Aruna Ranganathan

Aruna Ranganathan
Associate Professor, Organizational Behavior

Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior

Lacob Family Faculty Scholar for 2020–2021
Academic Area:

Research Statement

Identification with work is the idea that work can inherently be enjoyable and a source of fulfillment. My research agenda examines when and why this identification matters and investigates its implications for workers, organizations and occupations. I develop this agenda through three related research streams that examine how identification with work, organizations and occupations respectively affects (1) individual workers’ productivity and pricing decisions, (2) gender inequality in organizations and (3) occupational responses to change. All of this research focuses on economically disadvantaged workers in India, who are expected to be primarily driven by monetary considerations in their decision-making. Investigating identification among this group of workers thus offers a strong test for the idea that identification could play an important role in understanding the nature of work, while also informing important policy debates in this context. My research is also unified by my “full-cycle” methodological approach that combines inductive qualitative methods (ethnography and interviews) and deductive experimental methods (including field, lab-in-the-field and natural experiments). The qualitative methods help to develop hypotheses linking novel mechanisms for identification with work to workplace outcomes, while the quantitative methods help to causally test these hypotheses using experimental designs.


Professor Aruna Ranganathan spent her childhood in the Middle East, India, and Singapore before graduating with honors from University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business with a B.Com in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources in 2006. She also received an MS in international and comparative labor from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in 2008 and an MS/PhD in Management from MIT’s Sloan School of Management in 2014. Her doctoral dissertation, “Working with Your Hands: Essays on Craft Occupations in India” explored the intersection between economic sociology, the sociology of work, and industrial relations.

Academic Degrees

  • MS/PhD, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2014
  • MS, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, 2008
  • B.Com, University of British Columbia, 2006

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford GSB, 2019
  • Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, Stanford GSB, 2015–2019
  • Post Doctoral Associate, TATA Center, MIT, 2014–2015

Professional Experience

  • Member of Academy of Management
  • Member of Labor and Employment Relations Association
  • Member of American Sociological Association

Awards and Honors

  • Finalist, Amplifier Award for Teaching, Stanford GSB, 2020
  • Lacob Family Faculty Scholar for 2019–2020, Stanford GSB, $5000
  • Winner, Outstanding Publication in Organizational Behavior, Academy of Management, $500, 2019
  • Winner, Responsible Research in Management Award, Academy of Management, $500, 2019
  • Runner Up, Administrative Science Quarterly Best Paper Award based on Dissertation, 2019
  • Junior Faculty Research Grant, Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development, $12,000, 2018
  • Runner Up, Best International Paper Award, OMT Division, Academy of Management, 2018
  • Clayman Institute's Stanford Faculty Research Fellowship, $8,000, 2017
  • 2nd place, Research Paper Competition, Wharton People Analytics, $3,000, 2017
  • Runner Up, Research Paper Competition, Wharton People Analytics, 2017
  • Runner Up, Best International Paper Award, OMT Division, Academy of Management, 2016
  • Winner, William H. Newman Award for Best Paper Based on a Dissertation, Academy of Management, 2016
  • Winner, Louis Pondy Best Dissertation Paper Award, OMT Division, Academy of Management, 2016
  • Tata Center Grant, MIT, $108,000, 2014
  • Honorable Mention, Ron Burt Award for Outstanding Student Paper, Economic Sociology, ASA, 2013
  • Martin Fellowship, 2013
  • CIS Summer Grant, 2013
  • Sarofim Fellowship, MIT Sloan School of Management, 2011
  • India Innovation Seed Fund, MIT-India Program, $18,000, 2011


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