2022 Best Undergraduate Professors: Pri Pradhan Shah, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

Pri Pradhan Shah
University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management

“The rigor and quality of work Professor Shah expected of her students helped me academically and professionally. The environment Shah created allowed the class to fail quickly and often. Yet, her continuous feedback and open-door policy encouraged me to produce a quality of work beyond what I thought I was capable of.” – Maria Moy

Pri Pradhan Shah, 54, is a professor at University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management.

Her primary research areas are social networks, teams and decision making, and she has published in Organization Science, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Personality, Social Psychology and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes among others. She is editorial board member for the Journal of Applied Psychology.

In addition to the Carlson School, she has taught at MIT and Yale, and she is the winner of numerous teaching awards. She also held a Visiting Scientist position at the Mayo Clinic during her sabbatical.


At current institution since what year? 1994


  • Ph.D. Organizational Behavior, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. 1994.
  • M.S. Organizational Behavior, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. June 1991.
  • B.A. Psychology and Biology, University of Rochester. 1989.

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Introduction to Management, Honors Thesis Seminar


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I took my first class in organizational psychology as an undergraduate and realized the discipline was a perfect fit of my interests in psychology applied to a context I found really interesting.

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? I am currently researching how conflict originates and evolves in teams by examining conflict ties within teams from a social network perspective. The most significant finding is that conflict in teams is not what we typically think, it is not uniformly shared among all members of the team but rather uniquely experienced by team members such that teams exhibit different configuration patterns of conflict. Knowing where conflict resides in teams is important for promoting the positive aspects of conflict such as debate and mitigating its negative aspects that hinder team performance.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… working in a company that makes educational children’s toys.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? I care about how students learn in addition to what they are learning. As such, I try to craft experiences in my class that meet students where they are at and help them integrate and apply key concepts to different managerial contexts.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Anxious – that students would find out that I may be the youngest person in the class.

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: You don’t have to build things from scratch by yourself. There is a large community of academics that is ready, willing and able to provide assistance and anything you are working on will be better as a result of their input.

Professor I most admire and why: Professor Andy Van de Ven – he was an extraordinary scholar, teacher and mentor. Andy was a giant in our field and the quintessential professor. Through interacting with him and watching him interact with others I learned the core virtues of being a college professor.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Watching them apply the new skills they are learning.

What is most challenging? Finding new ways, examples or experiences to create learning opportunities that resonate with the changing needs of our students.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Inquisitive

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

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… challenging yet fair


What are your hobbies? Skiing, kayaking, hiking, travelling, & reading

How will you spend your summer? Travelling and finding new places to hike with my dog.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I like to explore new places, cultures, and cuisine rather than returning to one place.

Favorite book(s): Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin – it brings to life how deftly Lincoln forged his cabinet to help keep things together during a critical point in our country’s history. As a teams researcher it is particularly interesting to see how Lincoln was able to rise above interpersonal issues and assemble and work with a team of people who really didn’t like or respect him to get them focus on the best interests of the nation.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? My Octopus Teacher – it is a wonderful depiction of the life of an animal who I had not realized was so complex. Seeing her shift shapes, change colors, and elude predators was a reminder that intelligence takes on many different forms.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? 80s new wave or alternative rock – it’s fun, upbeat and danceable.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Individualized learning opportunities where we identify strengths and opportunities for improvement and help students craft learning plans that capitalize on their unique learning potential.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Finding and creating continuous learning opportunities that show that they understand and appreciate their employees. Times have changed and what motivates today’s workforce is quite different than what motivated their parents.
I’m grateful for… the love and support of my family & colleagues and having an opportunity to pursue a career that brings me joy.


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