2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Neil Malhotra, Stanford GSB

Neil Malhotra

Professor, Political Economy

Stanford University Graduate School of Business


Neil Malhotra

Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Neil Malhotra is more than just prolific. Along with his research output, he receives a steady input of awards, from an Outstanding Teaching honor from the GSB to numerous best paper awards. A professor of political economy, Malhotra’s research covers diverse subjects, including voting dynamics, survey research methods, and militant politics in Pakistan, and is widely covered in major media. Malhotra has a BA in economics from Yale, and a master’s and PhD in political science from Stanford. He’s co-taught disruptive innovation with Dropbox’s CFO, but what the world really wants to know is which one of the 60 root beers in his collection is his favorite.

Age: 34

At current institution since: 2011

Education: PhD, Political Science, Stanford University, 2008

Courses currently teaching: Ethics and Management; Disruptive Innovation; Measuring Opinion and Sentiment

Professor you most admire: Don Green, professor of political science at Columbia. My undergraduate mentor who inspired me to go into this profession.

“I knew I wanted to be a b-school professor when…” I finished teaching my first MBA class. It was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be!

“If I weren’t a b-school professor…” I’d probably be working at a startup. What I love about my job is the freedom to work on interesting and hard questions, communicating ideas to passionate people, and the flat organizational structure. I’ve also always wanted to be a detective, but that’s probably from watching too much TV.

Most memorable moment in the classroom or in general as a professor: I taught Disruptive Innovation with the CFO of Dropbox this year. We had an amazing lineup of guest speakers, ranging from venture capitalists to founders. I don’t want to single out a single speaker since they were all amazing.

What professional achievement are you most proud of? I published a paper in 2009 on how and why governments under-invest in disaster preparation. The research has received a lot of attention from organizations like FEMA and the World Bank, and hopefully can make the world a better place.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? Debating with smart students.

What do you enjoy least? Physically being on my feet all day.

Fun fact about yourself: I have an extensive root beer collection. I have ratings and reviews of over 60 root beers, but am too embarrassed to publish them anywhere online.

Favorite book: The Catcher in the Rye

Favorite movie: Memento

Favorite type of music: 1980s alternative

Favorite television show: Breaking Bad

Favorite vacation spot: Caribbean

What are your hobbies? Poker, squash, chasing around my daughter

Twitter handle: Not on Twitter (resolution for next year)

“If I had my way, the business school of the future would have…” More “classroom flipping.” More people studying questions at the intersection of business and politics. Also, more classes jointly taught by academics and practitioners. Stanford is already doing a lot of this, which is why I think we are the business school of the present and the future.

Students say…

Professor Malhotra is incredibly curious and clearly excited to explore new ideas with students—in and out of class. I’ve had Professor Malhotra three times for classes ranging from ethics to innovation and I’ve appreciated how he brings excitement to the classroom regardless of the topic. Professor Malhotra is a “nerd’s nerd,” who really cares about engaging students in the material he teaches.

– Scott St. Marie, MBA 2015

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