Saturday, April 17, 2010

RIP CK Prahalad

By Dr. Hari Bapuji. 

I woke up this morning to the news of CK Prahalad’s death. With it, an era in strategy research has passed away. Prahalad was one of the few scholars who commanded respect from both academics and practitioners. His writings appeared mostly as books and practitioner articles; an unusual portfolio for someone at a top-tier American university. Influential academic researchers often say that junior scholars should write for top-tier journals before writing for practitioner outlets. They point that Prahalad wrote for both research and practitioner audience. I always wanted to check how true that statement was, but never really checked. His sudden and unfortunate death prompted me to check ISI Web of Knowledge; the most authoritative source for citations and scholarly work.

Prahalad wrote 13 papers in what I could recognize as peer reviewed journals. He published 5 papers during the 1980’s, 7 during the 1990’s and only one invited commentary in 2000’s. Of these 13, he published 7 in Strategic Management Journal (SMJ). Prahalad published a total of 56 papers. So, he published 43 papers in non-academic outlets. A total of 23 papers appeared in Harvard Business Review (HBR) and 7 in Sloan Management Review (SMR). His recent works have mostly appeared in practitioner outlets, particularly in HBR, Fortune and SMR. His most cited paper was on core competence, published in HBR. Three out of six of his papers that received over 100 citations appeared in HBR, two in SMJ and one in Organization Science. Two of his most cited works (as per Google Scholar) are books, not scholarly articles.

In short, Prahalad proved that you do not necessarily have to publish in top-tier peer-reviewed academic journals to influence theory and practice. One may or may not agree with Prahalad’s ideas, but he made us take note of them. More importantly, he influenced our thinking. Prahalad is one of the few figures who influenced this forum (SaY). Prahalad may not physically be among us anymore. But, his spirit lives on in this forum and elsewhere.

Thank you Prahalad for your fine thoughts...!

May your soul rest in peace...!!

May your ideas continue to transform strategy theory and practice...!!!
Dr. Hari Bapuji is an Assistant Professor at the Asper School of Business, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Dr. Bapuji’s recent research on Toy Recalls received worldwide media attention and has been published in several prominent outlets. 

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