Adam Grant

Adam Grant
  • The Saul P. Steinberg Professor of Management
  • Professor of Psychology

Contact Information

Research Interests: generosity and helping, job design and meaningful work, leadership and culture, originality and non-conformity, work motivation and success

Links: CV, Personal Website, TED talk: Are you a giver or a taker?, TED talk: The surprising habits of original thinkers


Adam Grant has been recognized as Wharton’s top-rated professor for seven straight years, and as one of the world’s 10 most influential management thinkers and Fortune‘s 40 under 40. As an organizational psychologist, he studies how we can find motivation and meaning, and lead more generous and creative lives.


Adam is the author of three New York Times bestselling books that have sold over a million copies and been translated into 35 languages. Give and Take, on why helping others drives our success, was named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal— as well as one Oprah‘s riveting reads and Harvard Business Review‘s ideas that shaped management. Originals, on how individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight groupthink, was a #1 national bestseller praised by J.J. Abrams, Richard Branson, and Malcolm Gladwell. Option B, coauthored with Sheryl Sandberg, is a #1 bestseller on facing adversity and building resilience recommended by Bill and Melinda Gates and Malala Yousafzai.

Teaching, Speaking, Consulting, and Leadership

Adam is the host of WorkLife, a TED original podcast. His TED talks on original thinkers and givers and takers have been viewed more than 12 million times. He received a standing ovation at TED in 2016 and was voted the audience’s favorite speaker at The Nantucket Project. His speaking and consulting clients include Google, the NBA, and the Gates Foundation, and the World Economic Forum, where he has been honored as a Young Global Leader. At Wharton, he has received the Excellence in Teaching Award for all of his classes and earned the Goes Above and Beyond the Call of Duty MBA Teaching Award. He is the founder and host of the Authors@Wharton speaker series, and co-director of Wharton People Analytics. He has designed experiential learning activities in which students have raised over $325,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation while developing leadership, influence, networking and collaboration skills. He is a passionate feminist who serves on the Lean In board and the Defense Innovation Board at the Pentagon, and an angel investor in startups in HR and culture, technology, and consumer products..


Adam has been profiled twice on the Today Show and in the New York Times magazine cover story, Is giving the secret to getting ahead? His studies have been highlighted in books such as Quiet by Susan Cain, David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell, and Drive by Daniel Pink. He is a contributing op-ed writer on work and psychology for the New York Times, where his articles on Raising a moral child and How to raise a creative child have each been shared over 300,000 times online. He writes on work and psychology for the New York Times, has more than 3 million followers on social media, and features new insights in his free monthly newsletter, GRANTED.


Adam received his Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Michigan in organizational psychology, finishing it in less than three years, and his B.A. from Harvard University, magna cum laude with highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa honors, and the John Harvard Scholarship for highest academic achievement.


Adam’s research focuses on generosity, motivation and meaningful work, championing new ideas, personality traits like introversion-extraversion, and leadership, collaboration, culture, and organizational change. He has earned numerous prestigious awards for distinguished scholarly achievement, including the Cummings Scholarly Achievement Award for early-to-mid-career contributions from the Academy of Management, the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished Early Career Contributions Award and the Owens Scholarly Achievement Award for the best publication in the field from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and a fellowship from the National Science Foundation. He has published more than 60 articles in a wide range of leading management and psychology journals, and his pioneering research has introduced evidence-based techniques that increase performance and reduce burnout among engineers and sales professionals, enhance call center productivity, and motivate helping and safety behaviors among doctors, nurses, and lifeguards.


At Wharton, Adam was granted tenure while still in his twenties. Before graduate school, he worked at Let’s Go Publications, where he set multiple company records for advertising sales and earned the Manager of the Year award. He is a former magician and junior Olympic springboard diver. For more details, see

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  • Jihae Shin and Adam Grant (2020), When putting work off pays off: The curvilinear relationship between procrastination and creativity, Academy of Management Journal.

