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Dave Hofmann - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Dave Hofmann Dave Hofmann

Hugh L. McColl Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School | UNC-Chapel Hill


Dr. Hofmann's work on error management and organizational behavior has influenced CEOs and policymakers' approach to leadership and safety.



An award-winning researcher and teacher in organizational behavior and leadership, Dr. Hofmann is also senior associate dean for academic programs.

His research played a key role in the organizational changes instituted at NASA after the Columbia accident through an organizational and safety culture assessment instrument he developed in partnership with Behavioral Science Technologies, Inc. He received a Fulbright grant to study errors and safety issues in organizations with a colleague in Germany and a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant to investigate error management and organizational learning on nursing units.

The real-world relevance of his research was recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) Decade of Behavior Research award. The APA honored the practical application of his research investigating leadership issues in high-risk industries, and he presented his findings at a Congressional briefing. Dr. Hofmann also received the Yoder-Heneman Research award from the Society of Human Resource Management.

Dr. Hofmann has consulted, conducted applied research and led executive workshops with a variety of organizations, including A.E. Staley Manufacturing Corporation, Aker Gulf Marine, Behavioral Science Technologies, Bell Atlantic, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Carrier Corporation/United Technologies, Citibank, Dentsply, Eli Lilly Corporation, ExxonMobil, Maplehurst Bakeries, National Multi Housing Association, Sony-Ericsson, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Postal Service.

Industry Expertise (3)




Areas of Expertise (5)


Leadership Development

Organizational Change

Organizational Behavior

Decision Making

Accomplishments (7)

American Psychological Association (APA) Decade of Behavior Research Award (professional)

Awarded for the practical application of his research investigating leadership issues in high-risk industries.

Area Chair of Organizational Behavior, UNC Kenan-Flagler (professional)

Leads the organizational behavior area at UNC Kenan-Flagler

Leadership Initiative academic director, UNC Kenan-Flagler (professional)

Served as the faculty director of the leadership program since 2006

Associate Dean of the MBA Program, UNC Kenan-Flagler (professional)

Served as associate dean of the full-time MBA Program from 2007-2010

National Academy of Engineering/National Research Council Investigation of the BP Deepwater Horizon Accident (professional)

Served 2010-11

National Academies of Science/National Research Council Committee on offshore safety culture (professional)

Serving on the committee from 2014 to present

Fulbright Senior Scholar Award (professional)

Researched “Investigating Errors in Organizations” in Germany with Professor Michael Frese, University of Giessen

Education (3)

Pennsylvania State University: Ph.D., Industrial and Organizational Pyschology 1992

University of Central Florida: M.S., Industrial and Organizational Pyschology 1988

Furman University: B.A., Business Administration 1986

Affiliations (4)

  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Academy of Management
  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Association for Psychological Science

Media Appearances (4)

Health Experts Don't Always Sanitize Their Hands, Data Show

NPR  radio


Dave Hofmann's research shows that the longer an employee works, the less likely they are to wash their hands.

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Introverts' secrets of success

CNN  online


Dave Hofmann found that "although extroverts show many of the strengths people associate with leadership -- like decisiveness -- the less obvious leadership qualities that introverts display can be more important in day-to-day teamwork."

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Managers cannot wash their hands of employees’ routine tasks

Financial Times  online


Dave Hofmann and his fellow researchers have shown that compliance with routine tasks can fall away within one heavy shift.

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Can performance be quantified? Wearable tech in the office

Fast Company  online


Dave Hofmann warns that wearable tech to track employees may negatively effect the "foundation of trust" in company culture.

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Articles (4)

Safety not guaranteed

UNC Kenan-Flagler


Hofmann's research shows that long shifts without breaks are bad news for workplace safety.

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Motivating process compliance through individual electronic monitoring: An empirical examination of hand hygiene in healthcare

Management Science

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.

Get Your Employees to Make Better Suggestions

Harvard Business Review


Dave Hofmann and John J. Sumanth share how to get your employees to speak up with thoughtful, well-informed ideas.

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The impact of time at work and time off from work on rule compliance: The case of hand hygiene in healthcare

Journal of Applied Psychology

Willpower and the ability to regulate behavior — including conscientiously following safety rules and procedures — decline as people tire. When people rest, their self-regulatory muscles will recover, enabling them to follow procedures more faithfully when they return to work after a break.