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Jeffrey Pfeffer

Keynote speaker Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II professor of organizational behavior at the Graduate School of Business of Stanford University, where he has taught since 1979.

Fee Range: $ $30,000 - $50,000

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Jeffrey Pfeffer

Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior

 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 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 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 13 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, BNET, the Washington Post,, 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.

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 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.

Jeffrey Pfeffer's Programs


 (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 just 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?   I take on the simplistic nostrums that have beset the leadership industry and offer evidence-based, practical suggestions for enhancing both personal and organizational success.


(based on a book with that title 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.

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.


 (based on the best-selling book, “The Knowing-Doing Gap:  How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action,” with Robert I. Sutton).

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.


 (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.

Jeffrey Pfeffer's Books