Hayagreeva Rao

Professor, Organizational Behavior

Hayagreeva Rao

The Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources

Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences
Academic Area:

Additional Administrative Titles

Director, TELUS Senior Leadership Forum
Co-Director Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative - Education
Co-Director, RISE: PTT Leadership Transformation
Director, People, Culture, and Performance: Strategies from Silicon Valley
Co-Director, Customer-Focused Innovation

Research Statement

Professor Rao studies collective action within organizations and in markets. His research and by implication, his teaching, revolves around scaling up mobilization, innovation, and talent in organizations.

Teaching Statement

Professor Rao teaches courses on Scaling up Excellence, HR for Startups, and Launch to Liquidity - a course he coteaches with Professors Levav and Rauh.


His recent book The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Harder (St. Martin’s Press) has been well received in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and Fast Company. It has been featured in many podcasts. His prior book, co-authored with Bob Sutton of the School of Engineering at Stanford, is Scaling Up Excellence. The book is a Wall Street Journal best seller, and was included in the best business books to read in 2014 by Financial Times, Inc Magazine, Amazon, Forbes, Washington Post, and the Library Journal.

His research has been published in journals such as the Administrative Science Quarterly, American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science and Strategic Management Journal. He is also the author of Market Rebels: How Activists Make or Break Radical Innovation, Princeton University Press. 2009. He served as the Editor of Administrative Science Quarterly, and has been a member of the editorial boards of American Journal of Sociology and Organization Science and Academy of Management Review. He has been a Member of the Organizational Innovation and Change Panel of the National Science Foundation. He is a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science, a Fellow of the Sociological Research Association, and also a Fellow of the Academy of Management.

His teaching specialties include leading organizational change, building customer focused cultures, and organization design. He teaches courses on these topics to MBA and executive audiences. He has consulted with, and conducted executive workshops for, organizations such as Aon Corporation, British Petroleum, CEMEX, General Electric, Hearst Corporation, IBM, Mass Mutual, James Hardie Company, Seyfarth and Shaw. Additionally, he also worked with nonprofit organizations such as the American Cancer Society and governmental organizations such as the FBI and CIA, and the intelligence community.

Among the awards he has received are the Sidney Levy Teaching Award from the Kellogg School of Management, and the W. Richard Scott Distinguished Award for Scholarship from the American Sociological Association.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Case Western Reserve University, 1989
  • Post-Graduate Diploma in Personnel Management and Industrial Relations, XLRI, India, 1980
  • BA, Andhra University, India, 1978

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 2005
  • Richard L. Thomas Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2002–2005
  • Charles Howard Candler Professor of Management, Emory University Goizueta Business School, April–June 2002
  • Professor of Organization & Management, Emory University Goizueta Business School, 2000–2002
  • Associate Professor of Organization & Management, Emory University Goizueta Business School , 1995–2000;
  • Assistant Professor of Organization & Management, Emory University Goizueta Business School, 1989–1994

Awards and Honors

  • BP Faculty Fellow in Global Management for 2019–2020
  • BP Faculty Fellow in Global Management, 2018–2019
  • BP Faculty Fellow in Global Management, 2017–2018
  • Fellow, Academy of Management, 2008
  • Fellow of Sociological Research Association, American Sociological Association, 2007
  • W. Richard Scott Distinguished Award for Scholarly Contributions, American Sociological Association, 2005
  • Sidney Levy Award For Teaching, Kellogg School of Management, 2004
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science, 2004


