Jesper B. Sørensen

Jesper B. Sørensen
Professor, Organizational Behavior
Contact Info
Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences
The Katherine and David deWilde Faculty Fellow for 2019-2020
Academic Area: 
Organizational Behavior

Additional Administrative Titles

  • Co-Director, Executive Program in Strategy and Organization
Director, Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (Seed)

Research Statement

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. Sørensen has most recently published a number of papers on the ways in which work environments shape the decision to become an entrepreneur. He is currently interested in how investors and consumers make sense of new products or ventures that leverage radically new innovations, and the strategic implications of these processes.

Research Interests

  • Careers
  • Organizations
  • Strategy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Inequality


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 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 on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Sociology, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Strategic Management Journal. Professor Sørensen has also been a Senior Editor at Organization Science and Department Editor for the Organizations Department at Management Science. In 2013, he co-founded Sociological Science, a nonprofit, open-access online journal devoted publishing the best in sociological research, where he is currently the Editor-in-Chief.

At Stanford, Professor Sørensen has served as a Faculty Director of the Center for Social Innovation, and is currently Faculty Director of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies, known as Stanford Seed. Seed aims to enable business leaders in developing and emerging economies to lead their regions to greater prosperity. Seed operates regional and satellite centers in West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, and India, and in collaboration with the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research supports university-wide research focused on improving the lives of the world’s poor through the Stanford King Center on Global Development.

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.

Academic Degrees

  • PhD, Stanford University, 1996
  • AB, Harvard College, 1989

Academic Appointments

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

Awards and Honors

  • The Katherine and David deWilde Faculty Fellow, 2015-present
  • Susan Ford Dorsey Faculty Fellow, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2010-2015
  • Graduate School of Business Trust Faculty Fellow 2008-2009
  • ASQ Award for Scholarly Contribution, Administrative Science Quarterly, 2006
  • Teacher of the Year, MIT Sloan School of Management, 2006
  • Richard S. Leghorn, Chair, MIT Sloan School of Management, 1993


Journal Articles

Jesper B. Sørensen, Amanda Sharkey. American Sociological Review. 2014, Vol. 79, Pages 328-349.
Jesper B. Sørensen, Damon Phillips. Industrial and Corporate Change. 2011, Vol. 20, Pages 1277-1304.
Jesper B. Sørensen, Magali Fassiotto. Organization Science. 2011, Vol. 22, Pages 1322-1331.
Jesper B. Sørensen, Amanda Sharkey. Sociological Methods and Research. 2011, Vol. 40, Pages 635-645.
Jesper B. Sørensen, Ramana Nanda. Management Science. 2010, Vol. 56, Pages 1116-1126.
Jesper B. Sørensen. Administrative Science Quarterly. 2007, Vol. 52, Pages 387-412.
Jesper B. Sørensen. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. 2007, Vol. 25, Pages 83-124.
Jesper B. Sørensen, Olav Sorenson. American Sociological Review. 2007, Vol. 72, Pages 766-783.
Jesper B. Sørensen. American Behavioral Scientist. 2007, Vol. 50, Pages 659-676.
Jesper B. Sørensen, John Van Maanen, Terrence R. Mitchell. Academy of Management Journal. 2007, Vol. 35, Pages 1145-1154.
Jesper B. Sørensen. American Journal of Sociology. 2004, Vol. 110, Issue 3, Pages 626-671.
M. Diane Burton, Jesper B. Sørensen, Christine Beckman. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. 2002, Vol. 19.
Jesper B. Sørensen. Administrative Science Quarterly. 2002, Vol. 47, Issue 1, Pages 70-91.
Jesper B. Sørensen, Toby E. Stuart. Administrative Science Quarterly. 2000, Vol. 45, Issue 1, Pages 81-112.
Jesper B. Sørensen. Industrial and Corporate Change. 1999, Vol. 8, Issue 4, Pages 713-744.

Other Publications

Glenn R. Carroll, Jesper B. Sørensen. Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management. Palgrave, 2014.


Degree Courses


The careers of individuals are shaped by their movement within and between organizations, whether those be established employers or entrepreneurial ventures. Conversely, organizations of all sizes are shaped by the flows of individuals through...

This pro-seminar is primarily for OB-macro PhD students who are developing dissertation ideas. The focus is on the theoretical argument underpinning the dissertation research. Students will regularly present and comment upon one another's ideas....

This course is about the process of crafting, assessing and implementing strategies to win in the market. It is designed to help you understand, shape, and lead your organization's strategy by providing you with a framework for thinking about the...


This pro-seminar is primarily for OB-macro PhD students who are developing dissertation ideas. The focus is on the theoretical argument underpinning the dissertation research. Students will regularly present and comment upon one another's ideas....

