CK Prahalad Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award

The CK Prahalad Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award, introduced in 2011, was created to honor the legacy of CK Prahalad. The award recognizes excellence in the application of theory and research in practice. These include but are not limited to contributions to knowledge through the extraction of learning from practice; authored scholarly works that have substantively affected the practice of management; and/or the integration of research and practice.

A scholar-practitioner who has used applied learning to influence how theory and research guide practice is honored by this award. Special attention will be given to a scholar-practitioner whose contributions have shaped the understanding of global strategic leadership.

The recipient of this award is selected by a committee presided over by the SMS past president. Nominations are accepted throughout the year. The deadline for this award is March 31st of each year. To submit a nomination, please send an email with your nominee and recommendation text to the SMS Executive Office at

Past CK Prahalad Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award Recipients

picture of David Teece
David Teece
University of California, Berkeley
picture of Richard Rumelt
Richard Rumelt
University of California-Los Angeles

Learn More About CK Prahalad's Life

CK Prahalad reached across boundaries and expanded possibilities with his uncompromising emphasis on impactful research. Although his academic career was stellar, his work had an even greater impact on corporate leaders. Through a series of breakthrough ideas, his research changed the business world and helped improve people's lives.

2019 Award Recipient: Jay Barney

We are honored to present this year’s CK Prahalad Distinguished Scholar Practitioner Award to Jay Barney of the University of Utah.

Jay Barney is a Presidential Professor of Strategic Management and the Pierre Lassonde Chair of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business.

His research focuses on the relationship between costly-to-copy firm skills and capabilities and sustained competitive advantage. He has also done research on the actions entrepreneurs take to form the opportunities they try to exploit. His work has been published in numerous leading outlets, including the Strategic Management Journal, the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, Management Science, and is among the most cited work in the fields of strategic management and entrepreneurship.

He also has taught in a variety of executive training programs at the University of Utah, Ohio State, Texas A&M, UCLA, Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, the University of Michigan, Bocconi University, and for the consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

Finally, Professor Barney has consulted with a wide variety of public and private organizations. He is Member of Advisory Board of a private equity company, NCT Ventures, LLC. He was also a Director of Max & Erma's, Inc. where he served as chair of a board special committee that sold the firm and took it private.

Jay will be presented with this award at the Awards Luncheon, Tuesday afternoon at the SMS Annual Conference in Minneapolis. As a recipient of the award, he will also be organizing a session on Monday at the conference!

We have also conducted a short interview with Jay, as this year's recipient. Click below to see his answers.

Interview with Jay Barney, October 2019

I was fortunate to be mentored by Professor Bill Ouchi when I was an assistant professor at UCLA starting in 1980.  He took me on consulting projects with a variety of firms almost from the beginning of my career.  Since then, I have averaged around 2 or three projects a year—enough to keep me grounded in reality, but not so many as to divert me from my core research tasks.

As a theorist, my main focus has been on identifying and addressing questions created by theory. However, I have used my consulting to identify business phenomena that are inconsistent with the theory as I understand it. These experiences have presented important theory development opportunities.

For example, as a theorist, I have been dissatisfied by stakeholder theory. The managerial prescription that managers should satisfy all their stakeholders always seem unrealistic to me, since it would be difficult to find a way to satisfy stakeholders with different interests and preferences.

However, several of my clients were beginning to implement a type of stakeholder theory, and I didn’t understand it. My efforts to figure this out theoretically ultimately led to the publication of a 2018 paper in SMJ titled “Why Resource Based Theory’s Model of Profit Appropriation Must Adopt a Stakeholder Perspective.” In this case, my experience with practice was directly related to my work as a theorist.

When I go to a client, I always tell them the same things: I will never understand your organization as well as you, I will never understand your industry as well as you, but what I do understand is strategic management theory and how to apply it. With a “tool box” of several theories from the field of strategic management, I find that I am well prepared to discuss virtually any strategic problem that might come up in a client.

In short, I agree with the observation that there is nothing as practical as a good theory.

Transactions cost economics is a powerful tool that raises several important questions about vertical integration issues in firms. However, over time I have become less convinced by the assumption in this theory that the central feature of a firm is “managerial fiat”—where “bosses” tell employees what to do. My experience in firms is that this is not what actually happens. More frequently, managers ask employees to take on responsibilities, there is often a discussion about these assignments, and that assignments are often modified in the midst of these conversations. That does not feel like managerial fiat to me.

These thoughts have led me to consider the possibility that the essential feature of a firm is not managerial fiat—ideas that might lead to a more strategic theory of the firm.