Current Projects

WTO has an active portfolio of projects exploring the intersection between work, technology, and organization. Projects generally feature concern for work, mainly in technical settings, and consider the organizational issues implicated at the intersection of work and technology. Our bias is toward field-based research in which we employ ethnographic approaches to understanding work practice in situ. In some cases, we use a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate phenomena of interest.

Our research projects actively involve students at all levels (Ph.D., Masters, and Undergraduate) and often include our research partners from industry as investigators. As we engage with new students and partners, our projects evolve in unanticipated and exciting directions.

Our projects are supported with generous funding from agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, the Stanford Cyber Initiative, and from industry sponsors.

For a description of WTO’s early projects, click here.

The Future of Work in the Context of Crowd-Based Open Innovation
2015 – current
Faculty: Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Dave Dixon
Collaborators: Elisa Mattarelli and Sara Vaerlander

Power Dynamics in Global Teams
2015 – current
Faculty: Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Prachee Jain

Culture & Work Practices
2007 – current
Faculty: Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Heather Altman
Collaborators: Bobbi Thomason, Brandi Pierce and Sara Vaerlander

Work is increasingly conducted in teams of people spread around the globe. For example, products are designed around the world and used by people world-wide. We are interested in how people who are working in global teams reconcile regional differences in needs and requirements and create global products. We are also conducting studies focusing on the relationship between national culture and context and the work practices that have emerged.

Cross-Cultural Responses to Technology
2005 – current
Faculty: Pamela J. Hinds, Stephen Barley
Students: Zach Rodgers, Hatim Rahman

In this project, we are studying cultural differences in peoples’ responses to technology based on the theory that fundamental differences in cultural beliefs, values and behaviors affect how people respond to particular instantiations of technology. We have conducted studies on how people interact with and respond to intelligent agents, such as robots. More recently, we have conducted research on cultural differences in social networking behavior. To conduct this work, we rely heavily on theory and methods from cross-cultural psychology.

Culture & Creativity
2010 – current
Faculty: Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Hannah Kim, Siddarth Mishra

This project is focused on understanding cultural differences in the meaning of creativity and what stimulates it.

Robots & Teams
2006 – current
Faculty: Pamela J. Hinds
Students: Nik Martelaro
Collaborators: Malte Jung

Our goal in this project is to explore the ways people will work with and adapt to autonomous mobile robots, to understand the possibilities and problems of mutual adaptation in human-robot interaction over time, and to anticipate changes in the group dynamics of collaborative work. We are examining how the presence of a robot affects the development of shared mental models, transactive memory, cohesion, and commitment in robot-assisted groups. We are also exploring how a robot’s expertise relative to the group affects group performance.

Flash Teams
2013 – current
Faculty: Melissa Valentine, Michael Bernstein
Students: Daniela Retelny

This is a series of studies about how to crowdsource complex and interdependent projects.

South Bay Cancer Center:  A Study of Organizational Design from Start to Finish
2013 – current
Faculty: Melissa Valentine

This is a longitudinal field study of the design of a new cancer center, from greenfield site to operational organization.

Transforming Cancer Care
2013 – current
Faculty: Melissa Valentine

This is a longitudinal field study of a redesign of an academic cancer care center.

An Ethnographic Study of Real-time Location Services (RTLS) in Organizations
2015 – current
Faculty: Melissa Valentine
Students: Tom Moir

This is an ethnographic study of a new technology called Real-time Location Services.

Networks of Corporate Power
2008 – current
Faculty: Stephen R. Barley
Students: Thomas Haymore, Daniel Morales, and Andrew Blanco

This project focuses on identifying and analyzing networks organizations formed by campaign contributions, the employment of lobbying firms and the movement in individuals between government, corporations, lobbing firms, unions, trade associations, and citizen’s groups.

The Institutional Field of Corporate Political Power
2007 – current
Faculty: Stephen R. Barley
Students: Thomas Haymore, Daniel Morales, Andrew Blanco, and Sarah Bellows-Blakely

This project explores how since the late 1970’s corporations and other business groups have build an institutional field dedicated to shaping Federal legislation and policy in the United States.

Ethical Issues in Nanotechnology Workplaces
2010 – current
Faculty: Robert E. McGinn

I am involved in a series of initiatives aimed at helping researchers enrich their thinking about ethical issues that arise in nanotechnology workplaces. For example, I’m developing an ethics module for new-user training at nanotech research labs and devising a survey of attitudes and beliefs about ethical issues in relation to nanotech on the part of undergraduates involved in nanotech research, I introduced a new graduate course (“Research Ethics for Engineers and Scientists”) that included a substantial component on ethical issues related to nanotechnology, and I am writing a periodic column on ethics and nanotechnology aimed at nanotech researchers for the NNIN website.