Robert J. David

Professor, Strategy & Organization; Director, Centre for Strategy Studies in Organization
Contact Information
Email address: 
robert [dot] david [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Alternate email address: 
rola [dot] zoayter [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Bronfman Building [Map]
1001 rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1G5


PhD, Cornell University, USA
MBA, McGill University, Canada
BEng, McGill University, Canada

Strategy & Organization

Professor David received a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2001. At McGill, he currently teaches Industry Analysis & Competitive Strategy (BCom), Cases in Competitive Strategy (MBA), and Seminar in Organizational Theory (PhD). He has also taught in McGill's executive programs and MBA Japan program. Professor David has been honoured with the Faculty of Management's Distinguished Teaching Award and the Desautels Doctoral Student Society's Best Advisor Award. He was named a Quebec Teaching Fellow for 2009-2013 in a province-wide competition. Prior to joining McGill, Professor David taught Management & Organizations to both undergraduate and graduate students at Cornell University.

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Professor David does research on the evolution of management practices, organizations, and industries from an institutional perspective. His doctoral dissertation examined the emergence, evolution, and competitive dynamics of the management consulting industry. In addition to the consulting industry, Professor David has published on alternative energy, environmental management, and management fashion. His current projects include research on the emergence and growth of the Quebec wine industry and the market for local food.  Professor David has been honoured with the Cleghorn Faculty Scholar Award on two occasions (2007-2010 and 2011-2014). He currently serves as the Director of McGill's Centre for Strategy Studies in Organization.

Professor David has received research grants from the "Fonds de Recherche sur la Societé et la Culture" of Quebec (FQRSC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). He frequently presents his research at the annual meetings of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada (ASAC), the Academy of Management (AoM), and the European Group on Organization Studies (EGOS). He has won Best Paper awards from ASAC and from the Academy of Management. Professor David has published his work in Research Policy, Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, and Organization Science, as well as in edited volumes. He recently co-edited a book on Institutions and Entrepreneurship. He currently serves on the editorial boards of Organization Science, Academy of Management Discoveries, and European Management Journal, and as a co-editor of Strategic Organization. He was honored in 2008 for Outstanding Service to the Organization Science Editorial Board.

Prior to entering academia, Professor David worked for Procter & Gamble and Canadian Pacific Limited.


MGPO 445 Industry Anal. & Comp. Strat. 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

MGPO 637 Cases in Competitive Strategy 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

MGPO 704 Organizational Theory Seminar 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

Tenured & Tenure Track
Selected publications: 

Papers in Peer-Reviewed Journals

Litrico, Jean-Baptiste, and Robert J. David. The Evolution of Issue Interpretation within Organizational Fields: Framing Trajectories and Field Settlement.  Forthcoming (In Press) at Academy of Management Journal. Published online ahead of print March 31, 2016, doi:10.5465/amj.2013.0156

Strang, David, Robert J. David, and Saeed Akhlaghpour. 2014. Co-evolution in management fashion: Computational models of consultant-driven innovation. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 120, No. 1, pp. 226-264.

Newbert, Scott, Robert J. David, and Shin-Kap Han. 2014. Rarely pure and never simple: Assessing cumulative evidence in strategic management.  Strategic Organization, 12(2) 142-154.

David, Robert J., Sine, Wesley D., and Haveman, Heather A. 2013. "Seizing Opportunity in Emerging Fields: How Institutional Entrepreneurs Legitimated the Professional Form of Management Consulting". Organization Science, 24:356-377.

Okhmatovskiy, Ilya, and Robert J. David. 2012. Setting your own standards: Internal corporate governance codes as a response to institutional pressure. Organization Science, 23: 155-176.

Dowell, G., and David, R.J. 2011. Effects of Ancestral Populations on Entrepreneurial Founding and Failure: Private Liquor Stores in Alberta, 1994-2003. Industrial and Corporate Change, 20: 825–853

Tolbert, P. S., David, R.J., and Sine, W.D. 2011. Studying Choice and Change: The Intersection of Institutional Theory and Entrepreneurship Research. Organization Science, 22: 1332-1344

Sine, WD, David, RJ, and Mitsuhashi, H. 2007. "From Plan to Plant: Effects of Certification on Operational Start-up in the Emergent Independent Power Sector". Organization Science, 18 (4): 578-594

David, R. J. and Strang, D. 2006. "When Fashion is Fleeting: Transitory Collective Beliefs and the Dynamics of TQM Consulting" Academy of Management Journal, 49 (2): 215-233.

