Professor of Entrepreneurship
The INSEAD Fellow in Memory of Erin Anderson

Vibha Gaba is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD, and her core expertise is in corporate entrepreneurship, organizational decision-making, and change. She is broadly interested in how organizations learn and how it impacts their ability to innovate and adapt, especially in disruptive environments. Her work on corporate venture capital has examined the factors that facilitate the assimilation of venture capital practices within established firms - passing through the phases of adoption, implementation, and abandonment. Her recent research focuses on the implications of multiple goals and aspirations, organizational structure, and decision-makers’ attributes on adaptive change. Her work has been published in top academic journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Annals, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Management Science, Journal of International Business Studies, and Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal.

Currently, she also serves as the Co-Editor of Strategic Management Journal, a top academic journal.

Professor Gaba’s teaching portfolio includes courses in the Executive Education, MBA, and Ph.D. programs. In executive education, she teaches modules on corporate entrepreneurship, leadership, and change in various open enrollment and company-specific executive programs, including Adidas, Alstom, Astra Zeneca, Bank Mandiri, Cartier, COFRA, Det Norsk Veritas, EDF, Expedia, FEAL, RHB, Heineken, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Indian Railways, KPMG, Larsen & Toubro, McKinsey, Mitsubishi, Permata Bank, Pertamina, Petronas, Randstad, Roche Diagnostics, Shell, Star Energy, Sumitomo Chemical, Swire, TNT, UNICEF, and World Medical Association.

She is the Academic Program Director for Corporate Venturing & Innvoation, Leading Successful Change, and Learning to Lead, open enrollment programs for executives. She has also directed several company-specific programs including, Roche Advanced Management Program, Sumitomo Chemical Leader Training Program, Randstad Senior Executive Program, Indian Railways Advanced Leadership Program, and Larsen & Toubro Leading Change Program. She has won the INSEAD Executive Education Award for Outstanding Teaching and Outstanding Program Direction multiple times.

She has also taught MBA core Organizational Behavior course as well as an MBA elective on Leadership and Change. Her teaching portfolio also include Ph.D. courses on Organization Theory and Entrepreneurship Research.

She holds a Ph.D. in Management from Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon, USA, a Masters in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics, and a Bachelors degree in Economics from Delhi University, India. She has also worked as a business journalist for a leading financial daily in India, and as a writer and a consultant for the Oxford University Press.

Professor Gaba has lived on three continents – North America, Europe, and Asia. Currently, she resides in Singapore but teaches on both INSEAD campuses (France and Singapore).


I am broadly interested in how organizations learn and how it impacts their ability to innovate and adapt. I view myself as an organization theorist with a keen interest in entrepreneurial settings. My research uses learning theories to study interesting and unexplored questions in the domain of innovation and change within established firms.


Executive Education

Program Direction

EDP Teaching Topics

  • Corporate Entrepreneurship
  • Leading Change
  • Transition to Leadership

Open Enrolment Programmes

Achieving Outstanding Performance, Advanced Management Program, Asian International Executive Program, Delivering Outstanding Services, Leading Into the Future, Learning to Lead, Leading for Results, Leading Successful Change, Women Leading Change

Company Specific Programmes

Adidas, Alstom, Astra Zeneca, Bank Mandiri, Cartier, COFRA, Det Norsk Veritas, Expedia, Heineken, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Indian Railways, KPMG, Larsen & Toubro, McKinsey, Mitsubishi, Permata Bank, Pertamina, Petronas, Randstad, RHB, Roche, Shell, Star Energy, Swire, TNT, FEAL, UNICEF, World Medical Association

MBA Teaching

  • Leading Organizations (Core Course) 2002- 2005
  • Leadership and Change (Elective) 2006 - 2008

PhD Teaching

  • Entrepreneurship Research (C) 2014
  • Introduction to Organization Theory (Elective) 2003 – 2008
  • Introduction to Behavioral Sciences (Core Course) 2002

Cases & Teaching Notes

Practitioner Articles

Safe or Profitable: Which Organizational Goal Should Firms Prioritize? 2019. Management Insights, Fudan University and IACMR Publication, 4: 56-58.

安全第一,还是利润第一?[J]. 管理视野, 2019 (4): 56-58. [Chinese Translation]

How Airlines Manage Conflicts Between Profits and Safety. 2019. INSEAD Knowledge.

