Curtis K. Chan

Ph.D. Candidate at Harvard Business School in Organizational Behavior

I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Organizational Behavior program jointly offered by Harvard Business School and the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. As an ethnographer and field researcher, my interests focus on how people experience and interpret their work and cultural contexts, as well as how this shapes inequality and organizational outcomes like normative control. A guiding question in my research is: How do people come to experience what is seemingly the same work in different ways? I specialize in utilizing in-depth, inductive field studies to discover and theorize novel, hidden, and nuanced processes that answer this question—including studies of screeners at the Transportation Security Administration and consultants at a strategy consultancy.

I was awarded the 2014 Best Student Paper Award from the Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division of the Academy of Management (AOM). My scholarly research is published in Administrative Science Quarterly and the Academy of Management Annals, with written pieces also appearing in the Academy of Management Best Paper ProceedingsWork and Occupations, and the Industrial and Labor Relations Review

Before joining the doctoral program in 2011, I had worked for three years in the management consulting industry. Earlier on, I graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 2008 with an A.B. in social anthropology and a secondary field in psychology, and I was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society since my junior year. In college, I conducted ethnographic research on the cultural values of street dancers in New England and Miami, and the undergraduate thesis I wrote on this topic under the advising of Professor of Anthropology Michael Herzfeld was awarded a Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for outstanding thesis research. 

I relish in coming to understand what drives, fascinates, and moves the people in my life, and I enjoy moving myself, in a different sense— running, exercising, and practicing street dance.