CK Prahalad Award for Scholarly Impact on Practice

The CK Prahalad Award for Scholarly Impact on Practice, 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.

Past CK Prahalad Award for Scholarly Impact on Practice Recipients

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

The recipient of this award is selected by the SMS Awards & Honors Committee.

To nominate an individual, please provide the following: 

  • A nomination letter by an SMS member
  • A full current CV for the nominated individual

*Nominations are accepted throughout the year. The deadline for this award is April 15.

In order to nominate a candidate for this award, please submit the above materials to the SMS Executive Office through the Submittable form

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.

2021 Award Recipient: Don Hambrick

We are honored to present this year’s CK Prahalad Award for Scholarly Impact on Practice to Don Hambrick of the Smeal College of Business, Pennsylvania State University. 

Don Hambrick is Evan Pugh University Professor and the Smeal Chaired Professor of Management, Smeal College of Business Administration, at The Pennsylvania State University. He is also Bronfman Professor Emeritus, Graduate School of Business, Columbia University. He holds degrees from the University of Colorado (B.S.), Harvard University (M.B.A.), and The Pennsylvania State University (Ph.D.). Don is the author of numerous articles and books on strategy formulation, strategy implementation, executive psychology, executive staffing and incentives, the composition and processes of top management teams, and corporate governance. His co-authored book, Strategic Leadership: Theory and Research on Executives, Top Management Teams, and Boards, is extensively used by scholars of executive leadership.

Selected with unanimous support from the committee, Don's decades of devotion and contribution as the quintessential scholar-practitioner have shaped top managers and refined their practices in conceiving of and implementing strategies. His influential 1993 Academy of Management presidential address titled, “What If the Academy Actually Mattered?”, called for research that has practical implications for management. The call is ever more important in our current world. 

Since the SMS Annual Conference will be held virtually ths year, we invited Don to share a recorded acceptance speech. He has also agreed to particpate in the Awards and Honors Webinar series that SMS will host in October and November, 2021. 

Don also particpated in a written interview with Gwen Lee, a member of the SMS Awards & Honors Committee. In this interview he shares many insights on his career in acadmia and impact on practice. 

I’ve had the good fortune to work with quite a number of executives and their teams, primarily on issues related to strategy – both strategy formulation and implementation. As a spillover benefit, I’ve had a chance to observe immense variance in executives’ talents and styles, which has been highly valuable for my research on strategic leadership. For instance, my strategy consulting with senior teams has been instrumental for my academic work on the dynamics of top management teams. Similarly, my involvement with CEOs spurred my research, with Bert Cannella, into why some CEOs choose to have COOs, while others don’t, as well as the implication of this choice (hint: the implications are substantial). Without my work with practitioners, this topic would have forever eluded me.

I’d say three things. First, companies appreciate that academic consultants are eclectic and open-minded about the frameworks and templates they apply, whereas consulting firms are seen as more dogmatic and parochial about the tools they use. Second, academic consultants are viewed as teachers who will help enhance and bring out the best in companies’ executives, while consulting firms are seen as analytic adjuncts to executive teams. To adapt an old adage: It’s a bit like the difference between teaching someone how to fish versus handing them a fish. Third, because of our other responsibilities, we academics can only take on relatively small consulting projects, while consulting firms only want big projects. So, there’s a complementarity there.

Of all my works, my 2001 article (coauthored with Jim Fredrickson), “Are You Sure You Have a Strategy?,” has had by far the biggest impact on business executives. The article, which provides a comprehensive framework for specifying the various elements of a business strategy, “The Strategy Diamond,” has been used by many companies, consulting firms, and in executive development programs. As an additional example of how our research can influence practice, my 2007 AMJ article (coauthored with Gerry Sanders) on the downsides of CEO stock options was picked up by various executive compensation consulting firms and governance watchdog groups; so it played an indirect role in reining-in high levels of stock option pay – in favor of restricted stock, which is much more sensible for motivating CEOs to take prudent risks.
This is something I dwell on quite a lot. Foremost, we mustn’t lose sight of the impact we have through our teaching. Our students will be tomorrow’s business and societal leaders, and we play a significant role in shaping what kind of leaders they will be. This is a big responsibility for all teachers, but especially for business school professors. Additionally, we all should strive to provide occasional translations of our academic work for practitioner audiences. We can do this through practitioner magazines, our schools’ alumni newsletters, responding to journalists inquiries, and so on. Reaching even just a few dozen people who are enmeshed in practical affairs is better than reaching none. Finally, think big. Take on challenging topics with bold, provocative ideas. Speaking personally, I’m now studying CEO activism and the impact of business leaders in our broader society. To be honest, I don’t care if I ever use company profitability or shareholder returns as dependent variables again.
Your teaching will be better, both because you’ll have the assurance of validity and you’ll have lively, up-to-date examples to share with your students. Your research will be better, both because you’ll be alert to the most pressing issues faced by practitioners and you’ll – again – have engaging illustrations to share with your readers. And as an additional bonus: you’ll be stretched beyond your comfort zone but enriched in the process.