Journal Articles

Erica Bailey, Dan Wang, Sarah A. Soule, Hayagreeva Rao
American Journal of Sociology
January 2023
Henrich R. Greve, Hayagreeva Rao, Paul Vicinanza, Echo Yan Zhou
American Sociological Review, forthcoming
October 26, 2022 Vol. 87
Hayagreeva Rao, Phanish Puranam, Jasjit Singh
Innovation: Organization & Management
2022 Vol. 24 Issue 2 Pages 315–332
Chelsea Galoni, Gregory S. Carpenter, Hayagreeva Rao
Journal of Consumer Research
October 2020 Vol. 47 Issue 3 Pages 373–392
Peter W. Glynn, Henrich R. Greve, Hayagreeva Rao
Industrial and Corporate Change
December 2019 Vol. 29 Issue 1 Pages 125–142
Dan J. Wang, Hayagreeva Rao, Sarah A. Soule
American Sociological Review
June 1, 2019 Vol. 84 Issue 3 Pages 420-458
Hayagreeva Rao, Henrich R. Greve
Academy of Management Journal
February 28, 2018 Vol. 61 Issue 1 Pages 5-25
Hayagreeva Rao, Sunasir Dutta
Strategy Science
December 12, 2017 Vol. 3 Issue 1 Pages 313-322
David P. Baron, Margaret Ann Neale, Hayagreeva Rao
Strategy Science
June 2, 2016 Vol. 1 Issue 2 Pages 105-126
Sunasir Dutta, Hayagreeva Rao
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
July 2015 Vol. 129 Pages 36-47
Lori Yue, Hayagreeva Rao, Paul Ingram
Administrative Science Quarterly
October 21, 2013 Vol. 58 Issue 4 Pages 669-701
Hayagreeva Rao, Sunasir Dutta
Administrative Science Quarterly
November 19, 2012 Vol. 57 Issue 4 Pages 625-668
Henrich R. Greve, Hayagreeva Rao
American Journal of Sociology
2012 Vol. 118 Issue 3 Pages 635-675
Christophe Boone , Carolyn H. Declerck , Hayagreeva Rao, Kristin Van den Buys
2012 Vol. 40 Issue 1 Pages 44-66
Giacomo Negro, Michael T. Hannan, Hayagreeva Rao
Organizational Science
2011 Vol. 22 Issue 6 Pages 1449-1463
Hayagreeva Rao, Lori Qingyuan Yue, Paul Ingram
American Sociological Review
2011 Vol. 76 Issue 3 Pages 365-385
Elizabeth Pontikes, Giacomo Negro, Hayagreeva Rao
American Sociological Review
June 2010 Vol. 75 Issue 3 Pages 456-478
Giacomo Negro, Michael T. Hannan, Hayagreeva Rao
Industrial and Corporate Change
2010 Vol. 19 Pages 1397-1425
Henrich Greve, Jo-Ellen Pozner, Hayagreeva Rao
American Journal of Sociology
2010 Vol. 116 Issue 2 Pages 656-662
Klaus Weber, Hayagreeva Rao, L. G. Thomas
American Sociological Review
2009 Vol. 74 Issue 1 Pages 106-127
Timothy J. Rowley, Henrich R. Greve, Hayagreeva Rao, Joel A. C. Baum, Andrew V. Shipilov
Academy of Management Journal
June 1, 2005 Vol. 48 Issue 3 Pages 499-520
Hayagreeva Rao, Philippe Monin, Rodolphe Durand
American Sociological Review
2005 Vol. 70 Issue 6 Pages 968-991
Paul Ingram, Hayagreeva Rao
American Journal of Sociology
2004 Vol. 110 Issue 2 Pages 446–487
Hayagreeva Rao, Philippe Monin, Rodolphe Durand
American Journal of Sociology
January 2003 Vol. 108 Issue 4 Pages 795-843
Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Drazin
Academy of Management Journal
2002 Vol. 45 Issue 3 Pages 491-507


Robert I. Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
St. Martin's Press
January 30, 2024
Robert I. Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
Crown Business
Hayagreeva Rao
Princeton University Press

Working Papers

A. Freund, L.L. Greer, Hayagreeva Rao, Margaret Ann Neale 2021

Academic Publications

Robert I. Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
Harvard Business Review
January 2024
Hayagreeva Rao
McKinsey Quarterly
July 12, 2021
Hayagreeva Rao, Robert I. Sutton
McKinsey Quarterly
July 2020


Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Advance your skills, career, and network with the Asian Leadership Program, the first program of its kind from a leading business school.
Learn about cutting-edge social science frameworks and design thinking techniques in a unique partnership between Stanford GSB and d.school.
Learn leading-edge strategies, frameworks, and best practices for making complex board decisions — with customized cohorts for public and private company board members
Develop best practices and insights to generate and lead innovation in your organization; then put theory into practice with real-world projects.
Guide your organization through growth with innovative CFO training that blends financial expertise, strategic thinking, and leadership skills.
Discover business growth strategies and build a stronger company designed to sustain progress, scale management, and facilitate market expansion.
Gain general management training — combining conceptual knowledge with individual experiences — and increase your impact in the nonprofit sector.
Develop your leadership style, create an action plan and inspire innovation in your team, your company, and the world.
Experience Stanford business and medicine in a health care leadership program featuring design thinking and personal leadership skill development.
Develop strategic frameworks, customer empathy, and communication and leadership skills to help you move from product management to the C-suite.
Explore the intersection of innovation, technology, and business, and learn to drive strategic change across your organization.
Leverage diverse research, proven methodologies, and design thinking for change management in this collaboration between Stanford and Harvard.
​Tackle the entire M&A process through an interdisciplinary curriculum and a hands-on, weeklong team simulation project.
Gain a competitive advantage using Silicon Valley models and mindsets to recruit, retain, and inspire people for performance and growth.
Reinvigorate and ramp up your professional journey and evolve as a leader in our flagship executive program.
Transform knowledge into impact and drive innovation and change in your organization with Stanford LEAD, our flagship online business program.
Make the business case for sustainability with strategic and financial frameworks, personal leadership skills, and a deeper knowledge of today’s sustainability landscape.

