Organizational Behavior is the study and application of knowledge about how people, individuals, and groups act in organizations. The Organizational Behavior concentration prepares students for a broad range of industries and roles by providing the leadership and management competencies required to progress from mid-level positions in organizations to higher-level positions with increasing managerial responsibility. It complements more technical concentrations in business analytics, finance and marketing by providing a broader managerial decision-making context to apply and integrate specific tools and techniques.
Category Taken-for-Grantedness as a Strategic Opportunity
The Case of Light Cigarettes, 1964 to 1993
Theories within organizational and economic sociology that center on market categories often equate taken-for-grantedness with increased constraint on category members’ features. In contrast, we develop a novel perspective that considers how market participants’ changing category-related attributions decrease the scrutiny of category offerings, opening up strategic opportunities for firms. We further argue that whether producers should be expected to take advantage of these opportunities depends on the extent to which they are incentivized to do so.
J.D., McGeorge Law School, Sacramento
Teaching area: The development of persuasive, professional speaking and writing skills for business, as well as critical thinking protocols to optimize decision-making.
Brian Kennedy is an attorney, focusing on criminal defense. He has his own law practice in San Diego. He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, San Diego, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of the Pacific. Brian is also the head rugby coach at UCSD.
M.S., MBA, Santa Clara University.
B.S., University of California, Davis
Jim Olson founded the WestShore Management Group in April of 2007, continuing a distinguished career after leading several high technology businesses for two Fortune companies and serving for nine years as CEO of SkyStream Networks, the top rated IPTV video head-end provider worldwide. WestShore Management Group provides Interim CEO, corporate consulting, and executive development services for both public, and private, venture-financed companies.
Course Taught: Strategic Innovations in Energy Efficiency
- Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
- M.A., University of California, Davis
- B.A., Simmons College | Boston, Mass.
Research Expertise: Organizational theory, management of innovation, economic and organizational sociology, firm networks, industrial change, social bases of technology adoption
“Leadership happens every moment of every day. You always have an opportunity to influence what other people do and why they do it by being a role model. I help students understand their leadership strengths and weaknesses, pushing them to work outside of their comfort zones—for instance, by encouraging those who are not ‘natural leaders’ to take the initiative.”
- The Individual & Group Dynamics
- Negotiation in Organizations
- Business Policy and Strategy
Research Expertise: Leadership in organizations; perception and management of individual and organizational images; identities and reputations, especially images of legitimacy, trustworthiness and creativity
- Ph.D., Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Stanford University
- M.S., Industrial and Management Engineering University of Iowa
- B.S., Industrial and Management Engineering University of Iowa
- International Research Fellow, Centre for Corporate Reputation, Oxford University
- NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative and National Champion Masters Swimmer
- Past UC Davis Chancellor’s Fellow
- Globally visible expert in organizational behavior
Professor Kimberly Elsbach focuses her research on the acquisition and maintenance of organizational images, identities and reputations, especially images of legitimacy, trustworthiness and creativity. She also teaches and studies negotiation skills in competitive business environments. Her research provides a framework for communicating with shareholders, customers and employees in the immediacy of a reputation crisis and through long-term recovery. In papers published in the Harvard Business Review and the Academy of Management Journal, Elsbach showed how Hollywood movie and television producers judge the creativity of people pitching story ideas.
Steven C. Currall
Chancellor’s Senior Advisor for Strategic Projects and Initiatives, Professor of Management
Research Expertise: Organizational behavior, entrepreneurship, emerging technologies, trust and negotiation, corporate governance
Understanding Threats to Leader Trustworthiness: Why It’s Better to Be Called “Incompetent” than “Immoral”
Restoring Trust in Organizations and Leaders, Oxford University Press 2012
In this book chapter, Professors Kimberley Elsbach and Steven Currall use research on both spontaneous trait inferences (i.e., perceptions of individual characteristics based on the mere observation of behavior) and motivated person-perception (i.e., perceptions of others that are influenced by perceiver needs and emotions) to develop a model explaining the differing effects of incompetent vs. immoral acts on leader trustworthiness.
Research Expertise: Organizational behavior and identity, economic sociology, entrepreneurship
How Wine Critics’ Quality Ratings Impact the Market
Oganization Science: Evaluative Schemas and the Mediating Role of Critics
It is well known that in markets such as restaurants, films and books, critics directly shape market outcomes by guiding consumers’ attention and purchase decisions through their assessments of product quality. Less understood is how critics influence the decision-making and behavior of producers.
Professor Kimberly Elsbach studies how people see each other as well as their organizations as a whole. She shares the advantages of studying at a nationally ranked business school within a world-class research university. She says, “I hope that my students learn as much from each other as they do from me. I try and create an environment where we can have a discussion about a topic and really explore the underlying questions about why.”
