Elizabeth Pontikes

Associate Professor

Ph.D., Stanford University

Elizabeth Pontikes is Associate Professor of Management at The University of California, Davis, which she joined in 2019. She was formerly on the faculty of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business as Associate Professor, and was a Visiting Professor at the Kellogg School of Management.  

Prior to academia, Pontikes developed sales strategies and competitive positioning at software start-ups. She is the former Director of Solution Engineering at Coremetrics, Inc., in California (acquired by IBM), and former Program Manager at MicroStrategy, Inc.

Pontikes studies market categorization, innovation, and technological change. She studies these topics with a “big data” approach using computational text analytics. Her experiences in software start-ups inform her research. Designing strategy for an entrepreneurial company requires carving out a market position for an innovative product. An important tool is defining the categories potential customers use, to influence how they think about the market. By understanding cognitive and sociological underpinnings of categories, firms can define a market category for strategic benefit. In another line of research, she studies stigma by association in markets. Her work has appeared in The American Sociological Review, Management Science, Administrative Science Quarterly, Sociological Science, and Organization Science.

She earned a bachelor of science degree magna cum laude in physics with distinction from Yale University, where she was the Saybrook College Banner Bearer and received the DeForest Pioneers Prize for achievement in Physics. She graduated with a PhD in business administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2008, she received the Louis R. Pondy Award from the Academy of Management's Organization and Management Theory division for the best paper based on a dissertation.

In her free time, Elizabeth practices yoga and is a long-distance runner. She completed the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2005. She also enjoys reading historical non-fiction, especially about the American Revolutionary period.

Journal Publications

  • Pontikes, E.G. (2018). “Category Strategy for Firm Advantage.” Strategy Science, 3: 620-631.
  • Pontikes, E.G. and W.P. Barnett (2017). “The Non-Consensus Entrepreneur: Organizational Responses to Vital Events.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 62: 140 – 178.
  • Pontikes, E.G and R. Kim (2017). “Strategic Categorization.” in From Categories to Categorization: Studies in Sociology, Organizations and Strategy at the Crossroads (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 51). Durand, R., N. Granqvist, and A. Tyllström (eds), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 71-111.
  • Pontikes, E.G. and W.P. Barnett (2017). “The Coevolution of Organizational Knowledge and Market Technology.” Strategy Science, 2: 64 – 82.
  • Pontikes, E.G. and W.P. Barnett (2015). “The Persistence of Lenient Market Categories.” Organization Science, 26: 1415 – 1431.
  • Pontikes, E.G. (2015). “Social Classification,” in Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences (eds.) Robert Scott and Stephen Kosslyn, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Pontikes, E.G. and M.T. Hannan (2014). “An Ecology of Social Categories.” Sociological Science, 1: 311 – 343.
  • Pontikes, E.G. (2012). “Two Sides of the Same Coin: How Ambiguous Classification Affects Multiple Audiences’ Evaluations.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 57: 81 – 118.
  • Pontikes, E.G., G. Negro and H. Rao (2010). “Stained Red: A Study of Stigma by Association to Blacklisted Artists during the ‘Red Scare in Hollywood, 1945-1960.” American Sociological Review, 75: 456 – 478.
  • Barnett, W.P. and E.G. Pontikes (2008). “The Red Queen, Success Bias, and Organizational Inertia.” Management Science, 54: 1237 – 1251.
  • Barnett, W. P. and E.G. Pontikes (2005). “The Red Queen: History-Dependent Competition Among Organizations.” Research in Organizational Behavior. Staw, B. & Kramer, R.M. (eds.) Jai Press.