Faculty & Research

Anjali Sastry

  • Senior Lecturer, System Dynamics

Anjali Sastry is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

She is also a Lecturer at Harvard Medical School.

Sastry explores practical aspects of organizational and managerial effectiveness in settings facing complex challenges and pressing needs, where her grounding in system dynamics offers insights for innovation and improvement. Her study of practical management approaches for improving healthcare delivery in resource-limited markets connects management, strategy, systems approaches, and design thinking with global health and action learning. Building on her extensive experience with on-the-ground improvement projects in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, she designs and carries out field studies and impact assessments, develops cases and other materials for teaching, and conducts qualitative and operational research in collaboration with domain experts and frontline practitioners. Her work on innovative business models in frontier markets investigates the factors shaping scale, quality, and sustainability relevant to both entrepreneurs and established organizations.

As a Principal Investigator with MIT’s Tata Center for Technology and Design, Sastry investigates health innovation in India.

These research interests translate into teaching innovations at MIT Sloan. She founded and led GlobalHealth Lab, which collaborates with selected enterprises on the front lines of health care delivery. Built around the needs that partners identify, she has overseen 75 projects that address management, operations, and strategy. Students work at MIT to design specific improvements they then help implement on-site, working alongside enterprise staff. Now, Sastry is studying impact and refining a set of practical field-tested tools drawn from these projects. Press coverage on these projects includes the Financial Times, Forbes, AP, National Public Radio, and the Times of India.

Sastry’s teaching experience includes undergraduates, MBAs, and PhD students; executive Sloan Fellows; both custom and open-enrollment executive education courses at Harvard, University of Michigan, and MIT; faculty development; and mentoring student entrepreneurs and researchers at MIT, Harvard, Tufts, Stanford, and Boston University. Her investment in teaching has led to a stream of ongoing research to explore how professional students learn from experience, practice, and action. She is currently at work on her third book with Yasheng Huang on the disruptive educational and social impact of action learning.

Sastry's professional experience includes management consulting at Bain and Company and research positions at Rocky Mountain Institute, where she worked in India, and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. As an assistant professor at the University of Michigan and MIT Sloan, she used system dynamics computer simulation to research imprinting in organizations, institutional theory, organizational learning, and patterns of change in organizations. Sastry’s research has appeared in Administrative Science Quarterly, Energy Policy, Corporate Reputation Review, and Technology Review. She also writes for broader audiences, with pieces in Fast Company, the Huffington Post, the Atlantic’s Quartz, and WBUR’s Cognoscenti, and has appeared on Bloomberg Business Radio, SiriusXM Business Radio, CBC’s The Current, and PRI’s Innovation Hub radio shows.

In 2011, Sastry was appointed Lecturer in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, where she continues to collaborate in both teaching and research in executive education and degree programs.

She serves on the board of directors and is a member of the executive committee of global nonprofit Management Sciences for Health. She advises Mumbai-based Tata Trusts (where she spent May-August 2015 in residence), WonderWork, the Ashoka Foundation, Merck for Mothers, and the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business, among others, She is also a frequent collaborator with colleagues from the Global Health Delivery Project at Harvard University, MIT’s D-Lab, the MIT IDEAS competition, the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, and the Global Business School Network.

Sastry’s first book, Parenting Your Child with Autism: Practical Solutions, Strategies, and Advice for Helping Your Family, (New Harbinger Publications, 2012, coauthored with Blaise Aguirre) combines her personal experience, study of the research evidence, and management expertise in a practical guide for parents. In November 2014, Harvard Business Review Press published her book on designing projects for learning and innovation, Fail Better: Design Smart Mistakes and Succeed Sooner (coauthored with Kara Penn).

Anjali Sastry holds an SB in physics, an SB in Russian Language, and a PhD in system dynamics, all from MIT.

http://groundwork.mit.edu for more on her global health work
http://failbetterbydesign.com    for more on her latest book

  • "Collaborative action research to reduce persistently long patient wait times in two public clinics inWestern Cape, South Africa." Anjali Sastry, K. N. G. Long, A. de Sa, H. Salie, S. Topp, S. Sanghvi and L. van Niekerk. In The Lancet Global Health Special Issue: Consortium of Universities for Global Health, 6th annual conference, North Holland, The Netherlands: March 2015.
  • Fail Better: Design smart mistakes and succeed sooner. Sastry, Anjali and Kara Penn. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Review, 2014.
  • Parenting Your Child with Autism: Practical Solutions, Strategies, and Advice for Helping Your Family. Aguirre, B. and Anjali Sastry. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2012.
  • "Changing shades of green: Coupling and decoupling in Monsanto’s environmental orientations 1991-1997." Sastry, Anjali, J. W. Bernicke and S. L. Hart. In Organizations, Policy and the Natural Environment: Institutional and Strategic Perspectives, edited by A. J. Hoffman, M. J. Ventresca, 262-290. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.
  • "Understanding dynamic complexity in organizational evolution: A system dynamics approach." Sastry, Anjali. In Simulating Organizational Societies: Theories, Models, and Ideas, edited by A. Lomi, E. Larsen, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.
  • "Linking theory, empirical research, and simulations." Sastry, Anjali. In Computational Modeling in Organizational Behavior: The Third Scientific Research Discipline, edited by C. L. Hulin, D. R. Ilgen, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2000.
  • "Archetypal self-reinforcing structures in organizations: A system dynamics perspective of cognitive,social, and institutional processes." Anjali Sastry. In Proceedings of the 16th International System Dynamics Conference, edited by R. Joel Rahn, Albany, NY: July 1998.
  • "Problems and paradoxes in a model of punctuated organizational change." Sastry, Anjali. Administrative Science Quarterly Vol. 42, (1997): 237-275.
  • "Corporate environmental reputation: Comparing two industries." Sastry, Anjali, G. Dowell, S. Hart and J. Bernickle. Corporate Reputation Review Vol. 1, No. 1-2 (1997): 140-146.
  • "What could phrases do? Commentary on A phraseologic view of organizational learning." Sastry, Anjali. In Advances in Strategic Management 14, edited by A. S. Huff, J. P. Walsh, 75-80. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 1997.
  • "Bombay Efficient Lighting Large-scale Experiment (BELLE): A blueprint for improving energyefficiency and reducing peak electric demand in a developing country." Sastry, Anjali. Urban Atmosphere/Atmospheric Environment Vol. 30, No. 5 (1996): 803-808.
  • "Stalled on the road to the market: Lessons from a project promoting lighting efficiency in India." Gadgil, Ashok and Anjali Sastry. Energy Policy Vol. 22, No. 2 (1994): 151-162.
  • "Desert island dynamics: An annotated survey of the essential system dynamics literature." John D. Sterman and Anjali Sastry. In Proceedings of the 1993 International System Dynamics Conference, Albany, NY: December 1993.
  • "Energy-efficient lighting in Brazil and India: Potential and issues of technology diffusion." Sastry, Anjali, G. De M. Jannuzzi, A. Gadgil and H. Geller. In Proceedings of the First European Conference on Energy-Efficient Lighting, Stockholm, Sweden: December 1991.
  • "Can the U.S. economy survive a few nuclear weapons?" Sastry, Anjali, J. Romm and K. Tsipis. MIT Technology Review, April 1989.
  • "“Nuclear Crash: The US economy after small nuclear attacks.” ." Najali Sastry, J. Romm and K. Tsipis.
  • "The impact of nuclear warfare on Canada." Romm, Joseph and Anjali Sastry. The impact of nuclear warfare on Canada Vol. 39, No. 4 (1983): 64-67.