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2017 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Daniel Feiler, Dartmouth College (Tuck)

Daniel Feiler

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

The negotiations elective with Professor Daniel Feiler is one of the most popular classes in Tuck’s MBA program. The popularity of the course stems from the simulated negotiations that Feiler orchestrates, challenging students on how they approach and think about negotiations. Students describe this professor’s ability to moderate discussions–weaving theory and real world examples–as phenomenal. Because of the discussions he generates, students say they learn not only from him, but from classmates, and can track their progress throughout the semester. Feiler, who received the coveted Teaching Excellence award from Tuck’s MBA Class of 2015, also gets an “A” of his own; for effort that is. He is known for memorizing all of his student’s names, without nametags. This, despite the fact that he teaches more than 120 students.

Professor Feiler was the very first junior faculty member to win Tuck’s Teaching Excellence Award. He was awarded the honor in 2015 placing him alongside previous recipients including Tuck’s Dean, Matthew Slaughter, and other senior tenured faculty.

On the research side of things, Feiler is also popular for his academic contributions surrounding the study of organizational behavior, cognitive psychology, and management science. He’s won paper and presentation awards at the Academy of Management conference, Behavioral Decision Research in Management conference, and the Max Planck Institute for Human Development summer conference. But his work translates beyond academic, having been discussed in mainstream media, including The Wall Street Journal and Fast Company.

Age: 32

At current institution since: Began as a Visiting Assistant Professor in 2012; converted to tenure track as Assistant Professor in 2014.

Education: PhD, Duke University, Fuqua School of Business – Management & Organizations, 2012; BS, Carnegie Mellon University, Economics & Decision Science, 2007

List of courses you currently teach: Negotiations

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?I’m currently studying (i) how experience teaches us the wrong lessons and (ii) how our own decision-making causes us to make subsequent misjudgments. One recent finding that I’m excited about explores how the fundamental structure of choice under uncertainty causes us to be over optimistic in the courses of action that we choose. However, with aggregated feedback, individuals can overcome this bias but then they become overly pessimistic about their alternatives in general.  It provides a new take on youthful naivete and aged grumpiness.

Professor you most admire: Amos Tversky and Danny Kahneman. They set the standard for scholars doing work in the space between experimental psychology and more mathematical disciplines like economics and management science. They were forward-looking in a profession that is often obsessed with very incrementally building on past.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…after being exposed to empirical research, I started spending every college class designing experiments to test or build on what was being taught to me.”

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…I would love to be the General Manager of an NBA team.”

One word that describes my first time teaching an MBA class: Taking the liberty of two words: Low Enrollment.

Most memorable moment in the classroom, or in general, as a professor: Teaching MBAs is made up of a million funny little moments. A random recent one: This past holiday break, I was working in a local café wearing a hoodie and a Tuck beanie when a young man approached me with a big smile and an outstretched hand, saying that I must be a 1st-year MBA student and that he was a 2nd-year that had been away in the Fall which was why we hadn’t met yet.  I kindly mentioned that I was actually a professor, telling him my name and that I teach Negotiations. He stutteringly replied that he was taking my class, slated to begin the next week. I could barely contain my laughter. Hi, Ed Warren!

What professional achievement are you most proud of? I am proud of being the first junior faculty and youngest to ever win the teaching excellence award at Tuck.  There are a lot of great teachers at Tuck, so I was quite shocked and it was a huge honor.  I am also extremely proud of each paper that I publish in a top academic journal because, by the time it has been accepted, I’ve heatedly debated every single sentence therein, especially if the paper is with my good friend and co-author Jordan Tong (a professor at U. of Wisconsin).

What do you enjoy most about being a business school professor? Getting to think deeply and spending every day with very smart people.

What do you enjoy least about being a business school professor? I like it quite a bit. Maybe the pressure. It brings the best out of me but will probably send me to an early grave.

What is your favorite business-themed movie and what is the biggest lesson that MBA students could gain from it? Up in the Air. You’ve got to keep your backpack light. Although I’ve been told that I have no heart for thinking that’s the key takeaway from that movie.

What is your favorite company and why? I wouldn’t say favorite company, but I’ve been really impressed with what Netflix has done with their talent management strategy and organizational culture.

Fun fact about yourself: Growing up in Pittsburgh, I went to an elementary school that was entirely Christian, a middle school with a Jewish plurality, and a high school that was majority African American.

Bucket list item #1: I’d like to publish a parable on the natural selection of beliefs.

Favorite book: Among the books that I’ve read in the last year, my favorite is Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation. Just very weird and original.

Favorite movie: I like watching Miyazaki movies with my daughter.

Favorite music:  After hours: Paul Simon, Damien Rice, Blackstar, or Cake. While working: Bach cello suites. If I need an afternoon pick-me-up, I go to either Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav or Dvořák’s New World Symphony.

Favorite television show: The Wire.

Favorite vacation spot: The island of Culebra or anywhere in Japan.

What are your hobbies? I play soccer/football.  I also enjoy Euro strategy board games. My greatest joy right now is hanging out with my wife Ayumi, two-year-old Yukina, and newborn Akira.

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…glasses for professors that tell you, based on facial cues, what percent of the class is confused.”

Last comment: I’d like to thank Tuck for taking a shot on me because I was pretty much still in diapers when I started here.

Students say:

“Feiler’s ability to moderate discussions, weaving theory and real applications, is phenomenal. Because of the discussions he generates, students learn not only from him, but from classmates, and can track their progress throughout the course.”

DON’T MISS: THE FULL 2017 ROSTER OF THE WORLD’S 40 MOST OUTSTANDING BUSINESS SCHOOL PROFESSORS UNDER 40