People at ILR

M. Diane Burton
people / faculty

M. Diane Burton

Joseph R. Rich ’80 Professor, Human Resource Studies and Academic Director, Institute for Compensation Studies
Human Resource Studies


I am a professor in the ILR School at Cornell University. My primary appointment is in human resource studies with courtesy appointments in organizational behavior and sociology. Prior to joining the Cornell faculty in 2009, I was a faculty member at the MIT Sloan School of Management. I started my academic career at the Harvard Business School teaching leadership and organizational behavior. I earned my Ph.D. in sociology at Stanford University and served as a lecturer and researcher in organizational behavior and human resources management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Teaching Statement

I teach students at all levels -- from first-year students through executives. I have extensive experience teaching by the case method. I have also taught on-line and via distance learning. I earned a masters degree in education with a concentration in technology and curriculum design.

Research Statement

I am an organizational sociologist interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. I study how management systems affect firms and individuals.

My current focus is on job creation and job quality in entrepreneurial firms. I am part of an international research team that is using Danish administrative data to study wages of employees in new firms.

I conducted a major study of high-tech start-ups in Silicon Valley known as the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies (SPEC) that included studies of of entrepreneurial teams and executive careers.

More recently I have been studying R&D teams. I am also studying leadership in the non-profit sector and employment practices in law firms.

Service Statement

I am an active and enthusiastic contributor to two major initiatives: Entrepreneurship@Cornell and the University-wide undergraduate business minor. I served as Provost's Fellow for Public Engagement from 2016-2018 and Department Chair of the Human Resource Studies Department from 2019-2022.

Outreach Statement

I lead the Institute for Compensation Studies and serve as a member of the advisory board for the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies (CAHRS). I am a regular contributor to executive education and certificate programs that are run by the ILR School and have developed online courses for eCornell.


Journal Articles


  • Lisa Cohen, Mary Diane Burton, Michael D. Lounsbury. 2016. The Structure of Work. in Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group, 2016.

Book Chapters

  • Tae Youn Park, Reed Eaglesham, Jason D Shaw, Mary Diane Burton. 2022. Beyond Productivity: Incentive Effects on Alternative Outcomes. in Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management. Emerald Publishing Limited, 2022. Michael Buckley, Jonathan Halbesleben, Anthony Wheeler. (Accepted)
  • Mary Diane Burton, Charles A O'Reilly. 2021. Management Systems for Exploration and Exploitation. in Carnegie goes to California: Advancing and Celebrating the Work of James G. March. 2021. Christine M. Beckman. (53-77)
  • Mary Diane Burton. 2020. Status Passages. in Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition. John Wiley and Sons, 2020. George Ritzer and Chris Rojek.
  • Mary Diane Burton, Lisa Cohen, Michael D. Lounsbury. 2016. BRINGING JOBS BACK IN: TOWARDS A NEW MULTI-LEVEL APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF WORK AND ORGANIZATIONS. in Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group, 2016. Lisa Cohen, M. Diane Burton, Michael Lounsbury. (Submitted)
  • Mary Diane Burton. 2012. Internal Labor Markets Revisited. in Economy and Society: Essays in Honor of Michael J. Piore. Cambridge, MA, United States: MIT Press, 2012. Paul Osterman. (Accepted)
  • Christine M Beckman, Mary Diane Burton, . 2011. Bringing organizational demography back in: Time, change and structure in top management team research. in Handbook of Top Management Team Research. Edward Elgar, 2011. Mason A. Carpenter. (Accepted)
  • Mary Diane Burton, P. C. Anderson, H. E. Aldrich. 2009. Beyond Ownership: Rethinking Founding Team Membership. in New Firm Creation in the United States: Preliminary Explorations with the PSED II Data Set. New York, NY, United States: Springer, 2009. P.D. Reynolds and R. T. Curtin.
  • C. B. Schoonhoven, Mary Diane Burton, P. D. Reynolds. 2009. Reconceiving the Gestation Window: Consequences of Competing Definitions of Firm Conception and Birth. in New Firm Creation in the United States: Preliminary Explorations with the PSED II Data Set. New York, NY, United States: Spring, 2009. P.D. Reynolds and R. T. Curtin.
  • Mary Diane Burton, P Osterman. 2004. Ports and Ladders: The Nature and Relevance of Internal Labor Markets In A Changing World. in Oxford Handbook on Work and Organization. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2004. P.Tolbert and R. Batt.
  • Mary Diane Burton, J B Sorensen, C Beckman. 2002. Coming from Good Stock: Career Histories and New Venture Formation. in Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Oxford, United Kingdom: JAI Press, 2002. Michael Lounsbury and Marc J. Ventresca. (229-262)
  • Mary Diane Burton. 2001. The Company They Keep: Founders’ Models for Organizing New Firms. in The Entrepreneurship Dynamic: Origins of Entrepreneurship and the Evolution of Industries. Stanford, CA, United States: Stanford University Press, 2001. C.B. Schoonhoven and E. Romanelli. (13-39)

