Beth Bechky

Stephen G. Newberry Chair in Leadership

Ph.D., Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, Stanford University, 1999
Master of Arts (M.A.), Sociology, Stanford University 1992
Bachelor of Science (B.S.) (with honors), Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University 1991

Research Expertise: Future of work, occupations and professions, collaboration. 

As an organizational ethnographer, Professor Beth Bechky’s research reveals the technical complexity of the modern workplace. Bechky’s recent book, Blood, Powder and Residue: How Crime Labs Translate Evidence into Proof, has just been published by Princeton University Press. In it, she shows how the work of forensic scientists is fraught with the tensions of serving justice—constantly having to anticipate the expectations of the world of law and the assumptions of the public—while also staying true to their scientific ideals.

Bechky studies how workers collaborate to solve problems, struggle to coordinate, and manage the challenges of technological change. In addition to her in-depth engagement in a crime lab, in previous projects she locked up sets and made copies as a production assistant in the film industry, assembled semiconductor equipment in a clean room, and assisted technicians in a biotech lab. She has published her work in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science and American Journal of Sociology.

Bechky is an associate editor at Administrative Science Quarterly, and was formerly a senior editor at Organization Science and the co-editor of Qualitative Organizational Research. She served on the council of the Organization, Occupations and Work division of the American Sociological Association from 2009-2012.

Bechky’s interest in the workplace began when she was a research associate at Xerox PARC. She earned a doctoral degree in Industrial Engineering and a masters degree in Sociology from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. Her first faculty position was at the Wharton School, and before rejoining the faculty at the Graduate School of Management, she was the Seymour Milstein Professor of Ethics, Corporate Governance and Strategy at New York University’s Stern School of Business. 

Most recently, Bechky, with her colleague Melissa Mazmanian of UC Irvine, was named a Microsoft Research AI & Society Fellow for 2024. The fellows program supports interdisciplinary AI research in the context of societal impact. In collaboration with the Microsoft fellows cohort, Bechky will study how current technologies, social structures, and economic models are shaping the future of creative work in a world of generative AI.