Sarah A. Soule

Sarah A. Soule
Professor, Organizational Behavior
Contact Info
Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor of Sociology (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences
Academic Area: 
Organizational Behavior

Additional Administrative Titles

  • Director, Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship
  • Co-Director, The Innovative Health Care Leader: From Design Thinking to Personal Leadership
  • Co-Director, LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program
  • Director, Stanford LEAD Online Business Program

Research Statement

Sarah A. Soule's research examines state and organizational-level policy change and diffusion, and the role social movements have on these processes. She has recently published papers on how protest impacts multi-national firm-level decisions regarding divestment in Burma, and on how advocacy organizations learn new strategies and tactics from those with which they collaborate. She is currently working on a study of how protest affects the outcomes of shareholder resolutions, and another study of how advocacy organizations innovate. She has published a book with Cambridge University Press, entitled Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility. Recent published work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Administrative Science Quarterly, the American Sociological Review, Organizational Studies, the Strategic Management Journal, and the Annual Review of Sociology.

Teaching Statement

Sarah A. Soule teaches courses on Strategy, Organizational Design, and Design Thinking.


Sarah A. Soule is the Morgridge Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business. Her major areas of interest are organizational theory, social movements, and political sociology. She has written two recent books, the first with Cambridge University Press, entitled Contention and Corporate Social Responsibility, and the second with Norton, called A Primer on Social Movements. She is the series editor for the Cambridge University Press Contentious Politics series. She is a member of the founding team of the new journal, Sociological Science, an open access journal that is disrupting academic publishing. She has served on a number of boards of non-profit organizations, is currently a member Board of Advisors to the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the Stanford Fellowship program, and is currently serving on the faculty advisory board to the Stanford Center for the Advancement of Women’s Leadership. She has taught a number of courses with the Stanford, and is the Faculty Director for the Executive Program in Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford Graduate School of Business. She has served as a judge for the Center for Social Innovation Fellowship program, and for the Tech Awards (Tech Museum of Innovation).

Academic Degrees

  • PhD in Sociology, Cornell University, 1995
  • MA in Sociology, Cornell University, 1991
  • BA in Sociology, University of Vermont, 1989

Academic Appointments

  • At Stanford University since 2008

Awards and Honors

  • Hank McKinnell-Pfizer Inc. Faculty Fellow, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2014-2015


Journal Articles

Dan J. Wang, Hayagreeva Rao, Sarah A. Soule. American Sociological Review. June 1, 2019, Vol. 84, Issue 3, Pages 420-458.
Scott C. Ganz, Sarah A. Soule. Environmental Politics. January 22, 2019, Vol. 28, Issue 4, Pages 685-706.
Daniel Q. Gillion, Sarah A. Soule. Social Science Quarterly. November 2018, Vol. 99, Issue 5, Pages 1649-1664.
Dan Wang, Alessandro Piazza, Sarah A. Soule. Annual Reviews of Sociology. July 2018, Vol. 44, Pages 167-187.
Bryan Walker, Sarah A. Soule. Harvard Business Review. June 20, 2017, Pages 2-6.
Susan Olzak, Sarah A. Soule, Marion Coddou, John Munoz. Mobilization: An International Quarterly. July 2016, Vol. 21, Issue 2, Pages 213-230.
Dan J. Wang, Sarah A. Soule. American Sociological Review. May 26, 2016, Vol. 81, Issue 3, Pages 517-548.
Wooseok Jung, Brayden King, Sarah A. Soule. American Journal of Sociology. July 2014.
Sarah A. Soule, Anand Swaminathan, Laszlo Tihanyi. Strategic Management Journal . June 2013.
Dan Wang, Sarah A. Soule. American Journal of Sociology. July 2012.
Sarah A. Soule. Organization Studies. 2012.
Sarah A. Soule. Research in the Sociology of Organization. 2012.


Sarah A. Soule New York: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2009.