Book Reviews

  • Mary Diane Burton. 2008. Review of Staircases or Treadmills by Chris Benner, Laura Leete and Manuel Pastor. Administrative Science Quarterly, 2008. (756-8)
  • Mary Diane Burton. 2003. Review of Headhunters: Matchmaking in the Labor Market by William Finlay and James E. Coverdill. Industrial & Labor Relations Review, 2003. (555)

Selected Works

Selected Works is a service of BePress Publishing that helps readers follow a scholar's most current work. View Selected Works of Mary Burton

Professional Activities

  • Presented to International Labor Organization. ILR NYC Offices - 570 Lexington Avenue. 2019.
  • Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Presented to Cornell Institute for Social Sciences. Cornell University. 2016.
  • Cornell University. 2015.
  • The Changing Contours of Managerial Careers: The Case of Non-Profits. Presented to LERA. Boston. 2015.
  • Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Presented to Cornell Institute for Social Sciences. Cornell University. 2014.
  • Entrepreneurship and Employment: Job Creation, Job Quality and Career Trajectories. Presented to DRUID Society. Barcelona. 2013.
  • Presented to Academy of Management Annual Meeting. Chicago, IL. 2009.
  • Presented to UCLA, Anderson School of Management, Policy Research Seminar; Cornell University, Johnson School, Organizations and Management Seminar, Dartmouth College, Tuck; NYU Stern School. Anaheim, CA. 2008.
  • Presented to Boston College, Carroll School of Management, Winston Center for Leadership Seminar; Boston University, School of Management, Strategy & Policy Seminar; Duke University, Fuqua School, Strategy Area Seminar; MIT/Portugal Organizational Behavior Seminar, Lisbon; Ohio State University, Fischer College of Business, Management & Human Resources Seminar; Wharton Macro-HR Conference. Philadelphia, PA. 2007.
  • Presented to Carnegie Mellon University, SETChange Seminar; Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Human Resources Seminar; INSEAD, Singapore, Entrepreneurship Seminar; University of Kansas, School of Business, Distinguished Scholar Seminar; University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management, Strategy. Atlanta, GA. 2006.
  • Presented to University of Virginia, Darden School, Organizational Behavior; Harvard/MIT. harvard Business School. 2005.
  • Presented to University of Maryland, Wharton School Center. 2005.
  • Seattle, WA. 2005.
  • Driving Innovation throughout the Organization. Presented to Case Western Reserve; MIT ILP. New Orleans, LA. 2004.
  • New Models of Strategic HRM: An International Perspective. Presented to Cornell University. Seattle, WA. 2003.
  • Initiative for Studies of Technology Entrepreneurship (INSITE) Seminar. Presented to Weinert Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Denver, CO. 2002.
  • Presented to Academy of Management. Washington D.C. 2001.
  • Presented to Academy of Management, Wharton Management Department. Toronto, Canada. 2000.
  • Presented to American Sociological Association, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland. Chicago, IL. 1999.
  • Presented to Academy of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management Industrial Relations Seminar. San Diego, CA. 1998.
  • Presented to Academy of Management. Cincinnati, OH. 1996.
  • Presented to Haas School of Business, University of California. Berkeley, CA. 1995.
  • Los Angeles, CA, Atlanta, GA. 1994.
  • Asilomar, CA. 1993.
  • Presented to American Sociological Association. Chicago, IL. 1987.

Honors and Awards

  • Lady Davis Fellow, Lady Davis Fellowship Trust. 2016
  • Fred Kayne (1960) Career Development Professorship, MIT Sloan School. 2005
  • Ray Stata Outstanding Contributor, Center for Quality of Management, Cambridge, MA. 2003
  • Michael M. Koerner ’49 Career Development Professorship, MIT Sloan School. 2001
  • Class of 1961 Fellow, Harvard Business School, Harvard University. 1999
  • Cilker Teaching Award, Department of Sociology, Stanford University. 1993
  • Stanford University Fellowship, Department of Sociology, Stanford University. 1989
  • Edith Alexander Award for Best Undergraduate Thesis, Carnegie Mellon University. 1987
  • Vira I. Heinz Travel Study Award, Carnegie Mellon University. 1986