Robert I. Sutton

Professor (by courtesy), Organizational Behavior

Robert I. Sutton

Professor of Organizational Behavior (by courtesy)

Professor of Management Science and Engineering, School of Engineering
Academic Area:

Additional Administrative Titles

Co-Director, Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate
Co-Director, Customer-Focused Innovation

Research Statement

Robert Sutton focuses on evidence-based management, the links (and gaps) between managerial knowledge and organizational action, innovation, and organizational performance. His research style emphasizes the development of theory and recommendations for practice on the basis of direct observation of organizational life and interviews with executives, managers, engineers, and other organization members.


Robert Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering and a Professor of Organizational Behavior (by courtesy) at Stanford. Sutton has been teaching classes on the psychology of business and management at Stanford since 1983. He is co-founder of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization, which he co-directed from 1996 to 2006. He is also co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (which everyone calls “the d school”).

Sutton studies innovation, leadership, the links between managerial knowledge and organization action, scaling excellence, and workplace dynamics. He has published over 100 articles and chapters on these topics in peer-reviewed journals and the popular press. Sutton’s books include Weird Ideas That Work: 11 ½ Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation, The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Firms Turn Knowledge into Action (with Jeffrey Pfeffer), and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management (with Jeffrey Pfeffer). The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t  and Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…. and Survive the Worst are both New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. His latest book, Scaling-Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less (with Huggy Rao), was published in 2014. It is a Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly bestseller and was selected as one of the best business books of the year by Amazon, the Financial Times, Inc.,The Globe and Mail, and Library Journal.

Professor Sutton’s honors include the award for the best paper published in the Academy of Management Journal in 1989, the Eugene L. Grant Award for Excellence in Teaching, selection by Business 2.0 as a leading “management guru” in 2002, and the award for the best article published in the Academy of Management Review in 2005. Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense was selected as the best business book of 2006 by the Toronto Globe and Mail. In 2008, Sutton was named as one of 10 “B-School All-Stars” by BusinessWeek, which they described as “professors who are influencing contemporary business thinking far beyond academia. ”The American Management Association selected Sutton as one of the top 30 leaders who most influenced business in 2014 (ranked 10th on their list).”  The London Business School selected Sutton for the 2014 Sumantra Ghoshal Award “for rigour and relevance in the study of management.” Sutton is a Fellow at IDEO and academic director of three Stanford executive education programs: Leading for Strategic Execution,Customer-Focused Innovation, and the new online Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate.  


Academic Degrees

  • PhD, University of Michigan, 1984
  • MA, University of Michigan, 1981
  • BA, University of California at Berkeley, 1977

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford since 1983
  • Professor of Organizational Behavior, Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley, July 1997-June 1998
  • Professor, Stanford University, 1992-present
  • Associate Professor, Stanford University, 1989–1992
  • Assistant Professor, Stanford University, 1983–1989
  • Research Director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program, currently
  • Codirector, Center for Work, Technology, and Organizations, 1996–present
  • Associate Director of the Stanford Center for Organizations Research, 1988-1991


Journal Articles

Robert I. Sutton
McKinsey Quarterly
December 2017 Issue 4 Pages 102-111
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton
Harvard Business Review
January 2006
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton
Harvard Business Review
May 1999 Pages 135-142
James G. March, Robert I. Sutton
Organization Science
1997 Vol. 8 Issue 6 Pages 697-706
L. E. Ginzel, Roderick M. Kramer, Robert I. Sutton
Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol. 15
1993 Pages 227-266
Robert I. Sutton, Roderick M. Kramer
Organizations and Nation-States: New Perspectives on Conflict and Cooperation
1990 Pages 221-245


Robert I. Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
St. Martin's Press
January 30, 2024
Robert I. Sutton
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Robert I. Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
Crown Business
Robert I. Sutton
Business Plus
New York, N.Y.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton
Harvard Business School Press
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Robert I. Sutton
Harvard Business School Press
December 3, 1999

Book Chapters

Robert I. Sutton, D. Charles Galunic
Research in Organizational Behavior
January 1996 Vol. 18 Pages 201-250
Robert I. Sutton
Social Psychology in Organizations: Advances in Theory and Research
1992 Pages 350-384
Robert I. Sutton
Research in Organizational Behavior
1990 Vol. 12 Pages 205-253
Anat Rafaeli, Robert I. Sutton
Research in Organizational Behavior
1989 Vol. 11 Pages 1-43
Robert I. Sutton
Handbook of Organizational Behavior
1987 Pages 272-285

Academic Publications

Robert I. Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
Harvard Business Review
January 2024
Lindy Greer, Francesca Gino, Robert I. Sutton
Harvard Business Review
March 2023 Vol. 101 Issue 2 Pages 76–85
Hayagreeva Rao, Robert I. Sutton
McKinsey Quarterly
July 2020


Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Learn about cutting-edge social science frameworks and design thinking techniques in a unique partnership between Stanford GSB and
Discover new ways of thinking and acting so that you can solve your biggest business challenges.

Stanford Case Studies

Sarah Soule, Huggy Rao, Robert Sutton, Davina Drabkin
Rebecca Hinds, Robert Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao
Robert Sutton, Hayagreeva Rao, Rebecca Hinds
Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton, David Hoyt
David Hoyt, Charles O'Reilly III, Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton
David Hoyt, Hayagreeva Rao, Robert Sutton

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.
April 19, 2021
We’ve compiled top insights and advice from previous episodes to help you cultivate a compelling professional presence through the screen.
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.
July 23, 2020
Offering compassion, predictability, and control can help, say two Stanford experts.
July 06, 2020
In this podcast episode, two experts discuss where leaders should and shouldn’t focus their attention when it comes to running group communication.
April 19, 2018
Stanford GSB professors recommend their favorite books and articles related to the concept.
March 08, 2018
Why a Stanford-trained entrepreneur sees gold in all that red tape.
September 12, 2017
A professor shows how to recognize (and deal with) toxic people.
December 11, 2014
Explore 10 Stanford Business stories from 2014, including pieces on happiness and networking.
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 15, 2001
In his new book, a scholar offers "weird" ideas for managers to boost creativity and performance, each backed by research and real-world success.
November 01, 1999
Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton explore how companies can turn talk into action, and why promoting internal competition may not help.

School News

July 25, 2018
The Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative is amassing a huge database and network to nourish the fast-growing sector.