David Feeny

Emeritus Professor

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


David Feeny has had a prominent role in the development and delivery of Saïd Business School’s executive education programmes since the mid-1980s.

David's main areas of expertise are in the strategic exploitation of information technology and how it is achieved – opportunity analysis, organisation and leadership issues, core capabilities required, effective outsourcing.

One major stream of David’s research has been about the characteristics of successful CIOs (Chief Information Officers), with an article (co-authored with Michael Earl) published in MIT Sloan Management Review.

This was reprinted by request in both McKinsey Quarterly and the populist magazine Information Week. This research has involved close contact over the years with prominent CIOs as individuals and through their networking organisations.

A second particularly well received research output was that focused on the Core IS Capabilities that organisations must retain in-house to ensure successful IT exploitation when the bulk of activity is increasingly outsourced. The original article has received nearly 800 citations by academic colleagues; companies including the global Du Pont Corporation and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia decided to use it as the basis for planning their IS organisations, and a UK government report recommended that the model proposed should be adopted across the public sector. 

David has placed particular emphasis on publication in the general management journals of Harvard, MIT and Stanford in order to reach practitioner as well as academic readers. He has published seven articles in either Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review or California Management Review; six of them were further selected by these journals for inclusion in their lists of ‘Classics’/must reads etc, and/or for republication in their books of collected articles.

David was listed as one of the Academics, Consultants and Business Leaders who comprise the world’s ‘Top 200 Business Gurus’ (based on Google hits, SSCI citations, media mentions) in ‘What’s the Big Idea?’, Davenport and Prusak, HBS Press 2003.

David started his career with IBM (UK), where he worked in a series of systems engineering, product marketing, and sales and marketing management positions. He was sponsored by IBM through the Harvard MBA programme. He has been at Oxford since 1984, when he became a Research Fellow and then Fellow in Information Management at Templeton College. He has held a wide range of positions at Oxford, including Director of the Oxford Institute of Information Management, Director of Executive Education, Professor of Information Management and Vice President of Templeton College.

David has a BA Honours degree in Mathematics from Oriel College, Oxford and an MBA (with distinction) from Harvard Business School.


Areas of interest:

Understanding the CEO-CIO Relationship

Historically the relationships between Chief Executives and their IT executives have been poor, resulting in poor returns from misjudged or badly delivered IT investments. 14 pairs of CEOs and CIOs were interviewed in depth about the quality of their relationships and underlying reasons, leading to a model of influencing factors that could be (and was) used to facilitate improvements to the relationships being experienced by others.
Business Process Outsourcing: the promise of the Enterprise Partnership model

As organisations began to explore the potential for outsourcing business processes (rather than business functions such as IT) some new providers emerged with some new approaches. The research explored early experience of four large and innovative BPO contracts, and analysed the benefits being sought and achieved and the potential barriers to longer-term success.

Design and evaluation of custom executive programmes

Evaluating the benefits of investments in executive education is a long-standing concern for both clients and providers. Five substantive examples of custom executive programmes – delivered in UK and Australia – were investigated in detail, and eight key factors were identified as enablers of successful outcomes.


David works closely with industry.

He has been an invited adviser to the UK Identity & Passport Service’s ‘National Identity Scheme’ since 2007. He was a Selected Independent Member of the Steering Committee for the UK Government review of Police IT Organisation in 2004.

He has been an Editorial Board Member of the MIS Quarterly Executive since 2001 and was European Editor of the Journal of Strategic Information Systems from 2002–04. He is also an invited reviewer for leading journals including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, MIT Sloan Management Review.

David was for many years a member of the IMARC International Advisory Board at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore. He has been an invited referee for senior appointments, including Dean of the Australian Graduate School of Management and Professorships at Nanyang Technological University of Singapore.

David has been invited to speak at many conferences including in New York, Tokyo, Brisbane, Singapore and Barcelona.

From 1986–88, David was a non-executive director of HM Ordnance Survey, appointed to assist the (then) Government department in identifying appropriate strategy as new technology began to transform mapping from hard copy to digital formats.


David has extensive teaching expertise.

His preferred teaching approach is to use case studies (some of which he has personally researched and authored) to capture participant interest and highlight key issues, before relating both case issues and participant contexts to established research findings.

David has more than 20 years’ experience of executive education at Oxford and was Director of Executive Education from 2006–07. He took a leadership role in the marketing, design and delivery of customised programmes for senior managers in many organisations, including IBM, Philips, Marks & Spencer, Ford of Europe, BT Syntegra, PA Consulting, Williams Group, BAE, BMW Group, Oracle, PwC, Telefonica, Linde Group and the UK Cabinet Office.

After a number of years contributing to degree teaching at undergraduate and Masters levels, David has focused on the supervision of doctoral students.