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Robert I. Sutton
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Robert I. Sutton


Stanford University

Fellowship year

2003 - Stanford University - Study 8
1995 - Stanford University - Study 31
1987 - Stanford University - Study 12

Faculty Fellow year

2024 - Stanford University

Robert I. Sutton is an organizational psychologist and professor of management science and engineering, emeritus, at Stanford University.  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 in organizations as they become larger, more complex, and older.   

Sutton received his PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan and has served on the Stanford faculty since 1983. 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 “,” a multi-disciplinary program that helps people, teams, and organizations reach their creative potential.  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 published eight books and two edited volumes.  These include The Knowing-Doing Gap (with Jeffrey Pfeffer) (Harvard Business School Press, 2000), Weird Ideas That Work, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths and Total Nonsense (with Jeffrey Pfeffer) (Harvard Business Review Press, 2006), The No Asshole Rule (A New York Times bestseller) (Business Plus, 2007), Good Boss, Bad Boss (A New York Times bestseller) (Balance, 2012), Scaling-Up Excellence (with Huggy Rao, a Wall Street Journal bestseller) (Crown Publishing, 2014) and The Asshole Survival Guide (Harper Business, 2018).  Sutton and Huggy Rao’s latest book is The Friction Project: How Smart Leaders Make the Right Things Easier and the Wrong Things Harder (St. Martin’s Press, 2024).  It unpacks insights from their a seven-year project that used academic research, case studies, classes and workshops, and ongoing dialog with scholars, executives, and innovators to learn how smart organizations remove bad friction and inject good friction and do it without driving employees and customers crazy.  

Sutton was a fellow in 1986-87, 1994-95, and 2002-03.  His personal website is