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Jeffrey Pfeffer

Jeffrey Pfeffer - Leadership Business Management Organizational Culture  speaker

 About

About Jeffrey Pfeffer - Expert on Management and Corporate Culture:

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 B.S.: Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time; 
  • 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. 

In March, 2018, HarperCollins will publish 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 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 12 years a visitor at IESE in Barcelona. 

From 2003-2007, Pfeffer wrote a monthly column, “The Human Factor,” for the 650,000-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 has also written for Fortune.com, BNET, the Washington Post, BloombergBusinessWeek.com, and is an Influencer on LinkedIn. 

Pfeffer currently serves on the board of directors of Berlin Packaging, on the advisory board for Collective Health, and on the board of the nonprofit Quantum Leap Healthcare. 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 NASDAQ company designing and manufacturing portable ultrasound machines, and the San Francisco Playhouse, a non-profit theater. 

Pfeffer has presented seminars in 39 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 has been 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.


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 Topics

What Jeffrey Pfeffer Talks About:

Some Hard Truths About Leadership & Leadership Development:  Making Leaders & Leader Development More Effective
(based on the book, Leadership B.S.:  Fixing Workplaces and Careers One Truth at a Time).
For literally decades the world has seen books, blogs, Ted talks, executive development efforts, conferences, and similar activities—some estimates place the size of the leadership education and development budget in the U.S. at $20 billion annually.  Nonetheless, almost every piece of evidence—on job satisfaction, trust in leaders, employee engagement, leadership success, the efficacy of leadership development efforts—shows persistent failure and problems, with leader tenures getting shorter and things getting worse.  

Why?  And more importantly, what might organizations do to fix the ongoing crises in leadership?  This book 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:  Human Sustainability at Work
(based on a book with that title to be published in March, 2018, by HarperCollins). 
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 work organizations have management practices that sicken and kill people and drive up health care costs in the process.  Stefanos Zenios, Joel Goh, and I estimate that there are more than 120,000 excess deaths  annually and that 10% of health care spending in the U.S. result comes from management actions that harm people’s well-being and do not positively affect organizational performance.  

One important reason why per capita health care costs are higher in the U.S. than in other countries with no better—and in many instances worse—health outcomes is because of differences in the prevalence and cost of harmful management practices.  

Just as organizations increasingly focus on environmental sustainability as part of their employee and customer branding, to be socially responsible, and to save on the economic costs of waste and pollution, there are things employers can and should do to enhance human sustainability and cut down on social pollution, waste, and excess costs.

Turning Knowledge into Action and Getting Things Done:  Overcoming the Knowing-Doing Gap
Organizations know what they need to do in domains ranging from talent management to employee engagement to M & A integration but 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 isn’t turned into action is about as bad as action that is not informed by knowledge.  Our research has uncovered some important barriers to using and implementing knowledge and building a culture of action instead of just talk and analysis.  We have found examples and uncovered strategies and tools for overcoming the knowing-doing gap to build a culture of implementation.  And there are a set of management practices that can create a company that learns from its experience and turns that learning into actions and results.

Practicing Evidence-Based Mangement:
(based on the book Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-truths, and Total Nonsense:  Profiting from Evidence-Based Management with Robert I. Sutton).  
Many organizations decide what to do based on the past experience of senior leaders, ideology and belief, and with the casual benchmarking of observing what other companies are doing.  None of these represent effective ways of making decisions.  Meanwhile, companies have ignored massive amounts of evidence that speak to questions such as 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.

Competitive Advantage Through People: Building Profits By Putting People First: (based on the books, The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First;  Competitive Advantage Through People; and Hidden Value:  How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People, with Charles A. O’Reilly). 
The data are clear:  success does not come from mergers and consolidations to increase size, from being in high technology, from being in the “right” industry, or even from being first to market with an idea—after all, Xerox invented the first personal computer, Lipitor (from Pfizer) was the third statin drug to hit the market, Diner’s Club predated Visa (credit cards) by decades, and Amazon was at least the fourth company to begin selling books on line.  Studies of companies in numerous industries ranging from automobile manufacturing to semiconductors, studies of companies in multiple industries, and research in countries including the United Kingdom, Korea, Japan, Spain, and Germany demonstrate the strong correlation between how companies manage their people and their profits, productivity, and customer and employee retention.  Our 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:
(based on the books Power:  Why Some People Have It—and Others Don’t and Managing with Power:  Politics and Influence in Organizations and one of the most popular elective courses at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business). 
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 in managing organizational dynamics is what distinguishes between people who suffer derailments and those WHO have successful careers.  

Over decades of research, we have uncovered what are effective ways of building and exercising influence, and some of the dilemmas and choices people face as they move through their careers in organizations.  It is possible to answer questions such 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, and 8) what are some pitfalls to those in positions of power, and how can these be avoided?  

Our work helps people develop their clinical, observational skills, their ability to analyze and exercise influence effectively, and to think constructively about power and its use in getting things done in organizations of all sizes and types.

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 Recent Publications

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, El Dorado Ventures

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