Stephen R. Barley is the Christian A. Felipe Professor of Technology Management at the College of Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara. He holds an AB. in English from the College of William and Mary, an M.Ed. from the Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in Organization Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Prior to coming to UCSB, Barley served for ten years on the faculty of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He then moved to Stanford where he was the Richard Weiland Professor of Management Science and Engineering, the Associate Chair of the Department of Management Science and Engineering (2011-2015), and was the Co-founder and co-director of the Center for Work, Technology and Organization at Stanford's School of Engineering from 1994-2015. He was editor of the Administrative Science Quarterly from 1993 to 1997 and the founding editor of the Stanford Social Innovation Review from 2002 to 2004.

Barley serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Discovery, the Academy of Management Annals, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Research in the Sociology of Work, Information and Organization, Engineering Studies and the Journal of Organizational Ethnography. He has been the recipient the Academy of Management's New Concept Award and was named Distinguished Scholar by the Academy of Management’s Organization and Management Theory Division in 2006, the Organization Communication and Information Systems Division in 2010 and the Critical Management Studies Division in 2010. Barley has been a fellow at Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and is a Fellow of the Academy of Management. In 2006 the Academy of Management Journal named Barley as the author of the largest number of “interesting” articles in the field of management studies.

Barley was a member of the Board of Senior Scholars of the National Center for the Educational Quality of the Workforce and co-chaired National Research Council and the National Academy of Science's committee on the changing occupational structure in the United States. The committee's report, The Changing Nature of Work, was published in 1999. He recently served on the National Research Council’s (NRC) committee on the Information Technology Research and Development Ecosystem and on the NRC’s Committee on Automation and the Workforce.

Barley has written over ninety articles on the impact of new technologies on work, the organization of technical work, and organizational culture. He and Julian Orr edited a volume on technical work entitled Between Craft and Science: Technical Work in the United States published in 1997 by the Cornell University Press. In collaboration with Gideon Kunda of Tel Aviv University, Barley authored Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies: Itinerant Experts in the Knowledge Economy, an ethnography of contingent work among engineers and software developers published by the Princeton University Press in 2004.

Barley teaches courses on the organizational implications of technological change, organizational theory, social network analysis and ethnographic field methods. He has served as a consultant to organizations in a variety of industries including publishing, banking, computers, electronics and aerospace.

Barley is currently researching corporate power in the United States, the rhetorical history of telecommuting, and how sophisticated mathematical modeling tools are altering the work of engineers who design automobiles.

Academic Appointments

Administrative Appointments

  • Editor, Administrative Science Quarterly (1993 - 1997)
  • Editor, Series on Technology and Work, Cornell University Press (1994 - 2009)
  • Editor, Stanford Innovation Review (2002 - 2004)
  • Co-Director, General Motors/Stanford University Collaborative Research Laboratory on Work Systems (2004 - 2010)
  • Co-Director, Center for Work, Technology and organization (1996 - 2015)
  • Associate Chair, Department of Management Science and Engineering (2011 - 2015)

Honors & Awards

  • New Concept Award, Academy of Management, Organizational Behavior Division (1985)
  • Breaking the Frame Award, Journal of Management Inquiry (2000)
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Studies in Leadership, Stockholm School of Economics (2001)
  • Distinguished Speaker Award, INFORMS Technology Management Section (2002)
  • IBM Fellow, IBM (2005-2006)
  • Author of the largest number of interesting papers, Academy of Management Journal (2006)
  • Distinguished Scholar, Organization and Management Theory Division, Academy of Management (2006)
  • Fellow, Academy of Management (2007)
  • Best Article Award, Journal of Management Inquiry (2008)
  • Joan Woodward Distinguished Lecturer, Imperial College, London (2008)
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Science (2008-2009)
  • Best Published Article Award, International Conference on Information System (2009)
  • Distinguished Scholar, Critical Management Studies Division, Academy of Management (2010)
  • Distinguished Scholar, Organizational Communication and Information Systems Division, Academy of Managemet (2010)
  • Clarendon Lectures, Oxford University (2016)
  • Clarendon Lectures, Said School of Business, Oxford University (October 2016)

Professional Education

  • PhD, Sloan School of Management, Organization Studies (1984)
  • MS, The Ohio State University, Student Personnel Administration (1977)
  • AB, The College of William and Mary, English (1975)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Technology's role in occupational and organizational change. Science and innovation in industrial settings. Organizational and occupational culture. Corporate power. Social network theory. Macro-organizational behavior.

