Jeffrey Pfeffer

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Authority on Modern Human Resources and Leadership Practices; Professor of Organizational Behavior, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

Biography

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 15 books including, “Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time,” “The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First” and “The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action.”

In March 2018, HarperCollins published Pfeffer’s latest book, “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance – and What We Can Do About It.”

Dr. Pfeffer received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his PhD from Stanford University. He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught for six years 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 14 years, a visitor at IESE in Barcelona.

From 2003 to 2007, Pfeffer wrote a monthly column called “The Human Factor” for Business 2.0 magazine (circulation 650,000) and from 2007 to 2010 he wrote a monthly career advice column for Capital, a leading business and economics magazine in Turkey. Pfeffer has also written for Fortune.com, BNET, The Washington Post, BloombergBusinessWeek.com, BBC’s Capital and Learning Corner for CornerstoneOnDemand.com. He is also an Influencer on LinkedIn.

Pfeffer currently serves on the advisory boards for Collective Health and Quorso, and on the board of the nonprofit Quantum Leap Healthcare. In the past he has served on the boards of human capital software companies Resumix, Unicru, and Workstream, the internet company Audible Magic, SonoSite, a NASDAQ company that designs and manufactures portable ultrasound machines, Berlin Packaging, a Chicago-based supplier of packaging services, and the San Francisco Playhouse, a non-profit theater.

Pfeffer has delivered seminars in 40 countries and serves as an executive education consultant for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States.

Jeffrey Pfeffer received the Richard D. Irwin Award from the Academy of Management for his scholarly contributions to management. His books and articles have also been recognized with awards. He is in the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame and has been listed as one of the Most Influential HR International Thinkers by HR Magazine. In November 2011, Pfeffer was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Jeff Pfeffer is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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A-Z Name

Pfeffer, Jeffrey

Biography

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 15 books including, “Leadership BS: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time,” “The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First” and “The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action.”

In March 2018, HarperCollins published Pfeffer’s latest book, “Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance – and What We Can Do About It.”

Dr. Pfeffer received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his PhD from Stanford University. He began his career at the business school at the University of Illinois and then taught for six years 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 14 years, a visitor at IESE in Barcelona.

From 2003 to 2007, Pfeffer wrote a monthly column called “The Human Factor” for Business 2.0 magazine (circulation 650,000) and from 2007 to 2010 he wrote a monthly career advice column for Capital, a leading business and economics magazine in Turkey. Pfeffer has also written for Fortune.com, BNET, The Washington Post, BloombergBusinessWeek.com, BBC’s Capital and Learning Corner for CornerstoneOnDemand.com. He is also an Influencer on LinkedIn.

Pfeffer currently serves on the advisory boards for Collective Health and Quorso, and on the board of the nonprofit Quantum Leap Healthcare. In the past he has served on the boards of human capital software companies Resumix, Unicru, and Workstream, the internet company Audible Magic, SonoSite, a NASDAQ company that designs and manufactures portable ultrasound machines, Berlin Packaging, a Chicago-based supplier of packaging services, and the San Francisco Playhouse, a non-profit theater.

Pfeffer has delivered seminars in 40 countries and serves as an executive education consultant for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States.

Jeffrey Pfeffer received the Richard D. Irwin Award from the Academy of Management for his scholarly contributions to management. His books and articles have also been recognized with awards. He is in the Thinkers 50 Hall of Fame and has been listed as one of the Most Influential HR International Thinkers by HR Magazine. In November 2011, Pfeffer was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Jeff Pfeffer is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, conference talks and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Hard Truths About Leadership: How to Make Leadership Development More Effective

For decades, the world has seen books, blogs, Ted talks, executive development efforts, conferences, and similar activities focused on leadership. Some estimates place the size of the leadership education and development budget, in the US alone, at $20 billion annually. Nonetheless, almost every piece of evidence – on job satisfaction, trust in leaders, employee engagement, leadership success, and companies’ ratings of the efficacy of leadership development efforts – shows persistent failures and problems, resulting in shorter tenures for leaders and decreased engagement and trust among employees.

Why? And more importantly, what might organizations do to fix the ongoing crises in leadership? Jeff Pfeffer takes on the simplistic nostrums that have beset the leadership industry and offers evidence-based, practical suggestions for enhancing both personal and organizational success.

Dying for a Paycheck: How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance

Even as companies bemoan high health care costs and the productivity lost from sick and absent workers, and even as employers institute policies to encourage their employees to practice healthier lifestyles, many organizations have management practices that sicken and kill people and drive up health care costs in the process. Jeff Pfeffer and his research colleagues estimate there are more than 120,000 excess deaths annually and that 10% of health care spending in the US can be attributed to management actions that harm employee health and do not positively affect organizational performance. Chronic disease, which comes in large measure from stress and the behaviors stress induces, is a worldwide problem with enormous social costs. Stress comes largely from work.

Just as organizations increasingly focus on environmental sustainability, in an effort to reduce waste and pollution, they must also focus on human sustainability by cutting down on social pollution and related costs.

