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Mark O. Lewis, PhD is an innovation expert and business strategist with a passion for business research that leads to actionable insights. His research is aimed at an executive audience and based on engagements with industry leaders in the logistics, diversified computer systems, and healthcare industries. This work has appeared in MIS Quarterly Executive, MIT Supply Chain Strategy, and other leading outlets, and his case study on innovation in a long-term outsourcing relationship has been used by over 10,000 students in 29 countries.

Lewis received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and an MBA, MS, and PhD from Georgia State University’s Center for Process Innovation, an industry-focused research unit centered on exploring technology-enabled innovation. His research has won national and international awards and has been sponsored by companies such as UPS, Hewlett Packard, Chrysler, SAP, Georgia Pacific, and Gartner as well as several smaller start-up organizations. Prior to entering academia he was at IBM Global Services, where he worked with a group of change-agents to speed the adoption of advanced technology across IBM. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Management at Appalachian State University, teaching courses in design thinking, innovation, and strategy.



Research Background

My research is interdisciplinary and multi-level, and it coalesces around the broad areas of strategy, technology and innovation. Strategic innovation is the process by which an organization reinvents or redesigns its strategy to drive change, enhance value creation across stakeholders, and, ultimately, to sustain itself. Thus, it focuses on the art, science, and process of building, implementing, and constantly evaluating strategy in organizational settings. It integrates traditional approaches to strategic management, with the tools, frameworks, and values related to design thinking and innovation. As my record indicates, most of my research focuses specifically on the way information technology is used in organizational settings to help organizations achieve competitive advantage. I look toward the future, it is at this intersection and integration of disciplines and “schools of thought” that great opportunity for impact and contribution exists.

My passion is to understand how organizations can improve their capacity to innovate, change, and reinvent themselves through a more effective strategic innovation process, and re-conceptualizing the role of information technology. By developing and cultivating their strategic innovation capability, organizations will sustain themselves and create greater value for a broader range of stakeholders. While using theories and frameworks from diverse disciplines (strategy, social and cognitive psychology, innovation management, information systems), I examine how strategy and innovation occur within individuals, teams, organizations, inter-firm relationships, and even value chains and how it ultimately impacts value creation for diverse stakeholders. In doing so, I explore strategic innovation in both established and entrepreneurial firms and at multiple levels of analysis (network, inter-firm, organizational, and individual).

I resist reductionism when studying strategic innovation, and have a strong bias toward holistic and systems orientations to understand organizational systems and the inherently complex process of strategic innovation. In most cases, I explore these issues through in-depth, longitudinal qualitative case studies and have a strong action research orientation, though I believe strongly in the power of both qualitative and quantitative techniques if adequately applied. My current and future research streams are mentioned below.

Research Streams

  1. Strategy Making Processes – In this stream I investigate the process of strategy making. and utilize an action research approach to examine it in its real world context and contribute to our collective understanding of how we can do it better.
  2. Innovation Management Processes – I focus specifically on design thinking and also utilize an action research methodology to contribute to our collective understanding of its efficacy and explore methods for making it even more useful in organizational settings.
  3. Strategic Innovation – This stream focuses on the linkages between strategy making and innovation management in organizational settings.


Journal Papers

Lewis, M., Hayward, S., Baxter, R., & Coffey, B.  “Stakeholder Enrolment and Business Network Formation: A Process Perspective on Technology Innovation.” International Journal of Technoentrepeneurship. Forthcoming.

Hornyay, R., Lewis, M., & Sankaranarayanan, B. “Radio Frequency Identification–Enabled Capabilities in a Healthcare Context: An Exploratory Study.” Health Informatics Journal, vol. 22, no. 3, 562–578.

Lewis, M., Hayward, S., & Kasi, V. 2015. “The Peril of One: Architecting a Sourcing Strategy at Edwards Paper Co.” Business Case Journal, vol. 22, no. 1.

Lewis, M., & Elevar, R. 2014. “Managing and Fostering Creativity: An Integrated Approach.” International Journal of Management Education, vol. 12, no. 3, 235–247.

Lewis, M., Hayward, S., & Kasi, V. 2013. “The Hazards of Sole Sourcing Relationships: Challenges, Practices, and Insights.” Advanced Management Journal, vol. 78, no. 3, 28–37.

Lewis, M., Baxter, R., & Pouder, R. 2013. “The Development and Deployment of Electronic Personal Health Records: A Strategic Positioning Perspective.” Journal of Health Organization and Management, vol. 27, no. 5, 577–600.

Lewis, M., Sankaranarayanan, B., & Rai, A. 2012. “Technology and Context: A Sociomaterial Perspective on Technology Enabled Change.” Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings. 

Lewis, M. 2011. “An Integrated Approach to Teaching the Capstone Strategic Management Course: A Left- and Right-Brained Approach.” Business Education Innovation Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, 66–72.

