Patricia Satterstrom


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Doctoral Student

I am a doctoral candidate in Management at Harvard Business School. I study how individuals in teams collaborate despite power differences due to professional and demographic boundaries. I use longitudinal inductive field methods to examine the micro-processes people use to challenge traditional power structures in teams to facilitate improved collaboration. In the lab, I study the influence of multicultural experience and diversity on team members’ interactions and performance. I also explore the factors that influence perceptions of team success. Taking a multi-method approach, I explore and test the multifaceted and complex underpinnings of teams, power, and collaboration.


My dissertation is based on a 31-month longitudinal inductive study of “change teams” in primary health care clinics. These teams were specifically charged with moving their organization from a hierarchical structure to a more team-based structure. Through close observation of their weekly team meetings, coupled with extensive interviews and examination of archival data, I identify the in situ moments in a team’s life when members provide information that could, over time, undermine taken-for-granted assumptions about power distribution. My dissertation extends and generates theory about power, voice, and power transitions in teams. It also has practical implications for how team members experience and engage with power differences, how they alter power structures in their own teams, and how they can help their organizations engage more fluidly with power.

Committee: Jeff Polzer (chair), Leslie Perlow, Andrew Knight, Heidi Gardner, Sara Singer


I also have projects that focus on how to improve collaboration between people from diverse demographic or professional backgrounds. My lab studies test the factors that impact creativity and performance in cross-cultural groups. My field study looks at the processes and factors that help engage and integrate people from diverse professional roles so that they can successfully carry out change efforts.


Before entering the doctoral program at Harvard Business School, I was a Research Associate, assisting with research and cases on globally distributed teams. I have also worked as an Organizational Change consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and as an intern at Insight Partners, a conflict management firm. I have taught undergraduates, MBAs, and executives at Harvard and abroad and have been awarded a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from Harvard.

I graduated cum laude in Psychology from Harvard College where I was a student fellow at the Center for International Development and an intern at the Carr Center for Human Rights at the Kennedy School of Government. I also studied and worked in South Korea for a year on the Yenching fellowship.

I have a black belt in Taekwondo and enjoy participating in a Masters Swim Club.


Journal Articles

  1. Beyond Individual Creativity: The Superadditive Benefits of Multicultural Experience for Collective Creativity in Culturally Diverse Teams

    Carmit Tadmor, Patricia Satterstrom, Sujin Jang and Jeffrey Polzer

    Although recent research has consistently demonstrated the benefits of multicultural experience for individual-level creativity, its potential advantages for collective creativity in culturally diverse teams have yet to be explored. We predicted that multicultural experience among members of a collective would enhance joint creativity in a superadditive fashion. Using a two-step methodology that included both individual and dyadic brainstorming sessions, we found that even after controlling for individual creativity, multicultural experience had a superadditive effect on dyadic creativity. Specifically, dyads performed best on a creative task in terms of fluency, flexibility, and novelty—three classic dimensions of creativity—when both dyad partners had high levels of multicultural experience. These results show that when it comes to multicultural experience, the creative whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Implications for diversity research are discussed.

    Keywords: Creativity; Groups and Teams;


    Tadmor, Carmit, Patricia Satterstrom, Sujin Jang, and Jeffrey Polzer. "Beyond Individual Creativity: The Superadditive Benefits of Multicultural Experience for Collective Creativity in Culturally Diverse Teams." Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 43, no. 3 (April 2012): 384–392. View Details

Book Chapters

  1. Reframing Hierarchical Interactions as Negotiations to Promote Change in Health Care Systems

    Patricia Satterstrom, Jeff Polzer and Robert Wei


    Satterstrom, Patricia, Jeff Polzer, and Robert Wei. "Reframing Hierarchical Interactions as Negotiations to Promote Change in Health Care Systems." Chap. 18 in Handbook of Conflict Management Research, edited by Oluremi B. Ayoko, Neal M. Ashkansy, and Karen Jehn, 291–307. Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014. View Details


  1. Thin Slices of Groups.

    Jeff Polzer, Patricia Satterstrom, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan and Marina Miloslavsky


    Polzer, Jeff, Patricia Satterstrom, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan, and Marina Miloslavsky. "Thin Slices of Groups." Paper presented at the Society of Personality and Social Psychology Conference, Long Beach, CA, February 28, 2015. View Details
  2. Perceiving Collaborative Potential

    Patricia Satterstrom, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan and Jeff Polzer


    Satterstrom, Patricia, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan, and Jeff Polzer. "Perceiving Collaborative Potential." Paper presented at the International Association for Conflict Management Annual Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2011. View Details
  3. Thin Slices of Group Conflict

