Margaret Ormiston, PhD 07

Assistant Professor, London Business School

It was Margaret Ormiston’s experience working with Los Angeles businesses as a litigation consultant that propelled her to pursue an academic career studying leadership and teams. Through various consulting projects, she witnessed the significant effects that leaders have on employees, from highly inspirational to highly dysfunctional.

 

"I wanted to better understand how we can be more functional as leaders and get the most out of our employees," says Ormiston, PhD 07, who studied sociology as a UCLA undergraduate. "This understanding leads to better outcomes on the whole."

 

Working on her PhD at Haas during a rash of corporate scandals provided an impetus for Ormiston’s prime research focus: understanding team dynamics.

 

"When I started my PhD, the Enron debacle put a focus on what can go wrong when a company’s executives think only about shareholders’ interests and financial performance—and not social performance," recalls Ormiston. "It’s absolutely critical for us to think about corporate social responsibility, so we need to understand what leads to it and what roles leaders play."

 

Taking a position at the London Business School after graduation was an easy decision for Ormiston, 34, who grew up in San Francisco but spent summers in London and Glasgow, where her parents originated.

 

"I always wanted to try living here and see if it was meant for me," she says. And "professionally, London is a great place because it’s such a diverse city and there’s access to a lot of different potential field sites for research."

 

Ormiston is studying top management teams from publicly traded companies, how the teams’ leadership and dynamics influence firm-level outcomes, and how the teams’ ability to consider multiple perspectives influences corporate social performance.


Ormiston is also collecting data on leaders’ facial features and appearance. "Research shows that we are more trusting of baby-faced people," says Ormiston, "so how will that translate into thinking about corporate fraud and social responsibility?"

 

In addition to her research, Ormiston teaches courses on global leadership and on assessment and a class on leading teams and organizations. She says, "The London Business School has incredibly dynamic students who push me to think about the applications of my work."




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