Social Impact

James D. Thompson, PhD, is coauthor, with Ian (Mac) C. MacMillan, of The Social Entrepreneur’s PlaybookHe is also co-founder and director of the Wharton Social Entrepreneurship Program. His current research is focused on social entrepreneurship, future market growth, and investment under conditions of high uncertainty. He has extensive experience in Africa and works around the world with organizations intent on growth in value. James is published in the Harvard Business Review, Journal of Management, Long Range Planning, Management Science, Organization Science, and the Research-Technology Management Journal.


  • Gruber, M., MacMillan, I. C., & Thompson, J. D. (2013). Escaping the prior knowledge corridor: What shapes the number and variety of market opportunities identified before market entry of technology start-ups? Organization Science, 24(1), 280-300.
  • Gruber, M., MacMillan, I. C., & Thompson, J. D. (2012). From Minds to Markets: How Human Capital Endowments Shape Market Opportunity Identification of Technology Start-Ups. Journal of Management, 38(5), 1421-1449.
  • Thompson, J.D., I.C. MacMillan, 2010. Making Social Ventures Work. Harvard Business Review, 09/2010, pp. 66 – 73.
  • Thompson, J. D. and I. C. MacMillan (2010). "Business Models: Creating New Markets and Societal Wealth." Long Range Planning 43(2-3): 291-307.
  • Gruber, M., MacMillan, I. C., & Thompson, J. D. (2008). Look before You Leap: Market Opportunity Identification in Emerging Technology Firms. Management Science, 54(9), 1652-1665.
  • MacMillan I. C., van Putten A., McGrath R., Thompson J.D. 2006. Convincing your CFO: Using Real Options Discipline for Highly Uncertain Technology Investments. Research-Technology Management: Industrial Research Institute.

Books / Book Chapters

  • Ian C. Macmillan, James D. Thompson, The Social Entrepreneur’s Playbook. Wharton Digital Press, 2013
  • Perrini, F., et al: The new social entrepreneurship: what awaits social entrepreneurial ventures? Edward Elgar Publishing, 2006

Recent Awards

  • 2009 Best Paper: Thought Leader category of the Entrepreneurship Division at the US Academy of Management (with Marc Gruber and Ian C. MacMillan)
  • 2009 Best Paper in Innovation by the European Business School (with Marc Gruber and Ian C. MacMillan)