Baba Shiv

The Sanwa Bank, Limited, Professor of Marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business


Stanford Graduate School of Business

Research Statement

Baba Shiv's research expertise is in the area of neuroeconomics, with specific emphasis on the role of neural structures related to emotion and motivation in shaping decisions and experiences. His recent work examines the interplay of the brain’s "liking" and "wanting" systems and its implications for marketing, innovation, leadership and decision making. The nature of the issues that he examines are: Does being denied something make people pursue it more hotly but also simultaneously like it less? Does a wine's price tag price affect the pleasure one experiences? In the past few years, he has also focused his attention onto the neuroeconomics behind innovation and entrepreneurship leadership in companies small and large, from silicon valley tech startups to Fortune 500 companies Baba Shiv teaches courses at the GSB that build on his research interests. Examples of some of the courses that he teaches include, "The Frinky Science of the Mind," "Scaling Design Thinking Globally," and "Collaborating with the Future." He frequently hosts executives from around the world in executive education programs at Stanford on strategic marketing management, design thinking and customer-focused innovation.


Baba Shiv is the Sanwa Bank, Ltd., Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.  He has done extensive work on the emotional brain, documenting its powerful role in shaping decisions and experiences. His work includes the application of neuroeconomics to the study and practice of innovation and entrepreneurial leadership in companies, from Silicon Valley startups to Fortune 500 companies, as well as countries including India, Malaysia and New Zealand. He frequently consults with and is on the advisory boards of several start-ups. His work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, CNN, Economic Times, Fox Business, Financial Times, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Radio Lab. Baba Shiv teaches courses at the GSB and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford, including “The Frinky Science of the Mind,” “Scaling Design Thinking Globally,” and “Crafting Interventions for Massive Change.” He frequently hosts executives from around the world in executive education programs at Stanford on strategy, entrepreneurial leadership, and customer-focused innovation.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Duke University, 1996
  • MBA, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, 1988
  • BE, College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai, 1983

Academic Appointments

  • Sanwa Bank, Limited, Professor of Marketing, Stanford GSB, 2010-present
  • Professor of Marketing, Stanford GSB, 2008-2010
  • Associate Professor of Marketing (with tenure) and Ormond Family Faculty Fellow for 2006-2007, Stanford GSB, 2005-2007
  • Associate Professor (with tenure) and Henry B. Tippie Research Fellow, Department of Marketing, University of Iowa, 2002-2005
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, University of Iowa, 1996 - 2002
  • Instructor, Markets and Management Program, Duke University, 1994-1995

Professional Experience

  • Vadilal Enterprises Limited, Bombay, India (product launch of their ice cream in South India)
  • Blow Plast Limited, India (sales and new product introductions)
  • Larsen & Toubro Limited, India (Caterpillar Tractors and Poclain Hydraulic Excavators)

Awards and Honors

  • R. Michael Shanahan Faculty Fellow, Stanford GSB, 2013-2014
  • “Faculty of the year” for seven consecutive years, Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, 1999-2005
  • “Outstanding Faculty” in the Business Week Guide to the Best Business Schools, 6th, 7th, and 8th Editions (McGraw-Hill), Marketing Science Institute, 1990


Degree Courses


GSBGEN 520: Designing Solutions by Leveraging the Frinky Science of the Human Mind

The thrust of this seminar is about designing effective and innovative solutions by leveraging deep insights into the workings of the human brain, specifically the instinctual brain. Designing solutions for organizations-for example, "How do we...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

  • Customer-Focused Innovation Learn about cutting-edge social science frameworks and design thinking techniques in a unique partnership between Stanford GSB and
  • The Emerging CFO: Strategic Financial Leadership Program Guide your organization through growth with innovative CFO training that blends financial expertise, strategic thinking, and leadership skills.
  • Executive Program for Growing Companies Discover business growth strategies and build a stronger company designed to sustain progress, scale management, and facilitate market expansion.
  • Executive Program for Women Leaders Act with power, navigate the workplace, and take the lead with new strategies and tactics in this unique women’s leadership program.
  • The Innovative Health Care Leader: From Design Thinking to Personal Leadership Experience Stanford business and medicine in a health care leadership program featuring design thinking and personal leadership skill development.
  • The Innovative Technology Leader Explore the intersection of innovation, technology, and business, and learn to drive strategic change across your organization.
  • LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program Catapult your career with the only program from a leading business school to address LGBTQ leadership in the C-suite.
  • Seed Transformation Program – East Africa Gain​​ ​​management training​ and networking ​support in this leadership program ​for established business leaders in East Africa.
  • Seed Transformation Program – India Gain​​ ​​management training​ and networking ​support in this leadership program ​for established business leaders in India.
  • Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa Gain​​ ​​management training​ and networking ​support in this leadership program ​for established business leaders in Southern Africa.
  • [Seed Transformation Program – West Africa Gain management training​ and networking ​support in this leadership program ​for established business leaders in West Africa.
  • Stanford Executive Program: Be a Leader Who Matters Learn to generate change, inspire innovation, and instill excellence at this six-week executive program.
  • Stanford Go-to-Market – Mexico City Refine your business plan and develop a go-to-market strategy in this intensive program, through in-person and live distance-learning sessions.
  • Stanford LEAD: Corporate Innovation Certificate Learn innovation and how to apply organizational change through a global, social, and virtual learning model with renowned Stanford GSB professors.
  • Strategic Marketing Management Learn to make marketing theory actionable and innovation possible in this comprehensive real-world, hands-on learning experience.