Sociologists have rightfully claimed economy and economic activity as areas for their legitimate analysis. Edited by Professor Nicole Biggart, these articles, over thirty in total, reflect the best and latest thought in the exciting field of economic sociology. Beginning with the foundation of Smith, Marx, Engels, and Polanyi, the volume gathers some of the best writings by economic sociologists that consider national and world economies as both products and influences of society.
Tupperware Home Parties, Shaklee Corporation, Amway, Mary Kay Cosmetics—theirs is an approach to business that violates many of the basic tenets of modern American commerce. Yet these direct selling organizations, fashioned by charismatic leaders and built upon devoted armies of door-to-door representatives, have grown to constitute an $8.5 billion a year industry and provide a livelihood for more than 5 million workers, the vast majority of them women.
Normal Organizational Wrongdoing: A Critical Analysis of Theories of Misconduct in and by Organizations
Oxford University Press
Instances of wrongdoing in and by organizations are prevalent in modern society, perhaps increasingly so in recent years. Why do organizational participants—employees, managers, senior officials—engage in illegal, unethical, and socially irresponsible behavior?
Qualitative Organizational Research Volume 1: Best Papers from the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research
Information Age Publishing, 2005
Over the past five years the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research has welcomed research projects by the very best qualitative, organizational researchers in the world. This conference has helped authors develop and hone theoretical ideas in an environment friendly to qualitative methods, and more importantly, has begun to build a community of qualitative researchers that work on organizational and management issues.
Edited by Professor Kimberly D. Elsbach, the authors winning the “Best Presentation Awards” at the Davis Conference over the past five years have contributed chapters to this volume. The ideas in these chapters were “born” before the conference, but were nurtured through dialogue at the conference, and subsequently matured through later interactions among the community of qualitative scholars associated with the conference. As such, this volume represents the fruits of our collective labor as a qualitative research community.
Qualitative Organizational Research Volume 2: Best Papers from the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research
Information Age Publishing, 2009
Over the past ten years, the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research has become the world’s leading conference for qualitative researchers in organizational studies. The authors of the “Best Presentation Awards” at the Davis Conference from the past four years have contributed chapters to this volume.
Edited by Professor Kimberly D. Elsbach and Associate Professor Beth Bechky, these papers cover topics ranging from organizational name changes and organizational afterlife, to the use of written letters to build relationships and the use of a “creative foil” to improve one’s leadership image, yet all of these papers are similar in that they benefited from the community of over 100 scholars developed through the Davis Conference, and represent qualitative research at its very best.
The Role of Social Heuristics in Project-centred Production Networks: Insights from the Commercial Construction Industry
Engineering Project Organization Journal, 2012
Project production networks or PPNs are now the primary means for organizing in many industries including fashion design and manufacturing, moviemaking and construction projects. PPNs enable professionally and geographically distributed participants of a common project to bring their expertise and resources together to achieve an economically and technically superior product than a single firm could produce.
M.A., University of Toronto
Teaching area: The development of persuasive, professional speaking and writing skills for business, as well as the use of critical thinking protocols that optimize decision-making.
In this paper, Associate Professor Greta Hsu and co-authors Michael T. Hannan from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and László Pólos from Durham University propose a formal theory of multiple category memberships which has the potential to unify two seemingly unconnected theories: typecasting and identity-based form emergence.
Inside Multi-disciplinary Science and Engineering Research Centers: The Impact of Organizational Climate on Invention Disclosures and Patents
Research Policy, 2011
Much past research on commercialization activities by university scientists and engineers has focused on the role of resources in the extra-organizational commercialization environment, such as the availability of venture capital funding. By contrast, the theoretical and empirical interest of this paper by Professor Steven Currall and co-authors Emily M. Hunter of Baylor University and Sara Jansen Perry of University of Houston-Downtown was in intra-organizational dynamics impacting the context in which scientists and engineers work.
Dr. Robert L. Lorber is the CEO of The Lorber Kamai Consulting Group, a firm formed in 1976. The organization has implemented productivity improvement systems for companies on five continents.
Research Expertise: Organizational theory, organizational behavior, social networks, job mobility, technology and innovation
Nicole Woolsey Biggart joined the Graduate School of Management in 1981 as one of the School’s first faculty members. In June 2010, she assumed the Chevron Chair in Energy Efficiency, which directs the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center. Professor BIggart served as dean of the Graduate School of Management from July 2003 to June 2009. She held the Jerome J. and Elsie Suran Chair in Technology Management from 2002 to 2010.
