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Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey   Pfeffer
Professor, Organizational Behavior
Contact Info
Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior
Hank McKinnell-Pfizer Inc. Faculty Fellow for 2015-16
Academic Area: 
Organizational Behavior

Research Statement

Jeffrey Pfeffer has published extensively in the fields of organization theory and human resource management. His current research focuses on the relationship between time and money, power and leadership in organizations, economics language and assumptions and their effects on management practice, how social science theories become self-fulfilling, barriers to turning knowledge into action and how to overcome them, and evidence-based management and what it is, barriers to its use, and how to implement it.


JEFFREY PFEFFER is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University where he has taught since 1979.  He is the author or co-author of 14 books including:

  • The Human Equation:  Building Profits by Putting People First;
  • Power:  Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t;
  • The Knowing-Doing Gap:  How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action;
  • Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense:  Profiting from Evidence-Based Management;
  • And more than 150 articles and book chapters. 
  • Pfeffer’s latest book, entitled Leadership B.S.:  Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time, will be published in September, 2015, by HarperCollins. 

Dr. Pfeffer received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his Ph.D. from Stanford.  He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught at the University of California, Berkeley.  Pfeffer has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Business School, Singapore Management University, London Business School, Copenhagen Business School, and for the past 10 years a visitor at IESE in Barcelona. 

Pfeffer currently writes a semi-monthly column for Fortune ( and a column for CEIBS Business Review (China).  From 2003-2007, Pfeffer wrote a monthly column, “The Human Factor,” for the 600,000-person circulation business magazine, Business 2.0 and from 2007-2010, he wrote a monthly column providing career advice for Capital, a leading business and economics magazine in Turkey.  Pfeffer also has been a regular blogger for the Corner Office section of BNET (CBS Interactive), and for the Harvard Business Review website, Bloomberg Business Week online, Inc., Time, and for the “On Leadership” section of The Washington Post.  Pfeffer has appeared in segments on CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, and CNBC as well as television and radio programs in Korea and Japan and has been quoted and featured in news articles from countries around the globe.

Pfeffer currently serves on the board of directors of the nonprofit Quantum Leap Healthcare and on the advisory board for Collective Health.  In the past he has served on the boards of Resumix, Unicru, and Workstream, all human capital software companies, Audible Magic, an internet company, SonoSite, a company designing and manufacturing portable ultrasound machines, and the San Francisco Playhouse, a non-profit theater. 

Pfeffer has presented seminars in 38 countries throughout the world as well as doing consulting and providing executive education for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States.

Jeffrey Pfeffer has won the Richard D. Irwin Award presented by the Academy of Management for scholarly contributions to management and numerous awards for his articles and books.  He is listed in the top 25 management thinkers by Thinkers 50, and as one of the Most Influential HR International Thinkers by HR Magazine. In November, 2011, he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Business Administration, Organizational Behavior, Stanford University, 1972
  • MS in Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University, 1968
  • BS in Administration and Management Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 1968

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1979
  • Tommie Goh Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship, Singapore Management University, Winter 2006
  • Visiting Professor, IESE Business School, Spring 2006
  • Advanced Institute of Management Visiting Professor, London Business School, Fall 2005
  • Thomas Henry Carroll-Ford Foundation Visiting Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, 1981-1982
  • Assistant-Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley, 1973-1979
  • Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, 1971-73

Awards and Honors

  • Richard D. Irwin Scholarly Contributions to Management Award, Academy of Management, 1989
  • Terry Book Award, Academy of Management, 1984
  • Honorary Doctorate, Tilburg University, The Netherlands, 2011


Journal Articles

Jeffrey Pfeffer. The Academy of Management Perspectives. November 1, 2013.
Sanford E. DeVoe, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Byron Y. Lee. ILRREVIEW. 2013, Vol. 66, Issue 5.
Sanford E. DeVoe, Jeffrey Pfeffer. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. April 2010, Vol. 36, Issue 4, Pages 470–483.
Sanford E. DeVoe, Jeffrey Pfeffer. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. September 2007, Vol. 104, Issue 1, Pages 1–13.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Christina T. Fong, Robert B Cialdini. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. November 2006, Vol. 32, Issue 10, Pages 362-74.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton. Harvard Business Review. 2006.
Jeffrey Pfeffer. Human Resource Management. May 20, 2005, Vol. 44, Issue 2, Pages 123–128.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton. Harvard Business Review. May 1999, Pages 135-142.