Low-Cost Airlines Are Unlikely to Dump the Boeing 737 MAX. 2019. Barron’s.

Why Struggling Airlines Spend More on Safety. 2019. HBR Blog.

Why Do So Many Corporate VCs Die Young? 2017. INSEAD Knowledge.

Does Big Data Lead to Better Decisions. 2013. HBR Blog.

The Corporation’s Inside Track to Survival. 2003. INSEAD Quarterly, 5: 22-23.

Academy of Management - Symposium

New Models in Behavioral Theory of the Firm Research: Incorporating Conflict, Contestation, and Coalitions

Sponsors: OMT, BPS, MOC

Date: Monday, Aug 7 2017 9:45AM - 11:15AM at Atlanta Marriott Marquis in Marquis M304

Organizers: Vibha Gaba, INSEAD & John Joseph, U. of California, Irvine


Pino G. Audia, Dartmouth College,

Philip Bromiley, U. of California, Irvine,

Henrich Greve, INSEAD,

John Joseph, U. of California, Irvine

Nils Stieglitz, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management

Vibha Gaba, INSEAD

Symposium Summary

This panel symposium will explore new models for incorporating conflict, contestation, and coalitions in Behavioral Theory of the Firm (BTOF) and their implications for organization and management theory. In particular, our distinguished group of panelists will be charged with: 1) discussing the robustness and reliability of BTOF models of decision making; 2) how we might integrate missing pillars of BTOF into new models (such as conflict, contestation and coalitions); 3) and how we should further elaborate these models with new settings, samples and techniques.

A moderated discussion among the panelists will further explore these ideas and address audience generated questions.

Send in your questions for our panelists

To generate a more meaningful panel discussion we are soliciting questions from prospective attendees. These questions will serve as the basis for our moderated panel discussion. If you have a question for one or more of our panelists please submit to either Vibha Gaba ([email protected]) or John Joseph ([email protected])

Recent Behavioral Theory of the Firm Research

Audia PG, Brion S, Greve HR. 2015. Self-assessment, self-enhancement, and the choice of comparison organizations for evaluating organizational performance. In Advances in Strategic Management: Cognition and
Strategy. Emerald: Bingley; 89–118

Billinger S, Stieglitz N, Schumacher TR. 2014. Search on Rugged Landscapes: An Experimental Study. Organization Science, 25(1), 93-108

Bromiley P, Devaki R, Zhang Yu. 2017. Is R&D Risky? Strategic Management Journal, 38: 876–891

Eggers JP, Kaul A. 2017. Motivation and Ability? A behavioral perspective on the pursuit of radical invention in multi-technology incumbents. Academy of Management, Forthcoming

Gary MS, Yang MM, Yetton PW, Stermand JD. 2017. Stretch goals and the distribution of organizational performance. Organization Science, Forthcoming.

Greve HR, Gaba V. 2017. Performance Feedback in Organizations and Groups: Common Themes. In the Handbook of Group and Organizational Learning, Oxford University Press, Forthcoming

Hu S, He Z, Blettner DP, Bettis RA. 2017. Conflict inside and outside: Social comparisons and attention shifts in multidivisional firms. Strategic Management Journal, 38: 1435–1454

Joseph J, Wilson AJ. 2017. The growth of the firm: An attention-based view. Strategic Management Journal, Forthcoming

Klingebiel, R. 2017. Risk-type preference shifts in response to performance feedback. Strategic Organization, Forthcoming

Kuusela P, Keil, T, Maula M. 2017. Driven by aspirations, but in what direction? Perfromance shortfalls, slack resources and resource-consuming vs. resource-freeing organizational change. Strategic Management Journal, 38 (5): 1101–1120

Posen H, Keil T, Kim S, Meissner F. 2017. Renewing research on problemistic search: A review and research agenda. Working Paper.

