Laura Sonday studies meaning-making processes within organizations.
She frequently employs ethnographic and interview methods in her research, paying close attention to the words people use to describe work and placing the perspective of the worker in the foreground. Her latest research is based on a longitudinal study of the social movement “Financial Independence, Retire Early” (FIRE). She observed and followed this group for two years to develop social theory on how people challenge dominant societal beliefs about work and how social groups influence how people think about autonomy.
In addition to this research, Dr. Sonday has published research on the psychodynamics of leader identity.
Dr. Sonday teaches courses in management and global business.
Much of Dr. Sonday’s interest in organizational behavior stems from her work experiences both within and outside of the U.S. She started her professional career at an economic development nonprofit that alleviated poverty in developing countries through education, food and housing programs.
She then spent several years working for Google, Inc., first in San Francisco and then in Santiago, Chile, as an account strategist for several of Google’s fastest growing, high-potential clients.
Outside of her industry work, she also co-led an advocacy team in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that supported local immigrants in crisis. The structure of that team has been used as an exemplar for effective community-based organizing by advocacy groups in Detroit and Chicago.
These experiences have shaped Dr. Sonday and inspired much of her research on organizational behavior.
She received her PhD in management and organizations and her BBA with high distinction from the University of Michigan.