Lewis, M., Mathiassen, L., & Rai, A. 2011. “Scalable Growth in IT-enabled Service Provisioning: A Sensemaking Perspective.” European Journal of Information Systems, vol. 20, no. 3, 285–302.

Gogan, J., & Lewis, M. 2011. “Peak Experiences and Strategic IT alignment at Vermont Teddy Bear.” Journal of Information Technology Teaching Cases.  No. JIT031-PDF-ENG

Rai, A., Venkatesh, V., Bala, H., & Lewis, M. 2010. “Transitioning to a Modular Enterprise Architecture: Drivers, Constraints, and Actions.” Management Information Systems Quarterly Executive, vol. 9, no. 2.

Lewis, M., Hornyak, R., Patnayakuni, R., & Rai, A. 2008. “Business Network Agility for Global Demand–Supply Synchronization: A Comparative Case Study in the Apparel Industry.” Journal of Global Information Technology Management, vol. 11, no. 2, 5–29.

Lewis, M., Young, B., Mathiassen, L., Rai, A., & Welke, R. 2007. “Business Process Innovation Based on Stakeholder Perceptions.” Information, Knowledge, and Systems Management, vol. 6, nos. 1-2, 7–27.

Lewis, M., Rai, A., Forquer, D., & Quinter, D. 2007. UPS and HP: Value Creation Through Supply Chain Partnerships. London, ON: Ivey Publishing. No. 907D02-PDF-ENG (Over 8,000 copies sold to date.)

Refereed Scholarly Proceedings of National and International Conferences

Lewis, M., Rai, A., & Mathiassen, L. 2016. The Enactment of Interorganizational Relational Strategy and the Dynamics of Governance. Academy of Management National Meeting, Anaheim, CA.

Lewis, M., & Pouder, R. 2015. Highland Brewing Company: Nipping at our Heels and Sitting on our Heads. North American Case Research Association Annual Conference, Orlando, FL.

Lewis, M., Hayward, S., & Baxter. R. 2013. Architecting a Sourcing Strategy: The Peril of One and the Downside of Many at Atlantico. North American Case Research Association Annual Conference, Victoria, BC.

Lewis, M., Sankaranarayanan, B., & Rai, A. 2012. Technology and Context: A Sociomaterial Perspective on Technology Enabled Change. Academy of Management National Meeting, Boston, MA.

Lewis, M., Sankaranarayanan, B., & Rai, A. 2011. RFID-Enabled Innovation and Its Impact on Healthcare Process Performance: A Multilevel Analysis. International Conference on Information Systems, St. Louis, MO.

Lewis, M., & Baxter, R. 2010. Negotiating the Pack: The Development and Deployment of Electronic Personal Health Records. TIM Track, Academy of Management National Meeting, Montréal, QC.

Gogan, J., Lewis, M., Sankaranaryanan, B., & Johnson, E. 2010. Aiming at a Moving Target: IT Alignment in Toy Companies. European Conference on Information Systems, Perto, South Africa.

Lewis, M., Sankaranarayanan, B., & Rai, A. 2009. Exploring Transition in Healthcare Information Systems: A Process Perspective on RFID Enabled Change. 29th Annual International Conference on Information Systems, Phoenix, AZ.

Baxter, R., & Lewis, M. 2009. The Influence of Industry Structure on the Development and Deployment of a Personal Health Record System. Organizations and Society in Information Systems (OASIS) Conference, Phoenix, AZ.

Lewis, M., Sankaranarayanan, B., & Rai, A. 2009. RFID-Enabled Process Capabilities and Their Impacts on Healthcare Process Performance: A Multilevel Analysis. European Conference on Information Systems, Verona, Italy.

Lewis, M., Mathiassen, L., & Rai, A. 2009. Developing IS-Enabled Capabilities for a Vendor: A Case Study. Americas Conference on Information Systems, San Francisco, CA.

Lewis, M., & Rai, A. 2007. Building Sustainable Partnerships. MISQ-Executive Workshop.

Lewis, M. 2005. Sensemaking in Strategic Outsourcing Partnerships: A Multilevel Investigation of IT enabled Dynamic Capabilities. Research Poster in the IFIP TC 8 WG 8.6 International Working Conference Notebook, Atlanta, GA.

Practitioner Articles

Lewis, M., & Rai, A. 2006. Building Sustainable Partnerships: Ensuring Your Supply Chain Partnerships are Built to Last. Supply Chain Strategy, MIT.

Rai, A., Sambamurthy, V., & Lewis, M. 2002. Adaptive Logistics and Transportation. SAP Sponsored Thought Leadership Forum on Adaptive Supply Chain Networks.

Rai, A., Ruppel, C., & Lewis, M. 2002. Sense and Respond. SAP Sponsored Thought Leadership Forum on Adaptive Supply Chain Networks.

