Ryan W. Buell

Assistant Professor of Business Administration

Ryan W. Buell is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School. He teaches Managing Service Operations in the MBA elective curriculum and in Executive Education programs at the School. He has also taught the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum.

Professor Buell’s research investigates the interactions between service businesses and their customers, and how operational choices affect customer behaviors and firm performance. He is affiliated with the Behavioral Insights Group at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. His work has been published in Management Science, Production and Operations Management, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Harvard Business Review. It has also received media attention from outlets such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Financial Post, BNET.com, Wired, The Guardian, and Forbes.com.

Ryan W. Buell is an assistant professor of business administration in the Technology and Operations Management Unit at Harvard Business School. He teaches Managing Service Operations in the MBA elective curriculum and in Executive Education programs at the School. He has also taught the Technology and Operations Management course in the MBA required curriculum.

Professor Buell’s research investigates the interactions between service businesses and their customers, and how operational choices affect customer behaviors and firm performance. He is affiliated with the Behavioral Insights Group at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership. His work has been published in Management Science, Production and Operations Management, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and Harvard Business Review. It has also received media attention from outlets such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe The Financial Post, BNET.com, Wired, The 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 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 real estate virtual tour service. He has also worked at McKinsey & Company and General Motors.
  1. Overview

    by Ryan W. Buell

    Professor Buell is advancing the understanding of customers by studying their relationship with service operations. He examines how operational choices intended to optimize firm profits may backfire if they diminish the quality of customer experiences or alter customer behavior in unintended ways. In his work, he uses large-scale econometric analysis and laboratory and online experimental methodologies.

    Keywords: service operations; customer satisfaction; customer retention; customer behavior; Customers; Decision Making; Design; Management; Operations; Quality; Relationships; Social Psychology; Technology; Value; Banking Industry; Service Industry; Travel Industry; Web Services Industry; Retail Industry; Food and Beverage Industry;

  2. Operational Transparency

    by Ryan W. Buell

    One important way that service operations are distinct from traditional operations is that service customers often engage directly with the production process. When operations are revealed to customers, design choices that are internally efficient may alter customer perceptions and behaviors in counterproductive ways. In such settings, how the customer experiences the operation should be factored into its design. My research in this first stream explores how operational transparency, how operations are revealed to customers, shapes their perceptions and behaviors, and in turn, firm performance.

  3. Customer Compatibility

    by Ryan W. Buell

    While operational efforts to improve service performance tend to be inwardly directed (e.g., investments in training, process improvements, automation, etc.), the research in this second stream documents how an outward consideration – the degree of compatibility between the customer and the firm’s operating system – is also a crucial driver of service outcomes. My work to date in this stream has sought to quantify the performance benefits of customer compatibility, identify its determinants, and understand how firms can improve it.