Main Navigation

Jay Barney, Cynthia Berg win Rosenblatt Prize

U's top academic honor goes to scholar of strategic management and eminent psychologist who led College of Social and Behavioral Science.

Cynthia Berg, a distinguished professor of psychology, and world-renowned business scholar Jay Barney are the 2024 recipients of the Rosenblatt Prize of Excellence in recognition of their years of impactful research and teaching at the University of Utah.

Berg has served as dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Science, where she taught on the psychology faculty for more than 30 years and researched, among other things, how people cope with health challenges and other life stressors.


The Lassonde Chair of Social Entrepreneurship and presidential professor of strategic management at the David Eccles School of Business, Barney has long studied the relationships between firms’ resources and their competitive advantages and explored how entrepreneurs create business opportunities.

“Bestowing the Rosenblatt award to two recipients this year, instead of one, is a testament to the high caliber of faculty at the University of Utah,” U President Taylor Randall said. “I was glad to accept the committee’s recommendation to select two exceptional professors, as has been done in times before when the nominees are all so deserving. Professors Barney and Berg are among the U’s finest faculty. I am grateful for their impact at the U and beyond.”

The Rosenblatt Prize is the University of Utah’s highest faculty accolade and is presented annually to a faculty member who transcends ordinary teaching, research and administrative contributions. A group of distinguished faculty members on the Rosenblatt Prize Committee recommends esteemed colleagues for consideration and the university’s president makes the final selection.

About Cynthia Berg

Cynthia Berg

Download Full-Res Image

Funded largely by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Cynthia Berg’s research examines how family members can facilitate or derail the management of chronic illnesses, especially diabetes, according to her CV. The findings demonstrate the importance of social relationships to chronic illness management and health outcomes.

“I take a life-span developmental perspective to examine how parents lay a foundation for how individuals utilize their social context for management of chronic illnesses, a social context that expands to friends, co-workers, and romantic partners,” she wrote in the CV. “Our research examines diabetes management during adolescence, the transition from adolescence to emerging adulthood, and adults across the life span with type 1 diabetes and collaborative processes among healthy adults across the life span as well as couples coping with cancer. Our work has shown that social relationships are key across the life span to chronic illness management and health outcomes.”

This work was and remains transformative, stressed a letter of nomination signed by several longtime colleagues at the College of Social Behavioral Science (CSBS). Berg was among the first to show that weathering and managing stress is a collaborative process that relies on close relationships.

“Dr. Berg is a highly productive, internationally-recognized researcher whose work is shedding novel light on how individuals cope with life challenges,” the nominators wrote. “Her program of research examines how the social context impacts everyday problem-solving across the lifespan. Most of the prior work in the 1980s was almost exclusively focused on individual-level coping (e.g., managing one’s emotions) and its links to various outcomes.”

Berg has brought in more than $14 million in extramural funding to the U as a principal investigator and several million more as a co-PI.

“A noteworthy theme of Dr. Berg’s record is that she brings people together to maximize resources and solve longstanding problems,” the nominators wrote. “Her record is truly in the spirit of ‘One U’ and her accomplishments are many, all aimed at addressing research, teaching, and administrative issues from a multidisciplinary perspective.”

For example, Berg co-directed the U’s Consortium for Families and Health Research, whose faculty and students represent 20 academic departments.

Over nearly four decades at the U, Berg has published 200 peer-reviewed studies, many of them in the most important psychology and medical journals, leaving a body of research with far-reaching implications.

“What is all the more astonishing is that she has maintained this incredibly high level of productivity while simultaneously serving as a department head and then as Dean of a large college,” wrote one outside colleague in a letter of recommendation for the Rosenblatt Prize. “She has fostered initiatives in interdisciplinary studies, high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs, and led capital campaigns and development efforts.”

Berg earned her doctorate at Yale University in developmental psychology in 1987 and joined the U faculty that year. Regarded as a “genuinely wonderful colleague” by many, Berg chaired the Psychology Department from 2008 to 2011, then led CSBS from 2013 until 2022. She became a Distinguished Professor of Psychology in 2018. In 2023, she was selected as a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Under her watch as dean, CSBS expanded its degree offerings, adding programs in criminology and geographic information science.  During that time, the college’s undergraduate majors grew by 36% as a direct result of her strategic use of resources to enrich student support.

Her innovative support for interdisciplinary problem-solving at the undergraduate level is exemplified by her creation of the Solutions Scholars Program, which has become a successful two-year, 20-student cohort-based scholarship program.

