Cornell University

Marya Besharov : Biography

Marya Besharov is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at the ILR School at Cornell University. An organizational theorist with a background in organizational sociology, she studies how organizations and their leaders navigate competing goals. Much of her research focuses on social-business hybrid organizations such as social enterprises and mission-driven businesses with competing social and commercial goals at their core. Hybrids present a theoretical and practical puzzle: Some experience severe internal conflict or mission drift and ultimately fail to uphold their dual missions, yet others survive and thrive.

Drawing on institutional and identity theories, Marya investigates the structures and practices that enable hybrids to sustain their competing goals. In recent studies, she has shown that the severity of conflict in hybrids depends on the extent to which there is a clear hierarchy of social and commercial goals and on the extent to which organizational members treat these goals as compatible or incompatible. She has also found that the values of frontline managers are critical: If they value both social and commercial goals, they can mitigate tensions between members who value just one or the other of these goals. Marya's work has been published and is forthcoming in journals such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Business Ethics Quarterly, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Research in Organizational Behavior, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, and Industrial and Corporate Change.

Marya received a BA in Social Studies, an MA in Sociology, and a PhD in Organizational Behavior from Harvard University. She also holds an MBA from Stanford. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a researcher and consultant in the health care field.