Research Expertise: Organizational theory, organizational behavior, social networks, job mobility, technology and innovation
Professor Gina Dokko’s research focuses on organizational theory and behavior, careers, social networks, and technology and innovation. Recently she’s been examining the consequences of job mobility, especially in light of today’s high unemployment rates. She studies how portable experience is, and how peoples’ job mobility and career histories enable and constrain learning, innovation, performance and social capital for both themselves and their employers. For example, although firms hire people based on related experience, Dokko’s research finds that having a diverse career helps an employee’s innovative performance.
Dokko’s current projects include an investigation of how corporate venture capital managers’ work backgrounds affect investment strategies in the IT sector, and how the range of jobs an entrepreneur has had affects their ability to secure venture capital funding as well as the performance of their ventures.
Dokko has published in the journals Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Studies and Research Policy. She has presented her research internationally at the Academy of Management Meetings; the Strategic Management Society Meetings; the Wharton Organizational Behavior Conference; the Organization Science Winter Conference; the Israel Strategy Conference; and the European Group on Organization Studies.
Before starting her doctoral studies Dokko worked in strategy and marketing at American Express and 3M.
Dokko received her Ph.D. in management from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She has a M.S. in industrial administration from Carnegie Mellon University and earned a B.S. in economics, also from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a former assistant professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
We theorize a career resourcing process that explains how
individuals can create a new profession. Using historical
archives, we trace the emergence of health services research as a
new research profession through the career actions of early
practitioners. We find that career resourcing can lead to the
institutionalization of a new profession by (a) a process of
accretion, wherein people pursuing fulfilling careers generate
resources that contribute to institutionalization, or (b)
institutional work to deliberately build the professional
community and infrastructure. We contribute to research on
institutional change by specifying career actions that can lead
to the institutionalization of a new profession, and by
developing theory that accounts for the motivations and the means
of individuals to act in ways that result in the
institutionalization of a new profession.
On Forbes.com, Associate Professor Gina Dokko’s take on how automation will impact careers as she led a panel of experts at a recent Academy of Management meeting.
Helping First-Gen, Low-Income College Students Rise Above
Associate Professor Gina Dokko goes back to her roots with Bay Area nonprofit
Associate Professor Gina Dokko goes back to her roots to help a Bay Area nonprofit that assists first-generation college students.
One major question that all organizations have to address is how to select new members. How should they attract new applicants? How should they select from among them?
Learning to Let Go: Social Influence, Learning, and the Abandonment of Corporate Venture Capital Practices
Strategic Management Journal, 2016
When do firms shut down practices? Prior research has shown that firms learn from the actions of other firms, both adopting and abandoning practices when their peers do. But unlike adoption decisions, abandonment decisions need to account for firms’ own experiences with the practice. We study the abandonment of corporate venture capital (CVC) practices in the U.S. IT industry, which has experienced waves of adoption and abandonment. We find that firms that make more CVC investments are less likely to abandon the practice, and are less likely to learn vicariously from other firms’ abandonment decisions, such that they are less likely to exit CVC when other firms do. Staffing choices also matter: hiring former venture capitalists makes firms less likely to abandon CVC practices, while hiring internally makes abandonment more likely. Plus, staffing choices affect how firms learn from the environment, as CVC managers pay attention to and learn more from the actions of firms that match their work backgrounds; i.e., firms that staff CVC units with former venture capitalists are more likely to follow exit decisions of VC firms, while those that staff with internal hires are more likely to follow their industry peers. Our results suggest that firms wanting to retain CVC practices should think carefully about the implementation choices they make, as they may be inadvertently sowing seeds of abandonment.
One of Us or One of My Friends: How Social Identity and Tie Strength Shape the Creative Generativity of Boundary-Spanning Ties
Organization Studies, 2014
Social ties to colleagues on other work teams can spur creative
ideas and workplace innovation by exposing an individual to
diverse knowledge. However, for external knowledge to be
recombined into innovation, the knowledge must first be
recognized as potentially valuable. Going beyond traditional
structural explanations, we predict that the use of diverse
knowledge to generate creative ideas and solutions will depend in
part on employees’ psychological attachment to the organizational
groups to which they belong, i.e., their social identity, and the
strength of their social ties. We test our hypotheses in an
R&D division of a global high-technology firm, finding that
social identity influences the creative generativity of
boundary-spanning ties. Specifically, stronger team identity
renders interactions with colleagues on other work teams less
generative of creative ideas, while identification with an
overarching, superordinate group (e.g., a division) enhances
creative generativity. We also hypothesize and find that tie
strength attenuates the negative effect of team identity.
