Maria Ibanez is an Assistant Professor of Operations Management at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. She received her doctorate in Technology and Operations Management from Harvard Business School.
Operations management research typically prescribes policies (such as schedules) for managers to implement. Yet, in practice, workers often have discretion—freedom to decide which tasks to work on, when, and how. As a result, they often deviate from their prescribed assignments. Her research investigates how to "manage" discretion by creating the conditions that promote desirable deviations and mitigate undesirable ones.
From a practical perspective, her research focuses on improving performance by designing data-driven systems that lead individuals to exercise discretion in ways that increase their productivity and work quality. Her work spans archival big data and field experiments in contexts ranging from radiology to restaurant inspections and emergency departments. With a primary focus on healthcare, she collaborates with organizations to understand their work and 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 insights regarding the connections between operational factors, decision-making, and performance.