Book Chapters

Lewis, M., Hornyak, R., & Pouder, R. 2016. Highland Brewing Company: A Case of Product and Experience Design. Craft Beverages and Tourism, Volume 1: The Rise of Breweries and Distilleries in the United States. Forthcoming.



I currently teach the following courses:


AppLab is multidisciplinary course that uses design thinking to solve real world problems. It is team taught with a diverse group of faculty across the university and draws students from an equally diverse set of disciplinary backgrounds. It his highly experiential, problem based, and adopts a action learning pedagogy. Click here for course brochure and click here for press related to AppLab.

Strategic Management

I teach Strategic Management by integrating traditional strategic management frameworks and design thinking. The traditional strategic management frameworks are useful for helping students understand what strategy is and for assessing “as-is” states of organizations, but in my mind it falls short when helping to guide the creation of strategic priorities, initiatives, and measures (that move beyond incremental adjustments) as part of a strategic planning process. Therefore, to fill this gap, I utilize design thinking in the formulation stages to support ideation and support implementation efforts. Within strategic management I teach the following courses:

  • MBA 5750 – At the graduate level I push much of the content online and focus class time on the class project. Students are divided into teams and have an external client for which they are responsible for developing a strategic plan.
  • MGT 4750 – At the Undergraduate level I divide the course in two halves. The first focuses on learning the traditional strategic management frameworks. The second half focuses on applying the frameworks to a real life strategic planning project.

Creativity and Design

This course explores individual level factors that can impede and enhance creativity, and then does a deep dive on the design thinking process. We conclude with a short module on the impact of the organizational environment for supporting design oriented work. Like most of my classes, this is also centered on a real world project with external clients.

Executive Education

In the past I have taught the following courses:

  • Managerial Decision Making
  • Introduction to Information Systems


Helping organizations achieve Peak Performance through Innovation and Strategy.

My consulting is delivered through Trailhead Design Co. Trailhead’s purpose is to help organizations achieve Peak Performance by integrating innovation and strategy. We do this by helping you drive innovation throughout your organization and carve out a unique position in your industry to create competitive advantage. This integration of innovation and strategy leads to a powerful engine that drives sustainable growth. To achieve this, we focus on two key practice areas:

1. Our Innovation Practice works with clients to help them enhance their innovation capacity across their organization. Doing so helps organization become more agile, enables employees to become more engaged, and allows organizations to constantly uncover new sources of value.

Innovation Workshops: Our innovation workshops focus on helping you build the internal capabilities to continuously innovate. We offer them at three levels:

  • Design Thinking- At the process level we focus on design thinking, a problem framing and solving process that drives innovation. If we can help everyone in your organization learn design process and share a common vocabulary for innovation, great things can happen. Click here for our current design thinking workshop.
  • Innovative Environment – Great processes need to be embedded in organizational environment that support them. So we work with organizations to evaluate and then enhance their culture, organizational design, and leadership practices through our Innovative Environment offering.
  • Personal Mastery – Innovation is hard work, organizations need individuals that understand their unique role in enabling innovation to occur. So our third area of focus relates to personal mastery, or helping individuals develop the capacities to become positive change makers in their organizations.

Innovation Consulting:

  • Design Studio – Our design studio offering takes the hard work of design and innovation off of your shoulders. Come to us with a design challenge that you simply don’t have bandwidth to tackle internally, and we will assemble a diverse team of experts to deliver solutions at a fraction of the cost of larger design firms.

2. Our Strategy Practice works with clients to answer fundamental questions: 1) What is our purpose? 2) How do we position ourselves in our industry? 3) How will we win given our chosen position? 4)What capabilities do we need to win?, and 5) How do we execute?

Strategy Workshop: Our strategy workshop focuses on helping you build internal strategic planning capabilities so you can drive the process yourself, continuously.

  • Strategic Planning – This workshop teaches a novel approach to strategic planning that integrates traditional strategic planning frameworks with design thinking. Doing so helps clients challenge the status quo and discover novel ways to position themselves in their competitive industries, respond to environment changes, and create value for all stakeholders. The process culminates with clearly defined strategic priorities, initiatives, and measures to help your organization achieve Peak Performance.

Strategy Consulting: Let’s face it. You are busy. In this offering we do the heavy lifting. Where the most renowned strategic consultancies have MBAs, our team generally has PhDs. Yet, given lower overhead, we work for a fraction of the cost.

  • Strategy Consulting – We collect the data, we analyze and interpret it, and we formulate into a set of actionable priorities, initiates, and measures that help your company move forward. Of course, we do this while working side-by-side with you. We are experts in the process, in collecting and analyzing data to generate important insights, and framing it in actionable ways so you can move forward. You are experts in your business. Let’s work together.

Trailhead’s website is currently underdevelopment and will go live in Summer, 2017. Until then, contact me at for more information. We would love to help your organization become alive again, by enhancing its capacity to innovate and positioning it for continued success!

 Coming in Summer, 2017