Edward Zajac
Edward Zajac

James F. Bere Professor of Management & Organizations

Print Overview

Ed Zajac joined the faculty of the Kellogg School of Management after completing his Ph.D. in organization and strategy at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.  At Kellogg, he received the James F. Beré Chair and the Sidney J. Levy Teaching Award.  He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cologne and a visiting scholar at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Free University of Berlin, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Zurich.  He is an elected Fellow of both the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society. 

Professor Zajac’s research, teaching, and consulting focuses on strategy, alliances, and corporate governance.  His award-winning research has been published widely in major academic journals, such as the Strategic Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, American Sociological Review, and Management Science.  In each of the last seven years, he has been recognized as one of the “most highly cited researchers” worldwide in the Institute of Scientific Information’s yearly list of highly cited researchers (representing less than one-half of one percent of all published researchers).  He recently received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management, and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Berlin. He served for many years as Co-Editor of the Strategic Management Journal.

Professor Zajac has developed several popular courses at Kellogg in his areas of expertise: Creating and Managing Strategic Alliances addresses the design and management of strategic alliances such as joint ventures, licensing agreements, consortia, and other forms of cooperative strategies. Advanced Strategic Management examines how organizations can more effectively adapt to changing environments (with an emphasis on integrating strategy formulation and implementation challenges). Organizational Design examines the contribution that structure and systems can make in the implementation of an organization’s strategy. Corporate Governance analyzes the interdependent roles of the CEO, board of directors, shareholders and other stakeholders in the modern public corporation, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Professor Zajac has also created a successful executive education program on strategic alliances, and is active in executive education and consulting in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America in the areas of strategy formulation and implementation, strategic alliances, and corporate governance.  He has worked with organizations such as Abbott, AstraZeneca, Aventis, Baxter, Blue Cross/Blue Shield (the Association, HCSC, and the Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, and North Carolina plans), Brady, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Brunswick, Cargill, Caterpillar, Chiron, Cigna, Commonwealth Edison, ConocoPhillips, Cooper Tire and Rubber, Dade Behring, R.R. Donnelly, Edwards Lifesciences,  the FBI, FTI Ringtail, Gen-Probe, General Mills, W.W. Grainger, Harnischfeger, Hearst, Healthways, Hollister, Hu-Friedy, IBM, Idealease, the Institute for Corporate Directors (Canada), Johnson & Johnson, Land O’Lakes, Libbey, Eli Lilly, MARKEM, Merck, Monsanto, Moore, Novo Nordisk, Pfizer, Premier, Procter & Gamble, Public Service Company of New Mexico, O’Melveny & Myers, Rockwell Automation, Rockwell Collins, Savoy Brands Internacional, Schering-Plough, Siemens, Topco, Toyota, Vicinity, Zurich Insurance, several governmental agencies, and numerous professional associations (particularly in health care).  He is currently a board member at Scot Forge, and he formerly served as board chair at Pioneer Surgical Technology, and as a board member at PeopleFlo Manufacturing, Roberts Industries and The Wetlands Initiative.

Areas of Expertise
Competitive Analysis
Corporate Governance
Organizational Structure and Relationships
Strategic Management and Implementation

  • Recent Media Coverage

    Globe and Mail (Canada): How the board can build the brand

    Economist Intelligence Unit: Executive Briefing: Dimensions of diffusion

    The Mint (Dow Jones publication in India): When and how do markets learn?

    Chicago Sun-Times: Black to the future: Could Conrad Black regain his media empire with an acquittal?

    See all Kellogg in the Media
Print Vita
PhD, 1986, Organization and Strategy, University of Pennsylvania
MA, 1985, Organization and Strategy, University of Pennsylvania
MBA, 1984, Management, Strategic Planning, University of Pennsylvania
BS, 1979, Accounting, German, LaSalle College, Fulbright Scholar

Academic Positions
Professor, Weinberg College of Arts of Sciences, Northwestern University, 1995-present
Professor, Health Industry Management, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1995-present
Professor, Management & Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1995-present
James F. Bere Distinguished Professor of Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1993-present
Associate Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1991-1995
Assistant Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1986-1991

Grants and Awards
Distinguished Scholar Award from the Organization and Management Division of the Academy of Management., Academy of Management
Honorary doctorate from the School of Business and Economics, Free University of Berlin.
Distinguished Scholar Award, Organization and Management Division of the Academy of Management, 2013
Honorary Doctorate from the School of Business and Economics, Free University of Berlin, 2012
Sidney J. Levy Teaching Award, Kellogg School of Management, 1995-1996

Editorial Positions
Co-Editor, Strategic Management Journal, 2007-present
Editor in Chief, Strategic Management Journal, 2005-2013
Editorial Board, Asia Pacific Management Journal
Guest Editor, Organization Science
Associate Editor, Strategic Management Journal

Print Research
Research Interests
Study of strategic management issues, particularly strategic alliances, corporate governance (CEO/board relations and CEO succession and compensation), and organizational adaptation to changing business environments

Bermiss, Sekou Y, Edward Zajac and Brayden King. 2014. Under Construction: How Commensuration, Sensegiving, and Management Fashions Impact Corporate Reputation Rankings. Organization Science. 25: 591-608.
Albers, Sascha, Franz Wohlgezogen and Edward Zajac. Forthcoming. Strategic Alliance Structures: An Organization Design Perspective. Journal of Management.
Zajac, Edward and B.G. King. Forthcoming. Under Construction: How Commensuration and Management Fashions Affect Corporate Reputation Rankings. Organization Science.
Stern, Ithai, Janet Dukerich and Edward Zajac. 2014. Unmixed Signals: How Reputation and Status Affect Alliance Formation. Strategic Management Journal. 35: 512-531.
Karaevli, Ayse and Edward Zajac. 2013. When Do Outsider CEOs Generate Change: The Enabling Logic of Corporate Stability. Journal of Managerial Studies. 50: 1267-1294.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 2013. A Behavioral Theory of Corporate Governance: Explicating the Mechanisms of Socially Situated and Socially Constituted Agency. Academy of Management Annals. 7: 605-659.
Mahmood, I., H Kim and Edward Zajac. 2011. Where Can Capabilities Come From: Network Ties and Capability Acquisition in Business Groups. Strategic Management Journal. 32: 820-848.
Ansari, Shazad, Peer C. Fiss and Edward Zajac. 2010. Made to Fit: How Practices Vary as They Diffuse. Academy of Management Review. 35: 67-92.
Li, Jing, Changhui Zhou and Edward Zajac. 2009. Control, Collaboration, and Productivity in International Joint Ventures: Theory and Evidence. Strategic Management Journal. 30: 865-884.
Hambrick, Donald, Axelvon Werder and Edward Zajac. 2008. New Directions in Corporate Governance Research. Organization Science. 19(1-5)
Wang, Lihua and Edward Zajac. 2007. Acquisition or Alliance? A Dyadic Perspective on Interfirm Resource Combinations.. Strategic Management Journal. 28(13): 1291 - 1317.
Fiss, Peer C. and Edward Zajac. 2006. The Symbolic Management of Strategic Change: Sensegiving via Framing and Decoupling. Academy of Management Journal. 49(6): 1173-1193.
Washington, Marvin and Edward Zajac. 2005. Status Evolution and Competition: Theory and Evidence. Academy of Management Journal. 48(2): 282-296.
Fiss, Peer C. and Edward Zajac. 2004. The Diffusion of Ideas over Contested Terrain: The (Non)Adoption of a Shareholder Value Orientation in German Firms. Administrative Science Quarterly. 49(4): 501-534.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 2004. The Social Construction of Market Value: Institutionalization and Learning Perspectives on Stock Market Reactions. American Sociological Review. 69(3): 433-457.
Jensen, Michael and Edward Zajac. 2004. Corporate Elites and Corporate Strategy: How Demographic Preferences and Structural Position Shape the Scope of the Firm.. Strategic Management Journal. 25(6): 507-524.
Yin, Xiaoli and Edward Zajac. 2004. The Strategy/Governance Structure Fit Relationship: Theory and Evidence in Franchising Arrangements.. Strategic Management Journal. 25(4): 365-383.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 2001. Explaining Institutional Decoupling: The Case of Stock Repurchase Programs. Administrative Science Quarterly. 46(2): 202-255.
Kraatz, Matthew S. and Edward Zajac. 2001. How Resources Affect Strategic Change and Performance in Turbulent Environments: Theory and Evidence. Organization Science. 12(5): 632-657.
Golden, Brian R. and Edward Zajac. 2001. When Will Boards Influence Strategy? Inclination X Power = Strategic Change. Strategic Management Journal. 22(12): 1087-1111.