    Abstract: Although it is widely assumed that procrastination is counterproductive, delaying task progress may have hidden benefits for creativity. Drawing on theories of incubation, we propose that moderate procrastination can foster creativity when employees have the intrinsic motivation and opportunity to generate new ideas. In two experiments in the U.S., we tempted participants to engage in varying degrees of procrastination by making different numbers of funny YouTube videos easily accessible while they were supposed to be solving business problems. Participants generated more creative ideas in the moderate rather than low or high procrastination conditions. This curvilinear effect was partially mediated by problem restructuring and the activation of new knowledge. We constructively replicated and extended the curvilinear effect in a field study with Korean employees: procrastination predicted lower task efficiency, but had an inverted-U-shaped relationship with creativity. Employees who procrastinated moderately received higher creativity ratings from their supervisors than employees who procrastinated more or less, provided that intrinsic motivation or creative requirement was high. We discuss theoretical and practical implications for time management, creativity, and motivation in organizations.

  • Jihae Shin and Adam Grant (2019), Bored by interest: Intrinsic motivation in one task can reduce performance in other tasks, Academy of Management Journal, 62, pp. 1-22.

    Abstract: While existing research has demonstrated that intrinsic motivation can increase task performance, jobs are composed of multiple tasks, and it remains to be seen how intrinsic motivation in one task affects performance on other tasks. Drawing on theories of psychological contrast, we hypothesize that high intrinsic motivation in one task reduces performance on less intrinsically motivating tasks. In a field study at a Korean department store, employees with the highest maximum intrinsic motivation in one task had lower average and minimum performance across their other tasks and more performance variance across their tasks. In a laboratory experiment in the U.S., working on a highly intrinsically motivating initial task led participants to perform worse in a subsequent task if it was uninteresting but not if it was interesting. This effect was mediated by boredom but not by a range of other psychological processes. Across both studies, moderate intrinsic motivation in one task was associated with better performance in less interesting tasks than high intrinsic motivation, revealing a curvilinear cross-task effect of intrinsic motivation. Our research advances knowledge about the dark side of intrinsic motivation, the design of work, and the drivers of task performance.

  • Edward Chang, Katherine L. Milkman, Dena Gromet, Reb Rebele, Cade Massey, Angela Duckworth, Adam Grant (2019), The mixed effects of online diversity training, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Abstract: We present results from a large (n = 3,016) field experiment at a global organization testing whether a brief science-based online diversity training can change attitudes and behaviors toward women in the workplace. Our preregistered field experiment included an active placebo control and measured participants’ attitudes and real workplace decisions up to 20 weeks postintervention. Among groups whose average untreated attitudes—whereas still supportive of women—were relatively less supportive of women than other groups, our diversity training successfully produced attitude change but not behavior change. On the other hand, our diversity training successfully generated some behavior change among groups whose average untreated attitudes were already strongly supportive of women before training. This paper extends our knowledge about the pathways to attitude and behavior change in the context of bias reduction. However, the results suggest that the one-off diversity trainings that are commonplace in organizations are unlikely to be stand-alone solutions for promoting equality in the workplace, particularly given their limited efficacy among those groups whose behaviors policymakers are most eager to influence.

  • Adam Grant, What straight-A students get wrong in The New York Times.

  • Adam Grant, Those who can do, can’t teach in The New York Times.

  • Adam Grant, Can your job make you a more controlling parent? in Salon.

  • Allison Sweet Grant and Adam Grant, The little psychological tricks that will make your marriage happier in Redbook.

  • Adam Grant, Coax generosity out of your grumpiest coworker in Fast Company.

  • Karren Knowlton, Alison Fragale, Adam Grant (Work In Progress), Feeling for your foes: Empathy is more important for motivating out-group than in-group helping.

  • Adam Grant, People don\’t actually know themselves very well in The Atlantic.


Adam Grant teaches MBA and undergraduate courses in leadership and teamwork, negotiation, and organizational behavior.

Past Courses


    For doctoral students studying a specific advanced subject area in computer and information science. The Independen t Study may involve coursework, presentations, and formally gradable work comparable to that in a CIS 500 or 600 level course. The Independent Study may also be used by doctoral students to explore research options with faculty, prior to determining a thesis topic. Students should discuss with the faculty supervisor the scope of the Independent Study, expectations, work involved, etc. The Independent Study should not be used for ongoing research towards a thesis, for which the CIS 999 designation should be used.


