WTO colloquia bring in outside speakers to present recent research of interest to the greater Stanford community engaged in organizational research. Talks are held on Mondays from 12:00-1:15pm and lunch is served. Further details about each colloquium, including the title of the talk, an abstract and the colloquium’s location are distributed via email prior to each event.

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We are honored to host these speakers during the 2015-2016 academic year:

Spring 2016

April 18, 2016

Jeff Hancock, Stanford University
Title: The Future of Lying and Trusting
Time & Location: 12-1:15 in Spilker 232

Abstract: Let’s face it: people lie. We lie to each other and to ourselves. How is the rewiring of communication in the digital revolution changing how we lie and how we trust one another? How can we trust that online review, or that text message about someone being on their way? In this talk we’ll go over the state-of-the-art in deception detection research on how to spot a liar online, explore some new forms of deception, and examine how different technologies affect both how we lie and trust online. The talk reveals several key principles that can guide how we can think about deception and truth in this new digital age.


May 9, 2016

Katy DeCelles, University of Toronto
Title: Caring in the Clink: How Agents of Total Institutions Show Empathy for Captives
Time & Location: 12-1:15 in Spilker 232

Abstract: The notion that agents of total institutions disregard caring for captives is widespread. It rests on the repeated documentation of such instances (e.g., Abu Ghraib) and on the fact that total institutions harbor strong obstacles to care such as in-group/out-group divide and power imbalance between agents and captives. In this talk, I present the results of two qualitative field studies exploring how and why agents of total institutions are able to feel and demonstrate empathy for captives, challenging this depiction of the agents of total institutions and theoretically broadening our understanding of the complex emotional dynamics within them.


Past Speakers (2015-2016)

For information on colloquia from prior academic years, click here.

Winter 2016

Feb 8, 2016
Aruna Ranganathan, Stanford GSB

Title: The Artisan and His Audience: Identification with Work and Price-Setting in a Handicraft Cluster in Southern India
Time & Location:
12-1:15 in Spilker 232
Abstract: Using ethnographic, experimental and survey data from an Indian handicraft cluster, this paper studies the conditions under which individuals who identify with their work sacrifice financial rewards in their economic decisions. I argue that the monetary value that individuals who identify with their work seek for their work-output depends on their audience: when these individuals encounter discerning audiences, who are knowledgeable about and appreciative of their work, they underemphasize financial gains; transactions with non-discerning audiences, however, result in a focus on monetary rewards. I further argue that the mechanism underlying this behavior is product attachment, where individuals who identify with their work develop affection for the output of their labor, thus preferring to transact with audiences who will take care of their products beyond the point of sale even if doing so results in lower payoffs. I substantiate this theory by demonstrating how handicraft artisans in India who identify with their work set prices for their products to different audiences. This paper contributes to our understanding of economic decision-making in the context of meaningful work by highlighting the moderating role of audiences and uncovering the mechanism of product attachment.

Feb 22, 2016
Ray Reagans, MIT
Knowledge utilization, coordination, and team performance
Time & Location: 12-1:15 in Spilker 232
Considerable research establishes the superior performance of teams on which team members utilize specialized knowledge and also develop transactive processes that promote coordination. Less is known, however, about the consequences for team performance when team members only possess one of the two productivity factors. We develop and test a framework highlighting the distinct challenges these teams will face. In particular, our results show that each productivity factor contributed significantly more to team performance when the other factor was present. And our findings also illustrate a potential failure mode for knowledge utilization. If team members could not coordinate their collective efforts, utilizing knowledge undermined team performance. Our framework outlines a similar risk for too much coordination, if team members cannot utilize their specialized knowledge and are asked to perform a complex task. We discuss the implications of our framework and results for theory and practice.

Fall 2015

November 9th, 2015
Ruthanne Huising, Desautels Faculty of Management – McGill University
Title: From regulating science to regulating scientists: The knowledge boundaries of professional control
Time & Location: 12-1:15 in Spilker 232
Abstract: Cutting edge scientific projects, and eventually new discoveries, are collaborative efforts that occur within laboratories and across laboratory, organizational, and political boundaries. Traditional attempts to regulate scientific work focused on safety risks arising from hazardous materials, the manipulation of these materials, and lab architecture. Increasingly regulators are expanding their focus to include security risks located in scientists’ tacit skills, knowledge, and collaborations. Since 2012, regulators in Canada have consulted with scientists, technical experts, regulated organizations, and the public to develop a regulatory framework – regulations, policies, and programs – that will govern the use of pathogens, viruses, and toxins in laboratories. I analyze how scientists were able to influence regulatory requirements related to biosafety by mobilizing their detailed knowledge of the materials, daily scientific practice, and organizational constraints. I compare this with their relative failure to negotiate requirements related biosecurity despite mobilizing similar expertise. I show how the emergence of the professional field of biosecurity offers expertise about scientists – their motives and morality – that supersedes scientists’ expertise of science. These findings show how incontrovertible expertise of a task jurisdiction may be an insufficient resource to maintain control of the jurisdiction. More generally, these findings raise questions about how risk professionals who collect and analyze information about professional practices (actuaries, intelligence officers, risk managers) may disrupt professional efforts to control the conditions under which they work.

November 30, 2015
Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, NYU Stern
Title: From Problem Solvers to Solution Seekers: Dismantling Knowledge Boundaries at NASA
Time & Location: 12-1:15 in Spilker 232
Abstract:  Innovation scholars have long explored ways to organize the production of scientific and technological innovation. The prevailing consensus has been that innovation and its related knowledge work takes place within the boundaries of the firm. A new model, usually named “open” or “peer-production” innovation, challenges this consensus. According to this model, knowledge work transcends traditional organizational and professional boundaries and is conducted in the open, by anyone who chooses to contribute. This study is a longitudinal in-depth field study of how NASA’s R&D professionals experimented with such an innovation model, posting their strategic R&D challenges on open innovation online platforms and communities. This experiment resulted in an important scientific breakthrough in unprecedented speed. At the same time, the experiment challenged existing knowledge work boundaries and, in turn, challenged the R&D professionals’ identity. This paper describes professionals’ reactions to this dual challenge. I find that professional identity work—the ability to re-define and re-construct one’s professional identity—is critical to dismantling knowledge work boundaries and shifting the locus of innovation. This study contributes to theories on knowledge boundary work and professional identity and has implications on organizing for scientific and technological innovation.