Scott Sonenshein

Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management – Organizational Behavior

Scott Sonenshein is the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice University and bestselling author of Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – And Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined and co-author (with Marie Kondo) of Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life. 

Prior to joining Rice Business in 2007, he taught at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan where he also received his Ph.D. in Management and Organizations. Sonenshein also received a B.A. from the University of Virginia in Business Ethics and an M.Phil from the University of Cambridge in Management Studies.

His research employs field methodologies (primarily involving qualitative data) to explain the resourceful actions of employees to foster organizational, social and personal change. His work usually follows an inductive approach using grounded theory and other ethnographic methods.

Sonenshein has contributed to a variety of theoretical perspectives that span both “micro” and “macro” topics, including creativity, sensemaking, identity, personal growth, prosocial competition, social influence, and decision making. He has made these contributions by locating generative field settings ranging from fashion to food trucks, banks to booksellers, and entrepreneurs to environmentalists. Although his studies often contain an inductive surprise, his work coalesces around illuminating the skill, agency, and motivation of individuals to contribute to change (personal, organizational and social) as well as the corresponding practices that foster these outcomes.

In 2013, the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan awarded his paper on the psychological resources employees create through sensemaking to facilitate strategic change with its Biennial Best Paper Award. In 2008, The Aspen Institute recognized his research on social change and business ethics by naming him a finalist for its Faculty Pioneer Award. In 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017, he won the Rice Business Faculty Research Excellence Award.

Sonenshein’s research has appeared in many leading journals of organizational behavior including Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal and Organization Science. Additionally, he served as an associate editor at the Academy of Management Journal and currently sits on its editorial board along with Academy of Management Review and Organization Science.

Sonenshein has written for the New York Times, Time Magazine, Fast Company and Harvard Business Review. He has been interviewed on national and local television, NPR stations throughout the country, and has been featured in most major newspapers.

Please visit his website to learn more:

Teaching Interests: 

-Organizational behavior

Research Interests: 

-Social Influence
-Organizational change
-Social issues