    The Senior Capstone Project is required for all BAS degree students, in lieu of the senior design course. The Capstone Project provides an opportunity for the student to apply the theoretical ideas and tools learned from other courses. The project is usually applied, rather than theoretical, exercise, and should focus on a real world problem related to the career goals of the student. The one-semester project may be completed in either the fall or sprong term of the senior year, and must be done under the supervision of a sponsoring faculty member. To register for this course, the student must submit a detailed proposal, signed by the supervising professor, and the student's faculty advisor, to the Office of Academic Programs two weeks prior to the start of the term.


    This course examines the art and science of negotiation, with additional emphasis on conflict resolution. Students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one-issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with MGMT 691/OIDD 691/LGST 806. Format: Lecture, class discussion, simulation/role play, and video demonstrations. Materials: Textbook and course pack.



    Management 238 is an organizational behavior course, examining individual, interpersonal, and group effectiveness at work. Topics range from decision- making, motivation, and personality to networks, influence, helping, leadership, teamwork, and organizational culture. The learning method is heavily experiential, with a focus on applying key principles to the human side of management in role-play exercises, simulations, a mini-TED talk, and group projects in local organizations. Other Information: This course is open to juniors and seniors across Penn. This course also has a first-day mandatory attendance policy.


    MGMT 610 is the first core course in the MBA Program and it cannot be waived. The first week of the fall term (in August) is dedicated to this formative and foundational experience. This course focuses on developing students' knowledge and skill set for teamwork and leadership. It is meant to be an intense immersion experience that draws strongly on the pedagogy of the Wharton Teamwork and Leadership Simulation, a team-based, highly interactive simulation that was custom-designed specifically to allow students to experience the core concepts they learn in this class. The three goals of this course are for students to learn: 1. Leadership behaviors: how to enact the skills that contribute to a team's effective performance. 2. Team dynamics: how to be an effective team member, as well as how to best design work teams; 3. Organizational awareness: understanding organizational culture. Format: A custom-designed Wharton-only simulation is paired with course sessions to deliver a unique learning experience. Classes will include experiental learning combined with debriefings, lectures, readings, class discussion and personal and group performance feedback. This course reflects the realities that informal leadership occurs in teams on an ongoing basis, that being a good team player is a part of leadership, and that many of one's early experiences with leadership will occur while working on teams. Because of the team-based nature of this course, and time intensive nature of this experience, attendance is mandatory for ALL five sessions of this class. NOTE: Credit-bearing, core coursework begins with the MGMT610: Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership course.


    This course examines the art and science of negotiation, with additional emphasis on conflict resolution. Students will engage in a number of simulated negotiations ranging from simple one-issue transactions to multi-party joint ventures. Through these exercises and associated readings, students explore the basic theoretical models of bargaining and have an opportunity to test and improve their negotiation skills. Cross-listed with MGMT 691/OIDD 691/LGST 806. Format: Lecture, class discussion, simulation/role play, and video demonstrations. Materials: Textbook and course pack.


    Business success is increasingly driven by a firm's ability to create and capture value through innovation. Thus, the processes used by firms to develop innovations, the choices they make regarding how to commercialize their innovations, the changes they make to their business models to adapt to the dynamic environment, and the strategies they use to position and build a dominate competitive position are important issues facing firms. In MGMT. 892, you will learn to address these issues through an action learning approach. MGMT. 892 is a 1.0-credit course conducted in the spirit of an independent study. By working on consulting projects for leading global companies, you will develop and then apply your knowledge about innovation management and help these firms better understand the challenges and opportunities posed by emerging technologies and markets.


    Student arranges with a faculty member to pursue a research project on a suitable topic. For more information about research and setting up independent studies, visit:

In the News

Knowledge @ Wharton

Wharton Stories


In the News

Why You Need a ‘Challenge Network’

In an excerpt from his new book, Wharton’s Adam Grant explains why success often comes from surrounding ourselves with “disagreeable” people – skeptics who can point out blind spots, question assumptions and help us overcome our weaknesses.

Knowledge @ Wharton - 2/16/2021
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Wharton Magazine

Must-Read Alumni Books
Wharton Magazine - 10/17/2019

Wharton Stories

The Key to Becoming a Better Leader? Question Your Assumptions

When Wharton Professor Adam Grant sat down to write his new book, “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know,” he wanted to make the case for why executives should reconsider their approaches to how to manage people in a modern workplace and embrace new ideas, based on…

Wharton Stories - 05/14/2021
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