Venturing Into New Territory: Career Experiences of Corporate Venture Capital Managers and Practice Variation
Academy of Management Journal, 2012
When organizations adopt new practices, the practices are often
modified to fit the new context. We argue that managers who
implement new practices modify them, and that the extent of
practice variation is determined by two types of these managers’
career experience: experience with the practice itself and
experience that enables assessment of the fit between the
practice and the adopting firm. We test these arguments by
observing information technology firms’ modification of venture
capital practices in corporate venture capital units. This study
contributes to diffusion research by developing and testing a
framework for understanding the role of individuals in practice
Keeping Steady as She Goes: A Negotiated Order Perspective on Technological Change
Organization Studies, 2012
A central idea in the theory of technology cycles is that social
and political mechanisms are most important during the selection
of a dominant design, and that eras of incremental change are
socially uninteresting periods in which innovation is driven by
technological momentum and elaboration of the dominant design. In
this essay, we overturn the ontological assumption that social
order is inherently stable, drawing on Anselm Strauss’s concept
of negotiated order to analyze the persistence of a dominant
design as a social accomplishment: an outcome of ongoing
processes that reinforce or challenge a socially negotiated
order. Thus, we shift focus from battles over standards to
periods of normal innovation. We extend the technology cycles
model to explain social dynamics in periods of incremental
change, and to make predictions specifying how contextual
conditions in standards-setting organizations affect social
interaction, leading to reinforcement or challenge to a
Take It Easy
U.S. workers are taking less and less vacation — here’s what their employers are losing to the vacation gap
Many employees, with or without a backup, fear the crushing amount of work that will greet them when they return so that even the idea of a vacation is stressful, says Associate Professor Gina Dokko.
Evaluating and Rewarding People
Presented by: Gina Dokko, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Management
UC Davis Graduate School of Management
To schedule an Executive Education program, please contact Natalie Hull-Frazier.
When firms decide to branch out into a new area of business, they might feel the need to hire new employees from outside the organization, as most hiring managers assume that the best candidates are those who have performed the exact role before. The reasons for that are perfectly sensible—they want an identical skill set so the new hire will hit the ground running.
Corporate venture capital investment strategies, goals and outcomes vary greatly depending on the background of the investment manager, a new University of California, Davis, study shows.
In an analysis of the corporate venture capital units of 93 U.S.-based information technology firms, UC Davis researchers found that if managers had private venture capital backgrounds, they tended to invest in start-ups with high-growth prospects — and had less regard for the start-ups’ technological or strategic “fit” with the corporate parent.
- Professor of the Year Award, UC Davis Graduate School of Management, 2018-19.
- Professor of the Year Award, UC Davis Graduate School of Management, 2016-17.
- Outstanding Reviewer Award, Strategic Management Journal, 2016.
- Outstanding Reviewer Award, Organization Science, 2012.
- Research Grant, INSEAD 2520-493R, 2009.
- Winner, Best Symposium, Careers Division, Academy of Management Meetings, (with C. Rider), 2009.
- Kauffman Research Award, UC Berkeley, 2007.
- Participant, Best Symposium, Academy of Management Meetings Careers Division, 2006.
- Invited Participant, Organization and Management Theory Junior Faculty Workshop, Academy of Management Meetings, 2005.
- Research Grant, Mack Center for Technological Innovation, 2004.
- Second Place, INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition, 2003.
- Best Paper Finalist, Academy of Management Best Papers Proceedings, Organization and Management Theory Division, 2003.
- Research Grant, Reginald H. Jones Center, 2003.
- Research Grant, Wharton Center for Human Resources, 2003.
- Research Grant, Wharton Financial Institutions Center, 2002.
- Research Grant, Mack Center for Technological Innovation, 2002.
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.
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.