William Ocasio
William Ocasio

John L. and Helen Kellogg Professor of Management & Organizations

Print Overview

William Ocasio is the John L. & Helen Kellogg Professor of Management & Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management. He was educated at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, MIT, Harvard Business School, and Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. in organizational behavior in 1992. Prior to coming to Kellogg, he was Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organizations at the MIT Sloan School of Management, from 1992-1995. From 1995-2001 he was Assistant Professor at Kellogg, and he in 2001 he was promoted to Full Chaired Professor.

His research links organizational politics, cognition, and culture with the study of strategic processes, corporate governance, and organizational and institutional change. His varied research interests are brought together by a focus on explaining both the determinants of organizational and industry attention and its consequences for stability and change in organizations and institutions. Currently he is studying the determinants and consequences of attention through a variety of mechanisms including specialized vocabularies of organizing, decision making structures and processes, and the development and deployment of political capital by organizational executives. His research has been published in the Administrative Science Quarterly, American Journal of Sociology, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Research in Organizational Behavior, and Strategic Management Journal. His research has won three major awards for three academic societies: the American Sociological Association, the Strategic Management Society, and the Academy of Management. In 2000, he won the W. Richard Scott Award for from the American Sociological Association for the Best Paper published in the area of Organizations, Occupations, and Work during the previous three years. He is Senior Editor at Organization Sciences and serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Management Research.

At the MBA level he teaches Power in Organizations and Managing Organizations for Growth. This first course brings together an innovative political capital perspective on managerial power with a focus on how the value of political capital is shaped by the organization's culture. In Spring of 2015 he will be teaching a new MBA elective on Managing Organizations for Growth. The second course is an innovative course part of the new track on Growth and Scaling, Central to Kellogg's Growth Initiative. For executives he teaches Political Capital, Managing Organizational Change, and Strategic Processes. His teaching philosophy is to provide students with frameworks that will foster critical thinking skills that will make them better managers and leaders in organizations. At the Ph.D. level he teaches a Seminar on Behavior in Organizational Systems as well as a special elective on Institutional Logics and Practices. 

Prior to becoming an academic, he served as Executive Director of the Governor's Economic Advisory Council in Puerto Rico from 1986-1990. A native of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico he lives in downtown Chicago.

Building on his research and organizational experience he provides consulting services, executive education, and expert testimony to Fortune 500 firms, law firms as well as to federal and state governments

Areas of Expertise
Organizational Change
Political Economy/Design

Print Vita
PhD, 1992, Organizational Behavior, Stanford University
MBA, 1984, General Management, Harvard University
BA, 1976, Economics, University of Puerto Rico

Academic Positions
Professor, Weinberg College of Arts of Sciences, Northwestern University, 2001-present
John L. and Helen Kellogg Distinguished Professor of Management and Organizations, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 2001-present
Assistant Professor, Weinberg College of Arts of Sciences, Northwestern University, 1996-2001
Assistant Professor, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, 1995-2001
Assistant Professor of Strategy and Organizational Studies, Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1992-1995
Member, Board of Directors, Corporation for Technological Transformation, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1988-1990
Executive Director, Governor's Economic Advisory Council, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1986-1990
Senior Associate, ICF Incorporated, 1984-1986
Director of Planning, Center for Energy and Environment Research, University of Puerto Rico, 1981-1982
Scientist II, Center for Energy and Environment Research, University of Puerto Rico, 1979-1980

