Ansoff was born in Vladivostok, Russia, in 1918. He emigrated to the United States with his family and graduated from New York City's Stuyvesant High School in 1937. Ansoff studied general engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology and continued his education there, receiving his Master of Science degree in the Dynamics of Rigid Bodies.
Following Stevens Institute, he studied at Brown University where he received a Doctorate in applied mathematics with a major in Mathematical Theory of Elasticity and plasticity and a minor in Vibration. After coming to California he joined UCLA in the Senior Executive Program. He was a distinguished professor at United States International University (now Alliant International University) for 17 years, where several institutes continue his work in strategic management research.
Professionally, Ansoff is known worldwide for his research in three specific areas:
- The concept of environmental turbulence;
- The contingent strategic success paradigm, a concept that has been validated by numerous doctoral dissertations;
- Real-time strategic management.
Marketing and MBA students are usually familiar with his Product-Market Growth Matrix, a tool he created to plot generic strategies for growing a business via existing or new products, in existing or new markets.
To honor his body of work, the prestigious Igor Ansoff Award was established in 1981 in The Netherlands. The award is given for research and management in the study of Strategic Planning and Management. The Japan Strategic Management Society has also established an annual award in his name and Vanderbilt University has established an Ansoff MBA scholarship.
An applied mathematician, he shifted his emphasis in the 1950s while employed by the Rand Corporation. In 1956, he was employed as planning specialist for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation where he gained practical experience in analyzing the complexities of a business environment. At Lockheed he became Vice President of Planning and Director of Diversification.
He served as Professor of Industrial Administration in the Graduate School at Carnegie Mellon University (1963–1968); Founding Dean and Professor of Management at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee (1968–1973); professor at the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management, Brussels, Belgium (1973–1975); Distinguished Justin Potter Professor of Free American Enterprise, Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University (1973–1976); Professor, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden (1976–1983), and Professor, United States International University, San Diego, California (1984–2001).
- Strategic Management Classic Edition (2007)
- Corporate Strategy (1965)
- Williams, Jack (2002-07-16). "H. Igor Ansoff, 83; educator drew worldwide acclaim". San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved 2007-10-31.