Ranjay Gulati

Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor of Business Administration
Unit Head, Organizational Behavior
Chair, Advanced Management Program

Ranjay Gulati is the Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor, the Unit Head of the Organizational Behavior Unit, and the Chair of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

Ranjay Gulati is the Jaime and Josefina Chua Tiampo Professor and the Unit Head of the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School. He is an expert on leadership, strategy, and organizational issues in firms. His recent work explores leadership and strategic challenges for building high growth organizations in turbulent markets. Some of his prior work has focused on the enablers and implications of within-firm and inter-firm collaboration. He has looked at both when and how firms should leverage greater connectivity within and across their boundaries to enhance performance.
 
Professor Gulati is the Chair of Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. He has directed several executive education programs on such topics as Building and Leading Customer Centric Organizations, Managing Customer Relationships, Managing Strategic Alliances, and Sustaining Competitive Advantage in Turbulent Markets.  He is also active in custom executive education. He has received a number of awards for his teaching including the Best Professor Award for his teaching in the MBA and executive MBA programs at the Kellogg School where he was on the faculty prior to coming to Harvard.

His most recent book, Principles of Management (Cengage, 2013), is a primer on the fundamentals of management that provides a new overview of the field using contemporary examples and cases. In his book, Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Organization (Harvard Business Press, 2009), which was a finalist for the George Terry Best Book in Management Award, he explores how "resilient" companies—those that prosper both in good times and bad—drive growth and increase profitability by immersing themselves in the lives of their customers. Based on more than a decade of research in a range of industries including manufacturing, retail, professional services, media, information technology, and healthcare, the book uncovers the path to resilience by showing companies how to break down internal barriers that impede action, build bridges across divisions, and create a network of collaborators.  His previous book, Managing Network Resources: Alliances, Affiliations, and other Relational Assets (Oxford University Press, 2007), examines the implications of firms’ growing portfolio of inter-firm connections. He demonstrates how firms increasingly are scaling back what they consider to be their core activities, and at the same time expanding their array of offerings to customers by entering into a web of collaborations. He has also co-edited two books that focus on the dynamics of competition in emerging technology-intensive industries.
 
Professor Gulati is the past-President of the Business Policy and Strategy Division at the Academy of Management and an elected fellow of the Strategic Management Society. He was ranked as one of the top ten most cited scholars in Economics and Business over a decade by ISI-Incite. The Economist, Financial Times, and the Economist Intelligence Unit have listed him as among the top handful of business school scholars whose work is most relevant to management practice. He has been a Harvard MacArthur Fellow and a Sloan Foundation Fellow. He is a past receipient of the Best Dissertation and Best Paper Awards from the Academy of Management. In 2012 he received the Sumantra Ghoshal Award for research that combines Rigour & Relevance from London Business School.

Professor Gulati’s research has been published in leading journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Harvard Business Review, American Journal of Sociology, Strategic Management Journal, Sloan Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, and Organization Science. He has also written for the Wall Street JournalForbesstrategy+business, and the Financial Times. Professor Gulati sits on the editorial board of several leading journals including Administrative Science Quarterly and Strategic Management Journal. He was a co-editor of a special issue of the Strategic Management Journal on Alliances and Strategic Networks in 2000 and co-edited a special issue on Organizational Architecture that appeared in 2012. He has just completed guest-editing a special issue of the Academy of Management Journal on Relational Pluralism appearing later this year.

Professor Gulati advises and speaks to corporations large and small around the globe. Some of his representative speaking and consulting clients include: GE, SAP, Novartis, Boston Scientific, Unilever, Lockheed Martin, IBM, St Jude, Hitachi, Levi Strauss, American Tower, Henkel, Baxter, Bank of China, Sanofi Aventis, Caterpillar, Allergan, Metlife, Target, Hitachi, Novartis, Honda, Qualcomm, Aetna, Future Brands, Ford, White and Case, Clifford Chance, Seyfarth Shaw, LaFarge, McGraw-Hill, Berkshire Partners, Hospira, Rockwell Collins, Merck, General Mills, Abbott Laboratories, Baxter, Credit Suisse, and Microsoft. He has served on the advisory boards of several startup companies and has appeared as an expert witness in business litigations.
 
He has been a frequent guest on CNBC as well as a panelist on several of their series on topics that include: the Business of Innovation, Collaboration, and Leadership Vision Professor Gulati holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University, a Master's Degree in Management from M.I.T.'s Sloan School of Management, and two Bachelor's Degrees, in Computer Science and Economics, from Washington State University and St. Stephens College, New Delhi, respectively.  He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

 

  1. Research Summary

    My research has focused on interorganizational relationships, with an emphasis on interfirm strategic alliances, which include voluntary exchange or co-development of products, technologies, or services between firms.  I examine the factors that influence the critical decisions firms face -- the number of alliances they enter, their choice of partners, and the governance structure they use to formalize alliances. I also consider social and behavioral influences on the performance of such alliances.  In each of these areas, I extend the dyadic focus on individual relationships by considering the implications of the interorganizational networks in which firms are located. In some recent research, I have extended this relational perspective to the study of intra-firm collaboration and looked at how firms develop closely integrated business systems to adapt to changing market imperatives. A description of some of ongoing research projects follows:
  2. Dynamics of Network Formation

    An ongoing research project with my doctoral students extends my previous line of inquiry by examining some of the evolutionary dynamics of small-world networks. Diverging from recent research that has analyzed static small worlds, we have adopted a dynamic view of the development and ultimate dissolution of such networks. We also consider the micro-level behavioral dynamics underlying the development of these pervasive social systems; some of these dynamics result in the formation of local ties, which agglomerate into tightly linked clusters, while others generate bridging ties between those clusters.
  3. Governance of Interorganizational Exchange

    In a series of papers, I examine the antecedents and consequences of governance choices in exchange relations. Using data from the automotive industry, a coauthor and I have examined the dynamics associated with the social and contractual structure of sourcing relationships in this context. We develop a theory about (1) when and how pre-existing trust-the level of trust established prior to the current exchange-complements governance in directly enhancing exchange performance regardless of the governance structure used and (2) when and how pre-existing trust leads to the substitution of one governance mode for another, which may in turn shape exchange performance indirectly. In another co-authored study I am investigating the extent to which firms exchange information among their internal units versus with their external suppliers of components. Our findings confirm my prior field observations that in many instances the extent of information exchanged is actually lower among internal units than between the firm and its external suppliers. However, we also find that this reduced level of information exchange does not have a significant effect on the performance of the relationship.  We develop a theory to explain these findings. In a separate, conceptual paper my coauthor and I reexamine the traditional assumption of make and buy as mutually exclusive choices. We present an integrated theory of plural sourcing, wherein firms use multiple governance modes simultaneously to procure the same input.
  4. Network Resources and the Performance of Interorganizational Exchange

    My recent book (Managing Network Resources, Oxford University Press) introduced the idea of "network resources," valuable assets that accrue to a firm not from within its boundaries but from its ties to key external constituents including but not limited to partners, suppliers, and customers. As a follow up to this work, my coauthors and I are using a large-scale multi-respondent survey dataset to examine directly the performance of individual alliances from each partner's standpoint and consider how each partners' network resources, among other factors, may influence performance levels.  By simultaneously assessing the performance of alliances from each partner's vantage point and the role of network resources and other key factors in shaping ultimate success, this study present a unique window into interorganizational activity.
  5. Customer-Centricity as a Vehicle for Organic Growth

    This body of work examines the mechanics of how firms grow profitably in commoditizing markets. Underlying the "customer-centricity" that many firms embrace today is a factor that will determine their success with this effort: enabling collaboration across their internal silos and, increasingly, with external partners. While internal integration has been an enduring theme in organizational research, in this context the nature of integration is driven not by production concerns but by external market and customer demands. The integration challenge is significant, as these drivers are not always predictable and consistent. To integrate internally, a firm must align its product-, technology-, function- or geography-based business units and operations to generate customer-focused offerings in a systemic and flexible way, without completely obliterating these silos, which are often crucial to innovation and/or house deep product and marketing expertise. Along with internal integration, firms are also seeking external partners who provide key inputs or complementary outputs that enable them to simultaneously "shrink their core" by doing less themselves and "expand their periphery" by offering a broader, integrated assortment of products and services. This poses new integration challenges as firms must find ways to improve customer-focused collaboration with external partners.  The belief is that this internal and external integration will allow the company to fully leverage the specialization and competencies of individual organizations-within and outside of the firm-to deliver greater value to customers and better bottom lines to themselves. Based on a study of nine prominent companies that are dismantling and transcending silos to become more customer-focused, I present the key enablers that shape their success, the pitfalls they face, and a model of how this journey typically unfolds.
  6. The Architecture of the Integrated Organization

    In this research I explore how organizations balance pressures for efficiency with the need to be responsive at the same time. Operating in turbulent global markets it is increasingly important for firms to embrace both global efficiency and also local responsiveness. A key imperative for them is to configure their organizational boundaries to be more porous so they can connect externally but also to be more inteconnected internally. I am researching both the structural and behavioral changes organizations must make to tackle these increasingly difficult market conditions.