Ref O, Shpira Z. 2017. Entering new markets: The effect of performance feedback near aspirations and well below and above it. Strategic Management Journal, 38: 1416–1434

Rowley TJ, Shipilov AV, Greve HR. 2017. Board Reform versus Profits: The Impact of ratings on the adoption of governance. Strategic Management Journal, 38: 815–833

Academy of Management - Professional Development Workshop

Big Tent, Little Ideas and the New, New Directions of Behavioral Theory of the Firm Research

Sponsors: OMT & BPS

Date: Saturday, August 8, 2015, 10:45AM - 12:45PM at Vancouver Convention Centre in Room 212


This PDW will explore the most promising theoretical and empirical agendas for the Behavioral Theory of the Firm (BTOF) and their implications for organization and management theory. In particular, our distinguished group of discussants and panelists will be charged with: 1) exploring lesser known pillars of BTOF; 2) how we might integrate the mechanisms of BTOF with those from other disciplines; 3) and augment the well-established ideas with new settings, methods, and voices.


  • Posen will offer a new look at problemistic search. His research offers a more comprehensive conceptualization of the problemistic search process and explore conditions under which problemistic search may generate value from procreative output in the form of ancillary knowledge (insights, ideas, routines, solutions) that would not have been generated in the absence of the triggering issue, yet do not primarily serve to solve it.
  • Moliterno will examine the attentional and behavioral implications of social performance feedback. Specifically, he will integrate insights from the behavioral theory of the firm and human capital theory to propose that managerial decisions to change the composition of the firm’s resource base, and how it is deployed, are motivated by managerial assessments of social performance comparisons.
  • Joseph will revisit the relationship between aspirations, attention and organizational structure. Since BTOF’s publication, much of the research has ignored the role of structure in shaping attention and response to feedback. Joseph and Gaba address this oversight and argue the organizational structure, by segmenting and prioritizing divisional attention, and shaping momentum significantly impacts firm responsiveness to performance feedback in the form of organizational change.
  • Eggers will offer a more holistic model of organizational behavior connecting the key elements of the BTOF lens: cognition, performance feedback, politics, attention, learning, and adaptation. He will do so by focusing on the process of strategic decision making for resource allocation that includes five steps. (1) The process begins with a mental model of opportunities and resources built by the manager, (2) involves a matching process between resources and opportunities, (3) includes the political and structural organizational context, (4) results in a strategic action that generates feedback on the efficacy of the action, and (5) the feedback is interpreted through a cognitive behavioral lens to update the manager’s mental models, beginning the cycle again.



During the PDW we will showcase some of the cutting edge research in the BTOF domain. Small group breakout discussions facilitated by panelists and discussants will further speculate on the BTOF’s overlooked concepts, mechanisms and linkages between them, and debate how they might advance our understanding of organizations and organizing. The discussants will then offer their personal views on the most promising theoretical and empirical agendas within the behavioral theory domain and implications for the field.

PDW SLIDES (Coming Soon!)



Argote, L., & Greve, H. R. (2007). A behavioral theory of the firm-40 years and counting: Introduction and impact. Organization Science, 18(3), 337-349.

Bromiley, P., & Harris, J. D. (2014). A comparison of alternative measures of organizational aspirations. Strategic Management Journal, 35(3), 338-357.

Eggers, J.P. & Sun, J. (2015). Knowledge & Motivation: How Negative Performance Feedback from Old versus New Domains Translates Differently into Organizational Action and Performance. Working Paper

Hu, S. & Posen, H. (2015). Why Do Firms Differ In Risk-Taking? An Experience-Driven Theory of Inter-Firm Heterogeneity. Working Paper

Gaba, V., & Joseph, J. (2103). Corporate Structure and Performance Feedback: Aspirations and Adaptation in M-Form Firms. 2013. Organization Science, 24(4): 1102-1119.

Gavetti, G., Greve, H.R., Levinthal, D.A., & Ocasio, W. (2012). The behavioral theory of the firm: Assessment and prospects. The Academy of Management Annals, 6(1): 1-40.

Greve, H. R. (2003). Organizational learning from performance feedback: A behavioral perspective on innovation and change. Cambridge University Press.

Jordan, A. H., & Audia, P. G. (2012). Self-enhancement and learning from performance feedback. Academy of management review, 37(2), 211-231.

Joseph, J. & Gaba, V. (2015). The Fog of Feedback: Ambiguity and Firm Responses to Multiple Aspiration-Levels. 2014. Strategic Management Journal, Articles in Advance.

Kacperczyk, A., Beckman, C.M., & Moliterno, T.P. (2015). Disentangling Risk and Change Internal and External Social Comparison in the Mutual Fund Industry. Administrative Science Quarterly, 60(2): 228-262.

