Research Interests                    

Organization Theory, Social Networks, Stratification and Inequality, Dynamic Groups, Learning and Innovation, Economic Sociology.


Social Distance and Knowledge Transformation: The effects of social network distance on organizational learning,” with Brandy Aven. 2016. Sociological Science. 3, 1103-1131.


Intra-Organizational Mobility: Movers, Incumbents, and Communication Networks

Committee: Brandy Aven (chair), Adina Sterling, Adam Kleinbaum, David Krackhardt, and James Herbsleb

A growing body of research suggests that intra-organizational mobility represents an important source of value creation and retention. Internal hires who are embedded in organizational social networks have greater resources and experience than external workers who are less socially-connected. Little is known, however, about how workers’ intra-organizational careers unfold and the influence of social networks toward that end. 

In this dissertation, I investigate the phenomenon of intra-organizational mobility. To do so, I focus on the mechanisms underlying the phenomenon—the structural factors that explain why people move within an organization (Chapter 1), how movers (Chapter 1) and incumbents (Chapter 2) do or do not benefit from the mobility, and the individual differences in network behavior for mobility (Chapter 3). This work primarily builds on and speaks to organizational theory scholars who study careers in organizations and social network scholars who study network dynamics and the benefits and constraints of information networks. 

I collected time-series data on the internal transfers between branches of retail sales employees at a US-based financial institution. The dataset is composed of individual demographics information, monthly performance (dollar value) of retail sales employees, and the meta email communication over nineteen months. 

Chapter 1: “Structural Blindness? Mobility and Performance Disruption in Organizations” with Adina Sterling and Brandy Aven, Manuscript in preparation.

We explore lateral intra-organizational mobility and its underlying social-network-related mechanisms. In detail, we expect that movers are more likely to join business units to which they have pre-existing ties. Nonetheless, the ties that facilitate movers’ joining business units are oftentimes not those that help them to perform well subsequently. We argue that movers with more pre-existing communication ties experience greater performance disruption than their less-connected peers.

Chapter 2:  “The Double-edged Effect of Hiring Top Performers: Newcomer's Performance, Group Hierarchy, and Intragroup Ranking as Predictors of Incumbents' Performance,” Manuscript in preparation.

I examine how newcomers influence the performance of incumbents. Past research indicates that hiring high-performing newcomers is commonly regarded as an effective means for groups to acquire knowledge and improve performance. Herein I highlight one condition, however, under which the anticipated benefit might not occur. In detail, I argue that low-ranking incumbents embedded in stable performance hierarchy suffer from the introduction of high-performing newcomers, because of the induced unfavorable social comparison.

Chapter 3:  “Gender, Mobility, and Communication Networks,” with Brandy Aven and Adam Kleinbaum, Manuscript in preparation.

We explore the effect of gender on the persistence of communication ties to old colleagues. Building on prior work investigating gender differences in social networks, we argue and find that women are more likely to maintain persistent communication contacts, whereas men are more likely to establish new contacts, after moving within an organization. Persistent communication ties, because they oftentimes coincide with ease of communication and social support, tend to increase employees’ post-move performance.

Other Working Papers

 Birds of a Feather or Birds Flocking Together? Disentangling the Effects of Preference and Role Homophily on Tie Formation,” with Brandy Aven and Ming Leung, Manuscript in preparation.