Employees who cry at work are routinely perceived as unprofessional and weak, and occasionally perceived as manipulative, according to research by Professor Kimberly Elsbach that is receiving significant national attention. Most recently, Forbes magazine featured her findings in its January 2011 article, “Crying at Work, A Woman’s Burden.” Elsbach explained that women are more likely to cry in the workplace than men: “Because women aren’t socialized like men they carry an extra burden of emotional labor.”
Making Organizational Theory Work: Institutions, Occupations, and Negotiated Orders
Organization Science, 2011
In this essay, Associate Professor Beth Bechky argues that organizational theorizing would benefit from incorporating a richer understanding of work and occupations. To demonstrate how, she turns to recent literature analyzing inhabited institutions, occupations as institutions, and occupations as negotiated orders. Bechky explores the theoretical and methodological implications of these approaches to show how they challenge some of our more abstract images of organizations.
Teaching Field: Organizational Behavior
Research Expertise: Organizational behavior, role of power and politics in corporate decision making, causes of organizational wrongdoing
Consulting: Community health needs assessments, group decision-making facilitation
Expecting the Unexpected? How Swat Officers and Film Crews Handle Surprises
The Academy of Management Journal, 2011
Organizations increasingly face surprises with regularity, yet little is known about how they develop the responses to unexpected events that enable their work to continue. In this paper, Associate Professor Beth Bechky and co-author Gerardo A. Okhuysen of the University of Utah compare ethnographic data from two types of organizations that regularly deal with surprises, a police SWAT team and film production crews.
2010 UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders
A Census of Women Directors and Highest-Paid Executives
The UC Davis Graduate School of Management in partnership with Watermark publishes the annual “UC Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders: A Census of Women Directors and Executive Officers.”
Our sixth annual study details the presence of women at the very top of the 400 largest publicly held corporations headquartered in the state. Our findings paint a disappointing picture of female representation on the boards and in the executive suites of these high-profile companies.
Social Capital for Hire? Mobility of Technical Professionals and Firm Influence in Wireless Standards Committees
Organization Science, 2010
The movement of personnel between firms has been shown to have important implications for firms, yet there has been little direct investigation of the underlying mechanisms. In this study, Assistant Professor Gina Dokko and co-author Lori Rosenkopf from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, propose that in addition to their human capital, mobile individuals carry social capital, affecting the outcomes of the firms they join and leave by altering the patterns of interaction between firms.
In this paper Professor Michael Maher and Professor Donald Palmer analyze the mortgage meltdown as a “normal accident” (Perrow, 1984). They begin by briefly outlining normal accident theory; both Perrow’s original version and Mezias’ (1994) subsequent extension. They then use normal accident theory to analyze the mortgage meltdown and draw a few insights from our account. They then consider the relationship between normal accidents and wrongdoing; a vexing question for both normal accident theory and observers of the meltdown.
Assistant Professor Gina Dokko, who joined the School’s faculty in July, spent the summer presenting her latest research in the U.S. and Europe, traveling to the 25th EGOS Colloquium in Barcelona, Spain, and the Academy of Management conference in August in Chicago.
During recent years, a burgeoning community of social science researchers has developed an understanding of how the public perceives emerging technologies such as nanotechnology. In this article, Professor Steven Currall argues that the elaboration of theory is vital for the development of a coherent body of research literature on public perceptions of nanotechnology, and that the three papers in this issue of Nature Nanotechnology mark a substantial advance in the range of theoretical factors considered to affect the public’s perceptions and attitudes towards nanotechnology.
Why are products or producers that span multiple categories penalized in competitive markets? A recent study by Assistant Professor Greta Hsu and colleagues Professor Michael T. Hannan of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Assistant Professor of Management Özgecan Koçak of Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey, examines the effects of market specialization in the U.S. feature-film industry and eBay.
As individuals change jobs more frequently, it is increasingly important to understand what they carry from their prior work experience that affects their performance in a new organizational context. So far, explanations about the imperfect portability of experience have primarily been about firm specificity of knowledge and skill. In this study, Assistant Professor Gina Dokko and co-authors Steffanie L. Wilk from Fisher College of Business, Ohio State University and Nancy P. Rothbard from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania draw on psychological theory to propose additional sociocognitive factors that interfere with the transfer of knowledge and skill acquired from prior related work experience.
This past summer Professor Donald Palmer presented his research on organizational wrongdoing in a talk titled “Power Corrupts, But How?: An Analysis of Enron’s Illegal Special Purpose Entities” at Cornell University’s Johnson School and at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
As President-elect Obama shapes his ideas and package to stimulate the economy, Dean Nicole Woolsey Biggart traveled to Washington D.C. in December to participate in a high-level, day-long conference titled “How Will the Obama Administration and New Congress Support Innovation amid an Economic Crisis?”
