Professor Margaret Neale Named 2011 Davis Award Recipient

Neale is the 13th recipient and first woman to receive the Davis Award for lifetime achievement by a faculty member.

June 01, 2011

Margaret A. Neale, who showed that negotiation and teamwork are essential skills for managers, is the 2011 recipient of the Robert T. Davis Award, presented by the Stanford Graduate School of Business deans to recognize a colleague for a lifetime of service and achievement.

Neale, who is the John G. McCoy Banc One Corporation Professor of Organizations and Dispute Resolution, was honored at a faculty dinner that included some good-natured jibes about her record as an administrator and heartfelt thanks for her mentoring of many junior colleagues and for building the behavioral sciences at the school through example, tough love, and negotiation skills.

Besides teaching doctoral, MBA, and Sloan students, Neale works with managers from around the world who take two popular Executive Education programs that she directs: Managing Teams for Innovation and Success and Influence and Negotiation Strategies. She also co-directs the newer Executive Program for Women Leaders. A former student of pharmacy and psychology, Neale, better known to her colleagues as Maggie, latched onto business administration at a doctoral program at the University of Texas and taught at business schools at the University of Arizona and Northwestern University before joining the Stanford business school faculty in 1995.

From 1997 to 2000, she also served as an academic associate dean with political scientist David Brady, who at the awards dinner teased that their joint administrative record could not be quantitatively verified. But he added that “her mentoring of young professors, especially women, is outstanding. Her house is always open to colleagues and their families. Her relationship with graduate students is nurturing but firm. In short, she’s done great things for the GSB, Stanford, and her profession.”

Professor Deborah Gruenfeld, who co-directs the Executive Program for Women Leaders with Neale, said she owed a huge debt to her senior colleague. She described Neale as “whip-smart, fearless, and intimidating. Fiercely loyal, sometimes a little rough, tall, and from Texas. She likes to call the question. Maggie has no patience for nonsense, and she does not hesitate to let you know.”

Neale was already a “giant” in the field of organizational behavior when she arrived at Stanford, Gruenfeld said, “having brought behavioral decision theory to the study of negotiations, and for bringing negotiations research out of the industrial relations arena, where it was seen as a marginal topic having mostly to do with unions, into the forefront of managerial interest, where it is now viewed as a process that is fundamental to management and exchange relationships of all kinds.”

Neale’s research on demographic diversity in work teams also brought “a much-needed theoretical perspective to a tangle of contradictory findings on the one hand, and a chorus of evangelism on the other.”

Neale used her negotiation skills to get funding, space, and staffing for a school-wide behavioral research lab, which increased research productivity and made it possible for the business school to recruit more behavioral scientists, according to Gruenfeld. “The lab is a tremendous asset for the GSB, providing all kinds of support for the collection, coding, and analysis of behavioral data,” Gruenfeld said. “At last count, the behavioral lab was formally associated on the books with the publication of close to 60 peer-reviewed journal articles by GSB faculty and graduate students.”

When Neale arrived at Stanford, the organizational behavior group at the business school had 14 members and the school faculty advisory board had one female member. Sixteen years later, the OB group has nearly doubled, and the advisory board now has “four women from the OB group alone,” Gruenfeld said. While not scientific proof of cause and effect, Gruenfeld said she would assert that “Maggie has been a catalyst, if not a necessary condition, for the growth and fortification of the OB group, the GSB research culture, the MBA curriculum, and Executive Education, as well as the changing face of the school.”

To which Neale added brief thanks for the honor and the observation that she had done nothing by herself for which she was being honored. “My biggest achievement,” she said, “has been the opportunity to be here at Stanford building community with mentoring doctoral students and junior faculty, working with them to have their research have impact and for them to have impact in their institutions.”

Neale is the 13th recipient and the first woman to receive the Davis Award, which is given for lifetime achievement to a current faculty member. The award was endowed by family and friends of the late Robert T. Davis, the Kresge Professor of Marketing, who was a member of the business school faculty for 37 years.

By Kathleen O’Toole

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