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Academic Biography

Scott Sonenshein is the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University where he teaches courses in organizational behavior, leadership and change management. Prior to joining the Jones School in 2007, he taught at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan where he also received his PhD in Management and Organizations. Dr. Sonenshein also received a BA from the University of Virginia in Business Ethics and an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge in Management Studies.

Dr. Sonenshein’s research employs field methodologies (primarily involving qualitative data) to explain the resourceful actions of employees to foster organizational and social/ethical change. Dr. Sonenshein’s work usually follows an inductive approach, posing broad research questions grounded in the literature that enable the discovery of new ideas.

He has contributed to a variety of theoretical perspectives that span both “micro” and “macro” topics, including creativity, sensemaking, identity, competition, social influence, and decision making. He has made these contributions by locating generative field settings ranging from fashion to food trucks, banks to booksellers, and entrepreneurs to environmentalists.  Although his studies often contain an inductive surprise, his work coalesces around illuminating the skill, agency, and motivation of individuals to contribute to change (in the workplaces or for the social good) as well as the corresponding organizational practices that foster these outcomes.

In 2013, the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan awarded his paper on the psychological resources employees create through sensemaking to facilitate strategic change with its Biennial Best Paper Award. In 2008, The Aspen Institute recognized his research on social change and business ethics by naming him a finalist for its Faculty Pioneer Award. In 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, he won the Jones School’s Faculty Research Excellence Award.

Dr. Sonenshein’s research has appeared in many leading journals of organizational behavior including Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal and Organization Science. Additionally, he served as an Associate Editor at the Academy of Management Journal and currently sits on its editorial board along with  Academy of Management Review and Organization Science.

Dr. Sonenshein’s expertise and perspectives have been sought by a variety of media outlets, including The New York Times, Time Magazine, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review as well as television and radio.

In the classroom, Dr. Sonenshein is known for his frequent use of simulations which gives students the opportunity to put into immediate action newly learned theoretical concepts, mediate these ideas with their professional and personal experiences, and understand the realistic outcome of their managerial skills.

Prior to his academic career, Dr. Sonenshein worked as a strategy consultant with clients including leading technology companies Microsoft and AT&T. Additionally, he worked in marketing and research positions for a Kleiner Perkins backed Silicon Valley startup…from boom to bust.