2019 Best 40 Under 40 Professors: Jennifer Jordan, IMD

Jennifer Jordan

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior


In a world where leadership and organizational behavior is shifting and changing, Jennifer Jordan’s research in digital leadership, ethics, power, and morality, is in such demand that she has been cited almost 1,500 times by other academics.

Jordan, a social psychologist, was previously an Assistant Professor and Rosalind Franklin Fellow at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands and a post-doctoral fellow at the Kellogg School of Management and Tuck School of Business in the U.S. She received her doctoral degree and two Master’s degrees in Philosophy and Psychology from Yale University and is also on the editorial board of the journals Leadership Quarterly and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. Jordan was also a speaker at the 2017 and 2019 Africa CEO Forum where she shared her expertise on building leaders in African companies.

“Jennifer is a stellar colleague. Highly student-oriented, invested in the class, cares about outcomes, available and keen to support at an individual level, very smart, grounded and relevant,” Seán Meehan, dean of the MBA Program at IMD said in a nomination. “Jennifer deserves recognition for showing the MBA candidates what leadership really means, for allowing them to discover themselves and for building their confidence and resilience. She champions gender diversity proactively.”

Current Age: 37

At current institution since what year? 2016

Education: Yale – MS, MPhil, PhD

List of current MBA courses you currently teach: The Year-long Leadership Stream


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was 15 years old. Well, that’s not entirely true. I knew I wanted to be a professor when I was 15. It was not until later, when I was doing a Ph.D. in psychology and watched the Enron and Worldcom scandals unfold in the US, that I knew that I wanted to understand how business leaders think and make decisions. And hence, to research and teach in a business school.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it?

I continue to do research on how the instability of power affects people’s cognition and behavior. As far as the most significant discovery… it would probably be that when people’s power is under threat they become distrusting of the entire social system around them –especially, of those who could potentially usurp their power.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would want to be a ballet dancer. But I say want because I don’t have the natural talent to actually be one. I tried that already J

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor?

Probably better to ask my students about that one! But I’d say, my low bull-s&*t filter. I like to get to the heart of the question or problem rather than stay on the surface and talk about what is politically correct.

One word that describes my first-time teaching: Naïve.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: People think you are much smarter than you actually are and they look to you for meaningful answers on how to conduct their lives and work.

Professor you most admire and why: Unquestionably Robert Cialdini. He was my first social psychology professor and the reason I became a professor. He is both an inspiring classroom professor and a brilliant researcher – able to marry rigorous research with questions that are relevant to society.

If I could mention another, my second answer would be the late, Keith Murnighan. He was an incredible mentor and scholar – able to inspire his students on every level and to support them throughout their careers. Keith was one in a million.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students?

Their ambition, diversity, and intelligence!

What is most challenging?

They have been groomed to think that they are a select and special few (which is true!). But this sometimes leads to the unwillingness to be open to learning and willing to really challenge one’s convictions. But I must say that compared to some other institutions where I’ve worked, IMD’s MBAs are impressively nice and down-to-earth!

Using just one word, describe your favorite type of student: self-reflective

Using just one word, describe your least favorite type of student: arrogant

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… forgiving but also having high standards.


What are your hobbies?

Running, yoga, listening to music, drinking good wine.

How will you spend your summer?

Doing what I do the rest of the year (we don’t really have a “summer” break at IMD).

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Tuscany and Terschelling (in The Netherlands)

Favorite book(s): Fiction: House of Mirth (by Edith Wharton). Non-fiction: The Power of Now (by Eckhart Tolle).

What is your favorite movie and/or television show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I’m not a big movie or television buff. But I LOVE the TV show Mad Men. Such great characters and it’s all about the psychology of power, interpersonal influence, and persuasion.

Favorite type of music and/or favorite artist: I LOVE many types of music – from classical guitar to pop. The artists I could listen to over and over again are Fleetwood Mac, Taylor Swift, Peter Cincotti, Alfred Brendel, and Billie Holliday.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more… integration between the generations. I’d love to have classrooms filled with both Baby Boomers and Millennials, exchanging ideas and ways of thinking. 

In your opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at doing what?

Realizing that ethics and values are not something to pay attention to for PR purposes or when the company has a scandal they need to clean up. And instead internalizing the understanding that ethics is the true foundation of value creation and sustainability.

Faculty and administrators say:

“I think Jennifer is an outstanding young professor. She has a keen intellect and does a great job integrating state-of-the-art research findings into her classes. She’s also very good at engaging students and at inspiring them to strive to become better leaders, during the program but also for the rest of their career. In fact, in addition to being a great instructor, Jennifer is a very good role model for them.”

“To witness Jennifer’s teaching is to travel on a road with billboards of your feelings, memories and most significant people in life. For me, the greatest learning from her lectures was finally realizing that leadership is not about commanding people but rather realizing what is your impact on people and how are you impacted by others and how all these interactions emerge in your decisions as a leader. She is a patient listener who is quite approachable and always find time to share a meal with her students Her wicked sense of humor and amazing singing voice is just the bonus.”

“Jennifer resonates the true spirit of her leadership class: a kind, inspiring and motivating reference for us. Through a solid experience and an unique care for her students she managed to challenge our perceptions and build the foundations of our leadership journey.”


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