Honors and Awards
Finalist, Thats' Interesting, Best Paper Award, European Group for Organization Studies
George Terry Best Book Award for 2012, Academy of Management
Dan and Louis Schendel Best Paper Award, Strategic Management Society
Keynote Speaker, IberoAmerican Academy of Management, 2006
Trailblazer Award, Management Doctoral Students Association, 2002
W. Richard Scott Award for Best paper Published in the Last Three Years, American Sociological Association, 2000
Keynote Speaker, First International Conference of the Iberoamerican Academy of Management, 1999
Robert K. Jaedicke Scholar, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1991-1992
Honors in Field Examination, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1991
Merit Scholarship, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1990-1991
Selected by Governor to Represent Puerto Rico in the Forum for Global Leaders for the South, Bell South Corporation, 1989
Exxon Educational Foudnation Fellowship, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, 1982-1984
National Science Foudnation Graduate Fellowship in Economics, National Science Foundation, 1976-1979
Phi kappa Phi Graduate Fellow, Phi Kappa Phi Society, 1976-1977
Class Valedictorian, University of Puerto Rico, 1976

Editorial Positions
Senior Editor, Organizational Science, 2006-Present
Editorial Board, Journal of Management Research, 2001-Present

Print Research
Research Interests
Political dynamics in organizations, corporate governance and control, organizational attention and decision-making, organizational change

