Mari Sako

Professor of Management Studies

Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street


Mari Sako's main areas of expertise include global strategy, comparative institutional analysis, outsourcing and offshoring, and professional services. 

Her most recent work has focused on business and professional services and on outsourcing. Mari's work on business services in the UK has attracted the interest of UK policy makers.

Her research on the globalisation of legal services and its impact on the professions has led to her becoming member of the UK Legal Services Board Research Strategy Group, and member of the advisory board of Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute. During 2011-12, she was President of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE). Mari also earlier made a significant contribution to the understanding of the Japanese economy and Japanese firms. In the 1990s and 2000s, she was a researcher for the MIT International Motor Vehicle Program (IMVP), which gave her a valuable opportunity to be out in the field, observing and interviewing managers and workers at automakers and their suppliers in Japan, Europe and the USA. Insights from the fieldwork to understand lean production and quality control are also informing her more recent work on what professionals such as lawyers do.  Her research has been published in the form of five books and numerous journal articles. 


  • Global strategy
  • Comparative business systems
  • Institutional analysis
  • Outsourcing and offshoring
  • Legal services market
  • Globalisation of professional services firms

Before joining the School in 1997, Mari was Lecturer, then Reader, at the London School of Economics. She read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford, and holds a PhD in Economics from the University of London. She also held visiting positions at Kyoto University, Tokyo University, Ecole Polytechnique, RIETI (Research Institute of the Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry in Tokyo), and MIT Sloan School of Management.

Alongside her role at Saïd Business School, Mari is a Professorial Fellow of New College, University of Oxford.

Read Mari's CV.


Mari’s research is concerned with the comparative political economy of business strategy and practices. 

She is interested in comparative business systems and their impact in a variety of empirical contexts including manufacturing, professional service firms and entrepreneurial start-ups.

View SSRN Working Papers



  • Masashi Goto,
  • Masahiro Kotosaka,
  • Mari Sako
International Business
Professional Service Firms

How Generative AI Fits into Knowledge Work(opens in new window)

  • Journal article
  • Communications of the ACM
  • Mari Sako
International Business
Professional Service Firms

How Technology Is (or Is Not) Transforming Law Firms(opens in new window)

  • Journal article
  • Annual Review of Law and Social Science
  • Ian Rodgers,
  • John Armour,
  • Mari Sako
International Business
Professional Service Firms

Contracting for Artificial Intelligence(opens in new window)

  • Journal article
  • Communications of the ACM
  • Mari Sako
International Business
Professional Service Firms

Lawtech(opens in new window)

  • Chapter
  • Legal Tech and the Future of Civil Justice
  • John Armour,
  • Mari Sako
International Business
Professional Service Firms
See more publications


Mari has held a number of influential advisory positions in the UK and elsewhere, in addition to conducting academic research and teaching.

Arising from her work on global legal services markets, Mari is a member of the Research Strategy Group of the UK Legal Services Board . She is also on the advisory board of Thomson Reuter’s Legal Executive Institute, which aims to create thought leadership on the impact of technology and regulation on legal services. Mari is frequently called upon to give evidence and keynote speeches at conferences, including at the Law Society of England and Wales, International Bar Association, and General Counsel Netherlands.

Academic engagement

Mari was the President of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics during 2011-2012. She was Senior Fellow of the UK Advanced Institute of Management Research (AIM) during 2003–11.

Editorial boards

Mari serves on the editorial boards of Socio-Economic Review, and ILR Review.


Mari teaches Global Strategy and Global Rules of the Game on the Executive MBA Programme. 

She also teaches on other degree programmes including the Diploma in Global Business, the Diploma in Strategy and Innovation, and the MSc in Major Programme Management. Her teaching for custom executive programmes has been for professional services firms, and she contributes to the online programmes on Artificial Intelligence and Leading Professional Service Firms. 

Mari also supervises doctoral students and considers this an important part of what she does as it straddles her research and teaching interests.

Her teaching philosophy is to create a stimulating and memorable learning environment for students in what is typically a very international environment. Her teaching focuses on the challenges of global business leaders face, such as non-market issues of risk and reputation that arise from interactions not only with competitors, suppliers, and customers, but also from the state and non-government organisations.

Mari has also written teaching cases, including a case on Evalueserve, an India-based knowledge process outsourcing company and on the reputational challenges of government outsourcing. Please contact her for permission to use the cases.

Doctoral Supervision

Mari is interested in receiving doctoral applications from students in social sciences, with an interest in the following areas: global strategy; political economy of international business; professional service firms; artificial intelligence (AI), business models, and tech startup ecosystems.

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Oxford Answers

Thought-leadership and insights for business leaders written by our Faculty and Associate Fellows.

View articles by Mari.

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