“We have also observed Dr. Berg interacting with students on many occasions over the years (e.g., research groups, dissertation committees),” the nominators wrote. “She strikes just the right balance in challenging her students to excel while providing the support and necessary training to help them succeed.”

Berg’s gifts as a mentor have helped her graduate students succeed in their academic careers, with two recent mentees having landed early-career grants from NIH. As psychology department chair, she instituted a junior faculty mentoring program which succeeded in maintaining junior faculty morale and commitment to the department.

The nominators could not recall the department losing a single junior faculty since she initiated this program more than a decade ago, outside relocations to be closer to family.

About Jay Barney

Jay Barney

Jay Barney is among the world’s top scholars in strategic management, a field he helped establish.

“His early research was foundational in establishing what many would characterize as the most important theory and research stream to emerge within the field of strategy over the past 30 years—the resource-based view,” wrote one scholar in a letter of nomination. “But he has also been instrumental in shaping several other research streams, including foundational work in entrepreneurship and more recently in stakeholder theory.”

The resource-based view, or RBV, in strategy, has revolutionized strategic management, serving as the dominant perspective for the past 25 years. Previously, the dominant view was that firms should operate in the most attractive industries. “Professor Barney argued that firm leaders should instead emphasize looking inside the firm for resources that could create more value than other firms not possessing such resources,” a nominator wrote. “Subsequent empirical research offered overwhelming support for the general notions of the RBV and Barney’s specification of the factors that are likely to constitute durable advantages remains centrally influential to this day.”

In the field of entrepreneurship, Barney has been a leading voice in the central debate over the extent to which entrepreneurial opportunities are discovered versus created. Conventional thinking postulated that opportunities exist independently of entrepreneurs, whose role was to discover them.

“In the alternative view espoused by Barney and his co-authors, entrepreneurs play a more active role by creating novel combinations of resources that have the potential to create value in the marketplace,” the nominator wrote. “As with his earlier research, this insight has important implications for how entrepreneurs are educated and developed.”

In stakeholder theory, Barney demonstrated that to generate economic profits in ways consistent with the resource-based view, firms must grant residual claims to a firm’s profits to at least one stakeholder, besides shareholders.  This conclusion links stakeholder theory and strategic management research in ways that are already revolutionizing both fields.

Barney is the U’s most widely cited academic—with more than 225,000 Google citations.  That makes him one of the most cited scholars in the field of strategy and in the broader field of management.

He has been selected as a Fellow of both the Academy of Management and the Strategic Management Society, the two major associations of strategic management scholars. The former selected him to serve as editor-in-chief of its flagship journal the Academy of Management Review. He also holds three honorary doctorate degrees at universities in Sweden, Denmark and Spain, and has received the most prestigious awards in his field: the Distinguished Scholar Award for the Academy of Management; the C.K. Prahalad Award from the Strategic Management Society; and the Outstanding Scholarly Contributions Award from the Strategic Management Division of the Academy of Management.

He has advised several dozen Ph.D. students who now serve on faculties around the world. He also co-authored the leading graduate-level strategic textbook, “Strategic Management and Competitive Advantage: Concepts and Cases,” now in its sixth edition, with translations in Japanese, Chinese, Italian and German. More recently he co-authored, with Manoel Amorim and Carlos Júlio, the acclaimed non-academic book, “The Secret of Culture Change: How to Build Authentic Stories That Transform Your Organization”. This book explores why changing a company’s culture can be necessary, but extremely challenging, and explains how the power of story building can be harnessed to rally employees around a transformative strategy.

Barney earned his doctorate at Yale in 1982 and took his first faculty post at UCLA, before moving on to Texas A&M then The Ohio State University. He landed at the U’s David Eccles School of Business in 2012 where he was the founding chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy, which has since become one of the world’s top academic departments in this area of business.

Later, he was a driving force in the founding of the Center for Business, Health, and Prosperity, an extension of his efforts to use strategic management theory to alleviate global poverty. Nominators lauded Barney’s strong commitment to social entrepreneurship, citing the life-changing business course he created that takes students to Bolivia, Peru and Ghana to help small enterprises grow.

About the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence

The Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence is an endowed award, given annually to a faculty member at the University of Utah to “honor excellence in teaching, research and administrative efforts, collectively or individually, on behalf of the university.”

The endowment was created to honor Nathan and Tillie Rosenblatt on the centenary of their immigration to Utah and in recognition of their legacy of civic leadership and generosity. Originally established in 1983, the award was later increased by Joseph and Evelyn Rosenblatt and their family. The endowment and its gifts ensure the annual award of $50,000.

Learn more about the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence.