Otilia Obodaru

Assistant Professor of Management (Organizational Behavior)

Otilia has always been the teacher’s pet know-it-all nerdy type who dreamed of one day studying at Harvard (dream 1) and getting a handsomely remunerated academic job in a prestigious university with a stunning campus and spectacularly intelligent students (dream 2). In pursuit of these dreams, she gave up a consulting job in Romania, moved to France, and got a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from INSEAD. Convinced that there is no such thing as being overeducated, she then went on to do two years of postdoctoral study, the first at Harvard Business School (check dream 1) and the second year back at INSEAD. The European Commission generously paid the bill for these two years through a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship. In 2012, Otilia began her appointment as Assistant Professor at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University, where she teaches the Leading People in Organizations undergraduate course and the Psychological Foundations of Professional Lives elective MBA course (check dream 2).

Otilia‚Äôs research is an attempt to understand (or at least to document) the complexities, paradoxes, and illusions that characterize people‚Äôs sense of self. She is most interested in ‚Äúalternative selves‚ÄĚ ‚Äď self-representations of who a person might have been if something in the past had happened differently. She has asked over 600 people about their alternative selves and welcomes any addition to this growing dataset (Note: a chocolate prize will reward any story that makes Otilia‚Äôs Top 10 Most Interesting Alternative Selves). Otilia‚Äôs research has been published in the Academy of Management Review, the Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Research in Organizational Behavior, and Harvard Business Review, and has been featured in media outlets such as Forbes and The Boston Globe. She plans to publish many more articles in top academic journals, get tenure, and then focus on publishing her short stories, dirty limericks, and haikus.

Meanwhile, in a parallel reality, Otilia’s alternative self lives in Romania, works a 9 to 5 job in human resources, and often wonders what her life would have been like if she had followed her dreams. She has no idea that this life would have included writing short bios about herself in the third person.

To read more about Prof. Obodaru's work, please visit Rice Business Wisdom.


Teaching Interests: 

- Leading People in Organizations
- Psychological Foundations of Professional Lives

Research Interests: 

- Identity
- Careers
- Counterfactual thinking

Intellectual Contributions

Journal Article

Adam, H., Obodaru, O., Lu, J. G., Maddux, W. W., & Galinsky, A. D. (forthcoming). The shortest path to oneself leads around the world: Living abroad increases self- concept clarity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Journal Article

Obodaru, O.  (2017). Forgone, but not forgotten: Toward a theory of forgone professional identities. Academy of Management Journal, 60: 523-553.

Journal Article

Sonenshein, S., Nault, K., & Obodaru, O. (2017) Competition of a different flavor: How a strategic group identity shapes competition and cooperation. Administrative Science Quarterly, forthcoming.

Journal Article

Ibarra, H.* & Obodaru, O.* (2016). Betwixt and between identities: Liminal experience in contemporary careers. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36: 47-64.  *Shared first authorship.

Journal Article

Adam, H.*, Obodaru, O.*, & Galinsky, A. D. (2015). Who you are is where you are: Antecedents and consequences of locating the self in the brain or the heart. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 128: 74-83. *Shared first authorship.

Journal Article

Obodaru, O. (2012). The self not taken: How alternative selves develop and how they influence our professional lives. Academy of Management Review, 37: 34-57. (Finalist for the Academy of Management Review Best Article of 2012 Award)