Ocasio, WilliamMichael Mauskapf and Christopher Steele. Forthcoming. History, Society, and Institutions: The Role of Collective Memory in the Emergence and Evolution of Societal Logics. Academy of Management Review.
Ocasio, William, Jeffrey Loewenstein and Amit Nigam. 2015. How Streams of Communication Reproduce and Change Institutional Logics: The Role of Catagories. Academy of Management Review. 40(1): 10-27 (Lead Article).
Joseph, John, William Ocasio and Mary Hunter McDonnell. 2014. The Structural Elaboration of Board Independence: Executive Power, Institutional Logics, and the Adoption of CEO-only Board Structures in U.S. Corporate Governance.. Academy of Management Journal. 57(6): 1834-1868.
Pouthier, Vanessa, Christopher Steele and William Ocasio. 2013. From Agents to Principles: Hospitalists Identity and the Emerging Logic of Hospital Medicine.. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. 39: 203-241.
Joseph, John and William Ocasio. 2012. Architecture, Attention, and Adaptation in the Multibusiness Firm: General Electric From 1951 to 2001. Strategic Management Journal. 33(6): 633-660.
Gavetti, Giovanni, Henrich Greve, Daniel Levinthal and William Ocasio. 2012. The Behavioral Theory of the Firm: Assessment and Prospects. Academy of Management Annals. 6(1): 1-40.
Loewenstein, Jeffrey, William Ocasio and Candance Jones. 2012. Vocabularies and Vocabulary Structure: A New Approach Linking Categories, Practices, and Institutions. Academy of Management Annals. 6(1): 41-86.
Ocasio, William. 2012. Situated Attention, Loose and Tight Coupling, and The Garbage Can Model. Research in the Sociology of Organizations.. Research in the Sociology of Organizations. 36(1): 293-318.
Ocasio, William. 2011. Attention to Attention. Organization Science. 22(5): 286-1296.
Ocasio, William. 2010. Event Attention, Environmental Sensemaking, and Changes in Institutional Logics: An Inductive Analysis of the Effects of Public Attention to Clinton's Health Care Reform Initiative. Organization Science. 21(4): 823-841.
Ocasio, William and John Joseph. 2008. Rise and Fall - or Transformation? The Evolution of Strategic Planning at the General Electric Company, 19402006. Long Range Planning. 41(3): 248-272.
Gavetti, Giovanni, Daniel Levinthal and William Ocasio. 2007. A Neo-Carnegie Perspective on Organization Theory and Strategy. Organization Science. 18(3): 523-536.
Britton, Marcus and William Ocasio. 2007. Urbanization and Spatial Organization: Hospital and Orphanage Location in Chicago, 1848 - 1916. Social Forces. 85(3): 1303-1317.
Ocasio, William and Patricia H. Thornton. 2006. Corporate Hierarchies In Markets: The Effects of Structure And Strategy on Organizational Survival. Academy of Management Proceedings.: K1-K6.
Ocasio, William and John Joseph. 2005. An Attention Based Theory of Strategy Formulation: Linking Decision Making and Guided Evolution in Strategy Processes. Advances in Strategic Management. 22: 39-61.
Ocasio, William and John Joseph. 2005. Cultural Adaptation and Institutional Change: The Evolution of Vocabularies of Corporate Governance, 1972-2003. Poetics. 33(3-4): 163-178.
Joseph, John and William Ocasio. 2005. And Then There Were None: Political Settlements of Insider Board Membership. Academy of Management Proceedings.: R1-R6.
Ocasio, William. 2001. Not all Events are Attended Equally: Toward a Middle-Range Theory of Industry Attention to External Events. Organization Science. 12(4): 414-434.
Barnett, William P, Gary A. Mischke and William Ocasio. 2000. The Evolution of Collective Strategies Among Organizations.. Organization Studies. 21(2): 325-354.
Thornton, Patricia H. and William Ocasio. 1999. Institutional Logics and the Historical Contingency of Power in Organizations: Executive Succession in the Higher Education Publishing Industry, 1958-1990. American Journal of Sociology. 105(3): 801-844.
Ocasio, William and Hyosun Kim. 1999. The Circulation of Corporate Control: Selection of Functional Backgrounds of New CEOs in Large U.S. Manufacturing Firms, 1981-1992. Administrative Science Quarterly. 44(3): 532-562.
Ocasio, William. 1999. Institutionalized Action and Corporate Governance: The Reliance on Rules of CEO Succession. Administrative Science Quarterly. 44(2): 348-416.
Ocasio, William. 1997. Towards an attention-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal. 18: 187-206.
Reprinted in:
Strategic Management, edited by Julian Birkinshaw, vol. 18, Cheltenham: UK: Edward Elgar, 2004.
Ocasio, William. 1995. The enactment of economic adversity: A reconciliation of theories of failure-induced change and threat rigidity. Research in Organizational Behavior. 17: 287-331.
Ocasio, William. 1994. Political dynamics and the circulation of power: CEO succession in US industrial firms, 1960-1990. Administrative Science Quarterly. 39(2): 285-312.
Shepherd, Dean, Jeffrey McMullen and William Ocasio. Forthcoming. Is that an Opportunity? A Managerial Attention Model of Opportunity Beliefs for Strategic Action. Strategic Management Journal.
Ocasio, William, Michael Mauskapf and Christopher Steele. Forthcoming. History, Society, and Instructions: The Role of Collective Memory in the Formation of Societal Logics. Academy of Management Review.
Ocasio, William and Nevena Raydonovska. Forthcoming. Strategy and the Constellation of Institutional Logics: Organizational Heterogeneity in Capture of Value.
Working Papers
Steele, Christopher, Vanessa Pouthier and William Ocasio. 2015. The Generativity of Institutional Logics.
