2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Anna Stansbury, MIT Sloan School of Management

Congrats to Anna Stansbury of the MIT Sloan School of Management for being named a 2023 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professor.

Anna Stansbury

MIT Sloan School of Management

“Anna’s impressive academic achievements, coupled with her remarkable ability to connect with students, make her the most exceptional professor I have had at MIT Sloan. What sets Anna apart is not just her intelligence and eloquence, but also her exceptional emotional intelligence. She creates an environment where students feel seen, heard, and valued, and encourages us to challenge our assumptions and identify our biases. In her class, People & Profits, Anna expertly blends theory and practice to help us become principled, innovative leaders. In my opinion, it is a course that all MBA students should take.”Paula Santamaria-Missetzis 

Anna Stansbury, 31, is an assistant professor in Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan School of Management.  She is on the core faculty of MIT’s Institute for Work and Employment Research and is a nonresident senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, an affiliated scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at CUNY Graduate Center, and a research affiliate at IZA Institute of Labor Economics.

She is an economist with interests in labor and macroeconomics. Her work is particularly focused on issues to do with power and institutions in the labor market like monopsony, unions, and the minimum wage. 

Her Ph.D. dissertation won the 2021 Upjohn Institute Dissertation Award for the best Ph.D. dissertation on employment-related issues.


At current institution since what year? 2021


  • Ph.D. in Economics, Harvard University
  • Master in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
  • BA in Economics, Cambridge University

List of MBA courses you currently teach: People and Profits: Shaping the Future of Work; Labor Markets and Employment Policy 


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when…  I was working as a research and teaching assistant at Harvard after my Masters. One afternoon I was biking through Harvard yard – heading back to the office to analyze some data on US income inequality after teaching a particularly lively seminar on globalization – and thought “Wow – I wish there was a job where I could do this all the time!” And realized that, of course, there was.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I study how to make labor markets work better, particularly for low- and middle-income workers. One of my core areas of focus is labor market power. 

In work with Larry Summers, I argue that the decline of worker power in the US can explain a lot of the big macroeconomic trends we’ve seen in the last five decades: a declining labor share of income and rising inequality, rising corporate profits and equity valuations, and a decline in the long-run average rate of unemployment. In work with Gregor Schubert and Bledi Taska, I find that employer concentration (where there are only a few employers in a labor market) can generate employer power substantial enough to reduce workers’ pay for a relatively large share of the US workforce – an empirical finding which underscores a potential role for unions as a countervailing power. And in other work, I look at the incentives for firms to comply with laws that protect workers. I document that because legal penalties are so low, many firms in the US actually have a financial incentive to break the law, including by firing union organizers illegally and underpaying the minimum wage.

I also have a secondary line of research on socioeconomic diversity in academia, spurred by my finding that Economics (my home discipline) is the least socioeconomically diverse PhD field in the US. With Kyra Rodriguez, I’m now studying how socioeconomic background shapes people’s academic careers even beyond their PhDs.

If I weren’t a business school professor… I’d be an economist in a think tank or government working on public policy – with the same kind of focus as my research, trying to increase opportunity, boost living standards, and reduce inequality. Or I’d live on the beach and surf every day.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: So many emails! 

Professor I most admire and why: Too many to list. I owe a special debt to Larry Summers, who first planted the idea of a PhD in my mind in 2014, and has been an incredibly generous mentor since then.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I love the energy in the room every class. The students are engaged and ready to tackle whatever concept we’re studying critically and with an open mind – both crucial!  

What is most challenging? “Code-switching” between the more mathematical language of economics and intuitive explanations of a given economic concept can be tricky – but crucial, and makes me a better economist for having to do it.

In a word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious


What are your hobbies? Surfing (badly), dancing (enthusiastically), and generally being active outdoors.

How will you spend your summer? Mostly making progress on my research – but the highlight will be my wedding in Italy! 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: The National Parks out West have a special place in my heart, particularly in Utah.

Favorite book(s):  I go through phases. Right now I’m into speculative/science fiction that helps imagine alternative possible social structures, so am devouring books by Ursula LeGuin, NK Jemisin, Octavia Butler, Liu Cixin, and more. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? My Spotify Wrapped tells me that I’m in the top 1 or 5 percent of listeners to Rodriguez. And I do think he’s one of the most underrated musicians and lyricists of the 20th century. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Requirements for students – the managers of the future! – to spend much more time talking to and learning from frontline and low-wage workers. 

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… providing much better jobs for low- and middle-income workers. It’s a travesty that in the richest country in the world, and in the richest period in global history, so many workers in the US and elsewhere are struggling.

I’m grateful for… having been given so many opportunities in life. Trying to do my best to pay it forward. 



Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.