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