• Biography

    Kevin W. Lee is a PhD Candidate in Management and Organizations at New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business. He holds a Microsoft Fellowship for the Study of the Future of Work and Organizations, the NYU Stern Sydney Winters Fellowship, the Fubon Center for Technology, Business, & Innovation's Doctoral Fellowship, and an affiliation with the Future of Work & Organizations initiative.

     

    Kevin's research concerns the changing nature of work and organizing: the dramatic transformations brought about by our societies’ pursuit of progress, efficiency, and rationality, 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 the past and the future, 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 the Academy of Management conference, the American Sociological Association conference, and the INFORMS College on Organization Science program. Among other awards, his paper with Damon Phillips was selected by the Academy of Management's Organization and Management Theory (OMT) division as the runner-up for the Best Entrepreneurship Paper Award. He has also been serving as the OMT division's Social Media co-chair, and as an editorial committee member of the Administrative Science Quarterly's student blog.

     

    Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Kevin received an undergraduate degree from Columbia University in 2014, where he helped to inaugurate a university-wide program aimed at supporting student, faculty, and alumni entrepreneurship and technological innovation. Before starting graduate school, 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’ pursuit of progress, efficiency, and rationality, 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 the past and the future, 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 and innovation
    • entrepreneurship
    • qualitative methods
    DISSERTATION
    Augmenting or Automating? Breathing Life into the Uncertain Promise of Artificial Intelligence
    Committee: Beth Bechky (chair), Paul DiMaggio, Hila Lifshitz-Assaf, Damon Phillips
     
    Kevin's dissertation is an ethnographic study of an AI development startup, whose members primarily identified as being a part of the very occupational community that the company’s technology would automate: music composers. This was puzzling, given a vast literature which has demonstrated, by contrast, how members of occupations often have strived to protect their community’s relationship with its work against threats like technology. Kevin thus investigated how the people in his study ultimately justified working on this technology: they positioned the music they were automating (as well as the people who relied on this form of work to make a living) as not worthy enough to the community to be protected from the advance of machines. In so doing, Kevin has been unraveling an important set of social dynamics at the core of recent trends in socioeconomic inequality, especially as perpetuated by people situated in technology development organizations. That is, Kevin has uncovered the cultural processes by which these people may symbolically stratify their own communities and throw some of their own under the bus to account for and legitimate the technological futures they are building.

  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Job market paper

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