"Deregulation, emerging markets, new forms of globalisation, convergence of technologies and industries, and ubiquitous connectivity, these have changed many aspects of business," said management guru C K Prahalad in an interview.
Prahalad is the world's topmost management guru and the first Indian-born thinker to claim the title.
The Thinkers 50 2007 list, produced by Suntop Media in association with Skillsoft, is a definitive guide to who is the most influential living management thinker.
Although the list is still dominated by North Americans (37 of the 50 gurus are from the United States), three more Indian management experts have made it to the Top 50. As yet, no Chinese guru has emerged.
To find out about the other nine who completed the top 10, read on. . .
1. C K PRAHALAD
Coimbatore Krishnao Prahalad was born in the town of Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. He studied physics at the University of Madras (now Chennai); worked as a manager in a branch of the Union Carbide battery company, then went to the Harvard University and earned a PhD.
Prahalad, is now the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, specializes in corporate strategy.
His books include:
Multinational Mission: Balancing Local Demands and Global Vision (1987), coauthored with Yves Doz,
Competing for the Future (1994), co-authored with Gary Hamel. Printed in fourteen languages, the book was named the Best Selling Business Book of the Year in 1994, and
The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers (2004) (coauthored with Venkatram Ramaswamy).
On his vision about India, Prahalad says: "As a country, India must have high and shared aspirations like it had in 1929 when the leaders of the then Congress party declared their ambition as Poorna Swaraj. Since then, India has never had a national aspiration which every Indian could share."
2. BILL GATES
For long the world?s richest man, till he was upstaged by legendary investor Warren Buffett recently, Bill Gates wears many a hat: computer whiz kid, entrepreneur extraordinaire, compassionate capitalist, top management thinker. . .
Born on October 28, 1955, William H Gates III grew up in Seattle with his two sisters.
Their father, William H Gates II, is a Seattle attorney. Their late mother, Mary, was a schoolteacher, University of Washington regent, and chairwoman of United Way International.
Gates attended public elementary school and the private Lakeside School. There, he discovered his interest in software and began programming computers at age 13.
In 1973, Gates entered Harvard University as a freshman, where he lived down the hall from Steve Ballmer, now Microsoft's chief executive officer. While at Harvard, Gates developed a version of the programming language BASIC for the first microcomputer - the MITS Altair.
In his junior year, Gates left Harvard to devote his energies to Microsoft, a company he had begun in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen.
Books that he wrote:
The Road Ahead (1995), held the No. 1 spot on the New York Times' bestseller list for seven weeks.
Business @ the Speed of Thought (1999). Published in 25 languages the book is available in more than 60 countries.
Bill Gates stepped down as chief executive officer of Microsoft in January, 2000; remained as chairman and created the position of chief software architect. Gates's last full-time day at Microsoft was June 27, 2008. He remains at Microsoft as a part-time, non-executive chairman.
Gates married Melinda French from Dallas, Texas on January 1, 1994. They have three children: Jennifer Katharine Gates (1996), Rory John Gates (1999) and Phoebe Adele Gates (2002).
Bill Gates' house is a 21st century earth-sheltered home in the side of a hill overlooking Lake Washington in Medina, Washington.
3. ALAN GREENSPAN
Born on March 6, 1926 in New York City, Alan Greenspan was Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve of the United States -- the US Fed -- from 1987 to 2006. It was said that when he sneezed, the world caught a cold.
He currently works as a private advisor, making speeches and providing consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC.
Greenspan was lauded for his handling of the Black Monday stock market crash that occurred very shortly after he first became chairman, as well as for his stewardship of the Internet-driven, 'dot-com' economic boom of the 1990s.
Greenspan is an accomplished saxophone player. While in college, he played in a jazz band.
He attended New York University, and received a BS in Economics in 1948, and a MA in 1950.
Greenspan went to the Columbia University, intending to pursue advanced economic studies, but subsequently dropped out.
In 1977, NYU awarded him a Ph.D. in Economics. On December 14, 2005, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Commercial Science from NYU, his fourth degree from that institution.
Greenspan was famous for his ability to give technical and confusing speeches. US News & World Report once said "Few can confuse Wall Street as thoroughly as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan can."
And Motley Fool radio show included a game called 'What Did the Fed Chief Say?', where contestants were challenged to interpret snippets of Greenspan's speeches.
His memoir, titled The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World was published in 2007.
4. MICHAEL E PORTER
Michael E Porter is the Bishop William Laurence University Professor at the Harvard Business School.
Porter was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His father was an army officer.
He studied mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton and then switched to business, earning an MBA and a PhD in economics from Harvard. He later joined the faculty there.
It is said that Porter has always been obsessed by competition. Unfortunately, he slipped from the number one position he held in the 2005 list to the fourth position in the 2007 list.
Books that he wrote:
Competitive Strategy Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors (1980)
Comparative Advantage (1985)
The Competitive Advantage of Nations (1990)
Can Japan Compete? (1999)
5. GARY HAMEL
The Wall Street Journal has ranked Gary Hamel as the world's most influential business thinker, and Fortune magazine has called him ?the world's leading expert on business strategy.? For the last three years, Hamel has also topped Executive Excellence magazine's annual ranking of the most sought after management speakers.
Born in 1954, Hamel is a visiting professor at Harvard Business School and London Business School.
Hamel has worked for companies as diverse as General Electric, Time Warner, Nokia, Nestle, Shell, Best Buy, Procter & Gamble, 3M, IBM, and Microsoft.
