Doctoral Student

Patricia Satterstrom

Pat Satterstrom is a doctoral candidate in Management at Harvard Business School. Her current lab projects explore people's perceptions of teams, creativity in teams, and communication in multilingual groups. Her field work examines individual learning in teams at an IT firm in India and barriers and facilitators of collaboration among health care providers. Pat is very interested in understanding how to improve collaboration readiness in complex, diverse, and under-resourced settings.

Pat received her A.B. cum laude in Psychology from Harvard College in 2004. As an undergraduate, she 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. After graduating, Pat studied and worked in Korea for a year on the Yenching fellowship. She was then a Teaching Fellow at Harvard College for the Psychology of Leadership and Positive Psychology courses for which she was awarded a Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. She also worked as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and as an intern at Insight Partners, a conflict management firm. Prior to starting the Management program at HBS, Pat was a Research Associate, assisting with research and writing cases on globally distributed teams.

  1. PROMISES: Proactive Reduction in Outpatient Malpractice: Improving Safety Efficiency and Satisfaction (w/ MA Dept of Public Health, MA Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors, Brigham Hospital, HSPH, HMS, IHI)

    This study aims to improve patient safety and decrease malpractice risk in ambulatory practice. The study has three aims: 1) using a randomized control trial, this project will test a series of interventions at 16 demonstration sites, focusing on medication management, test ordering and results management, and follow-up and referral management; 2) it will test new approaches to improve communication between patients and doctors to address patient concerns as early as possible; 3) will develop tools and packages to disseminate the learning from this project so it can be shared throughout Massachusetts and beyond.

    I am working closely with Sara Singer and members of the improvement and evaluation groups to systematically capture short- and long-term learning around collaboration in ambulatory settings.

  2. The Project as a School: Individual Learning in Teams (w/ Brad Staats and Amy Edmondson)

    Team members must effectively draw on their prior experience and the knowledge management systems of their organization in order to meet a customer’s requirements. However, teams with similar backgrounds on comparable projects may generate wildly different results. A team with all of the requisite skills may fail, while a team that lacks experience and faces an insurmountable challenge may succeed. Why? In this study we use a series of surveys and interviews with employees at a large Indian company to investigate how individual, team, and leadership dynamics shape the progression of a project and eventually lead to its success or failure.
  3. When it gets bad it gets better: curvilinear effect of communication difficulty in collaborations (w/ Tsedal Neeley and Michael Norton)

    Our study explores how communication difficulties impact groups’ outcomes. Using a group simulation in a laboratory setting and a randomized control method, we look at the relationship of communication difficulties with individual and group process, performance, and experiential outcomes. Collecting data in a highly controlled environment with randomized conditions allows us to see whether communication difficulties lead to a steady decline in outcomes due to increasing tension between subgroups, or if there is in fact a turning point at which communication difficulties become so severe that they are treated as external challenges, enabling group members to work together more effectively. Our study builds on findings in the field and seeks to contribute to the distributed teams literature by providing insights into how communication difficulties can have differential impact on groups and can, at times, help bring people together.
  4. Perceiving Groups and Collaborative Potential (w/ Jeff Polzer, Lisa Kwan, Wannawiruch Wiruchnipawan)

    Collaboration is fraught with difficulty as people strive to achieve collective and individual goals. One source of difficulty is that some specific pairs of individuals are simply not compatible along one or more relevant dimensions, even though each of the individuals may work well with others. Part of the challenge, then, is to accurately predict whether particular individuals will work together effectively before they attempt to collaborate. This is a common challenge faced by managers, coaches, teachers and others who regularly decide which people to pair up or group together. Yet, work on how people evaluate the potential effectiveness of a collaboration is very limited. In this study we compare Complementarity Theory using behavioral dominance cues with Status Characteristics Theory using demographic characteristics. We explore the nonverbal cues that influence people’s perceptions of whether others will collaborate effectively.