Can you tell us a little about your background and research?
I grew up in Vancouver, Canada and still visit family, friends, and my favorite mountains and beaches several times a year. Although I’ve lived in the US for decades, my roots continue to shape my work. There is a longstanding Canadian obsession with trying to understand what constitutes our national identity. The Canadian “identity question” mostly provides a great source of inspiration for comedians in North America, but it also makes it clear that something as concrete as a country is a social construction project rather than a naturalized fact. The recognition that social structures are constituted by a messy collection of social and cultural beliefs fit well with what I later learned was called “institutional theory.” My work looks at how organizations and other social structures, such as education systems, are created, in part, by their social and cultural context. Moreover, in recent decades this cultural context became increasingly globalized, starting in the post-WW II era and intensifying since the 1990s. My research emerges out of a longstanding line of organizational research developed at Stanford, especially as linked to John Meyer and collaborators, but also prior SCANCOR directors including Francisco Ramirez, Woody Powell, and Jim March.
When and how did you come into contact with SCANCOR? What does SCANCOR mean to you?
I started attending SCANCOR’s weekly public seminars as a graduate student. As someone interested in learning more about organizational research, the seminar provided a phenomenal range of perspectives. After becoming a regular in the seminar, I was invited to apply to the weeklong workshop on Institutional Analysis in Organizational Studies, which was held in Copenhagen the year I attended. The intensive course, and its innovative structure of “pairs” of local European and visiting American scholars each day, expanded my understanding of organizations and deepened my appreciation for the value of scholarly exchange. The relationships built during that visit have grown over the years, even expanding into collaborations on publications. Once I transitioned from student to faculty, I continued to engage with the scholars of SCANCOR – as an instructor in weeklong workshop, giving talks in the weekly seminar, and mentoring excellent postdocs. At every step of the way, these experiences have helped broaden my scholarly view. Now, after more than a decade of benefitting from SCANCOR and the amazing scholars in its network, I look forward to contributing to the community in this new position.
As a new director, do you have any specific plans for SCANCOR? Where do you see SCANCOR in the coming years?
A first goal is to maintain the vibrancy of SCANCOR’s core programs – the quarterly visiting scholar positions and postdocs, the regular seminar series, and the weeklong summer institute in Europe. I know first-hand that these offerings provide highly successful vehicles for meeting SCANCOR’s core mission of facilitating the transnational flow of ideas around the study of organizational social science. However, the world has been greatly disrupted in recent years, by the pandemic, progressive and regressive political and cultural upheaval, and growing awareness of the immediately life-threatening nature of the climate crisis. Organizations are central causes and solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time, and at the same time what it means to be a proper organization is evolving rapidly. I hope to amplify these themes in SCANCOR’s work.