William Barnett

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Leading Expert on Strategy and Competition; Professor of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Biography

William Barnett, the Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business, studies competition among people and organizations, as he explains the causes of exceptional performance and innovation. He is currently investigating competition among people and groups within organizations, especially noting the maladaptive consequences of intense competition within firms. By contrast, his previous work notes the often-beneficial consequences of competition among companies – so-called “Red Queen competition” – investigated in his articles and in his book, “The Red Queen among Organizations: How Competitiveness Evolves.” Barnett’s prior research includes studies of how strategic differences and strategic change among organizations impact 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 across a wide range of industries and contexts.

After receiving his PhD in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988, Barnett was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Business. In 1991, Barnett transitioned to the Stanford Business School 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 an affiliated faculty member of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Barnett serves as a senior or associate editor for several academic journals.

Barnett frequently speaks on strategy, innovation, globalization and leadership.

William Barnett is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

The Red Queen Among Organizations: How Competitiveness Evolves

(Princeton University Press, February 2008)

Intro Video

Video ThumbnailBill Barnett: Where Great Companies – and Leaders – Come From - youtube Video

A-Z Name

Barnett, William

Biography

William Barnett, the Thomas M. Siebel Professor of Business Leadership, Strategy, and Organizations at Stanford Graduate School of Business, studies competition among people and organizations, as he explains the causes of exceptional performance and innovation. He is currently investigating competition among people and groups within organizations, especially noting the maladaptive consequences of intense competition within firms. By contrast, his previous work notes the often-beneficial consequences of competition among companies – so-called “Red Queen competition” – investigated in his articles and in his book, “The Red Queen among Organizations: How Competitiveness Evolves.” Barnett’s prior research includes studies of how strategic differences and strategic change among organizations impact 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 across a wide range of industries and contexts.

After receiving his PhD in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley in 1988, Barnett was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison School of Business. In 1991, Barnett transitioned to the Stanford Business School 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 an affiliated faculty member of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. Barnett serves as a senior or associate editor for several academic journals.

Barnett frequently speaks on strategy, innovation, globalization and leadership.

William Barnett is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Books & Research

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Recommendations

“Professor Barnett demonstrates a rare combination of intense curiosity, contagious enthusiasm, and unconventional exploration. His energetic engagement and provocative questioning implore his students to take intellectual risks, pushing them outside the confines of conventional wisdom. In doing so, he challenges his students and himself to delve into the forces—good and bad—that deliver exceptional performance and innovation. After all, innovation won’t be found in textbooks, the status quo, or the comfort of consensus. It, and he, demand more of you.”

— Wendy Harrington, Head of Nuveen Labs

“Bill’s energy, passion, knowledge, and ability to engage is the best I have ever experienced.”

— Tom Mendoza, Former President and Vice-Chair, NetApp

“Bill masterfully uses compelling illustrations to bring alive his insights about leading for success.”

— Andy Rachleff, Founder and CEO, Wealthfront

“Bill is one of the most liked speakers we have ever had. Our audience really enjoys his great energy coupled with a funny side and outstanding content.“

— Fabian Hediger, Co-Founder and Head of Product Development, Bitcoin Suisse AG

Praise for “The Red Queen Among Organizations:”

“Engaging and thought-provoking, Barnett’s construct of ‘learning organizations’ that evolve as a function of their particular competitive environment and capabilities is, in my experience, an accurate description of this complex and important corporate dimension. Having spent fifteen years in the disc-drive industry, which is generally regarded as the most competitive segment in the technology marketplace, I strongly recommend this book to anyone concerned with the strategic and organizational issues related to corporate competitiveness.”

— Steve Luczo, chairman of Seagate Technology

“The Red Queen tells us that corporations and other organizations can run faster, but fall behind because others are running too. Worse, they learn how to run faster by studying the leaders in their race. Barnett’s analysis is pathbreaking and equally interesting to academics and practitioners because it lays out the many ironies that make superior rates of learning and adaptability in one set of circumstances counterproductive when those circumstances evolve (as they always do).”

— John Freeman, University of California, Berkeley

“A very important contribution to the literature on competition and strategy. Barnett writes with admirable clarity and shows a depth of knowledge of a wide range of industries that he uses to illustrate his ideas. His empirical analysis is rigorous.”

—David Barron, University of Oxford

“Organizational analysts have a lot to learn from reading this book. Old assumptions are questioned, attention to institutional and competitive logics is extended, historical detail is presented with precision and depth, and the empirical specifications of the model are much improved over previous analyses. Without a doubt, this is cutting-edge research in organization and management theory.”

— Stanislav D. Dobrev, University of Chicago

“Barnett presents an excellent theoretical account of the evolution of competitiveness, supported by empirical evidence. . . . This ecological theory provides an excellent complement and contrast to many existing theoretical frameworks in strategic management.”

— J.J. Bailey, Choice

The Red Queen Among Organizations represents outstanding scholarship in the organisational theory field but is sufficiently rooted in the “real world” to be of benefit to business strategists and particularly to MBA and doctoral students in the field of corporate strategy. [I]t is a serious attempt to understand organisational behaviour, and it does it exceptionally well.””

— Cary L. Cooper, Times Higher Education

“Barnett’s presentation of the Red Queen theory is a well-crafted, nuanced, and thoughtful contribution to the voluminous literature on organizational population change.”

— David Knoke, American Journal of Sociology

“The main strength of the book is in highlighting the importance of competition in market-based economies for building viable, adaptive organizations.”

— Jason Potts, Kate Morrison, The Business Economist

“The most ambitious and important new book is The Red Queen among Organizations, by William P. Barnett. . . . [I]t is the best strategy book of the year because of its main insights: Competition concerns relative performance, not absolute performance; a company’s competitiveness is context-specific, and contexts can change, giving rise to the competency trap; learning comes from competing, not isolation from competition; and differentiation is desirable as a way to secure rents, but must be pursued in the context of competition, not in the vain hopes of avoiding it.”

— Phil Rosenzweig, Stratgey & Business

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