Sarah Kaplan is Professor of Strategic Management at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and was recently appointed the Founding Director of Rotman’s Institute for Gender + the Economy. She is co-author of The New York Times business bestseller, Creative Destruction, a book that challenged the notion of sustainable competitive advantage and the myth of excellence. Her research showed that long-established companies, instead of maintaining excellence, almost always under-perform the market over time. She found that firms usually experience cultural lock-in; she made recommendations for how leaders can avoid or break out of these bonds.
Her research has continued to explore these themes in studies of how organizations participate in and respond to the emergence of new fields and technologies, with a particular focus on the role of interpretive practices. Her studies examine biotechnology, communications, financial services, nanotechnology, and most recently, the field emerging at the nexus of gender and finance known as “gender capitalism”. With growing recognition that increased participation of women in the economy will have multiplier effects for both economic and social value creation, various organizations around the world are working to create mechanisms that will enable all facets of such participation. This research program is examining these efforts from both the micro and macro levels, following specific organizations and their work as well as overall trends.
Kaplan teaches a number of highly-rated elective courses in Rotman’s MBA program, including courses on corporate strategy, strategic change and implementation, and Corporation 360º, which examines a single company and its many facets with the goal of developing an integrated understanding of both private and public value creation. She has been awarded multiple times for her teaching with Rotman’s annual excellence in teaching award. She also teaches in Rotman’s PhD program and has acted as academic advisor to eight doctoral students since joining the School.
Starting at the beginning of her academic career with the Blackwell Outstanding Dissertation award from the Academy of Management, she has received numerous honours and awards for her research, including most recently Best Paper awards from the DRUID Conference and the UC Davis Conference on Qualitative Research. Her work for practitioners has been similarly recognized, including the 2015 Folio Magazine Eddie Award for her article “The Rise of Gender Capitalism” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Her article “The Real Value of Strategic Planning” was selected by Sloan Management Review as a top article in strategy to be included in its SloanSelect Strategy Collection. Indeed, Kaplan is one of the most highly cited researchers in her field, with a number of her journal publications receiving enough citations to be placed in the top 1% in the field of Economics and Business. Her research has been funded by the US National Science Foundation, the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation.
Kaplan is a Senior Editor at Organization Science, Guest Editor of a special issue on new research methods at the Strategic Management Journal, and formerly an Associate Editor at the Academy of Management Annals. She sits on the Editorial Review Board for both Organization Studies and the Strategic Management Journal, and is a three-time winner of Organization Science’s award for extraordinary service to their Editorial Review Board.
Kaplan’s impact has gone well beyond the scholarly realm, as she is regularly sought out by major organizations looking for education and advice on the major strategic issues confronting them. She also appears frequently in print and broadcast media, including The Globe and Mail and TVO.
Formerly a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (where she remains a Senior Fellow), and a consultant for nearly a decade at McKinsey & Company in New York, she completed her doctoral research in Management of Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at MIT's Sloan School of Management, and holds an MA in International Relations and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University.