Zajac, Edward, Matthew S. Kraatz and Rudi K.F. Bresser. 2000. Modelling the Dynamics of Strategic Fit: A Normative Approach to Strategic Change. Strategic Management Journal. 21(4): 429-453.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 1998. Symbolic Management of Stockholders: Corporate Governance Reforms and Shareholder Reactions. Administrative Science Quarterly. 43(1): 127-153.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 1997. Defections from the Inner Circle: Social Exchange, Reciprocity, and the Diffusion of Board Independence in U.S. Corporations. Administrative Science Quarterly. 42(1): 161-183.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 1996. Director Reputation, CEO/Board Power, and the Dynamics of Board Interlocks. Administrative Science Quarterly. 41(3): 507-529.
Kraatz, Matthew S. and Edward Zajac. 1996. Exploring the Limits of the New Institutionalism: The Causes and Consequences of Illegitimate Organizational Change. American Sociological Review. 61(5): 812-836.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 1996. Who Shall Succeed? How CEO/Board Preferences and Power Affect the Choice of New CEOs. Academy of Management Journal. 39(1): 64-90.
Beatty, Randolph P and Edward Zajac. 1995. Managerial Incentives, Monitoring, and Risk Bearing in Initial Public Offerings. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance. 8(2): 87-96.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 1995. Accounting for the Explanations of CEO Compensation: Substance and Symbolism. Administrative Science Quarterly. 40(2): 283-308.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 1995. Who Shall Govern? CEO/Board Power, Demographic Similarity, and New Director Selection. Administrative Science Quarterly. 40(1): 60-83.
Zajac, Edward. 1994. Top Management Incentives, Monitoring, and Risk-Bearing: A Study of Executive Compensation, Ownership, and Board Structure in Initial Public Offerings. Administrative Science Quarterly. 39: 313-336.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 1994. The Costs and Benefits of Managerial Incentives and Monitoring in Large U.S. Corporations: When is More not Better?. Strategic Management Journal. 15(Special Issue: Competitive Organizational Behavior): 121-142.
Westphal, James D. and Edward Zajac. 1994. Substance and Symbolism in CEOs' Long-Term Incentive Plans. Administrative Science Quarterly. 39(3): 367-390.
Barney, J.B. and Edward Zajac. 1994. Competitive Organizational Behavior: Toward an Organizationally-Based Theory of Competitive Advantage. Strategic Management Journal. 15: 5-9.
Zajac, Edward and Matthew S. Kraatz. 1993. A Diametric Forces Model of Strategic Change: Assessing the Antecedents and Consequences of Restructuring in the Higher Education Industry. Strategic Management Journal. 14(Special Issue: Corporate Restructuring): 83-102.
Zajac, Edward and Cyrus P. Olsen. 1993. From Transaction Costs to Transactional Value Analysis: Implications for the Study of Interorganizational Strategies. Journal of Management Studies. 30(1): 131-145.
Bazerman, Max H, Margaret A. Neale, Kathleen L. Valley, Edward Zajac and YongMin Kim. 1992. The Effects of Agents and Mediators on Negotiation Outcomes. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 53(1): 55-73.
Zajac, Edward. 1992. Relating Economic and Behavioral Perspectives in Strategy Research. Advances in Strategic Management. 8
Astley, Graham W and Edward Zajac. 1991. Intraorganizational Power and Organizational Design: Reconciling Rational and Coalitional Models of Organization. Organization Science. 2(4): 399-411.
Zajac, Edward, Brian R. Golden and Stephen M. Shortell. 1991. New Organizational Forms for Enhancing Innovation: The Case of Internal Corporate Joint Ventures. Management Science. 37(2): 170-184.
Zajac, Edward and Max H Bazerman. 1991. Blind Spots in Industry and Competitor Analysis: The Implications of Interfirm (Mis)perceptions for Strategic Decisions. Academy of Management Review. 16(1): 37-56.
S.M., Shortell and Edward Zajac. 1990. Health Care Organizations and the Development of Strategic Management Perspective. Innovations in Health Care Delivery: New Insights into Organization Theory.: 141-180.
Zajac, Edward. 1990. CEO Selection, Succession, Compensation, and Firm Performance: A Theoretical Integration and Empirical Analysis. Strategic Management Journal. 11(3): 217-230.
Shortell, Stephen M. and Edward Zajac. 1990. Perceptual and Archival Measures of Miles and Snow's Strategic Types: A Comprehensive Assessment of Reliability and Validity. Academy of Management Journal. 33(4): 817-832.
Astley, Graham W and Edward Zajac. 1990. Beyond Dyadic Exchange: Functional Interdependence and Subunit Power. Organization Studies. 11(4): 481-501.
Zajac, Edward and Stephen M. Shortell. 1989. Changing Generic Strategies: Likelihood, Direction, and Performance Implications. Strategic Management Journal. 10(5): 413-430.
Zajac, Edward. 1988. Interlocking Directorates as an Interorganizational Strategy: A Test of Critical Assumptions. Academy of Management Journal. 31(2): 428-438.
