Ryan W. Buell

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Ryan Buell is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. He teaches the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum.

In his research, Professor Buell investigates the interactions between service businesses and their customers, and how operational choices affect customer behaviors and firm performance. His work has been published in Management Science, Production and Operations Management, Quarterly Jounal of Economics, and Harvard Business Review. It has been covered by such media as the Financial Post, BNET.com, Wired, The Guardian, and Forbes.com.

Ryan Buell is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit. He teaches the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum.

In his research, Professor Buell investigates the interactions between service businesses and their customers, and how operational choices affect customer behaviors and firm performance. His work has been published in Management Science, Production and Operations Management, and Harvard Business Review. It has been covered by such media as the Financial Post, BNET.com, WiredThe Guardian, and Forbes.com.

Professor Buell earned a DBA in Technology and Operations Management at Harvard Business School, where he received the Dean's Award and the Wyss Doctoral Research Award. He also received an MBA with high distinction in 2007 from Harvard Business School, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar, and a BBA with high distinction from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

Prior to his graduate studies, Professor Buell co-founded and managed the Tour Now Network, an online virtual real estate tour service. He has also worked at McKinsey & Company and General Motors.

  1. The Labor Illusion: How Operational Transparency Increases Perceived Value

    A ubiquitous feature of even the fastest self-service technology transactions is the wait. Conventional wisdom and operations theory suggests that the longer people wait, the less satisfied they become; we demonstrate that due to what we term the labor illusion, when websites engage in operational transparency by signaling that they are exerting effort, people can actually prefer websites with longer waits to those that return instantaneous results—even when those results are identical.
  2. Think Customers Hate Waiting? Not So Fast...

    Managers typically look for ways to reduce wait time to increase customer satisfaction. New research suggests there's a better approach: showing customers a representation of the effort, whether literal or not, being expended on their behalf while they wait. (The prototypical example is the travel website Kayak, which shows customers each airline it searches.) Studies show that customers prefer waiting when the work being done is transparent-even when the waits are longer or the results are no better than those obtained with shorter waits.
  3. Are Self-Service Customers Satisfied or Stuck?

    Numerous studies in the services literature have demonstrated that self-service customers are retained with greater frequency than their full-service counterparts. There are two competing explanations for this phenomenon. Either self-service channel usage promotes customer satisfaction and in turn, loyalty, or it imposes switching costs on customers that make it more difficult for them to defect. Our empirical analysis of multi-channel banking customers suggests the latter – that self-service customers may be retained through switching costs, not satisfaction effects. In fact, the results of our analysis suggest that self-service customers aren’t just stuck, they’re actually less satisfied.