Department Chair for Management and Human Resources, Academic Director, Bolz Center for Arts Administration
Professor | Management and Human Resources
Thomas J. Falk Distinguished Chair in Business
4259 Grainger Hall
(608) 263-6437


Russell Coff is the Thomas J. Falk Distinguished Chair in Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also the Department Chair for Management and Human Resources and the Academic Director of the Bolz Center for Arts Administration. His research explores the role of human assets in innovation, creativity, and, ultimately in competitive advantage. For example, he studies management dilemmas associated with human capital including: 1) the management of strategic investments in knowledge-based assets under great uncertainty 2) appropriating value (rent) from competitive advantages, 3) creativity & innovation under conditions of asymmetric information and uncertainty, and 4) how buyers cope in mergers and acquisitions that involve human assets. Coff received his Ph.D. from UCLA and has previously been a faculty member at Emory and Washington Universities.

Russ has served the research community through his participation on a variety of editorial boards including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Strategic Organization (where he was a Co-Editor). He also chaired the Business Policy and Strategic Division of the Academy of Management and the Strategic Human Capital Interest Group of the Strategic Management Society. He is a Past President of the Strategic Management Society.


Selected Accepted Journal Articles

El-Zayaty, A. & Coff, R. (2017). Appropriation of Value from Competitive Advantages Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management

Selected Published Journal Articles

Coff, R. & El-Zayaty, A. & Ganco, M. & Mawdsley, J. (2020). Firm-specific Human Capital at the Crossroads: A Conversation on Current Issues and Future Directions Advances in Strategic Management

Kryscynski, D. & Coff, R. & Campbell, B. & Mallory, B. (2020). Homeward Bound: How private utility is tied to value creation and capture Advances in Strategic Management

Chadwick, C. & Coff, R. (2019). Commentary on “Setting base pay rates: Integrating compensation practice with human capital value creation and value capture Handbook of Research on Strategic Human Capital Resources

Chadwick, C. & Coff, R. (2019). Commentary on “Rents from human capital complementarities: a relational view of value creation and value capture Handbook of Research on Strategic Human Capital Resources

Akinsanmi, O. & Coff, R. (2017). Perceived Firm-Specific Human Capital and Turnover Academy of Management Proceedings

Bacon-Gerasymenko, V. & Coff, R. & Durand, R. (2016). Taking a Second Look in a Warped Crystal Ball: Explaining the accuracy of revised forecasts Journal of Management Studies

Raffiee, J. & Coff, R. (2016). Micro-Foundations of Firm-Specific Human Capital: When Do Employees Perceive Their Skills to be Firm-Specific? Academy of Management Journal

Coff, R. & Raffiee, J. (2015). Toward a Theory of Perceived Firm-Specific Human Capital Academy of Management Perspectives

Coff, R. & Akinsanmi, O. (2015). Governance and Firm-Specific Human Capital: Human Assets, Competitive Advantage and HR Dilemmas Academy of Management Proceedings

Wright, P. & Coff, R. & Moliterno, T. (2014). Strategic Human Capital: Crossing the Great Divide Journal of Management

Campbell, B. & Coff, R. & Kryscynski, D. (2012). Re-thinking Competitive Advantage from Human Capital Academy of Management Review

Perry-Smith, J. & Coff, R. (2011). In the mood for entrepreneurial creativity? How optimal group affect differs for generating and selecting ideas for new ventures Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal

Coff, R. & Kryscynski, D. (2011). Drilling for Micro-Foundations of Human Capital Based Competitive Advantages Journal of Management

Coff, R. (2010). The Co-evolution of Rent Appropriation and Capability Development Strategic Management Journal

Makadok, R. & Coff, R. (2009). Both Market and Hierarchy: An incentive-system theory of hybrid governance forms Academy of Management Review

Coff, R. & Lee, P. (2007). Insider Trading as a Path to Competitive Advantage? Strategic Organization

Coff, R. & Laverty, K. (2007). Real Options Meet Organizational Theory: Coping with path dependencies, agency costs, and organizational form Advances in Strategic Management

Coff, R. & Coff, D. & Eastvold, R. (2006). The Knowledge Leveraging Paradox: How to scale up without making knowledge imitable Academy of Management Review

Ahuja, G. & Coff, R. & Lee, P. (2005). Managerial Foresight and Attempted Rent Appropriation: Insider Trading on Knowledge of Imminent Breakthroughs Strategic Management Journal

Blyler, M. & Coff, R. (2003). Dynamic Capabilities, Social Capital, & Rent Appropriation: Ties that Split Pies Strategic Management Journal

Coff, R. (2003). The Emergent Knowledge-Based Theory of Competitive Advantage: An evolutionary approach to integrating economics and management Managerial and Decision Economics

Coff, R. & Lee, P. (2003). Insider Trading as a Vehicle to Appropriate Rent from R&D Strategic Management Journal

Coff, R. (2003). Bidding Wars Over R&D Intensive Firms: Knowledge, opportunism and the market for corporate control Academy of Management Journal