Shortell, Stephen M. and Edward Zajac. 1988. Internal Corporate Joint Ventures: Development Processes and Performance Outcomes. Strategic Management Journal. 9(6): 527-542.
Fombrun, Charles J. and Edward Zajac. 1987. Structural and Perceptual Influences on Intraindustry Stratification. Academy of Management Journal. 30(1): 33-50.
Beatty, Randolph P and Edward Zajac. 1987. CEO Change and Firm Performance in Large Corporations: Succession Effects and Manager Effects. Strategic Management Journal. 8(4): 305-317.
Kimberly, J. R. and Edward Zajac. 1985. Strategic Adaption in Health Care Organizations: Implications for Theory and Research. Medical Care Review. 42: 267-302.
Working Papers
Pozner, Jo-Ellen and Edward Zajac. 2012. Explaining Firm Performance: The Symbolic Management of Quarterly Earnings Announcements.
Piao, Ming and Edward Zajac. 2012. How Expoitation Impedes and Impels Exploration: Theory and Evidence.
Lungeanu, Razvan and Edward Zajac. Well-Matched: Ownership Experience and IPO Success.
Naumovska, I., P. Lee and Edward Zajac. 2014. From Sizzle to Fizzle: The Unusual Diffusion of Quasi-Institutionalized Practices.
Lungeanu, Razvan, Ithai Stern and Edward Zajac. 2014. Changing the How: Technological Performance, Slack Resources, and the Firm's Portfolio of Strategic Means.
Kennedy, M., R. Solomon and Edward Zajac. 2014. The Unintended Consequences of Excessive Decoupling: Evidence from Media Coverage of a Technology Market.
Thomas, A., T. Mellewigt and Edward Zajac. My Once and Future Partner - or Acquiree? Unpacking the Impact of Partner-Specific Alliance Experience.
Naumovska, I., Edward Zajac and P Lee. The Curious Case of Chinese Reverse Mergers: A Case of Stock Market Prejudice?.
Giorgi, Simona and Edward Zajac. 2012. Braking the Law: How The U.S. Auto Industry Symbolically Managed Product Safety.
Morris, Mary-Hunter, Franz Wohlgezogen and Edward Zajac. The Symbolic Management of Bankruptcy: A Mechanisms-Based Approach.
Li, Jing, Jie Wu and Edward Zajac. 2012. Gets and Gives: Political Ties as a Double-edged Resource for Enhancing Firm Innovation.
Wang, Lihua and Edward Zajac. 2012. Creating Value through Mergers and Acquisitions: A Dyadic, Knowledge-Based Approach.
Zajac, Edward and John R. Kimberly. 1988. The Dynamics of CEO/Board Relationships.
Perkins, Susan E and Edward Zajac. 2014. Signal or Symbol? Interpreting Firms Strategic Response to Institutional Change in the Brazilian Stock Market.
Book Chapters
Zajac, Edward, Thomas A D'Aunno and Lawton R Burns. 2011. "Managing Strategic Alliances." In Shortell and Kaluzny's Health Care Management: Organization, Design and Behavior, edited by L.R. Burns, E.H. Bradley, and B.J. Weiner, 321-346. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 2002. "Intraorganizational Economics." In The Blackwell Companion to Organizations, edited by Joel A.C. Baum, 233-255. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Gulati, Ranjay and Edward Zajac. 2000. "Reflections on the Study of Strategic Alliances." In Cooperative Strategy: Economic, Business, and Organizational Issues, edited by David Faulkner, Marc de Rond, 365-374. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 1998. "Toward a Behavioral Theory of the CEO/Board Relationship: How Research Can Enhance Our Understanding of Corporate Governance Practices." In Navigating change: How CEOs, Top Teams, and Boards Steer Transformation, edited by Donald C. Hambrick, David A. Nadler, Michael L. Tushman, 256-277. Harvard Business School Press.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 1996. "Managerial Incentives in Organizations: Economic, Political, and Symbolic Perspectives." In Organizational Decision Making, edited by Z. Shapira, 133-157.
Shortell, Stephen M. and Edward Zajac. 1990. Health Care Organizations and the Development of the Strategic Management Perspective. Jossey-Bass.
Conference Proceedings
Mauskapf, Michael, William Ocasio and Edward Zajac. 2013. "Institutional Dissonance at the New York Philharmonic, 1842-1928: Emergence, Response, and Persistence.".
Yin, Xiaoli, Edward Zajac and Razvan Lungeanu. 2001. "The Role of Governance Structure in Strategic Change: The Case of Franchising." In National Academy of Management meeting, Washiton, DC.
Zajac, Edward and James D. Westphal. 1998. "Toward a Behavioral Theory of the CEO/Board Relationship: How Research Can Enhance Our Understanding of Corporate Governance Practice." In Navigating Change: How CEOs, Top Teams, and Boards Steer Transformation, edited by Donald C. Hambrick, David A. Nadler and Michael L. Tushman, 256-277. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
Loffler, Alicia, Markus Solf and Edward Zajac. 2004. Bayer & Millennium Pharmaceuticals. Case 5-104-014 (KEL068).

