Jesper B. Sørensen

Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor and Professor of Organizational Behavior

Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences

Codirector of the Executive Leadership Development Program

Faculty Director of SEED

Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellow for 2013-2014

Phone: (650) 736-9687


Personal Homepage:

Academic Areas: Organizational Behavior

Jesper B. Sørensen specializes in the dynamics of organizational and strategic change, and their implications for individuals and their careers. His research on firm outcomes has focused on the impact of organizational structure and culture on organizational learning, performance and innovation. His work of the dynamics of teams has led to new insights concerning how people respond to changes in the racial composition of their workgroups. Currently, Sørensen is engaged in a large-scale project on the determinants of entrepreneurial behavior that examines several previously unanswered questions, such as how work environments shape rates of entrepreneurship.


Jesper B. Sørensen received his AB from Harvard College and his PhD in Sociology from Stanford University. He is currently the Robert A. and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professor and Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Professor in the Department of Sociology (by courtesy). Prior to working at Stanford, Professor Sørensen was at the University of Notre Dame (1995-1996), the University of Chicago (1996-2000), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2000-2006).

Professor Sørensen is a sociologist who specializes in studying the dynamics of both organizations and careers, with work that covers a wide range of topics ranging from firm performance to social inequality. For example, his work has touched on: a) how firm characteristics (e.g., organizational age, corporate culture, incentive systems) influence organizational learning and performance; b) the impact of career experiences on turnover rates and workplace diversity, as well as firm outcomes; c) the influence of local corporate demography on promotion chances and income inequality; d) the micro-structure of social class in the United States; and e) the influence of the work environment on individual rates of entrepreneurship.

Professor Sørensen won (with Toby E. Stuart) the 2006 Administrative Science Quarterly Award for Scholarly Contribution for the article “Aging, Obsolescence and Organizational Innovation” (ASQ, 2000). He also won the 2006 Teacher of the Year award from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He has served as both Associate and Consulting Editor for the American Journal of Sociology, is on the Editorial Board of Administrative Science Quarterly, and is a Senior Editor of Organization Science.

Born in Denmark but (mostly)raised and educated in the U.S., Professor Sørensen continues his life-long struggle with mispronunciations of his first name (“with a J but like a Y”) with a mixture of humor and (mostly) resignation. When not doing research or teaching, he is busy trying to keep up with his wife and three children, including instilling in his kids a passion for the Red Sox and Patriots.

Academic Degrees

PhD, Stanford University, in Sociology, 1996; AB, in Social Studies, Harvard College, 1989.

Professional Experience

At Stanford since 2006. MIT Sloan School of Management, Associate Professor 2001-2006; MIT Sloan School of Management, Assistant Professor 2000-2001; University of Chicago Graduate School of Business 1996-2000; University of Notre Dame Department of Sociology 1995-1996.

Selected Publications

  • The Organizational Demography of Racial Employment Segregation: American Journal of Sociology, 2004
  • The Strength of Corporate Culture and the Reliability of Firm Performance: Administrative Science Quarterly, 2002
  • Coming from Good Stock: Career Histories and New Venture Formation (with M. Diane Burton and Christine Beckman: Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 2002
  • Aging, Obsolescence and Organizational Innovation (with Toby E. Stuart): Administrative Science Quarterly, 2002
  • The Ecology of Organizational Demography: Managerial Tenure Distributions and Organizational Competition: Industrial and Corporate Change, 1999

Selected Cases

  • OB71: As Green As It Gets
  • OB69: Note On Organizational Culture
  • SM181A: Siemens: Building a Structure to Drive Performance and Responsibility (A)
  • SM187: Xerox and Affiliated Computer Services (ACS)

Awards and Honors

  • ASQ Award for Scholarly Contribution, 2006, Administrative Science Quarterly
  • Teacher of the Year, 2006, MIT Sloan School of Management
  • Richard S. Leghorn, Chair, 1993, MIT Sloan School of Management

Courses Taught

  • OB 569: Strategy and Management in Developing Economies
  • STRAMGT 207: Strategic Leadership