Adina Sterling

Adina Sterling
Assistant Professor, Organizational Behavior
Contact Info
Shanahan Family Faculty Scholar for 2017-2018
Academic Area: 
Organizational Behavior

Research Statement

Adina D. Sterling investigates the ways organizations attract, manage, and retain high-value human capital in technology and business, the effect this has on the performance of employees and organizations, and the broader impact of these practices on inequality. For example, her work illuminates the ways firms strategically use the networks of employees to address timing issues when recruiting and hiring individuals, and that those hired with a social contact in the firm prior to starting are better integrated into a firm’s network after they join organizations. She currently has a number of projects investigating the tradeoffs between hiring through networks and hiring through trials such as internships, and is finding that the tradeoffs pertain to the performance of individuals, as well as equity-related issues, such as who is hired and what they paid.

Research Interests

  • Economic Sociology
  • Labor Markets
  • Strategic HR
  • Networks and Careers
  • Inequality


Professor Adina D. Sterling graduated with honors from Ohio State University with a BS in chemical engineering in 2002 and graduated with her PhD from Emory in Organization and Management in 2011. She is an economic sociologist who specializes in studying the way firms and labor and product markets interact and the implications of these interactions on the prices firms get for their products, who gets hired and what they get paid, as well as the affects this has on social stratification. For instance, her work has investigated a) how initial networks evolve in organizations b) how hiring practices affect selection and wage decisions and c) how networks and prior employment affect the success of entrepreneurs.

Professor Sterling currently has projects investigating how traditional methods of hiring compare to trial employment, or when firms get the opportunity to observe individuals first-hand in organizations, such as internships prior to making hiring decisions. Her work has appeared in journals such as Management Science, Organization Science, Industrial Labor Relations Review, and the Annals of the Academy of Management. Prior to academia, Professor Sterling worked at Procter and Gamble as a senior engineer on brands such as Pampers and Oil of Olay.


Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Organization and Management, Emory University, 2011
  • BS, Chemical Engineering, The Ohio State University, 2002

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business, 2015 - present
  • Assistant Professor of Strategy, Washington University, Olin Business School, 2011-2015

Professional Experience

  • Senior Engineer, Research and Development, Global Baby Care and Beauty Care, Procter and Gamble, 2002 - 2006

Awards and Honors

  • Shanahan Family Faculty Scholar, 2017-2018
  • PhD Faculty Stanford GSB Distinguished Service Award, 2017
  • Clayman BBS Faculty Fellows Program, 2016-2017
  • CRES Research Grant, Washington University, 2014


Journal Articles

Adina Sterling, Roberto M. Fernandez. Management Science (forthcoming). 2018.
Jennifer Merluzzi, Adina Sterling. ILR Review. January 2017, Vol. 70, Issue 1, Pages 105-131.
Adina Sterling. Organization Science. June 2015, Vol. 26, Issue 3, Pages 650–667.
Adina Sterling. Management Science. 2014, Vol. 60, Issue 9, Pages 2341-2354.
Matthew Bidwell, Forrest Briscoe, Isabel Fernandez-Mateo, Adina Sterling. Academy of Management Annals. June 2013, Vol. 7, Issue 1, Pages 61-121.
Peter Roberts, Adina Sterling. Management Science. February 10, 2012, Vol. 58, Issue 7, Pages 1292-1304.

Book Chapters

Christopher I. Rider, Adina Sterling, David Tan. Diversity in Practice: Race, Class, and Gender in Legal and Professional Careers. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, April 2016, Pages 357-382.


Degree Courses


This PhD course provides an overview of economic sociology as it pertains to the behavior of individuals as atomistic agents and collective actors, in the context of markets and organizations. Students will study foundational texts as well as...

This course equips you to create and build equitable organizations. We will discuss the power of inclusion as it relates to the employee and customer experience. We will study effective strategies for building diverse and inclusive companies,...


This course examines fundamental issues of general management and leadership within an organization. You will learn about setting an organization's strategic direction, aligning structure to implement strategy, and leading individuals within the...

This course examines fundamental issues of general management and leadership within an organization. You will learn about setting an organization's strategic direction, aligning structure to implement strategy, and leading individuals within the...

In the Media

Strategy+Business, March 21, 2016
Strategy+Business, March 21, 2016
Harvard Business Review, February 19, 2016

Insights by Stanford Business

November 6, 2017
A careful study of internships suggests what can be done about the wage disparity among managers.
August 21, 2017
Stanford GSB professors suggest a reading list of articles and books related to the concept.
April 11, 2017
New research looks at how referrals impact promotions of minorities and women.
September 15, 2016
A new study finds that the trend toward external hiring may be partly to blame.
September 8, 2015
First impressions follow new hires into their tenure at a job.

School News

October 4, 2017
The first Women’s Circles Leadership Summit celebrates and educates alumnae who share their personal and professional experiences across generations.
May 11, 2017
In three separate ceremonies this spring, students in the MBA, MSx, and PhD programs lauded Professors Charles Lee, Mary Barth, and Adina Sterling, respectively.
October 6, 2015
New faculty and lecturers offer unique perspectives and experience to augment program offerings.