Hamel's landmark books, Leading the Revolution and Competing for the Future, have appeared on every management bestseller list and have been translated into more than 20 languages.
His latest book, The Future of Management, was published by the Harvard Business School Press in October 2007 and was selected by Amazon.com as the best business book of the year.
Hamel, a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and the Strategic Management Society lives in Northern California and believes that 'Dilbert is the bestselling business book of all time.'
6. W CHAN KIM & RENEE MAUBORGNE
W Chan Kim is co-founder and co-director of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute and The Boston Consulting Group Bruce D. Henderson Chair Professor of Strategy and International Management at INSEAD, France.
Prior to joining INSEAD, he was a professor at the University of Michigan Business School, USA.
He has served as a board member as well as an advisor for a number of multinational corporations in Europe, the United States and Pacific Asia. He is an advisory member for the European Union and is the country advisor to Malaysia. He was born in Korea.
Kim is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum. His Harvard Business Review articles, co-authored with Renee Mauborgne, are worldwide bestsellers and have sold over half a million reprints.
Renee Mauborgne is the INSEAD distinguished fellow and a professor of strategy at INSEAD.
Both Kim and Mauborgne are winners of the Eldridge Haynes Prize, awarded by the Academy of International Business and the Eldridge Haynes Memorial Trust of Business International, for the best original paper in the field of international business.
Their book, Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, published in 2005 has become an international best seller.
7. THOMAS J PETERS
Tom Peters was born on November 7, 1942 in Baltimore, Maryland. A writer on business management practices, Peters is best-known for, In Search of Excellence, co-authored with Robert H. Waterman, Jr.
He went to Severn School for high school and attended Cornell University, receiving a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1965, and a master's degree in 1966.
He then studied business at Stanford Business School, receiving an MBA and PhD. In 2004, he also received an honorary doctorate from the State University of Management in Moscow.
From 1974 to 1981, Peters worked as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company, and then in 1981, he went solo and became an independent consultant.
According to Peters, excellence in business depends on eight ingredients.
Activism, with people who 'do it, fix it (and) try it'
Excellent companies 'learn from the people they serve'.
They promote entrepreneurship and autonomy
Management learns from a 'hands-on' approach
Workers are valued as the key to achieve productivity
Excellent companies stick to their knitting, exploiting their core competencies and not pursuing wild goose chases
They keep their form simple and their staff lean;
They know how to be simultaneously tight-fitting and expansive.
Books that he wrote:
A Passion for Excellence: The Leadership Difference (1985)
Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution (1987)
Liberation Management: Necessary Disorganization for the Nanosecond Nineties (1992)
The Brand You 50 (1999)
8. JACK WELCH
Born in Salem, Massachusetts, the son of a rail road conductor, he studied chemical engineering at the university of Massachusetts, gaining a PhD in the same subject from the university of Illinois.
He joined General Electric's plastics division in 1960. At age 33 he became one of the company's youngest general managers and in December 1980, after a little over twenty years in the company, he was named GE's eighth CEO, the youngest in the company's history.
GE's financial success came at the expense of extensive layoffs. During the process of streamlining the company, over 100,000 workers lost their job. His perceived ruthlessness earned him the moniker 'Neutron Jack'.
Since retiring Jack Welch is busy as a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 firms. He also wrote his memoirs: Jack: Straight from the Gut, which was published in 2001; and with Suzy Welch he wrote Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book in 2005.
9. RICHARD BRANSON
Richard Branson was born in 1950 and educated at Stowe School. It was here that he began to set up Student Magazine when he was just 16. By 17 he'd also set up Student Advisory Centre, which was a charity to help young people.
In 1970, he founded Virgin as a mail order record retailer, and not long after he opened a record shop in Oxford Street, London. In 1972, a recording studio was built in Oxfordshire, and the first Virgin artist, Mike Oldfield, recorded 'Tubular Bells' which was released in 1973. This album went on to sell over 5 million copies!
Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s - as he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
Richard Branson is the 236th richest person according to Forbes' 2008 list of billionaires with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
The eldest and only boy of three children, his sisters are Lindi and Vanessa. His father Ted was a barrister, and mother, Eve, worked in the theatre, as a glider pilot instructor and as a flight attendant.
Branson has has dyslexia and thus fared poorly in his studies.
Branson is married to his second wife, Joan Templeman, with whom he has two children: Holly, a doctor, and Sam Branson.
The couple wed in 1989 at Necker Island, a 74 acre island in the British Virgin Islands that Branson owns.
He also owns real estate on the Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda.
In 1998 Branson released his autobiography entitled Losing My Virginity and in Business Stripped Bare.
Branson has guest starred, usually playing himself, on several television shows, including Friends, Baywatch, Birds of a Feather, Only Fools and Horses, and The Day Today.
10. JAMES C COLLINS III
Jim Collins was born in in 1958 in Boulder, Colorado. He studied business at Stanford.
He began his research and teaching career on the faculty at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992.
In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he now conducts research and teaches executives from the corporate and social sectors.
Jim has served as a teacher to senior executives and CEOs at over a hundred corporations.
He has also worked with social sector organisations, such as: Johns Hopkins Medical School, the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Leadership Network of Churches, the American Association of K-12 School Superintendents, and the United States Marine Corps.
In 2005 he published Good to Great. He also authored Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business into an Enduring Great Company (1995) and Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (2004).
In addition, Collins is an avid rock climber.