2024 Best 40-Under-40 MBA Professors: Jana Gallus, UCLA Anderson School of Management

Jana Gallus
UCLA Anderson School of Management

“Professor Jana Gallus is superhuman and an inspiration to our MBA students. She’s brought innovation to teaching the core strategy class to glowing reviews, but this past year she created a Capstone class for 15 students over the fall and winter terms where she introduced MBA students to her passion for field experiments in a class entitled “The Nuts and Bolts of A/B Testing.” This class combines many of the skills students have acquired in their MBA education to implement rigorous experimental tests to help improve field partner organizations. Professor Gallus works incredibly closely with each team of 5 at every project stage—this is the perfect melding of academic expertise with testing hypotheses in the real world. I was fortunate to see each of her groups present, and it was a transformational experience the students will carry with them.” – Sanford DeVoe, Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs  

Jana Gallus, 37, is an Associate Professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

She studies incentives and organizational design with a special focus on nonfinancial incentives and their role in the knowledge economy. Methodologically, Gallus mostly uses field experiments. Her collaboration partners include organizations such as NASA, Wikipedia, hospitals, schools, and private sector firms.

She has served in various editorial roles for top journals, acted as a Standing Panelist for the National Science Foundation, and advised organizations in the public and private sectors.
Her work has been published in journals such as Management Science, Psychological Review, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Strategic Management Journal, Applied Economics, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is coauthor of the book “Honours versus Money: The Economics of Awards,” Oxford University Press.

Gallus a joined UCLA from Harvard and received her PhD in Economics (summa cum laude) from the University of Zurich. She was a Fellow of the German National Merit Foundation and has received several research grants, fellowships, and best paper awards. She was named most promising economist by DIE ZEIT.


At current institution since what year? 2016
Education: PhD in Economics, University of Zurich, Switzerland
List of MBA courses you currently teach: Business Strategy, Field Experiments in Strategy (FEiSty) – a capstone course she developed


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was a doctoral student in Europe and learned that this would allow me to be an academic and stay in close touch with people doing exciting work in the field.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I have found strong and lasting motivational effects of purely symbolic social recognition, which homo economicus should not respond to. But we have also documented important and unforeseen backfiring effects of similar non-monetary incentives. This has led me to focus on researching the intersection of incentives and the social, organizational context in which they are used. How should incentives be designed and adapted to the social context in which they are used? How does the social context shape which incentives get used?

If I weren’t a business school professor… I would have tried to get on track for becoming an ambassador. That was my dream job in high school and for much of my time in college.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? A common theme in my student evaluations is “infectious enthusiasm” about what I teach.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Blast. (I still remember this as if it was yesterday and have been in touch with some of my amazing students from back then.)

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: Your colleagues are going to be among the ‘funnest’ people you know (besides being brilliant). Time to bust stereotypes.

Professor I most admire and why: Too many to name.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? That they bring their own perspective and experience into the room.

What is most challenging? I don’t have an answer, I’m afraid.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious.

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Indifferent.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair.


What are your hobbies? Running – marathons; I also founded a little initiative: RunTheWorld (some of my students are a part of it; we welcome everyone).

How will you spend your summer? If all goes well, I’ll take my kids to Colombia and work from there.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: Wherever I have not yet been.

Favorite book(s): Too many. (These days I mostly listen to them on my runs; that gets me through a lot of books.)

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? Bluey, haha. I’m only half joking. Your readers with kids will know what I’m talking about.

Centered in the Universe, a show at the Griffith Observatory that made me want to switch to physics.


What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? Peter Fox. I have lots of artists and types of music that I like. I chose Peter Fox because it is funny-clever music that makes you want to dance. And because I suspect he won’t yet be on your readers’ radar.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this…
Capstone courses like the ones we are now offering at Anderson. They allow instructors and students to work and grow together, and to build bridges to wonderful organizations outside the school. It’s intense and intensely rewarding.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Thinking through and auditing their use of incentives, especially non-monetary ones that are harder to track.

I’m grateful for… My students’ enthusiasm and willingness to bear my jokes (go Bruins). And for my family’s immense support. This year my daughter made my day when she asked whether I could also become my kids’ teacher. My daughter is five years old. I’ll check back in 10 years. Let’s see if I can keep it up.


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