Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D.

Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D.

Organizational psychologist, professor emeritus at Stanford, co-founder and former co-director of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization, co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and co-founder of the Stanford ""

Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D. is an organizational psychologist and best-selling author of eight books. He studies leadership, innovation, organizational change, and workplace dynamics. Sutton has published over 200 articles, chapters, and case studies in scholarly and applied outlets.  His main focus over the past decade is on scaling and leading at scale—how to grow organizations, spread good things (and remove bad things) in teams and organizations, and enhance performance, innovation, and well-being given the distinct challenges in big organizations.

Sutton received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from The University of Michigan and has served on the Stanford faculty since 1983. He served as Professor of Management Science & Engineering through 2023, and is now Professor Emeritus at Stanford. Sutton is co-founder and former co-director of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization, co-founder of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, and co-founder of the “Stanford,” a multi-disciplinary program that helps people reach their creative potential. Sutton was a resident Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during the 1986-87, 1994-95, and 2002-03 academic years. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly publications, and as an editor for the Administrative Science Quarterly and Research in Organizational Behavior.

Sutton has served as an advisor to McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company, Microsoft, and a Fellow at IDEO, a board member of the Institute for the Future, a Senior Scientist at Gallup, and on faculty at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He is currently an advisor to Teamraderie (which uses live virtual experiences to improve trust and performance in work teams) and Asana’s Work Innovation Lab. Sutton is the academic co-director of Stanford executive education programs including Customer-focused Innovation and Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He has given keynote speeches to more than 200 groups in more than 20 countries.

Sutton’s latest book (with Huggy Rao) is The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Harder. This book unpacks insights from their seven-year learning adventure where Sutton and Rao used academic research, case studies, classes and workshops, and ongoing dialog with scholars, executives, and innovators to learn how smart organizations make the right things easier and the wrong things harder and do it without driving employees and customers crazy.

Other books include (with Jeffrey Pfeffer) The Knowing-Doing Gap, selected by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten as one of the best 100 business books of all time, and Weird Ideas That Work, selected by the Harvard Business Review as one of the best ten business books of the year. Sutton and Pfeffer then published Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense, selected by Toronto’s Globe and Mail as the top management book of 2006 and by Strategy+Business (in 2011) as one of the best 10 books in the last decade.

The No Asshole Rule is a New York TimesWall Street Journal, and Businessweek bestseller—and been translated into more than 30 languages and sold over 900,000 copies. Good Boss, Bad Boss is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. In 2014, Sutton and Huggy Rao published Scaling-Up Excellence, a Wall Street Journal bestseller that was selected as one of the best business books of the year by Amazon, Financial Times, Inc., The Globe and Mail, and Library Journal. The Asshole Survival Guide was selected as book of the month by the Financial Times, and featured in outlets including The Washington PostThe Globe and MailThe Guardian, New York Magazine, and Vox.

Sutton’s research and opinions are often published as articles and quoted in the press, including The New York Times, The Times (of London), The Atlantic, Financial Times, Esquire, Fortune, Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Wired, Vanity Fair, and Washington Post. Sutton has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows, including ABC, Bloomberg, BBC, CNBC, Fox, NBC’s Today Show, PBS, NPR, Marketplace, and CNN.  Sutton had been interviewed on podcasts including WorkLife and Re:Thinking with Adam Grant, How To! with Charles Duhigg, Goop with Elise Loehnen, That’s What She Said with ESPN’s Sarah Spain, The Art of the Charm, Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam, and Harvard Business Review.