Print Teaching
Teaching Interests
Interorganizational strategies, advanced strategic management
Organizations In Their Environments (MORS-425-2)
This course provides an analysis of the behavior of organizations vis-à-vis their environment, with effort at verification, drawing upon cross-institutional theories and cross-cultural empirical studies. The course focuses on the ecology of organizations, how internal characteristics condition external relations and how environments influence internal processes.

Executive MBA
Creating and Managing Strategic Alliances (MORSX-454-0)
Creating and Managing Strategic Alliances examines the theory and practice of strategic alliances such as joint ventures, licensing agreements, buyer-supplier partnerships and consortia.

Corporate Governance (MORSX-913-A)
Corporate Governance defines the duties and responsibilities of board membership. This course describes the way corporate governance operates in today’s challenging business environment, as well as what it means to be an effective board member in such a climate.

Executive Education

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Advanced Management Program: Intensive

A condensed and immersive professional development opportunity for senior executives responsible for creating markets and driving growth in today's fast-paced, interconnected economy. A holistic approach to assessing the organizational impact of one's leadership skills and style, all supported with executive coaching.

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Advanced Management Program: The Global Experience

Kellogg offers the same core leadership content for senior executives as our Advanced Management Program: Intensive in a modular format that includes an additional week of programming. This breakthrough course design provides an unparalleled experiential global week of learning in select markets around the world.

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Constructive Collaboration: Driving Performance in Teams, Organizations and Partnerships
Learn from the experts the why, what and how of collaboration — the strategic rationale, design requirements and critical insights for assessing opportunities and risks in multiple contexts. This interactive program provides the conditions and competencies that foster highly productive collaboration and demonstrates how you can build and sustain these qualities in your company and its people.
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Creating and Managing Strategic Alliances
The promise of strategic alliances is strong: faster growth, greater leverage, lower risk. However, the pitfalls are also significant. We can help you improve your skills in partnering with other organizations.
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Merger Week: Creating Value Through Strategic Acquisitions and Alliances
Mergers and acquisitions are anything but one-dimensional. This program will teach you how to take a multifaceted approach to any restructuring deal, considering how finance, leadership, negotiations and strategy each contribute to your organization’s success.
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Women's Director Development Program
With this comprehensive approach to corporate director training, you’ll gain the skills you need to be an effective board member as well as the practical tools for landing a seat at the table. Develop a deep understanding of board responsibilities, structures and strategies and prepare yourself to reach and excel at the highest level of corporate governance.
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