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Ellen O’Connor (Ph.D., University of Chicago; M.B.A., University of California, Berkeley) has taught in business schools for over 30 years, including the Graduate School of Business at Stanford; the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley; and the University of Paris. At the Haas School and at the McLaren School of Business (University of San Francisco), she received awards for her teaching.
O’Connor’s research has been published in distinguished refereed journals, including Academy of Management Review, Organization Studies, and Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. She has frequently presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management (AOM), the leading association of management scholars and educators. The AOM has honored her with two Best Paper awards, in management history and in research methods.
O’Connor began her academic career in literature. She then explored how to integrate her literary background with business. At first, she used literary-critical methods to analyze organizational texts such as speeches and memoranda. She also taught business writing and public speaking. She discovered that unlike literary studies in the humanities, business communication must be understood in its social context. Drawing from the idea of the classics in the humanities, she worked on the analogue in organization studies. This led to her first major research contribution, an award-winning study of Elton Mayo and the Harvard Business School, then to Follett and Barnard and the contexts in which the very institution of management was founded. In this work, she discovered that the study of contexts must include not only historical and institutional phenomena and processes but also individual choice and creativity. She is still exploring the implications of this finding.