Brad Staats examines how individuals, teams, and organizations can learn in order to improve their operational performance to build a competitive advantage.
Dr. Staats integrates work in operations management and organizational behavior in order to understand how and under what conditions individuals, teams and organizations can perform their best. His field-based research in such settings as healthcare and software services, consulting, call centers and retail, uses archival data and field experiments to provide an interdisciplinary perspective.
Prior to his academic career, he worked at a leading venture capital firm in the southeastern United States. He also worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and strategic planning at Dell Corporation.
Industry Expertise (6)
Health Care - Services
Information Technology and Services
Training and Development
Areas of Expertise (14)
Safe Workplace Culture Change
Top 40 Under 40 Business School Professors (2014) (professional)
Professor Staats was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 Business School Professors by Poets and Quants.
UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Program Teaching All-Star (2014) (professional)
Professor Staats was recognized as a teaching all-star by the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Program in 2014.
Wickham Skinner Early-Career Research Accomplishments Award (2013) (professional)
The Wickham Skinner Awards are intended to encourage POM (Production and Operation Management) scholarship and publication, to promote significant research in the field, to reward academics who have achieved unusually high accomplishment early in their careers.
Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award (2012) (professional)
The Shingo Research and Professional Publication Award recognizes and promotes research and writing regarding new knowledge and understanding of lean and operational excellence.
Harvard Business School: D.B.A., Technology and Operations Management 2009
Harvard Business School: M.B.A., Business Administration 2002
First-Year Honors; Student Association M.B.A. Award
The University of Texas at Austin: B.S., Electrical Engineering 1998
The University of Texas at Austin: B.A., Plan II & Spanish
Magna cum laude
- Management Science: Associate Editor
- Manufacturing & Service Operations Management: Associate Editor
- Production and Operations Management: Senior Editor
Media Appearances (6)
Companies Like Amazon Need to Run More Tests on Workplace Practices
Harvard Business Review online
"A recent New York Times article about the business culture at Amazon triggered spirited reactions and a lot of media attention. Some “Amazonians” backed up the article’s description of a brutal, unrelenting workplace. Others — including CEO Jeff Bezos himself in a memo to his employees — questioned its accuracy."
Health Experts Don't Always Sanitize Their Hands, Data Show
"A massive analysis of hospital data finds doctors and nurses are not following guidelines on washing their hands before and after they come into contact with patients."
Self-expression: Why you should encourage employees to be themselves
Human Capital online
"Focusing on the personal identity of new employees and helping them express themselves leads to greater employee retention and engagement than trying to ‘break them in’, The Harvard Business Review (HBR) has uncovered."
Companies Try to Make the First Day for New Hires More Fun
The Wall Street Journal online
"Why is the first day on the job often the worst?
New employees tend to be greeted with stacks of benefits paperwork, technology hassles and dull presentations about company culture.
But some companies—hoping to create a first impression that really counts—are turning to orientations that seem more collegiate than corporate, complete with co-worker networking sessions, time for new employees to tout their skills and even officewide scavenger hunts."
Professor Staats' work and research is quoted in the article.
Why Organizations Don't Learn
Harvard Business Review print
Brad Staats explores why firms struggle to be "learning organizations."
Why Organizations Don't Learn
Harvard Business Review print
Brad Staats writes about why firms struggle to be "learning organizations."
Event Appearances (4)
Process Compliance and Electronic Monitoring: Empirical Evidence from Hand Hygiene in Healthcare (2015)
Presentation University of California, Haas School of Business, Berkeley, CA
Learning by Thinking: Overcoming the Bias for Action through Reflection (2014)
Presentation Cornell University, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Ithaca, NY
“My Bad”: The Impact of Internal Attribution and Ambiguity of Responsibility on Learning from Failure (2014)
Academy of Management Annual Meeting Philadelphia, PA
The Impact of Time at Work and Time off from Work on Rule Compliance (2013)
INFORMS Annual Meeting Minneapolis, MN
In order to deliver high quality, reliable, and consistent services safely, organizations develop professional standards. Despite the communication and reinforcement of these standards, they are often not followed consistently. Although previous research suggests that high job demands are associated with declines in compliance over lengthy intervals, we hypothesized – drawing on theoretical arguments focused on fatigue and depletion – that the impact of job demands on routine compliance with professional standards might accumulate much more quickly. To test this hypothesis, we studied a problem that represents one of the most significant compliance challenges in healthcare today: hand hygiene. Using longitudinal field observations of over 4,157 caregivers working in 35 different hospitals and experiencing more than 13.7 million hand hygiene opportunities, we found that hand hygiene compliance rates dropped by a regression-estimated 8.5 percentage points on average from the beginning to the end of a typical, 12-hour work shift. This decline in compliance was magnified by increased work intensity. Further, longer breaks between work shifts increased subsequent compliance rates, and such benefits were greater for individuals when they had ended their preceding shift with a lower compliance rate. In addition, (a) the decline in compliance over the course of a work shift and (b) the improvement in compliance following a longer break increased as the caregiver accumulated more total work hours the preceding week. The implications of these findings for patient safety and job design are discussed.
People believe that weather conditions influence their everyday work life, but to date, little is known about how weather affects individual productivity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we predict and find that bad weather increases individual productivity and that it does so by eliminating potential cognitive distractions resulting from good weather. When the weather is bad, individuals appear to focus more on their work than on alternate outdoor activities. We investigate the proposed relationship between worse weather and higher productivity through 4 studies: (a) field data on employees’ productivity from a bank in Japan, (b) 2 studies from an online labor market in the United States, and (c) a laboratory experiment. Our findings suggest that worker productivity is higher on bad-, rather than good-, weather days and that cognitive distractions associated with good weather may explain the relationship. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our research.
The authors investigate how individuals learn from their past experiences with both failure and success and from the experiences of others. They use 10 years of data from 71 cardiothoracic surgeons who completed more than 6,500 procedures using a new technology for cardiac surgery. They find individuals learn more from their own successes than from their own failures, but they learn more from the failures of others than from others' successes. They also find that individuals' prior successes and others' failures can help individuals overcome their inability to learn from their own failures. Together, these findings offer both theoretical and practical insights into how individuals learn directly from their prior experience and indirectly from the experiences of others.
One way to ensure greater compliance with organizational standards is by electronically monitoring employees’ activities. In the setting of hand hygiene in healthcare – a context where compliance is on average lower than 50 percent and where this lack of compliance can result in significant negative consequences – the authors investigated the effectiveness of electronic monitoring.
The authors examine how increasing the flexible labor resources available at the store level might affect retail store sales.
The authors draw on authenticity research to theorize that the initial stage of socialization leads to more effective employment relationships when it instead primarily encourages newcomers to express their personal identities.