David, R. J., and Han, S-K. 2004. "A Systematic Assessment of the Empirical Support for Transaction Cost Economics," Strategic Management Journal, 25 (1): 39-58.

Sine, W. D., and David, R.J. 2003. "Environmental Jolts, Institutional Change, and the Creation of Entrepreneurial Opportunity in the U.S. Electric Power Industry," Research Policy, 32 (2): 185-207.

Books and Edited Volumes

Sine, W.D. and R.J. David (eds.). 2010. Research in the Sociology of Work (Vol 21): Institutions and Entrepreneurship. Emerald Group Publishing, Bingley, UK.

Chapters in Books

David, Robert J., Wesley D. Sine, and Caroline Kaehr Serra. The Institutional Context of Entrepreneurship. Forthcoming in Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, 2nd Edition. R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, T. Lawrence, and R. Meyer, editors. Sage.

David, Robert J. 2012. Institutional change and the growth of strategy consulting in the United States. In M. Kipping and T. Clark (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Management Consulting. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 71-92.

Sine, Wesley D., and Robert J. David. 2010. Institutions and Entrepreneurship. In W.D. Sine and R.J. David (eds.), Institutions and Entrepreneurship: Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 21. Emerald Group Publishing, Bingley, UK, pp. 1-26.

David, Robert J., and Alex B. Bitektine. 2009. The Deinstitutionalization of Institutional Theory? Exploring Divergent Agendas in Institutional Research. In D. Buchanan and A. Bryman (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Organizational Research Methods: 160-175. London: Sage. [.pdf]

Haveman, Heather A., and Robert J. David. 2008. Ecologists and Institutionalists: Friends or Foes? In R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin-Andersson, and R. Suddaby (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism: 573-595. London: Sage.



David, Robert J. 2007. "McKenna: The World’s Newest Profession: Management Consulting in the Twentieth Century." Organization Studies, 29: 634-638.

David, Robert J. 2004. "Sahlin-Andersson and Engwall, eds: The Expansion of Management Knowledge: Carriers, Flows, and Sources". Administrative Science Quarterly, 48: 693-695

Working Papers:

David, Robert J., Johnny Boghossian, and M. Tina Dacin. Overcoming legitimacy deficits: Leveraging regional collective identity in the Quebec wine field.

Litrico, Jean-Baptiste, and Robert J. David. How umbrella constructs evolve within fields: The framing of environmental management in aviation.

Vakratsas, D. and David, R.J. "Catching the Leader: Competitive Dynamics between Airbus and Boeing, 1969-2002."

Other Papers and Publications:

David, Robert J., and Motamedi, Amir. 2004. "Cirque du Soleil: Can it Burn Brighter?" Journal of Strategic Management Education, 1(2): 369-382.

Conference Proceedings:

Strang, David, Robert J. David, and Saeed Akhlaghpour. 2012. Co-evolution in management fashion: Computational models of consultant-driven innovation. Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management Annual Meeting. Published online at:

David, Robert J., and Strang, David. "When Fashion Is Fleeting: Boom-Bust Dynamics in TQM Consulting". Best Paper Award. Proceedings of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Annual Meetings. 2004. CD-ROM. ISBN 2-9808490-0-6

David, R.J. "A Narrow Target or a Wide Net? Specialist and Generalist Strategies in the Management Consulting Industry," Best Paper Award, Proceedings of Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Annual Meetings, London Ontario, May 2001, pp. 13-23.

David, R. J. "Environmental Change and Industry Evolution: An Historical Account of the Emergence and Growth of the Management Consulting Industry" (conference version), Best Paper Award, Proceedings of the Academy of Management Annual Meetings, Toronto, August 6-9, 2000, CD ROM.

David, R. J. "The Institutional Embeddedness of Management Consulting Firms: Effects of Affiliations to Industry and Professional Associations" (conference version), Proceedings of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Annual Meetings, Montreal, July 8-11, 2000, pp. 44-53.

David, R. J. "The Institutionalization of New Organizational Forms"(conference version), Proceedings of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Annual Meetings, Saint John, New Brunswick, June 12-15, 1999, pp. 25-34.

David, R.J. "Building Legitimacy Through Symbolic Action: Statements of Organizational Mission" (conference version), Proceedings of the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Annual Meetings, St. John's, Newfoundland, June 1-3, 1997, pp. 20-29.