Overcoming the Knowing-Doing Gap: Turning Knowledge into Action

Organizations know what they need to do in domains ranging from talent management to employee engagement to M&A integration, but they often don’t do it. Companies have spent millions of dollars building intranets and collaborative tools to capture and share knowledge, under the assumption that in a world in which intellectual capital is increasingly important, the company with the best knowledge management system wins. The underlying assumption is right: intellectual capital and knowledge work are increasingly important. But knowledge that is not turned into action is about as bad as action that is not informed by knowledge. Jeff Pfeffer’s research has uncovered some important barriers to using and implementing knowledge and building a culture of action instead of just talk and analysis. He offers examples, strategies and tools to help organizations overcome the knowing-doing gap in order to build a culture of implementation.

Competitive Advantage Through People: Building Profits by Putting People First

Success does not come from increasing in size through mergers and consolidations, from new and improved technology, from being in the “right” industry, or even from being first to market with an idea. Studies of companies in numerous industries and countries link success to how companies manage their people and profits, productivity, and customer and employee retention. Jeff Pfeffer’s research has identified the essential elements of high performance or high-commitment work arrangements, why these practices are effective, and what this means for building management systems and organizational culture.

Getting Things Done: Building Power and Influence

Although power is a word that sometimes has negative connotations, building power and influence is what effective leaders do and is essential to getting things done. Moreover, building skills for managing organizational dynamics will distinguish people who have successful careers from those who suffer derailments. Jeff Pfeffer and his colleagues’ decades of research has uncovered effective ways of building and exercising influence and some of the dilemmas and choices people face as they move through their careers in organizations, making it possible to answer such questions as:

1) When is power and influence more important for getting things done?

2) What are the individual attributes associated with being influential and how can these be developed?

3) What are some effective strategies and tactics for obtaining and using power?

4) How can you develop allies and supporters?

5) How do you build social networks that are both efficient and effective?

6) How can you deal effectively with opposition and with difficult opponents?

7) How can you more effectively speak and act with power and why is it important to do so?

8) What are some potential pitfalls faced by those in positions of power and how can they be avoided?

Our work helps people develop their clinical and observational skills as well as their ability to analyze and exercise influence effectively and constructively in order to get things done – in organizations of all sizes and types.

Practicing Evidence-Based Management

Many organizations decide what to do based on the past experience of senior leaders, ideologies and beliefs, and casual observations of what other companies are doing. None of these represent effective ways of making decisions, says Jeff Pfeffer. Meanwhile, companies have ignored massive amounts of evidence that speak to the effectiveness of stock options and incentive compensation, whether “winning the war for talent” is possible or even desirable, the effects of setting up internal competitive dynamics, and many other questions that are relevant to understanding management strategies and their effects.

The fact that knowledge about “what works and why” is so infrequently used provides an opportunity for information arbitrage in the management of companies that is similar to arbitrage opportunities in the financial markets, except the returns are both larger and less likely to be immediately imitated away.  Companies need to use more evidence-based management and employ a decision process that uncovers hidden assumptions and confronts them with what leaders know to be true.

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Recommendations

“With precision and insight, Pfeffer lays bare the true cost of toxic workplaces, providing a timely wakeup call for any leader who thought a good workplace was simply a ‘nice to have’. As Pfeffer shows, it is a fundamental right in our fast changing society. Dying for a Paycheck is an essential book from one of our greatest organizational scholars.”

— Professor Lynda Gratton, author of the “The 100-Year Life”

“Pfeffer examines the heretofore uncharted relationship between dysfunctional workplace practices and employee health. Dying for a Paycheck is a compelling and important read for all of us seeking to produce a healthy and engaged organization.”

—Gary Loveman, former CEO, Caesars Entertainment and president of Consumer and Health Services, Aetna

“Jeff Pfeffer stands as one of the great management thinkers of our time. Here in this important work, he challenges us to embrace a hippocratic oath of leadership: first do no harm. Diagnostic and prescriptive, passionate and incisive, provocative and inspired-Pfeffer yet again makes a noble contribution.”

—Jim Collins, author “Good to Great”

“Jeff Pfeffer is the rarest of creatures in the world of business thought leaders: he is substantial and entertaining. There are countless professional business edutainers completely lacking in substance.  And there are thousands of business academics who do rigorous research but put audiences to sleep.  Jeff is one of a handful that combines deep and rigorous research with a delivery that inspires and holds an audience.”

—Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto

“Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer is simply one of the best Management thinkers and speakers in the world. And our company, HSM, works with only the very best. His ability to put the People context with business results is unmatched. I recommend him to any company.”

—José Salibi Neto, Co-Founder & Chief Knowledge Officer, HSM Brasil

“Jeff has a natural, conversational style which combined with his command of the subject and marketing sense result in entertaining and informative presentations.”

—Shanda Bahles, former Managing Partner of El Dorado Ventures 

“Jeff possesses two exceedingly rare traits; he is both a scholar and also a practitioner. He has the uncanny ability to apply the theoretical to the practical; to be a dispassionate observer of human behavior in large and small  organizational settings, drawing lessons from what is observed, and then able to reach a variety of audiences, enabling them to grasp, through his teaching and consulting genius, what they need to know to overcome the many inhibitors to efficiency, productivity and stability in diverse settings. What distinguishes Jeff from the many other consultants, speakers, trainers and faculty with whom I have worked over the years, is his authenticity as a teacher. His ability to connect with the people with whom he is working, to bring executives, managers and students, to a point where actually learn and seek to change their ways of knowing and ways of doing, the latter two being the sine qua non of real change in any enterprise.”

—Daniel J Julius, Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Alaska System of Higher Education, Former President, College and University Personnel Association  and Academy of Academic Personnel Administrators 

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