and has been a full professor since 2001.

Barnett has also twice been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and is a Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Barnett serves as associate editor or editorial board member for several academic journals, and served on the board of directors of iLoop Mobile.

Barnett studies competition among organizations and how organizations and industries evolve over time. He has studied how strategic differences and strategic change among organizations affect their growth, performance, and survival. This research includes empirical studies of technical, regulatory, and ideological changes among organizations, and how these changes affect competitiveness over time and across markets.

His studies span a range of industries and contexts, including organizations in computers, telecommunications, research and development, software, semiconductors, disk drives, newspaper publishing, beer brewing, banking, and the environment.