Working Papers

Taking Aim: Corporate Opportunity Structures and Activists’ Selection of Corporate Targets | PDF
Mary-Hunter McDonnell, Sarah A. Soule, Brayden King, May 72017
Movement Spillover and Union Support during the “Long Protest Wave” | PDF
John-Paul Ferguson, Thomas Dudley, Sarah A. Soule, April 2015


Degree Courses


Social movement activists frequently target organizations (e.g., corporations, universities) in order to bring about political and social change. Because most organizations are not democracies, movements must find ways to penetrate their closed...

Executive Education & Other Non-Degree Programs

Stanford Case Studies

100,000 Homes Campaign | L30
Sarah Soule, Huggy Rao, Robert Sutton, Davina Drabkin2016
The 100,000 Homes Campaign | L30
Sarah Soule, Huggy Rao, Robert Sutton, Davina Drabkin2016
Huntington Hospital (A): Empowering Staff | OB91(A)
Sarah Soule, Davina Drabkin2015
Huntington Hospital (B): Empowering Staff | OB91B
Sarah Soule, Davina Drabkin2015
Silicon Valley Bank: The On-Call Associates Program | OB88
Sarah A Soule, Davina Drabkin2014
LinkedIn Transformation Driven From Within | OB87
Sarah Soule, Michael Golomb, Debra Schifrin2013
Paragon Legal, A New Model (A) | OB81A
Shelley Correll, Debra Schifrin, Sarah Soule2012
Paragon Legal, A New Model (B) | OB81B
Shelley Correll, Debra Schifrin, Sarah Soule2012

In the Media

Insights by Stanford Business

July 18, 2019
Social advocacy organizations have greater impact on federal legislation when their experts get to testify.
March 29, 2019
Gender bias can negatively affect what we think about products made by women, especially in male-oriented markets.
October 30, 2018
A new study shows that both liberal and conservative protests have had a real impact on U.S. House elections.
December 5, 2017
15 Stanford business professors recommend books for those long winter nights.
April 13, 2016
Growing an organization is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.
March 23, 2016
Protests do more than draw attention to causes. They can also spur innovation.
December 17, 2015
How a coin exchange company helped the federal government, and charities too.
April 30, 2015
Those in the know share where to go to learn more about reward and related topics.
April 30, 2015
Five Stanford scholars share their insights on the topic of reward.
January 5, 2015
Companies that are targeted by activists become more socially-responsible over time.
October 10, 2014
Activism has catalyzed progress, but companies can be slow to evolve. How can activists know that their efforts matter? And what is the evidence that their work makes a difference?
October 30, 2013
A Stanford scholar discusses a collaborative, human-centered approach to solving some of the world’s most pressing problems.
March 21, 2012
The "Food Inc." filmmaker and author suggests critics of today's industrial food system should focus more on social justice.

School News

May 14, 2019
Meet three graduates of an innovative Stanford GSB program designed to create a path for women and minorities in business academia.
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.
March 19, 2018
Students explore how self-awareness, self-care, and self-understanding can help them become better leaders.
February 28, 2018
Stanford LEAD: Personal Leadership Certificate joins the existing LEAD certificate on corporate innovation, now in its third year.
October 26, 2017
Dean Levin engages in conversations with GSB community members about his priorities for the school.
August 22, 2017
Silicon Valley Business Journal visits Stanford GSB as participants examine how professional leadership and personal identity intersect.
August 7, 2017
Two new committees study long-range shifts in faculty research and management education.
January 7, 2016
The only program of its kind to be offered by a leading business school, Stanford LGBT Executive Leadership Program addresses the gap in LGBT leadership in the C-Suite.
October 30, 2015
The Innovative Health Care Leader: From Design Thinking to Personal Leadership Executive Program is a groundbreaking academic partnership between Stanford’s schools of business and medicine.
February 18, 2014
Their goal: to speed the flow of research results and open access to ideas and knowledge.
April 1, 2009
Professors Anat Admati, Jonathan Berk, Charles Jones, Dale Miller, Jesper Sørensen, and Sarah Soule, have been honored with new academic titles.