Jeffrey Pfeffer New York: Harper Business, 2010.
Jeffrey Pfeffer Harvard Business School Press, 2007.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton Cambridge: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.
Charles A. O’Reilly, Jeffrey Pfeffer Boston: Harvard Business School Press, August 1, 2000.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton Boston: Harvard Business School Press, December 3, 1999.
Jeffrey Pfeffer Harvard Business Review Press, 1998.
Jeffrey Pfeffer New York: Oxford University Press, June 5, 1997.
Jeffrey Pfeffer Boston: Harvard Business School Press, March 1996.
Jeffrey Pfeffer Harvard Business Review Press, 1993.
Jeffrey Pfeffer Marshfield, MA: Pitman, 1991.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Gerald Salancik Harper & Row, 1978.

Working Papers

Fair Market Ideology: Its Cognitive-Motivational Underpinnings | PDF
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Sally Blount, Gyorgy Hunyady, John Jost2003

Courses Taught

Degree Courses


Power and influence processes are ubiquitous and important in organizations, so leaders need to be able both to understand power and to act on that knowledge. This course has three objectives: 1) increasing students' ability to diagnose and...


Power and influence processes are ubiquitous and important in organizations, so leaders need to be able both to understand power and to act on that knowledge. This course has three objectives: 1) increasing students' ability to diagnose and...

Stanford Case Studies

DaVita: A Community First, A Company Second | OB89
Charles O'Reilly, Jeffrey Pfeffer, David Hoyt, Davina Drabkin2014
Update on Zia Yusuf | OB82
Jeffrey Pfeffer2013
Ross Walker's Path to Power | OB79
Jeffrey Pfeffer2011
A Note on Women and Power | OB78
Jeffrey Pfeffer2010
Incentive Problems in a Software Company | OB75
Jeffrey Pfeffer2009
Kimberly-Clark Andean Region: Creating a Winning Culture | OB72
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Megan Anderson2009
Zia Yusuf at SAP: Having Impact | OB73
Jeffrey Pfeffer2009
Note on Power and Social Interaction | OB41
Jeffrey Pfeffer2008
Nuria Chinchilla: The Power to Change Workplaces | OB67
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Megan Anderson2008
Three Common CEO Missteps (A Perspective From The Boardroom) | E201
Harold Grousbeck, Joel Peterson, Jeffrey Pfeffer, Alex Tauber2006
Karen Jones | OB23
Jeffrey Pfeffer2004
Standard Financial Services | OB25
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Thomas D. Dee, II2004
Wells Fargo and Norwest, \"Merger of Equals\" (A) | HR26A
Victoria Chang, Charles O'Reilly III, Jeffrey Pfeffer2004
Wells Fargo and Norwest, \"Merger of Equals\" (B) | HR26B
Victoria Chang, Charles O'Reilly III, Jeffrey Pfeffer2004
Dr. Laura Esserman (A) | OB42A
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang2003
Dr. Laura Esserman (B) | OB42B
Victoria Chang, Jeffrey Pfeffer2003
Gary Loveman and Harrah's Entertainment | OB45
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang2003
Keith Ferrazzi | OB44
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang2003
Holy Cross Hospital The Road to a New Culture | HR16
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang2001
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: The Road to Redemption | OB34B
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang, Kimberly Elsbach2001
Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: The Fall From Grace | OB34A
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Victoria Chang, Kimberly Elsbach2000
SAS Institute: The Decision to Go Public | HR6B
Jeffrey Pfeffer2000
PSS World Medical, The Challenges of Growth and the Financial Markets | HR12
Charles O'Reilly III, Jeffrey Pfeffer1999
Southwest Airlines (A) | HR1A
Charles O'Reilly III, Jeffrey Pfeffer1995

