The ICHW Director Cristina Banks and Dr. Jeffrey Pfeffer sat down and took a deep dive into why most businesses fail to improve work environment and employee health.
Cristina Banks: Can you briefly recount your career path from college graduation to where you are now at the Stanford Business School?
Jeffrey Pfeffer: I graduated from college a long time ago, when dinosaurs were roaming the earth. I went to work for the only real job I ever held, for the Research Analysis Corporation. The Research Analysis Corporation no longer exists, but in those days, it was comparable to Rand or the Center for Naval Analysis. The job was a way to try to avoid the Vietnam War draft. I worked on a project that did military manpower planning for the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower. I was responsible for running a simulation model that estimated each month the number of people who needed to be drafted. So I did that job for a while and then we figured out that I had flat feet, so I wasn’t going in the Army. I came back to Stanford and got my PhD in two years. Then, at the age of 25, I went to work (as) an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in the beautiful city of Urbana-Champaign, the Twin Cities. I was there for two years and then I came to the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 where I worked for six years, and got tenure at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1979, at the very young age [at the age of 32], I was hired as a full professor at Stanford Business School where I have been ever since. That’s the story of my career. I have written about leadership, such as the article “The Ambiguity of Leadership,” which goes back to 1977, and more recently, Leadership BS – I have publications in the area of the sociology of science, organizational design, and of course power, so I’ve written about almost every topic. I have a very short attention span and am completely undisciplined. I’m already on to new topics. I’m done with this. I’m on to something else.