Ocasio, William, Tomi Laamamen and Eero Vaara. 2015. Communication Dynamics in the Attention-Based View of the Firm.
Mauskapf, Michael, William Ocasio and Edward Zajac. 2016. Institutional Dissonance at the New York Philharmonic, 1842-1928: Emergence, Response, and Persistence.
Rhee, Seung-Hyun and William Ocasio. 2015. Holistic and Analytic Attention: A New Cognitive Mechanism on Organization Learning and Strategic Adaptation.
Rhee, Seung-Hyun, William Ocasio and Tae-Hyun Kim. 2015. Cogntive Accessibility in Corporate Hieraches: Performance Feedback in Korean Business Groups.
Mitchell, Maria-Rita, William Ocasio and Justin Jansen. 2015. How managerial attention shapes business model innovation: Evidence from the design industry.
Ocasio, William and Nevena Raydonovska. 2014. Dilemmas of Consequence: Frame Contestation, Layered Practices and Responses to Complexity in Hospital Emergency Departments.
Danisman, Ali and William Ocasio. 2013. Globalization vs. Societal Sectors: A Comparative Institutional Analysis of Health Care Financing in OECD Countries.
Ocasio, William. 2011. Goal Activation and Organizational Decision Making: An Inductive Analysis of Technology Commercialization at Motorola.
Ocasio, William and Jo-Ellen Pozner. 2005. Beyond Dependence: A Political Capital Perspective on Power in Organizations.
Ocasio, William. 1999. The Evolutionary Theory of Structural Inertia and Change: Extensions and Modifications.
Book Chapters
Ocasio, William and Franz Wohlgezogen. 2010. "Attention and Control." In Organizational Control: New Directions in Theory and Research, edited by Sitkin, S., Cardinal, L., Bijlsma-Frankema, K. M., 343-398. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Thornton, Patricia H. and William Ocasio. 2008. "Institutional Logics." In The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, edited by Royston Greenwood, Christine Oliver, Roy Suddaby, Kerstin Sahlin-Andersson, SAGE Publications.
Ocasio, William. 2008. "A Neo-Carnegie Perspective in Organizations." In The SAGE Handbook of New Approaches in Management and Organization, edited by Barry and Hansen, 150-151. SAGE Publications.
Ocasio, William and John Joseph. 2006. "Governance Channels and Organizational Design at General Electric: 1950-2001." In Organization Design: The Evolving State-of-the-Art, edited by Richard M. Burton, Bo Eriksen, Dorthe Djbak Hkonsson, Charles C. Snow, 267-300. Boston, MA: Springer Science+Business Media.
Ocasio, William. 2005. "Corporate Boards." In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management: Organizational Behavior, edited by Nigel Nicholson, vol. 11, Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Ocasio, William. 2005. "Executive Succession." In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management: Organizational Behavior, edited by Nigel Nicholson, vol. 11, Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Ocasio, William. 2005. "The Opacity of Risk: Language and the Culture of Safety in NASA's Space Shuttle Program." In Organization at the Limit: Lessons from the Columbia Disaster, edited by M. Farjoun and W.H. Starbuck, 101-121. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.
Thornton, Patricia H. and William Ocasio. 2004. "Attention to the Sources of Power." In Markets from Culture: Institutional Logics and Organizational Decisions in Higher Education Publis, edited by Patricia H. Thornton, 69-87. Stanford, CA: Stanford Business Books.
Ocasio, William. 2002. "Organizational Power and Dependence.." In The Blackwell Companion to Organizations, edited by Joel A. C. Baum, 363-385. Wiley-Blackwell.
Ocasio, William. 2001. "How do organizations think?." In Organizational Cognition: Computation and Interpretation, edited by Theresa Lant and Zur Shapira, 39-60. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Gavetti, Giovanni and William Ocasio. 2015. Advances in Strategic Management Vol 32: Cognition and Strategy (Edited Volume). Emerald Publishing.
Thornton, Patricia, Michael Lounsbury and William Ocasio. 2012. The Institutional Logics Perspective: A New Approach to Culture, Structure, and Process. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Print Teaching
Teaching Interests
Organizational and management theory, power and politics
Full-Time / Evening & Weekend MBA
Power In Organizations: Sources, Strategies and Skills (MORS-453-0)
Power dynamics are fundamental to the effective exercise of leadership in organizations. This course develops your ability to create and use sources of power beyond formal authority, to formulate strategies and tactics of political and social influence, and to exercise skills that make you a more effective organizational leader. Readings, case materials, course assignments and a field action project focus on the challenge of sustainable political advantage in organizations - the rules of the game, basic power diagnostics, the management of strategic dependencies and persuasion processes, and working in entrepreneurial contexts. Throughout, the course raises issues of career dynamics in the context of the development of your leadership abilities.

Special Topics in Management and Organizations: Macro (MORS-521-2)
The course covers classic and recent research topics in macro-oriented areas of Management and Organizations. Topics are drawn from sociology, organizational theory, and macro-organizational research methods.

Managing Organizations for Growth (MORS-946-5)
This course was formerly known as MORS 946-B