Maria Ibanez is an Assistant Professor of Operations Management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She received her doctorate from Harvard Business School, where she also served as Teaching Fellow for the Analytics program for entering MBA students and for the core Technology and Operations Management course, which is taught in the Required Curriculum of the MBA program. Prior to joining HBS, she earned a Master of Science in Applied Economics from Marquette University, worked in finance, and conducted research with Professor Steven Levitt at the University of Chicago.
Maria's research investigates how to improve performance by designing data-driven systems that lead individuals to make better decisions. In doing so, her research seeks to help individuals improve how they exercise discretion and increase their productivity. With a primary focus on healthcare, she collaborates with organizations to understand their work and to develop implementable solutions for relevant challenges. Combining operations management with economic theory and the psychology of decision-making, she analyzes large-scale field data to identify causal relationships that generate new scholarly insights regarding the connections between operational factors, decision-making, and performance.
Her recent research focuses on the sequencing of decision-making. From physicians seeing patients to auditors inspecting establishments, many jobs entail completing a series of sequential, independent tasks. Maria’s work explores (1) how the sequencing of decision-making affects the decisions we make and (2) the consequences of exercising discretion to deviate from the prescribed sequence in which tasks are arranged for us (self-organization of work). Overall, her research documents the conditions under which individuals make better decisions and highlights opportunities to improve decision-making by being mindful about the order in which we make those decisions.