J. Richard Hackman
J. Richard Hackman has, for his entire professional life, been deeply committed to the idea of the intertwined nature of research and practice. For the past 40 years, Hackman has made significant contributions to social and organizational psychology, shining a light on fundamental questions of team dynamics and performance, leadership effectiveness, and design of self-managing teams and organizations.
Hackman’s research has had palpable impact in several areas, including telecommunications, government, and health care. But in four domains of group interaction, his work can be said to have had significant and deep impact and to have improved the quality of work, safety, and team accomplishment: aviation, artistic expression, senior executive teams, and analytic teams in the intelligence community.
His 2002 book Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances draws on many years of research to specify the conditions that, when present, increase the chances that work teams will perform effectively and to identify the circumstances under which the actions of leaders have the opportunity to improve team functioning and performance. As a commentator once said: “When it comes to understanding the depth and breadth of what it takes to build an effective team, Richard really has no peer. He is simply the best on the planet.”
In addition to his contributions as a master teacher and scholar, it is a joy to have Richard among the community of psychologists, performing the many daily acts that help his colleagues and students and doing so selflessly and with genuine and deep interest in the work of others. In everything he does, he tries to live up to the idea that theory and practice go hand in hand and that the two must be totally integrated for psychologists to play a role in improving the human condition.
APS notes with great sadness the passing of J. Richard Hackman, on January 8, 2013.