Freek Vermeulen

Expertise:  HR, Talent Management, Corporate Culture, Leadership
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Freek Vermeulen

Freek Vermeulen is an Associate Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at the London Business School. He has designed and taught some of the School’s most successful courses such as Strategic Management, General Management, Strategies for Growth, and Mergers, Acquisitions & Alliances which, in combination, earned him the School’s “Best Teacher Award”.

In addition, in 2008, he was announced as the first ever recipient of London Business School’s “Excellence in Teaching Award”. Over the past years, Freek has acted as an advisor and worked on executive programmes for companies such as BP, EDS, The Guardian, the Fiat Group, IBM, KPMG, Lloyd’s, Maersk, Novartis, PwC, Rabobank, Roche, Sara Lee, ThyssenKrupp, Toshiba, Vodafone and others.

In 2009, the Financial Times wrote about Freek: “The London Business School associate professor is a rising star and his pithy observations are both accessible and authoritative”. In 2011, the same newspaper described him as a new management guru.

Freek’s research on strategies for growth has been published extensively in highly reputed academic journals, such as the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly and the Strategic Management Journal. As a result, he received the prestigious “Academy of Management Journal Best Paper Award”, particularly for his research on international expansion. In addition, his views on management appeared in global pracitioner outlets, such as the Harvard Business Review, Sloan Management Review, and the Wall Street Journal. He also wrote a popular business blog for the Harvard Business Review (called “Strategy Freek“), which was covered in Business Week, The Washington Post, the Financial Times, among others. He now writes a blog for Forbes.

Have you ever wondered why most newspapers are so large? Or why management consultants work such long hours? Or why hotels still insist on having check-in desks? Ask anyone in these industries, and their answer will be the same: “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”

“Best practices” may be widespread, but that doesn’t mean they’re effective. In many instances the opposite is true: best practices can be outdated, harmful, and a hindrance to innovation. These badpractices are all too common in organizations, and managers and executives can be blind to their pernicious effects. Since they’ve worked in the past, or have been adopted with success by other firms, their purpose or effectiveness is rarely questioned. As a consequence, these practices spread and persist.

In Breaking Bad Habits, Freek Vermeulen, a strategist with a keen eye for the absurd, offers the tools to identify these practices and rid them from your organization. And, most of all, he presents a compelling case for how eliminating popular but outworn ideas, processes, and strategies can create new opportunities for innovation and growth.

Brimming with examples of norm-defying organizations in an eclectic range of industries–including IVF clinics, hotels, newspapers, and a famous London theater–Breaking Bad Habits will make you rethink your long-held beliefs about industry norms while encouraging you to reinvigorate your business by breaking out of the status quo

Freek Vermeulen’s Book Breaking Bad Habits – made the FT Best Business Books for November.

‘Breaking Bad Habits: Defy Industry Norms and Reinvigorate Your Business’, by Freek Vermeulen

A restless search for “best practice” lies behind some of the worst habits of business, which can spread like viruses, hampering innovation and stifling growth. Mr Vermeulen, a professor at London Business School, offers some excellent examples of bad practice, and also of good practice — the new ideas that throw off the straitjacket of established processes, industry standards, and misleading success stories propagated by journalists, consultants and academics.

At the same time, Mr Vermeulen provides a series of counterintuitive ways companies can inoculate themselves against the virus of best practice, for instance by “embracing change for change’s sake”.

His book – “Business Exposed: The naked truth about what really goes on in the world of business” which the Financial Times described it as “ornery and entertaining: a rigorous challenge to many business assumptions”.

Freek currently serves on the Editorial Boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Strategic Organization and the European Management Review. He is a member of the Strategic Management Society and the Academy of Management and served on the Advisory Council of the Academy of Management Journal. Freek obtained a PhD in business administration (“cum laude”) from Tilburg University and a PhD in Organisation Studies from Utrecht University, the Netherlands.


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