Eric Zhao

Professor of Strategy

  • eric.zhao@sbs.ox.ac.uk

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


Eric Zhao is Professor of Strategy at Saïd Business School and St Hugh's College, University of Oxford.

Before joining Oxford, Eric was a visiting faculty at Stanford University and the Samuel and Pauline Glaubinger Chair of Entrepreneurship at Indiana University. His research is cross-disciplinary in nature and sits at the intersection of strategic management, organisation theory and entrepreneurship.

Eric's Strategic Management Journal article, 'Optimal Distinctiveness: Broadening the Interface Between Institutional Theory and strategic Management' and his solo-authored book, Optimal Distinctiveness: A New Agenda for the Study of Competitive Positioning of Organizations and Markets are widely regarded as foundational contributions to the burgeoning literature on optimal distinctiveness.

His second stream of research focuses on how societal-level institutions, such as patriarchy, racial and ethnic segregation, religious diversity, and social class, shape entrepreneurial actions and performance, with broader implications for organisations’ role in addressing grand social challenges.

Eric's research has been published in leading management and entrepreneurship journals and is widely cited. He won the Academy of Management Emerging Scholar Award in Entrepreneurship in 2019 and the Strategic Management Society Emerging Scholar Award in 2022, making him the first scholar who has been recognised by top early career awards in both strategy and entrepreneurship.


Eric is actively involved in four major research areas:

  • optimal distinctiveness
  • institutions and entrepreneurship
  • resources and resourcefulness
  • crisis and resilience

Please visit his personal website for further details.


  • Majid Majzoubi,
  • Eric Yanfei Zhao

Optimal Distinctiveness A New Agenda for the Study of Competitive Positioning of Organizations and Markets

  • Book
  • Cambridge University Press
  • Eric Yanfei Zhao
  • Jianhua Ge,
  • Joanna Mingxuan Li,
  • Eric Yanfei Zhao,
  • Fan Yang
  • Juan Bu,
  • Eric Yanfei Zhao,
  • Krista J Li,
  • Joanna Mingxuan Li
See more publications


Eric has taught strategy, organisation theory and entrepreneurship courses on undergraduate, MBA, EMBA, executive education and doctoral programmes.