Motivating and directing creative workers is a challenge for managers. Nevertheless, large corporations rely on the creative work of designers, engineers, artists and writers to maintain a competitive advantage. While these workers add economic value through their creations, their identities (solitary, independent, idealistic) can be at odds with the more pragmatic goals of a corporation.
With questions of corporate accountability, CEO responsibility, and individual morality making headline news as banks failed and financial institutions faltered on Wall Street, Professor Kimberly Elsbach presented a talk on leadership in business at the third annual Fall Ethics Symposium at California State University, Sacramento, in October. The symposium, which focused on personal and professional integrity in business, brought together scholars and practitioners with expertise in ethics from across the county to discuss the role of integrity in business decision-making.
Boundary Organizations: Enabling Collaboration among Unexpected Allies
Administrative Science Quarterly, 2008
This paper by Associate Professor Beth Bechky and Siobhán O’Mahony of Boston University examines how parties challenging established social systems collaborate with defenders of those systems to achieve mutual goals. With field interviews and observations from four community projects in the open-source movement, the authors examine how these projects collaborated with firms defending proprietary approaches to software development.
Dean Nicole Woolsey Biggart travelled to the island of Sardinia from April 5-11 to teach a short course on managing innovation at the Associazione Istituzione Libera Università Nuorese (AILUN). It was the eighth time Biggart has joined other top international scholars to teach in AILUN’s International Masters of Organizational Science program. The nine-month curriculum is built around special lectures by prominent faculty in sociology, psychology, economics and business.
Much has been said and written about the perceived increasing “irrelevance” of organizational studies. Concerns about the field’s relevance were a motivating factor for the formation of the journal Organization Science in 1990. Just last year, the Academy of Management Journal published a series of articles that addressed the topic in commemoration of the journal’s 50th anniversary. But there has been very little systematic research on this subject—until now.
Professor Kimberly Elsbach was among a select group of UC Davis faculty and lecturers honored at a campus authors event on April 29. Elsbach was invited to discuss her book Organizational Perception Management, which summarizes the research findings from a relatively new domain of the same name.
Dean Nicole Woolsey Biggart recently presented her research on market regimes at the Conference on Capitalism and Entrepreneurship hosted by Cornell University’s Center for the Study of Economy and Society. The two-day conference last September featured world renowned researchers and experts in economics and sociology from universities in Denmark, Sweden, France and the U.S.
Work space design can make or break a company’s productivity, either inspiring innovation and collaboration or stifling employees’ ability to work smarter. Thirty years ago conventional wisdom held that to create an environment that promoted efficiency and comfort, work spaces needed to be neat and tidy with no personal items cluttering desktops.
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton’s show of emotion before the New Hampshire presidential primary—when her eyes welled up and her voice quivered in response to a voter’s question about how she kept going on the campaign trail—is said to have helped her at the polls. It also shed light on the issue of crying on the job, which Professor Kimberly Elsbach has been studying.
Recognized for her expertise in organizational behavior and research on identity and work, Associate Professor Beth Bechky helped organize a two-day forum on future jobs skills at the Keck Center in Washington D.C. from May 31 to June 1.
Professor Donald Palmer, editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly (ASQ), is gearing up to celebrate the journal’s 50th anniversary.
Getting the most from employees might involve more than a motivational speech from management—think design.
In their recent article, “It’s More Than a Desk: Working Smarter Through Leveraged Office Design,” published in the winter issue of the California Management Review, Professor Kimberly Elsbach and Assistant Professor Beth Bechky lay out systematic ways managers can design office space to inspire group membership, improve collaboration and encourage group problem solving among their employees.
How do the risks and benefits of nanotechnology, as viewed by the public, compare with those associated with other technologies such as genetically modified organisms, stem cells, biotechnology and nuclear power? And when deciding to use a specific nanotechnology product, will consumers consider the risks, the benefits, or both? Professor Steven Currall and his co-authors report the first large-scale empirical analyses of these questions.
Associate Professor Beth Bechky Studies Role-based Coordination in Temporary Organizations
Organization Science, 2006
Organizations come in many forms, from more traditional, formal hierarchies such as corporations and government departments, to less hierarchical, project-based organizations such as theater, commercial construction sites and film production sets. The latter, referred to as “temporary organizations,” have proven more flexible and capable of accomplishing objectives efficiently and successfully under intense time constraints.
There are two explanations of organizational crime. The dominant one assumes that people make discrete decisions and develop positive dispositions to engage in crime before embarking on criminal behavior. An emerging alternative assumes that people often embark on criminal behavior through a process and without first developing positive dispositions.
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