Washburn, M. & Bromiley, P. (2012). Comparing Aspiration Models: The Role of Selective Attention. Journal of Management Studies, 49(5), 896-917.

Academy of Management - Professional Development Workshop

Exaptation: An Unrecognized Mechanism in the Evolutionary Theory of Organizations

Program Session #: 238 | Submission: 10290

Sponsor(s): (OMT, TIM, BPS, ENT)
Date: Saturday, Aug 2 2014 8:00AM - 10:00AM at Pennsylvania Convention Center in Room 203 B


Exaptation (Gould & Vrba, 1982) refers to the situation in which a useful structure or attribute – despite having arisen for other reasons – is appropriated or co-opted into a new role. For example, Gould argued that the design of feathers was originally an adaptation to enable temperature regulation for birds, one which was subsequently exapted for flight. Exaptation leads to quirky and unpredictable functional shifts, and often produces a history of abrupt transitions that lead down unforeseen evolutionary pathways.

The PDW will explore the claim that adding the concept of exaptation to our theoretical lexicon will open up a middle ground lying between explanations upon doctrinaire natural selection and unfettered human agency. In a nutshell, exaptation offers a substitute for Darwinian metaphysics.

  • Sarasvathy and her colleagues have noted that Edison envisioned his phonograph as a business dictation machine, aspirin was used as an analgesic for over a century, and Viagra was developed to treat heart disease — but these inventions were subsequently exapted to become the jukebox, a blood thinner, and a libido-booster.
  • Marquis and Huang argue that organizational capabilities that are developed for one purpose can be exapted for another one in a different environment. In their case, US banks that developed capabilities to manage a dispersed branch network subsequently used those capabilities to acquire other banks after a regulatory change.
  • Catani argues that exaptation (not necessity) is the mother of invention, at least in the case of fiber optics. Whereas other scholars have argued that superior competitive performance must be attributed to either luck or foresight, Catani shows how novel problems can be solved by transferring (exapting) knowledge already available in-house instead of creating new knowledge from scratch.
  • Gaba and Meyer contend that the differential survival of corporate venturing programs after the dot-com bubble popped can be explained by the survivors’ exaptation of skills they had developed prior to the crash as they pursued distinctive forms of organizational learning.


During the PDW we will define exaptation, distinguishing it from adjacent concepts such as adaptation, effectuation, variation, selection, and retention. Early applications of exaptation in the domain of OMT will be summarized. Small group breakout discussions facilitated by panelists and discussants will explore exaptation’s potential for advancing our modeling of different concepts and different levels of analysis in Organization and Management Theory. Discussants will speculate about how exaptation might advance our understanding of organizational evolution and learning. A concluding plenary discussion will gather insights developed during the breakout groups, and address general questions.





Buss, D.M., M.G. Haselton, T. K, Shackelford, A.L. Bleske, and J.C. Wakefield. (1998) Adaptations, exaptations, and spandrels. American Psychologist: 53: 533-548.

Gould, S.J. (1991) Exaptation: A crucial tool for an evolutionary psychology. Journal of Social Issues, 47: 43-65.

Gould, S. J. and E. Vrba. (1982) Exaptation—a missing term in the science of form. Paleobiology, 8: 4-15.


Catani, G. (2005) Preadaptation, Firm Heterogeneity, and Technological Performance: A Study on the Evolution of Fiber Optics, 1970-1995. Organization Science: 16: 563-580.

Dew, N., S.D. Sarasvathy, and S. Venkataraman. (2004) The economic implications of exaptation. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 14: 69-84.

Gaba, V. and A.D. Meyer. (2013) Organizational learning and exaptation: Survival in a collapsing environment. Working paper.

Marquis, C. and Z. Huang. (2010) Acquisitions as exaptation: The legacy of founding institutions in the U.S. commercial banking industry. Academy of Management Journal: 53:1441-1473.


Vibha Gaba

Professor of Entrepreneurship
The INSEAD Fellow in Memory of Erin Anderson

INSEAD Asia Campus
1 Ayer Rajah Avenue
Singapore 138676

Tel: +65 6799 5268
Fax: +65 6799 5499
Email: [email protected]

Assistant: Siti Hajar S. Abdullah
Tel: + 65 6799 5107
Fax: + 65 6799 5445
Email: [email protected]

INSEAD Personalised Experience




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