James M. Patell

James M. Patell
Professor Emeritus, Operations, Information & Technology
Contact Info

Research Statement

James Patell’s research and teaching interests center on business process and product design, operations management, manufacturing, and cost accounting. A popular and demanding teacher, Patell has authored numerous articles in the field of accounting. During his tenure as associate dean for academic affairs in the GSB, he redesigned and revitalized the Public Management Program, which focuses on government, nonprofit organizations, and public service. Patell is a founding faculty member of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (the d.School), where he teaches courses on Design for Extreme Affordability and Design for Service Innovation. Patell also is a Faculty Director of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED).


James Patell is the Herbert Hoover Professor of Public and Private Management at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University. Professor Patell earned Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University. He has taught at Stanford since 1975, and he was a Ford Foundation Visiting Associate Professor at the University of Chicago from 1981-1982.

Professor Patell served as the Business School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1985 through 1991, and was Director of Stanford’s MBA Program from 1986 through 1988. He was the founding director of the Stanford-ITESM Strategic Executive Program in Mexico, and served as Codirector of the Product Realization Network at Stanford, a cooperative research and educational program involving the Business School and the Engineering School, together with industrial partners. Before entering the Dean’s office, Professor Patell’s research centered on empirical investigations of the effects of corporate disclosures on the stock and option markets. More recently, he has conducted research and taught courses on product and service design, manufacturing, technology, and operations management, including new courses on Computer Modeling, Total Quality Management, Manufacturing Performance Measurement, and Business Process Design. In 1998 he received the MBA Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 2007 he was awarded both the Robert T. Davis Faculty Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Graduate School of Business and the Miriam Aaron Roland Award for Volunteer Service at Stanford University.

Professor Patell is one of the seven founding core faculty of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (the d-School). Within the d-School, Professor Patell co-teaches Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability with Professor David Beach. In this course, student teams collaboratively design product prototypes, distribution systems, and business plans for entrepreneurial ventures that address poverty in developing countries. In 2011, Professor Patell and his colleague Professor Stefanos Zenios launched a new project-based course on the Design of Medical Services.

Professor Patell also is a founding Faculty Director of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED), which launched its first Innovation Center in West Africa in 2013.

Professor Patell is a Director of D-Rev, a non-profit technology incubator whose mission is to improve the health and incomes of people living on less than $4 per day. He has served as a Director of Reliant Building Products, Inc., of Grove Worldwide, and of the Center for the Quality of Management-West, and as an advisor to the Corporate Design Foundation and to Vykor, Inc. He was a founding Director of Ignite Innovations and of the Management Institute for Environment and Business.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Industrial Administration, Carnegie Mellon University, 1977
  • MS in Engineering, MIT, 1974
  • BS in Engineering, MIT, 1972

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 1975
  • Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Stanford GSB, 1985-1991
  • Director, Stanford MBA Program, 1986-1988
  • Ford Foundation Visiting Associate Professor, University of Chicago, 1981-1982
  • Instructor, Carnegie Mellon University, 1974-1975
  • Instructor, MIT, 1969-1972

Professional Experience

  • Research Staff, Advanced Marine Technology Division, Litton Industries, 1968-1969

Awards and Honors

  • Katherine and David deWilde Faculty Fellow for 2014-2015
  • Katherine and David deWilde Faculty Fellow, Stanford GSB, 2013-2014
  • Stanford Business School Alumni Association Robert K. Jaedicke Silver Apple Award, 2012
  • Robert T. Davis Faculty Award for Lifetime Achievement, Stanford GSB, 2007
  • Miriam Aaron Roland Volunteer Service Prize, Stanford University, 2007
  • MBA Distinguished Teaching Award, Stanford GSB, 1998


Journal Articles

Robert Hamada, James M. Patell, Richard Staelin, William E. Wecker. Journal of Business and Economic Statistics. 1988, Vol. 6, Issue 2, Pages 261-272.
James M. Patell. Accounting and Management: Field Study Perspectives. Harvard Business Press, 1987, Pages 229-267.
James M. Patell. Accounting Review. 1987, Vol. 62, Issue 4, Pages 808-839.
Joel S. Demski, James M. Patell, Mark A. Wolfson. Accounting Review. 1984, Vol. 59, Issue 1, Pages 16-34.
M. Laurentius Marais, James M. Patell, Mark A. Wolfson. Journal of Accounting Research. 1984, Vol. 22, Pages 87-114.
James M. Patell, Mark A. Wolfson. Journal of Financial Economics. 1984, Vol. 13, Issue 2, Pages 223--252.
James M. Patell, Roman L. Weil, Mark A. Wolfson. Journal of Legal Studies. 1982, Vol. 11, Issue 2, Pages 341-364.
James M. Patell, Mark A. Wolfson. Accounting Review. 1982, Vol. 57, Issue 3, Pages 509-527.
James M. Patell, Mark A. Wolfson. Journal of Accounting Research. 1981, Vol. 19, Issue 2, Pages 434-458.
James M. Patell, Mark A. Wolfson. Journal of Accounting and Economics. 1979, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Pages 117-140.
James M. Patell. Journal of Accounting Research. 1979, Vol. 17, Issue 2, Pages 528-549.
James M. Patell. Journal of Accounting Research. 1976, Vol. 14, Issue 2, Pages 246-276.

Book Chapters

J. Michael Harrison, Charles A. Holloway, James M. Patell. Measures for Manufacturing Excellence. Harvard Business Press, March 1990, Pages 309-352.


Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

  • Seed Transformation Program
    Gain​​ ​​leadership training​ and networking ​support through this comprehensive program ​for established entrepreneurs in Africa and India.

Stanford Case Studies

Bank of America - Accounts Payable (A) | OIT5A
J. Michael Harrison, James Patell1994
Bank of America - Accounts Payable (B) | OIT5B
J. Michael Harrison, James Patell1994

Stanford University Affiliations

Service to the Profession

Board of Directors

  • MBA Enterprise Corps, 1990-92
  • Management Institute for Environment and Business, 1990-96
  • Corporate Design Foundation, 1990-present

Editorial Board

  • Journal of Accounting Research, 1979-2001
  • Journal of Management Accounting Research, 1995-2002
  • Journal of Accounting and Ecomics, 1980-87
  • Accounting Review 1979-81, 1992-97

In the Media

Extreme By Design
PBS, December 11, 2013
CNN: The Next List, May 18, 2013
The Christian Science Monitor, September 30, 2011
UTNE Reader, September 10, 2011
ABC News 20/20, December 27, 2010
National Geographic, November 2010
Fortune, April 1, 2009

Insights by Stanford Business

March 19, 2019
Chesca Colloredo-Mansfeld’s journey from online retail to academia to a healthcare nonprofit has paid off in ways that can’t be measured.
October 2, 2017
How a singular focus on one basic thing — floors — is transforming lives in Africa.
July 24, 2012
Stanford GSB students explore simple, low-cost modifications to existing processes that reduce costs while improving outcomes

School News

May 24, 2017
Next generation of social innovators honored with Miller Social Change Leadership Award, Frances and Arjay Miller Prize in Social Innovation, and Social Innovation Fellowship.
March 22, 2012
Katherine August-deWilde, MBA ’75, and David deWilde, Sloan ’84, endowed a chair to support a faculty member working on entrepreneurship in developing economies.
April 15, 2008
Susan Ford Dorsey endowed the Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellow/Scholar Award. The first holder of the award is James M. Patell.
March 1, 2007
James Patell is the 2007 recipient of the Robert T. Davis award, presented by the school’s faculty to recognize an individual for a lifetime of service and achievement.