Stanford University Affiliations

Greater Stanford University

  • Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, 1998-1999

Service to the Profession

  • Fellow, Academy of Management
  • Member, Industrial Relations Research Association

Editorial Board

  • Administrative Science Quarterly

In the Media

Financial Times, December 6, 2015
Fortune, March 26, 2015
Workforce, March 23, 2015
The Huffington Post. Healthy Living, 2015
Big Think TV, September 25, 2013
In a video produced by, Stanford's Jeffrey Pfeffer explores the many sources of power in corporate life.
Bloomberg Businessweek, February 8, 2013
Jeffrey Pfeffer says VCs and entrepreneurs too often "blindly chase the latest fads."
Bloomberg Businessweek, December 27, 2012
Jeffrey Pfeffer discusses HP, acquisition strategy, and the success of outside hires.
Forbes India, September 17, 2012
The Stanford GSB's Jeffrey Pfeffer argues that being a socially responsible company should include focusing on employees' physical and psychological well-being.
The Futile War for Talent
Financial Times, January 2008
Globe and Mail, April 16, 2005
Business 2.0 , August 1, 2003
Stanford Study Questions Value of an MBA Degree
Business 2.0, July 27, 2000

Insights by Stanford Business

February 25, 2016
Researchers analyze workplace health to find inequalities.
December 19, 2015
Explore Stanford Business stories from 2015, including pieces on technology, finance, and work-life balance.
September 29, 2015
Power skills and behaviors matter for career success.
September 9, 2015
Advice given to leaders is too often based on the ideal world, not reality.
April 30, 2015
Those in the know share where to go to learn more about reward and related topics.
March 19, 2015
A professor of organizational behavior describes how you can increase your influence at work.
February 23, 2015
Stanford scholars identify 10 work stressors that are destroying your health.
February 20, 2015
Repaying favors is the norm in our personal lives, but not in the workplace.
December 11, 2014
Explore 10 Stanford Business stories from 2014, including pieces on happiness and networking.
May 21, 2014
How to connect to the people who matter.
March 24, 2014
A professor of organizational behavior says office power dynamics are part of our DNA.
January 6, 2014
New research by Stanford GSB Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer shows that the more money we earn, the more money we want.
June 7, 2013
A professor of organizational behavior argues that “human sustainability” may pay off too.
April 1, 2009
A professor of organizational behavior says companies spend too much time on polar bears and not enough on people.
September 1, 2007
Research shows bonuses and incentives are nice gestures of recognition, but aren't effective to drive behavior.
August 1, 2006
Studies show that those who are paid hourly think of time as a commodity.
August 1, 2006
Recent research shows having an agent or recruiter negotiate a deal for you makes you seem more likeable — and can get you a better deal.
April 1, 2006
The Southwest Airlines chairman and former CEO explains the business philosophy that has his company thriving in the brutal airline industry.
June 1, 2005
A professor of organizational behavior says senior leaders need to understand how their mental models of business affect organizational performance.
September 15, 2003
Even some well-established practices may be counterproductive
November 1, 1999
Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton explore how companies can turn talk into action, and why promoting internal competition may not help.
September 1, 1997
A study reveals the tendency of leaders to inflate the worth of work produced with their direct oversight.

School News

February 22, 2016
One recent participant in a Stanford Executive Education program discovered that changing the world begins with educating himself.
April 1, 2008
The first official GSB library didn’t formally open until 1933; it was tightly wedged into a portion of Jordan Hall that doubled as a classroom.
June 1, 2006
Major changes in the content and delivery of management education through its MBA Program will be implemented in fall of 2007.