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...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Stanford Case Studies

Scoot: Singapore Airlines’ Low-Cost Carrier Strategy | SM321
Glenn Carroll, Jesper Sørensen, Debra Schifrin2020
House of Tara: Building an African Beauty Company | IDE-09
Jesper Sorensen, Laurent De Clara2015
Innovation at Caterpillar: The D7E Tractor | SM223
Glenn R. Carroll, David Hoyt2014
ZipDial: Reaching The Next 3 Billion Consumers | IDE07
Jesper B. Sørensen, Laurent De Clara2014
Health Leads (A) Expansion Decisions for a Health Care Nonprofit | SM192A
Jesper Sorensen, Debra Schifrin, Kevin Hettrich2013
Health Leads (B): Entering the “Proof Period” | SM192B
Jesper Sorensen, Debra Schifrin, Kevin Hettrich2013
d.light, Selling Solar to the Poor | IDE03
Gina Jorasch, Michael Kennedy, Jesper Sorensen2012
EcoPost, Financing a Green Startup in Africa | IDE02
Gina Jorasch, Michael Kennedy, Jesper Sorensen2012
Mobius Motors: Building an African Car | IDE01
Gina Jorasch, Michael Kennedy, Jesper Sorensen2012
Jesper Sørensen, Sara Gaviser Leslie2010
Xerox and Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) | SM187
Victoria Chang, Jesper Sorensen2010
Note On Organizational Culture | OB69
Jesper Sorensen2009
As Green As It Gets | OB71
Victoria Chang, Jesper Sorensen2008

Conferences, Talks, and Speaking Engagements

  • Video: Startups vs. Big Business
    Jesper Sørensen reveals the competitive advantages and disadvantages that startups and established companies can exploit as they compete for customers in new markets.

Stanford University Affiliations

Stanford GSB

Greater Stanford University

  • Co-Director, Global Development and Poverty Initiative, 2014-

Service to the Profession

  • Editor in Chief, Sociological Science, 2013-
  • Department Editor, Management Science, 2010-2014
  • Senior Editor, Organization Science, 2006-2009

Insights by Stanford Business

June 4, 2015
A professor of organizational behavior explains why nailing market identity right out of the gate is critical to successfully launching an innovative product.
May 22, 2015
A professor of organizational behavior explains why strategic thinking is key to taking an idea to the next level.
January 30, 2015
Stanford scholars discuss their experiences in the field.
December 15, 2014
Learn more about risk and other related topics.
September 12, 2014
If sudden wealth is not the likely outcome of starting a company, what motivates someone to take the risk?
October 1, 2013
A game-changing idea can win or lose depending on how quickly the consumer “gets” it.
September 1, 2009
A professor of organizational behavior says working with former entrepreneurs makes individuals more likely to start their own businesses.

School News

June 20, 2019
Stanford GSB students recognized Professors Timothy McQuade, Jesper Sørensen, and David Kreps for their outstanding teaching.
October 10, 2018
More than 200 Stanford Seed participants from Africa and India gather for the first time to unite in their commitment to bring prosperity to communities through the growth of businesses.
November 30, 2017
Business leaders across India gather to exchange ideas, share knowledge, and transform their companies.
August 17, 2017
Silicon Valley-based university continues to expand global program offerings with new partnership with De Beers Group.
June 28, 2017
Teter joins Stanford Seed with over 20 years of experience in international development, economic growth, and humanitarian program management.
May 9, 2017
More than 500 business leaders have participated in a program designed to support greater economic prosperity through leadership and innovation training.
April 12, 2017
Researchers collaborate with the Indian government to provide children with fortified rice in an effort to reduce alarming rates of anemia and malnutrition.
January 9, 2017
Inside Stanford GSB’s ambitious venture to lift people out of poverty.
June 23, 2015
The institute announces its 2014-15 Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Developing Economies awards (I-Awards) and Global Development and Poverty Initiative (GDP) research awards.
June 1, 2015
Nigerian cosmetics firm created incentives and strategic performance system to expand business globally.
June 1, 2015
SystemSpecs aims to expand across African continent.
June 18, 2014
Global Development and Poverty Initiative money builds on 22 awards funded by Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies.
February 21, 2014
$10 million grant program is part of the Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies.
February 18, 2014
Their goal: to speed the flow of research results and open access to ideas and knowledge.
August 21, 2012
Tralance Addy named SEED executive director.
June 17, 2012
Former Cisco CEO distills his eight decades of life experience into what he called his “Rules for the Long Road.”
March 25, 2012
Robert, MBA ’74, and Elizabeth Jeffe endowed the Robert A.and Elizabeth R. Jeffe Professorship at Stanford GSB to support and encourage faculty members working in developing countries and healthcare.
November 29, 2011
Stanford Executive Education launches Leadership Development: Analysis to Action, aimed at high-potential executives and emerging leaders.
June 11, 2011
Herb Allison (MBA '71) offered advice to the graduating Class of 2011 at Stanford GSB's June 11 commencement ceremony.
November 19, 2010
Launched in 2009, the Social Innovation Fellowship has been extended another three years and eligibility broadened to include mission-driven alumni addressing social or environmental problems.
April 1, 2009
Professors Anat Admati, Jonathan Berk, Charles Jones, Dale Miller, Jesper Sørensen, and Sarah Soule, have been honored with new academic titles.