In the Media

How to Make Good Decisions: 4 Secrets Backed by Research

TIME, June 21, 2016

Giving Up the Driver's Seat

TEDx, June 1, 2012

In a TEDx Stanford talk, the Stanford GSB's Baba Shiv explains why ceding control can sometimes be the best course of action.

New Year's Resolution: Why Fuzzy, Ambiguous Resolutions Work Best

The Huffington Post, 12 30, 2010

Want to Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions? Keep Them Vague

Los Angeles Times, 12 30, 2010

How to Keep a Resolution: Forget Willpower, Reaching a Goal Means Retraining Brain to Form New Habits

Wall Street Journal, 12 22, 2010

Insights by Stanford Business

Are We What We Buy?

June 13, 2017

A new study examines the role self-expression plays in online buying decisions.

Top Business Podcasts of 2016

December 12, 2016

Long commute? Spend the time listening to these 10 Stanford Business stories.

The Latest Advice for Post-Disaster Therapy: Have Fun

October 26, 2016

Researchers use phone records to measure the “hedonic behavior” of earthquake victims.

Baba Shiv: Failure is the Mother of Innovation

March 2, 2016

Startups may embrace the “fail-fast” mantra, but many leaders are risk-averse.

Researchers: What Is the Value of Imagery in Marketing?

May 7, 2014

A group of scholars show why what you see isn’t always what you get.

Baba Shiv: How Do You Find Breakthrough Ideas?

October 15, 2013

What neuroscience tells us about getting the best out of yourself, your colleagues, and the boss.

The Trouble with One at a Time

September 14, 2012

New research shows that seeing all your options at once makes you happier with the choice you make.

The Art of the Imperfect Pitch

August 27, 2012

Professor Baba Shiv discusses how you can coax risk-averse managers to innovate.

Baba Shiv: What Is the Path To Increased Innovation?

August 16, 2012

The simple things your brain needs to perform at its creative best.

Baba Shiv: How Loneliness Affects Consumer Behavior

December 15, 2011

People who are lonely prefer products outside the mainstream, but only in private.

Hypothetically Speaking, Beware

November 12, 2011

Baba Shiv's research reveals why hypothetical questions aren't as innocent as they seem.

The Positive Effect of Negative Information

June 1, 2011

Researchers say news about a company or product blemish may actually strengthen consumers’ positive impressions.

Baba Shiv: Why Failure Drives Innovation

March 1, 2011

Research says how people approach failure can be key to their success.

Setting Vague Goals Can Help You Keep Those New Year’s Resolutions

January 1, 2011

New research says people are more likely to achieve a goal if it’s sketched out in vague terms than if it’s set in stone with a specific target.

Being Jilted Can Make You Yearn More — or So You Think

August 1, 2009

Rejection increases people’s motivation to pursue that elusive objective. But there’s a catch.

The Behavioral Impact of a Higher Price

March 1, 2008

Studies show that subjects report a medicine less effective when it doesn't cost as much.

Baba Shiv: How a Wine's Price Tag Affect Its Taste

January 1, 2008

A study shows that cost doesn't merely interfere with perceived quality, it actually affects real quality.

Baba Shiv: Emotions Can Negatively Impact Investment Decisions

September 1, 2005

Research shows that how we feel can be the key to our success.

Baba Shiv: How Thoughts of Death Affect Consumer Behavior

September 1, 2005

Researchers explore how feelings about mortality affect our self-esteem.


Courses Taught

Read about executive education


SAP Design Thinking Part A | SM250A Baba Shiv, Matt Saucedo2016

SAP Design Thinking Part B | SM250B Baba Shiv, Matt Saucedo2016

Atmel: Igniting the B2C in B2B | M360 Baba Shiv, David Hoyt2015

New Zealand Merino, Pursuing Acceleration Through Collaboration | M338 Lyn Denend, Baba Shiv2011

The Knight Management Center | RE135 Kathleen Kavanaugh, Jake Kraft, Baba Shiv2010

SAP Design Thinking Part A | SM250A Baba Shiv, Matt Saucedo2016

SAP Design Thinking Part B | SM250B Baba Shiv, Matt Saucedo2016

Atmel: Igniting the B2C in B2B | M360 Baba Shiv, David Hoyt2015

New Zealand Merino, Pursuing Acceleration Through Collaboration | M338 Lyn Denend, Baba Shiv2011

The Knight Management Center | RE135 Kathleen Kavanaugh, Jake Kraft, Baba Shiv2010

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