Frank Dobbin

Professor of Sociology, Harvard University; Harvard Business Review Cover Story: Why Diversity Programs Fail -- And What Works Better

Harvard Business Review Cover Story: Why Diversity Programs Fail -- And What Works Better

Frank Dobbin received his B.A. from Oberlin College in 1980 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1987. Dobbin studies organizations, inequality, economic behavior, and public policy. His Inventing Equal Opportunity (Princeton 2009) shows how corporate personnel managers defined what it meant to discriminate. With Alexandra Kalev, he is developing an evidence-based approach to diversity management. Innovations that make managers part of the solution, such as mentoring programs, diversity taskforces, and special recruitment programs, have helped to promote diversity in firms, while programs signaling that managers are part of the problem, such as diversity training and diversity performance evaluations, have not. These findings have been covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Le Monde, CNNNational Public Radio, Fast Company, and Slate.

Professor Dobbin's work in economic sociology generally is both historical and contemporary. His Forging Industrial Policy: United States, Britain, and France in the Railway Age (Cambridge 1994), traces nations' modern industrial strategies to early differences in their political systems. The New Economic Sociology: A Reader (Princeton 2004) assembles classics in economic sociology. The Sociology of the Economy (Russell Sage 2004) compiles research in economic sociology from leading scholars. The Global Diffusion of Markets and Democracy (Cambridge 2008) explores the rise of neoliberal policies in the post-war period. Stanford's Organization Theory Renaissance, 1970-2000 (Emerald 2010) is a modern-day Rashomon about the revival of organizational studies in Palo Alto after 1970.

Professor Dobbin is chair of the joint Arts & Sciences/Harvard Business School Organizational Behavior Ph.D. Program, director of the SCANCOR/Weatherhead Initiative in International Organizational Studies, and Co-Coordinator of the MIT-Harvard Economic Sociology Seminar.  

Content Featuring Frank Dobbin

Keynote VideoKeynote Video

Why Diversity Programs Fail

April 6, 2017 | Frank Dobbin

After decades of effort and billions of dollars, the results are in: traditional diversity programs don’t work. In this HCI Keynote video, Harvard Professor Frank Dobbin diagnoses the problems with most diversity programs, and shares the ...

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