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Prof. Jeffrey Sonnenfeld Wins Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner Award

The Academy of Management gave Sonnenfeld its 2023 Award for Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner, recognizing a lifetime of contributions in applying leadership studies to the world of business.

Prof. Jeff Sonnenfeld
Photo by Christopher Capozziello

Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, Yale SOM’s senior associate dean for leadership studies and Lester Crown Professor in the Practice of Management, received the 2023 Award for Distinguished Scholar-Practitioner from the Academy of Management. This award, issued by the leading professional association for management and organization scholars, recognizes lifetime achievement in applying the insights of scholarship to the practice of management and leadership.

Sonnenfeld was particularly commended for how he has applied his academic studies of CEO leadership through his activities at the Chief Executive Leadership Institute (CELI), which fosters learning and dialog among top leaders from the corporate, nonprofit, and government sectors.

Paul Spee, the chair of the 2023 AOM Career Achievement Awards Committee and an associate professor in strategy at The University of Queensland, also noted Sonnenfeld’s work advising government leaders and his many contributions to popular media, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and CNBC. “Your contributions have been exemplary,” said Spee. “Your work demonstrated broad impact both as a scholar and on practice which have long-lasting and now multiplying benefits to the field.”

Sonnenfeld has published 100 scholarly articles and has authored eight books, including The Hero's Farewell, an award-winning study of CEO succession, and Firing Back, a study on leadership resilience in the face of adversity. He founded and runs CELI, where he hosts wide-ranging and frank discussions about the most pressing issues facing CEOS. In recent years, he has mobilized and facilitated action by top corporate leaders on issues such as ensuring election integrity, furthering racial justice, and opposing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In accepting the award, Sonnenfeld said that its focus on the melding of scholarship and practice was particularly important for a business school. “Society wants professional schools for a purpose: to speak to practice,” he said. “Our research celebrates and challenges CEOs and engages them in governance reform, racial justice, gender equality, environmental sustainability, cancer abatement, immigration reform, voting rights, and of course this recent exit from Russia. So I accept this award not just in gratitude for the honor you bestow on me personally, but I accept it in joy and pride that the academy recognizes the importance of bringing scholarship in practice to make a better world.”

Watch a video of the award presentation.