Stanford Case Studies

Hayagreeva Rao, Julie Makinen
Sarah Soule, Huggy Rao, Robert Sutton, Davina Drabkin
Rebecca Hinds, Robert Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
Robert Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao, Rebecca Hinds
Hayagreeva Rao, Carter Bowen, Gib Lopez
Hayagreeva Rao, Yin Li
Hayagreeva Rao, Yin Li
Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton, David Hoyt
Hayagreeva Rao, Thomas J Friel
Glenn Carroll, Victoria Chang, Hayagreeva Rao
Glenn Carrol, Victoria Chang, David Hoyt, Hayagreeva Rao
David Hoyt, Charles O'Reilly III, Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton
David Hoyt, Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton
Hayagreeva Rao, Pamela Yatsko
Gili Elkin, Hayagreeva Rao
David Hoyt, Hayagreeva Rao
David Hoyt, Hayagreeva Rao

Stanford GSB Affiliations

Stanford University Affiliations

Service to the Profession

  • Editor, Administrative Science Quarterly, 2008-2011
  • Member, Macro-Organizational Behavior Society, 1997-present
  • Consulting Editor, American Journal of Sociology, 2001-2003
  • Member, Organization and Innovation Panel, National Science Foundation, 2000-2002
  • Senior Editor, Organization Science, 2000-2002

In the Media

Insights by Stanford Business

February 28, 2024
Professor Hayagreeva “Huggy” Rao explains why resistance isn’t always a bad thing.
February 01, 2024
Tips for eliminating those annoying obstacles that get in the way of your best work.
December 13, 2023
Stanford professor and acclaimed author Bob Sutton shares insights on how to eliminate unwanted friction in your organization — starting at the top.
December 01, 2022
New research explores what motivated people to share increasingly bizarre theories about the pandemic.
August 26, 2022
An experiment with middle school students boosts their creativity and confidence.
March 19, 2021
An interview with Zoom’s CEO. A crisis-leadership playbook. A podcast on virtual presentations. And a word on how to close shop gracefully.
November 19, 2020
We’ve gathered together the most memorable articles, interviews, podcasts, and videos from a year of world-changing events.
November 10, 2020
Political polarization may creep into the workplace. Here are some ways managers can become peacekeepers.
July 23, 2020
Offering compassion, predictability, and control can help, say two Stanford experts.
April 23, 2020
Infectious diseases such as COVID-19 trigger both disgust and fear. Combined, those can trigger a misguided search for a scapegoat.
November 12, 2018
Want to scale your company? Then take good care of your best employees.
September 14, 2018
Stanford GSB faculty suggest books and articles related to the theme.
April 05, 2018
A Stanford study explores how communities recover — or fail to recover — from disasters.
July 28, 2015
Fear of contagion makes people irrational.
January 21, 2015
Professor Huggy Rao provides a practical framework for changing your company from the inside out.
December 11, 2014
Explore 10 Stanford Business stories from 2014, including pieces on happiness and networking.
January 07, 2014
Two Stanford professors discuss their new book, Scaling Up Excellence, which reveals how the best leaders and teams create a growth mindset.
October 01, 2013
A game-changing idea can win or lose depending on how quickly the consumer “gets” it.
September 28, 2012
Hayagreeva Rao explains why innovation is about more than just new technology.
July 01, 2010
Researchers explore the role of 1950s-era social networks in the Hollywood "Red Scare."

School News

May 27, 2021
The state-of-the-art complex, designed for “structured serendipity,” prepares to open — again.
July 25, 2018
The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative is amassing a huge database and network to nourish the fast-growing sector.
January 26, 2017
Rupert Murdoch notes positive impact of Latino-owned businesses at Jan. 18 State of Latino Entrepreneurship Event