Johan Chu’s research focuses on understanding large-scale change and stasis. In one stream of research, he explores the factors leading to the durable dominance of companies, products, ideas, and people. This work not only suggests strategies for dominants and would-be dominants, but also sheds light on the causes of inequality and stratification in society. Other streams of research investigate how dominant actors can change institutions; the changing role of elites in corporate governance and society; and new sources of competitive advantage in the 21st century. For his empirical studies, Chu uses very large data sets, social network analysis, simulation, and computational text analysis.
Chu earned a BS in physics from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), a PhD in physics from the California Institute of Technology, and a PhD in management and organizations from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Prior to the receipt of his second PhD degree, Chu spent 13 years in consulting, start-ups, and executive search. He consulted for clients in the United States, Korea, and China. He founded, grew, and sold an enterprise software platform venture and was later the CEO for another venture. Chu’s final industry position was at the world’s largest private executive search firm, where he was its Asia-Pacific Consumer Practice leader.
Chu joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2014.