Stefan Thomke

Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Stefan Thomke, an authority on the management of technology and product innovation, is Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He has worked with US, European and Asian firms on product and technology development, organizational and strategic issues.

Since joining the Harvard faculty in 1995, Professor Thomke has taught MBA and executive courses on technology & operations management, product development, R&D and innovation management, and operations strategy, both at Harvard Business School and in individual company programs in the United States and abroad. For several years, he was faculty chairman of the Executive Education Program Leading Product Development which helps business leaders in revamping their product development processes for greater competitive advantage. Professor Thomke is currently faculty co-chairman of the doctoral program in Information, Technology and Management (I,T&M), a collaboration between HBS and Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Thomke's research and writings have focused on the process, economics, and management of experimentation in innovation. An important part of his research examines the impact of new and rapidly advancing technologies (such as computer simulation and prototyping) on the economics of innovation in general, and product development performance and organization in particular. He is a widely published author with more than three dozen articles, cases and notes published in books and leading journals such as California Management Review, Harvard Business Review, Journal of Product Innovation Management, Management Science, Organization Science, Research Policy, Strategic Management Journal and Scientific American. He is the author of Experimentation Matters: Unlocking the Potential of New Technologies for Innovation (Harvard Business School Press, 2003) which shows how new technologies provide firms with an opportunity to take innovation to a new level if they are willing to rethink their product development and business models from the ground up. A recent managerial publication R&D Comes to Services (Harvard Business Review, April 2003) applies his research on experimentation to the management of service innovation. Professor Thomke is also an editor of Research Policy, an international journal devoted to research policy, management and planning, and serves on the editorial boards of several other leading management journals.

Professor Thomke was born and grew up in Calw, Germany. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering, a S.M. degree in Operations Research, a S.M. degree in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he was awarded a Lemelson-MIT doctoral fellowship for invention and innovation research. Prior to joining the Harvard University faculty, he worked in electronics and semiconductor fabrication and later was with McKinsey & Company in Germany where he served clients in the automotive and energy industries. He lives with his wife and their three wonderful children in Lexington, Massachusetts.