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Chengwei Liu
Top 40 under 40 MBA Professor | Management Thinkers50 | Author of Luck: A key idea for business and society
A photo of Chengwei Liu, ESMT Berlin
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Trained as an economist in Taiwan, Chengwei Liu (Ph.D., Cambridge) is a tenured associate professor of strategy and behavioral science, and faculty lead of the Global Online MBA Program at the ESMT Berlin. He specializes in behavioral strategy, organizational learning and the role of luck/randomness in innovation, entrepreneurship and management, with expertise in formal/computational models and data analytics. Chengwei’s research is published in leading journals (e.g., Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Management Science), practitioner outlets (e.g., Harvard Business Review, California Management Review, Financial Times), and interdisciplinary outlets (e.g., PNAS, Social Networks, Behavioral and Brain Sciences) and has received eight awards/finalists from the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society. His book “Luck: A key idea for business and society” summarizes his research on how to quantify and strategize with luck in sports, investment, and business, as well as its implications on judging merit and social inequality, and is a Best Book Award finalist at the EGOS. Thinkers50 name Chengwei a leading management thinker and Poets&Quants name Chengwei a Top 40 under 40 Business School Professor. His current research focuses on how organizations can address sustainability challenges (particularly those related to diversity) and (re)design themselves in the age of algorithms and AI. Chengwei is also leading the digital transformation of MBA education as the director of a new online MBA program at ESMT Berlin.

Chengwei is central to building the academic community of TOM—the Theoretical and Organizational Model Societyand have organized six of its annual conferences (2017-2022) and its PhD Summer School at INSEAD (2018), online (2021), and Harvard (2023). See:

Praise for Chengwei’s book on Luck:

“Luck has laid bare our ignorance and educates us on the concept of luck…If we judge research contributions like we judge Olympic dives, Luck receives top marks for degree of difficulty and execution.” -- Ray Reagans, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Management at the MIT, USA

“...Liu has written a sophisticated treatise on luck that offers something for everyone, including useful tips and scholarly insights too numerous to count.” -- Don A. Moore, Professor, University of California, Berkeley, USA and author of “Perfectly Confident”

“This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in social systems that produce ‘winners and losers’. It will change the way you think about what the term ‘luck’ means”. -- Anne Miner, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA

“...With Chengwei Liu’s Luck as a guide, you can become a master of luck. You will learn to identify and quantify luck, and, most important, you will learn some counterintuitive strategies and no longer have to choose whether you’d prefer to be lucky or good. You can be both!” -- Scott E Page, John Seely Brown Distinguished University Professor, University of Michigan, USA and author of “The Diversity Bonus” and “The Model Thinker”

“This book provides a magisterial survey of the concept of luck…Academics will find much to provoke thought, and managers will find insights that can help them rethink their strategies and craft new ones.” -- Phanish Puranam, Roland Berger Chaired Professor of Strategy and Organisation Design at INSEAD, France.

“What I loved most about Liu’s exposé is that he takes the notion of luck and explains how it can be managed systematically to your advantage.” -- Freek Vermeulen, Professor, London Business School, UK. Author of “Business Exposed” and “Breaking Bad Habits”.

“This world is full of successful senior executives who are smart, but realize they got lucky. And it is full of others who got lucky, but think they were smart. Read this book and decide which you are.” -- Richard D’Aveni, Bakala Professor of Strategy at Dartmouth College, USA. Bestselling author of “Hypercompetition” and “The Pan-industrial Revolution”

“This book makes for a stimulating read…The author helps us understand the significance of luck in everyday life and, in doing so, encourages to take ourselves less seriously.” -- Mark de Rond, Professor at Cambridge University, Author of “There is An I in Team”, “The Last Amateurs”, and “Doctors at War”.

“This highly interesting book takes an often misunderstood concept, luck, and explains how it needs to be interpreted and more importantly, how it can be used effectively in business strategy.” -- Pinar Ozcan, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Oxford

“Combining a diverse set of arguments from behavioral economics, psychology, sociology and statistics, the author argues that luck is more than just a residual, something that we can’t explain, but something that we can measure and exploit for strategic purposes.” -- Balázs Kovács, Professor at the Yale School of Management.

“Every manager interested in discerning whether decision outcomes are the product of luck or skill should read it. As should every scholar or manager needing a structured treatment of luck and how it might be used strategically.” -- Timothy Folta, Thomas John and Bette Wolff Family Chair of Strategic Entrepreneurship at University of Connecticut. Chair of the Strategic Management Division of the Academy of Management.

“An insightful and highly entertaining tour of the counter-intuitive world of luck, skill, praise and blame, by one of its leading researchers.” -- Nick Chater, Professor Behavioural Science at the Warwick Business School. Author of “The Mind is Flat”.

“This book challenges the conventional wisdom of luck and shows that luck not only has five different images, but also can be measured for its impacts or used for plotting strategic moves.” -- Ruey-Lin Hsiao, Professor at the National Cheng-Chi University and Adjunct Professor at the National Singapore University. Author of “Research without Numbers”.

“Fabulous (behavioural) science, explaining why second really is the best and how, by consistently underestimating the role luck plays in success, we undermine our own success! A much needed book that lays bare the truth about luck.”
-- Helen Bagnall, Founder & Director, Salon London & Also Festival

“Luck is a great but largely unacknowledged force in the world of business. Chengwei Liu is a skilled and hugely informed navigator through luck’s intriguing labyrinths.” -- Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove, Thinkers50 founders.
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Chengwei Liu

+49 30 212 31-1556

Associate Professor of Strategy and Behavioral Science, and Faculty Lead of the Global Online MBA Program, ESMT Berlin

  • PhD (University of Cambridge)
  • BA (National Taiwan University)