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Jeffrey Pfeffer    

Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

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.

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 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, “The Human Factor,” for the 650,000-person circulation business magazine, Business 2.0 and from 2007 to 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, BBC’s Capital, and is 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 Resumix, Unicru, and Workstream (WSTM), all human capital software companies, Audible Magic, an internet company, SonoSite (SONO), a NASDAQ company designing and manufacturing portable ultrasound machines, Berlin Packaging, a Chicago-based supplier of packaging services, and the San Francisco Playhouse, a non-profit theater.

Pfeffer has presented seminars in 40 countries throughout the world as well as doing consulting and providing executive education for numerous companies, associations, and universities in the United States.

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 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, he was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Tilburg University in The Netherlands.

Speech Topics


Turning Knowledge into Action and Getting Things Done

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 strategies 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.

Building High Performance Organizations and Cultures

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, Ampex made the first VCR, and Amazon was at least the fourth company to being selling books online. Instead, 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, 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.

The Paths to Power

Although power is a word that sometimes has negative connotations in organizations, building power and influence is what effective leaders do and is essential to getting things done. 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 (it turns out that team-oriented, more collegial environments actually make influence skills more, rather than less important); 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 can you deal effectively with opposition and with difficult opponents; and 6) what are some pitfalls to those in positions of power, and how can these be avoided. Our educational 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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