Ian Larkin

Assistant Professor



Ian Larkin is an Assistant Professor in the Strategy group at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. He researches the optimal use of formal rewards systems by companies, given the complex and often unanticipated effects these systems have on employee motivation and decision making. His research quantifying the cost incurred by a major enterprise software vendor due to salespeople deliberately gaming their sales commission system, published in The Journal of Labor Economics, is one of the most prominently cited empirical studies of incentive system gaming. It was the basis for a case study widely used in MBA classes on compensation and human resource management.

His recent research focuses on corporate awards and other programs companies use to formally recognize employee performance, and demonstrates that these programs often have unintended costs, such as the demotivation of some employee groups. A final stream of research investigates physician prescribing decisions in light of different sales tactics used by pharmaceutical sales representatives. His research has been discussed in a variety of media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Forbes and National Public Radio.

Ian teaches the core Business Strategy course at Anderson. In his first two years at Anderson, Ian won three teaching awards -- the Executive MBA (EMBA) Faculty Teaching Award in 2014, the Teaching Excellence Award in the Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) Program in 2015, and the Dean George W. Robbins Assistant Professor Teaching Award in 2015. He also is an active teacher in Anderson's Executive Education programs.

Before coming to Anderson, he was a member of the faculty at Harvard Business School, where he taught an elective MBA course on human resource management, as well as several executive education courses. He received a Ph.D. from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, and a M.Sc. from the University of London, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. He has served on the selection committees for the Marshall, Truman and Flinn Scholarship programs. Before completing his Ph.D., Ian spent four years as an Associate and Engagement Manager for McKinsey and Company, based in Hong Kong and Silicon Valley.

Ian's hobbies include cooking, traveling, and supporting the Green Bay Packers, a National Football League team in which he has a small ownership stake (one share).


Ph.D. Business and Public Policy, UC Berkeley
M.Sc. Economics, University of London
B.S. Economics, University of Arizona


Strategy, Human Resource Management, Behavioral Economics, Employee Decision Making, Motivation