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Jeffrey Pfeffer

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Jeffrey Pfeffer

Global HR Forum 2010, Seoul, South Korea

Jeffrey Pfeffer (born July 23, 1946, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University, and is considered one of today's most influential management thinkers.[1][2] Pfeffer strives to educate and inspire leaders to seek power through evidence-based management, the knowing-doing gap, high performance culture, and unconventional wisdom.


Pfeffer graduated high school from the Webb School of California. He received his BS and MS degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University and his PhD 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 given talks in 34 countries around the world and has taught management seminars for numerous companies and associations in the United States including Sutter Health, the Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, John Hancock, Hewlett-Packard, and the Online Publishers Association.

Pfeffer has served on the boards of several human capital management companies including Resumix, Unicru, and Workstream. He also served on the board of publicly traded Sonosite (SONO) for ten years and on the boards of private high-technology companies Actify and Audible Magic. He is currently on the board of directors of two nonprofits: the San Francisco Playhouse and Quantum Leap Healthcare.

Pfeffer has won numerous awards for his articles and books. He was elected a fellow of the Academy of Management more than 20 years ago, was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, and has won the Richard D. Irwin award for scholarly contributions to management.


Pfeffer’s research interests are very broad. Although he is probably most famous in academic circles for developing resource dependence theory (The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Dependence-Perspective).

He has done theoretical and empirical research on the subjects of human resource management, power and politics in organizations, evidence-based management, the knowing-doing gap, leadership, stratification and labor markets inside organizations, the sociology of science, how and why theories become self-fulfilling, the psychological relationship between time and money, and economic evaluation.

Elective on power in organizations

Pfeffer has taught both elective and core classes in human resource management and the core course in organizational behavior. When he joined the Stanford faculty, he developed an elective on power in organizations. First called Power and Politics in Organizations, some years ago the class was retitled The Paths to Power. The elective has been consistently popular, with Pfeffer teaching two sections per year and, over the years, other colleagues teaching sections as well.


He has written more than 125 articles and book chapters. He is the author of over a dozen books including The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First, Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action, Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management, and What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management. Pfeffer also has written a collection of 27 essays about management topics, as well as more than 120 articles. Pfeffer’s newest book, entitled Power: Why Some People Have It—And Others Don't was published and released in September 2010 .[3]

Pfeffer has written cases on how individuals acquire power and manage their careers, including cases on Keith Ferrazzi, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, and Laura Esserman. He has also written cases on companies that practice high commitment/high performance work arrangements, including Southwest Airlines, DaVita, the Men's Wearhouse, Holy Cross Hospital, SAS Institute, and the Andean region of Kimberly-Clark.

For five years, Pfeffer wrote a monthly column for the Time-Warner magazine, Business 2.0. For almost three years, he wrote a career advice column for Capital, the leading economics and business magazine in Turkey. He currently writes a bi-weekly blog for BNET/CBS Interactive as well as an occasional contribution for the online On Leadership section of The Washington Post.


  • 1978. The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Dependence Perspective. with Gerald R. Salancik. Harper & Row
  • 1975. Organizational Design (A H M Publications, 1975)
  • 1981. Power in Organizations (HarperCollins, 1981)
  • 1982. Organizations and Organization Theory (HarperCollins, 1982)
  • 1992. Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations (Harvard Business School Press, 1992)
  • 1994. Competitive Advantage Through People: Unleashing the Power of the Work Force (Reed Business Information, 1994)
  • 1997. New Directions for Organization Theory: Problems and Prospects (Oxford University Press USA, 1997)
  • 1998. The Human Equation: Building Profits by Putting People First (Harvard Business School Press, 1998)
  • 2000. The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action. With Robert I. Sutton (Harvard Business School Press, 2000)
  • 2000. Hidden Value: How Great Companies Achieve Extraordinary Results with Ordinary People With Charles A. O'Reilly III (Harvard Business School Press, 2000)
  • 2006. Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management With Robert I. Sutton (Harvard Business School Press, 2006)
  • 2007. What Were They Thinking: Unconventional Wisdom About Management (Harvard Business School Press, 2007)
  • 2010. Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't (HarperBusiness, 2010)


  1. ^ Quest for Innovation, Motivation Inspires the Gurus. Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2008
  2. ^ Accenture top 50 business intellectuals
  3. ^ Qn magazine, February 2011

External links

  • Jeffrey Pfeffer's Biography
  • Jeffrey Pfeffer’s personal home page
  • Jeffrey Pfeffer's Stanford GSB website
  • Website for evidence-based management
  • Pfeffer’s Business Educators Member Profile
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