Cheng Gao is an Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan, Ross School of Business. His research focuses on strategy in nascent industries, technology and innovation, entrepreneurship, and nonmarket strategy. In particular, Gao’s research examines how firms compete in uncertain institutional environments, particularly those characterized by regulatory uncertainty. He is the recipient of the Academy of Management's Best Dissertation Award (Technology and Innovation Management Division) and the Heizer Doctoral Dissertation Award (Entrepreneurship Division). Gao's research has been published in Strategic Management Journal and Organization Science. He serves as an editorial board member at Administrative Science Quarterly.
Gao teaches Strategies for Growth (WMBA 602) in the WMBA program and previously taught Corporate Strategy (STR 390), the senior-level required core course in the Ross BBA curriculum. He has also taught Strategy and Competitive Advantage at Harvard University (Economics 970). Gao received the 2020 Neary BBA Teaching Excellence Award as selected by the graduating Ross BBA class of 2020, and previously recieved a Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. In 2020, he was named by Poets & Quants as a "Top 50 Undergraduate Business Professor".
Prior to academia, Gao was a management consultant at Oliver Wyman, where he conducted engagements in strategy, operations, and risk management for Fortune 500 clients. Previously, he was principal research assistant to a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state at CSIS, a non-partisan Washington policy think tank.
Gao graduated from Harvard Business School with a Doctor of Business Administration in Strategy and received the HBS Dean’s Award for Service to the School and Society. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College with high honors in economics.