Makadok, R. & Coff, R. (2002). The Theory of Value and the Value of Theory: Breaking new ground vs. reinventing the wheel. Academy of Management Review Academy of Management Review

Coff, R. (2002). Human Capital, Shared Expertise, and the Likelihood of Impasse in Corporate Acquisitions Journal of Management

Coff, R. & Kevin, L. (2001). Roadblocks to Competitive Advantage: How institutional constraints and decision biases hinder investments in strategic resources Journal of High Technology Management Research

Coff, R. (1999). When Competitive Advantage Doesn’t Lead to Performance: Resource-based theory and stakeholder bargaining power Organization Science

Coff, R. (1999). How Buyers Cope with Uncertainty When Acquiring Firms in Knowledge-Intensive Industries: Caveat emptor Organization Science

Coff, R. (1999). How Control in Human-asset-intensive Firms Differs from Physical-asset-intensive Firms: A multi-level approach Journal of Managerial Issues

Coff, R. (1997). Human Assets and Management Dilemmas: Coping with Hazards on the Road to Resource-based Theory Academy of Management Review

Flamholtz, E. & Coff, R. (1994). Human Resource Valuation and Amortization in Corporate Acquisitions: A Case Study Advances in Management Accounting

Working Papers

Coff, R. & Moliterno, T. (2016). Ice Rents in Strategic Management: A Longitudinal Exploration UW Working Paper Series

Practitioner-Oriented Publications

Raffiee, J. & Coff, R. (2016). Video: When Do Employees Perceive Their Skills to be Firm-Specific? Video Abstract of Academy of Management Journal

Coff, R. & Laverty, K. (2001). Real Options on Knowledge Assets: Panacea or Pandora's Box? Business Horizons

Coff, R. (1999). Boundary decisions Sloan Management Review

Coff, R. & Flamholtz, E. (1993). Corporate Investments in Human Capital: How Financial Accounting Standards Undermine Public Policy Stanford Law and Policy Review

Flamholtz, E. & Gerald, S. & Coff, R. (1988). Developing Human Resource Accounting as a Decision Support System Accounting Horizons


Academy of Management (2018) The Role of Knowledge Fit and Social Ties in the Formation of New Post Mobility Collaborations

Academy of Management (2017) Boundary-Spanner Mobility and Collaboration on Knowledge Creation

2016 Academy of Management Annual Meeting (2016) Perceived Firm-Specific Human Capital and Turnover: Stuck in their Heads?


Graduate Courses

PhD Orientation Pro-Seminar (BUS 965), Fall 2014. Download Syllabus
Provides in-depth coverage of contemporary topics emphasizing new and emerging issues for PhD students in business or in majors related to business. Students will meet in a seminar format that incorporates discussions,presentations,lectures by the instr

PhD Seminar in Strategic Management (MHR 870), Fall 2014. Download Syllabus
Application of management processes and decision theory to the analysis of cases and critical incidents in management. Cases and incidents deal with both administrative or corporate strategy and with supervisory tactics.

Strategic Management (PhD Seminar) (MHR 765), Spring 2012. Download Syllabus
This doctoral level strategy seminar invites students to explore drivers of performance heterogeneity among firms. Why do some firms out-perform others? The topic is integrative in that the answer draws on theory from economics, sociology, and even psychology as well as management and organizational theory that is interdisciplinary. In studying this topic, we will also focus on the process of conducting management research. What is the anatomy of a scholarly contribution and how does one conduct research in this field?

Business Strategy (Full time MBA) (MHR 723), Fall 2012. Download Syllabus
This course examines how firms gain and sustain competitive advantages. To be successful, the firm’s strategy must permeate all departments and functional areas. As such, this course integrates knowledge and skills gained from your prior studies (e.g., marketing, management, finance, accounting...). In drawing on these tools, we explicitly apply a general management point of view –we will analyze strategies in light of the total enterprise.

EMBA - Business Strategy (MHR 723), Fall 2015. Download Syllabus
Integrative approach to strategic management,including strategy formulation/implementation at business unit,corporate levels. Cases,discussion,lecture,simulation are used to communicate concepts. Emphasizes development of unique tools for analysis of

Learning/Teaching Oriented Publications

Maggitti, P. & Coff, R. & Hatfield, D. & Ferrier, W. (2012). Dynamics of Rivalry Journal of Industrial Organization Education

Coff, R. & Hatfield, D. (2003). Tinkering in Class: Using the Tinker Toy Exercise to Teach First Mover Advantages and the Resource-based View Journal of Strategic Management Education


Professional Organizations

Strategic Management Society. President

Editorial and Reviewing Activities

Academy of Management Journal - Since August 2016
Editorial Board Member

Journal of Management (Co-editor of the Strategic Human Capital special issue) - July 2013 - August 2015
Special Issue Editor

Strategic Organization (Co-Editor) - November 2011 - January 2016

Strategic Management Journal - Since August 2007
Editorial Board Member

Organization Science - Since August 2002
Editorial Board Member

Journal of Strategic Management Education - Since August 2002
Editorial Board Member

Academy of Management Review - August 1998 - December 2002
Editorial Board Member