    Jeff Polzer, Patricia Hernandez, Lisa Kwan, Ben Waber and Sandy Pentland


    Polzer, Jeff, Patricia Hernandez, Lisa Kwan, Ben Waber, and Sandy Pentland. "Thin Slices of Group Conflict." Paper presented at the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada, August 2010. View Details

    Research Summary

  1. Microwedges: Challenging power one small opening at a time [Dissertation, job market paper]

    by Patricia Satterstrom

    Based on a 31-month qualitative inductive study of multidisciplinary change teams, I introduce the concept of the “microwedge”—a small action or series of actions by team members that allows the team to examine their own assumptions so that they can begin to engage differently with each other and their work. Over time, these actions create broader changes in the team’s power structure such that the team begins to rely less on hierarchy and more on individuals’ skills, experience, and interests to guide their interactions. Microwedges may also allow some teams to start challenging hierarchy more broadly in their organizations. I propose a process model describing how changes in power can occur in teams. This model challenges our understanding of power and voice in the following ways: 1) lower-power members play a leading role in creating the change (instead of team leaders and managers), 2) microwedges generally have negative effects in the moment while planting a seed that creates change later, and 3) microwedges work not by directly challenging hierarchy but rather by creating dissonance about how people understand each other’s contributions and how they enact, or fail to enact, that understanding.

  2. Finding their voice: Time and the conditions that elevate participation of lower-power members in teams [Dissertation, data analysis and writing]

    by Patricia Satterstrom

    This dissertation paper develops theory about how gaining voice and “speaking up” by low-power members is not sufficient to create changes that benefit them and their low-power colleagues; that, in fact, speaking up when the team is not ready to listen results in greater dissatisfaction and exit by low-power members. I suggest that changes to the team structure that favor lower-power members can help create spaces for members to behave in ways that diverge from the preexisting power structure.
  3. Mapping temporal associations among conflict, participation, and changes in teams [Dissertation, data analysis]

    by Patricia Satterstrom

    This dissertation paper looks at how communication patterns in teams map on to moments of conflict, participation, and changes in the teams’ power structure. I use approximately 240 hours of meeting transcripts (analyzed in STATA, displaying speaking turns by speaker and meeting), the teams’ electronic communication, and the detailed lists of project work they proposed and engaged in to better understand teams’ communication patterns during moments when lower-power team members are able to exert influence on the team’s decisions.
  4. Thin Slices of Groups [Under Review]

    by Patricia Satterstrom

    In this paper with Jeff Polzer, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan, and Marina Miloslavsky, we extend research on “thin slices” by testing and determining that perceivers are able to accurately judge the effectiveness of small, task-performing groups based on short observations of group interaction. We discuss implications for social perception and group functioning.

    In creating this study, we generated a great deal of stimuli that can be used to further explore questions of status in teams. For example, we found that in addition to performance, perceivers are highly accurate in accessing individual’s status from very brief excerpts of team discussions. In future work, we will explore how differences in team members’ status (i.e., steepness and distribution) affect how teams are perceived.

  5. Integrating: A managerial practice that enables implementation in fragmented healthcare environments [Under Review]

    by Patricia Satterstrom

    In this paper with Michaela Kerrisey, Sara Singer, Nicholas Leydon, and Gordon Schiff, we identify the factors that enabled primary care clinics to overcome implementation barriers and explain how clinic managers can integrate those factors across roles. Our embedded case study followed sixteen primary care groups implementing process improvements over 15 months. Our qualitative analysis allowed us to develop a conceptual framework of the managerial practice of integrating in the implementation process in healthcare. Through our approach, we were able to contribute to the integration and middle management literatures. We also highlighted the critical role of clinic managers—a role often overlooked in health services research—and the specific actions they took to foster collaboration across highly fragmented groups.

    1. Recipient of a grant from the Eric M. Mindich Research Fund for the Foundations of Human Behavior in 2014.

    2. 2006 Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching

    3. Recipient of a 2004 Harvard-Yenching Fellowship for year-long study in South Korea.

    4. Winner of the 2015 Susan G. Cohen Doctoral Research Award in Organization Design, Effectiveness, and Change for “Using multi-disciplinary teams to renegotiate power in hierarchical organizations.” This award, jointly given by the Center for Effective Organizations and the Organization Development and Change (ODC) division of the Academy of Management, is offered in remembrance of Dr. Susan Cohen, who was a research scientist at CEO, in the Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California, from 1988-2006.

    5. Received the 2015 Outstanding Reviewer Award from the Health Care Management Division of the Academy of Management.

    6. Recipient of a 2011 Scholarship for Historically Underrepresented Persons (U.S.) from the Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity.