Faculty Directory

Sydney Finkelstein

Steven Roth Professor of Management





Personal Website



PhD, Columbia University, 1988; MSc, London School of Economics, 1981; BComm, Concordia University, 1980

Areas of Expertise

Leadership and strategy


Strategic Leadership


Sydney Finkelstein’s approach to leadership and strategy focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of executive talent. His widely read research analyzes how capable leaders make bad decisions and, ultimately, fail. He teaches the core course Analysis for General Managers.

Current Research Topics

  • Developing leadership talent
  • Why smart executives fail
  • Early warning signs for corporate disasters
  • Learning from mergers and acquisitions
  • Board of director effectiveness

Professional Activities

Academic positions

  • Tuck School of Business, 1993–present
  • Tuck School of Business, Director, Tuck Executive Program, 2001-16
  • Assistant Professor of Business Administration, University of Southern California, 1987–93 

Board memberships

  • Assembly of Overseers, Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital
  • Board of Overseers, Dartmouth College Hillel

Editorial positions

  • Administrative Science Quarterly (1996–2008)
  • Strategic Organization (2001–09)
  • Journal of Business Strategy (2003–present)
  • Journal of Strategy and Management (2008–present)
  • Strategic Management Journal (1994–2007)
  • Academy of Management Journal (1991–96)
  • Journal of Management (1989–99; Consulting Editor 1995–99)
  • Organization Science (1995–2002)


  • On 'Thinkers 50' list of top management experts in the world, 2013, 2015, 2017
  • Finalist for the Academy of Management Terry Book Award, 2010 (“Strategic Leadership” and “Think Again”)
  • Emerald Management Reviews Citation of Excellence (for having been selected as one of the 50 best articles published in 2009 (out of 15,000) in management) for “Inappropriate Attachments”
  • Elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Management in 2007
  • Article included in special issue: Classic Articles from AME, which “reprises and celebrates the most enduring articles from its past as chosen by the editors,” Academy of Management Executive, 2005
  • Finalist for the Academy of Management Executive Best Article of the Year, 2004
  • Honorable Mention for the McKinsey & Co. SMS Best Conference Paper Prize, 2002
  • Finalist for the Academy of Management’s George R. Terry Award, 1998
  • Academy of Management Executive Best Article of the Year, 1997
  • Selected as one of the “Best Papers,” SMS Annual Conference, 1997
  • Citations of Excellence, ANBAR Management Intelligence, for "Interindustry Merger Patterns" (1998) and “Leveraging Intellect" (1997)
  • Ascendant Scholar, Western Academy of Management, 1993
  • The Leadership Research Fund, The Leadership Institute, USC, 1993
  • Zumberge Faculty Research and Innovation Fund, USC, 1991–92
  • Cenafoni Award for Best Research Proposal in Entrepreneurship, 1991
  • A.T. Kearney Award Finalist, 1988
  • Irwin Foundation Fellowship, 1986–87

Selected Publications

  • “The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers,” Harvard Business Review, January-February, 2018
  •  “So You Want To Be A Superboss?” Talent Quarterly, 13, 2017
  • “Lessons of the Superbosses,” People + Strategy Journal, 40 (1), 2017
  • “Lessons from the Superboss Playbook: A New Perspective on Talent,” Harvard Business Review, January-February, 2016
  • With J. Kim and J. Haleblian, “All Aspirations are Not Created Equal: The Differential Effects of Historical and Social Aspirations on Acquisition Behavior,” Academy of Management Journal, 58, 2015
  • “Zombie-virksomheder – Sådan lærer de af deres fejltagelser!” Børsens Ledelseshåndbøger: Strategi & Ledelse, September 2014
  • With J. Kim and J. Haleblian, “When Firms Become Desperate to Grow via Acquisition: The Effect of Growth Patterns and Acquisition Experience on Acquisition Premiums," Administrative Science Quarterly, 2011
  • How to Avoid a Bad Call, FT Press, 2010
  • With A. Campbell and J. Whitehead, "Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions," Harvard Business Review, February 2009
  • With J. Kim, "The Effects of Strategic and Locational Complementarity on Acquisition Performance: Evidence from the U.S. Commercial Banking Industry, 1989-2001," Strategic Management Journal, 30, 2009
  • With J. Whitehead and A. Campbell, Think Again: Why Good Leaders Make Bad Decisions and How to Keep It From Happening to You, Harvard Business School Press, 2009
  • With D.C. Hambrick and A. Cannella, Strategic Leadership: Theory and Research on Executives, Top Management Teams, and Boards, Oxford University Press, 2008
  • With C. Helfat, W. Mitchell, M. Peteraf, H. Singh, D. Teece, and S. Winter, Dynamic Capabilities: Understanding Strategic Change in Organizations, Blackwell Publishing, 2007
  • Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn From Their Mistakes, Portfolio, 2003
  • With A. Mooney, "Not the Usual Suspects: How to Use Board Process to Make Boards Better," Academy of Management Executive, May 2003