Adina Sterling

Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior

Adina Sterling

Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior

Associate Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences
Business School Trust Faculty Scholar for 2022–2023
Academic Area:

Research Statement

I investigate how social networks affect processes and outcomes in markets, with special attention to labor markets. To this end, I treat social networks as 1) tools that can be used by organizations, managers and job-seekers to contend with uncertainty, and 2) objects of study regarding how they develop in the workplace due to the external (labor) markets in which organizations are situated. Second, I study organizational practices related to social networks (e.g. network-based hiring) and “alternatives-to-networks” practices (e.g. tryouts), and the near and more distant consequences of these practices on employees and organizations. Within this second research stream, a primary line of inquiry is the effects of these practices on the social and economic outcomes of members of different sociodemographic groups.

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 and organizational theorist who specializes in studying the way firms and labor and product markets interact and the implications of these interactions on organizational behaviors and career outcomes. Ultimately, her work helps to identify the underlying causes of workplace, career, and labor market inequality, as well as how workplace and labor market practices can be effective in remediating inequality.

Professor Sterling leads the Equity by Design Lab at Stanford GSB, and currently has projects focused on how individuals in their early careers successfully enter good paying jobs, the ways that race and gender influence outcomes in STEM, the influence of demographic characteristics on labor market mobility, tryouts as a pathway to enter organizations especially for historically disadvantaged groups, and how to reduce gender and racial wage gaps. Her work has appeared in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Management Science, Organization Science, Research in Organizational Behavior, 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.

Academic Degrees

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

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford GSB, 2019–present
  • Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford GSB, 2015–19
  • Assistant Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences, 2019
  • Assistant Professor of Strategy, Washington University, Olin Business School, 2011–15

Professional Experience

  • Senior Engineer, Research and Development, Global Baby Care and Beauty Care, Procter and Gamble, 2002–06

Awards and Honors

  • José E. Feliciano & Kwanza Jones SUPERCHARGED Initiative Faculty Scholar for 2021–22
  • José E. Feliciano & Kwanza Jones SUPERCHARGED Initiative Faculty Scholar, 2019–21
  • Shanahan Family Faculty Scholar, 2017–18
  • PhD Faculty Stanford GSB Distinguished Service Award, 2017
  • Clayman BBS Faculty Fellows Program, 2016–17
  • CRES Research Grant, Washington University, 2014


Journal Articles

Book Chapters

Academic Publications

Stanford Case Studies

In the Media

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School News