• Biography

    Kevin W. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.

     

    Kevin's research concerns the changing nature of work and organizing: the dramatic transformations brought about by our societies’ push toward the future, often embodied in our embrace of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He has paid special attention to a question emblematic of our lived experience of these changes: caught as we are between yesterday and tomorrow, who and what have we been defining as valuable and worthy enough to take with us, as opposed to leave behind? Pursuant to these interests, his dissertation is an ethnographic study of a startup, developing an AI that is threatening a form of work long used to distinguish humans from machines: artistic expression, here in the form of music composition.

     

    Kevin has presented this research at leading conferences in the fields of organization theory and sociology, including conferences of the Academy of Management, the American Sociological Association, and the European Group for Organizational Studies. Among other awards, he is the recipient of the Microsoft Fellowship for the Study of the Future of Work and Organizations, a fellowship from the Fubon Center for Technology, Business, and Innovation, and a runner-up recognition for the Best Entrepreneurship Paper Award from the Academy of Management's Organization and Management Theory (OMT) division. He is also currently serving on the leadership of the OMT division, as Social Media co-chair.

     

    Kevin received his PhD in Management & Organizations from New York University's Stern School of Business and pursued undergraduate studies at Columbia University. He began his career working in Manhattan as a strategy consultant to some of Wall Street's most prominent financial institutions, witnessing first-hand their disruption by entrepreneurs and technologists at the cutting edge of the digital revolution.

  • Research Interests

    OVERVIEW
    Kevin's research concerns the changing nature of work and organizing: the dramatic transformations brought about by our societies’ push toward the future, often embodied in our embrace of technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. He has paid special attention to a question emblematic of our lived experience of these changes: caught as we are between yesterday and tomorrow, who and what have we been defining as valuable and worthy enough to take with us, as opposed to leave behind? In so asking, his research builds on studies spanning back to the founding of social scientific inquiry. This scholarship weighed what we were gaining against what we were losing at the dawn of the twentieth century, focusing on disruptions like the rationalization of work, the division of labor, and the monetization of social life. Taking inspiration from these classics, as well as from more recent scholarship across social scientific fields like organization theory and sociology, Kevin has attempted to capture and clarify what has been happening today in this new era of change, and has primarily used ethnographic and interview methods to investigate how people on the frontier of the future have been dealing with these transformations to work and organizing.
     
    KEYWORDS

    future of work and organizing

    technology, innovation, & entrepreneurship

    social inequality, worth, & evaluation

    the lived experience of organizations & institutions

    qualitative methods (e.g., ethnography, interviews)

     
    DISSERTATION
    Augmenting or Automating? Breathing Life into the Uncertain Promise of Artificial Intelligence
    Committee: Beth Bechky (chair), Paul DiMaggio, Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, Damon Phillips
     
    In this dissertation, Kevin puzzled over the phenomenon of occupational cannibalization: the fact that members of an occupation ended up developing an AI technology intended to carve away at their community’s work. Initially, these occupation members, in deeply valuing the quality of work done by human beings, began developing the AI in ways that would keep this work within the hold of composers and thus within the community’s boundaries, against its complete takeover by machines. These intentions were sharply at odds with the fact that users of the AI ended up using it in ways that meant completely replacing some members of the occupation. However, these unexpected patterns of use turned out to be consistent with hierarchies of worth within the occupation: the work being automated away was not seen as being of worth, and occupation members were willing to relinquish it, as well as those who did it, across the community’s boundaries to the advance of machines. This is to say, these occupation members’ evaluation of work within their community was crucial to how they conceived of cannibalizing their broader community: part of their broader endeavor to adjudicate what work, as well as workers, should be included within and excluded from it, with implications, more broadly, for what the community should look like.

  • teaching

    OVERVIEW

    We have been living through an exciting, if often terrifying, age: one wracked by the rise of political populism and polarization, the passionate protest of age-old social inequalities, the alarming onset of climate change, the birth of technologies beyond our predecessors’ wildest imaginations, and a global pandemic. These changes, among others, have augured our need for people equipped to navigate and lead our organizations, economies, and societies through unprecedented situations. Through his teaching, Kevin aims to cultivate future leaders prepared to deal with these situations. To do so, Kevin attempts to nurture his students' ability to analyze situations they face, to embrace uncertainty, and to effectively collaborate with others working alongside them.

     
    KEYWORDS
    organization theory and behavior
    technology, innovation, & entrepreneurship
    work & employment
    leadership in organizations
     
    EXPERIENCE AT NYU STERN
    Instructor, Management & Organizations (Rating: 4.8/5)
    Teaching Assistant for courses related to leadership, work & employment, and innovation & entrepreneurship

  • Contact Kevin

    Email

    LinkedIn

    Twitter

    Instagram