Jennifer Whitson is an associate professor of management and organizations at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Prior to joining Anderson, she served as assistant professor at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin. Her research addresses two central issues that all managers face: making sense of their environment and regulating their social and organizational interactions.
"I've always been interested in how people make sense of the world, both when they get it right and when they get it wrong. For example: how did we miss the signs of the economic downturn in 2008 before it was upon us?"
Whitson explores two phenomena crucial to sensemaking and social regulation: control and power. Her work establishes a critical relationship between the psychological experience of lacking control and illusory pattern perception. She also explores how those who lack power can seek control, examining how stigmatized groups can take control of the very slurs used against them via re-appropriation. Her work also explores how control is exerted via rewards and punishments in response to wrongdoing or honesty. In addition to continuing research in all these phenomena, her current papers seek to illuminate how sensemaking influences institutional norms, how group identification influences re-appropriation, and how cultural variation influences endorsement of different conspiracies.
Her scholarly work has appeared in journals such as Science, Psychological Bulletin, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Research in Organizational Behavior, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. It has been covered in articles in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Reuters, MSNBC and Scientific American and in three separate books. In addition to garnering international coverage in Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, her work has resulted in invitations to appear on CBS Morning News, National Public Radio, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman and National Geographic’s Brain Games.
Ph.D. Management and Organizations, 2007, Northwestern University
M.S. Management and Organizations, 2004, Northwestern University
B.A. Psychology and Social Behavior, 2000, University of California, Irvine