All Publications

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The Learning Imperative in Postindustrial Work WORK AND OCCUPATIONS Valdes, G., Barley, S. R. 2016; 43 (4): 466-501
  • How virtuality impacts the way teams work IESE Insight Leonardi, P. M., Bailey, D. E., Barley, S. R. 2013; Spring: 32-39
  • The Lure of the Virtual ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Bailey, D. E., Leonardi, P. M., Barley, S. R. 2012; 23 (5): 1485-1504
  • E-mail as a Source and Symbol of Stress ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Barley, S. R., Meyerson, D. E., Grodal, S. 2011; 22 (4): 887-906
  • Signifying Institutions MANAGEMENT COMMUNICATION QUARTERLY Barley, S. R. 2011; 25 (1): 200-206
  • Teaching-Learning Ecologies: Mapping the Environment to Structure Through Action ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Bailey, D. E., Barley, S. R. 2011; 22 (1): 262-285
  • I save a technician’s butt and another saves mine Research Alive: Exploring Generative Moments in Doing Qualitative Research Barley, S. R. edited by Carlson, A., Dutton, J. Copenhagen Business School Press. 2011: 98–102
  • Building an Institutional Field to Corral a Government: A Case to Set an Agenda for Organization Studies ORGANIZATION STUDIES Barley, S. R. 2010; 31 (6): 777-805
  • What's Under Construction Here? Social Action, Materiality, and Power in Constructivist Studies of Technology and Organizing ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT ANNALS Leonardi, P. M., Barley, S. R. 2010; 4: 1-51
  • Rejoinder JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT INQUIRY Barley, S. R. 2008; 17 (3): 168-171
  • Materiality and change: Challenges to building better theory about technology and organizing INFORMATION AND ORGANIZATION Leonardi, P. M., Barley, S. R. 2008; 18 (3): 159-176
  • Coalface institutionalism Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism Barley, S. R. edited by Greenwood, R., Oliver, C., Suddaby, R., Shalin-Anderson, K. Sage. 2008: 490–515
  • Letter to editors Opening the Black Box of Editorship Barley, S. R. edited by Baruch, Y., Aguinis , Konrad, A., Starbuck, W. Palgrave. 2008: 39–49
  • Corporations, democracy, and the public good JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT INQUIRY Barley, S. R. 2007; 16 (3): 201-215
  • When I write my masterpiece: Thoughts on what makes a paper interesting ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT JOURNAL Barley, S. R. 2006; 49 (1): 16-20
  • Contracting: A new form of professional practice ACADEMY OF MANAGEMENT PERSPECTIVES Barley, S. R., Kunda, G. 2006; 20 (1): 45-66
  • Itinerant professionals: Technical contractors in a knowledge economy America at Work: Choices and Challenges Barley, S. R. edited by O'Toole, J., Lawler, E. Palgrave Macmillian. 2006: 173–193
  • Return to work: Toward post-industrial engineering IIE TRANSACTIONS Bailey, D. E., Barley, S. R. 2005; 37 (8): 737-752
  • What we know (and mostly don’t know) about technical work The Oxford Handbook of Work and Organization Barley, S. R. edited by Ackroyd, S., Batt, R., Thompson, P., Tolbert, P. Oxford University Press. 2005: 376–403
  • Beach time, bridge and billable time hours: The temporal structure of technical contracting ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCE QUARTERLY Evans, J. A., Barley, S. R. 2004; 49 (1): 1-38
  • Puddle jumping as a career strategy Renewing Research Practice: Lessons from Scholar’s Journeys Barley, S. R. edited by Stablien, R., Frost, P. Stanford University Press. 2004: 67–82
  • Gurus, Hired Guns and Warm Bodies: Itinerant Experts in a Knowledge Economy. Barley, S. R., Kunda, G. Princeton University Press. 2004
  • Why do contractors contract? The experience of highly skilled technical professionals in a contingent labor market INDUSTRIAL & LABOR RELATIONS REVIEW Kunda, G., Barley, S. R., Evans, J. 2002; 55 (2): 234-261
  • Technology and institutions: What can research on information technology and research on organizations learn from each other? MIS QUARTERLY Orlikowski, W. J., Barley, S. R. 2001; 25 (2): 145-165
  • Bringing work back in ORGANIZATION SCIENCE Barley, S. R., Kunda, G. 2001; 12 (1): 76-95
  • Problems in using patient satisfaction data to assess the quality of care of primary care physicians Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management Barr, D., Vergun, P., Barley, S. R. 2000; 7: 19-24.
  • The practice and uses of field research in the 21st Century Organization JOURNAL OF MANAGEMENT INQUIRY Kaghan, W. N., Strauss, A. L., Barley, S. R., Brannen, M. Y., Thomas, R. J. 1999; 8 (1): 67-81
  • Do digital telecommunications affect work and organization? The state of our knowledge RESEARCH IN ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, VOL. 21, 1999 O'Mahony, S., Barley, S. R. 1999; 21: 125-161
  • The Changing Nature of Work and Its Implications for Occupational Analysis Kochan, T. A., Barley et al., S. R. National Research Council. 1999
  • Computer-based distance education: why and why not The Education Digest Barley, S. R. 1999; 65: 55-59
  • Competence without credentials: The promise and potential problems of computer-based distance learning Competence without Credentials Barley, S. R. edited by Stacey, N. U.S. Department of Education. 1999: 5–13
  • What can we learn from the history of technology? JOURNAL OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT Barley, S. R. 1998; 15 (4): 237-255
  • Military downsizing and the career prospects of youths ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE Barley, S. R. 1998; 559: 141-157
  • For love or money? Commodification and the construction of an occupational mandate ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCE QUARTERLY Nelsen, B. J., Barley, S. R. 1997; 42 (4): 619-653
  • ''You can't be a stone if you're cement'': Reevaluating the emic identities of scientists in organizations RESEARCH IN ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR, VOL 19, 1997 ZABUSKY, S. E., Barley, S. R. 1997; 19: 361-404
  • Technical work and the division of labor: Stalking the wily anomaly Between Craft and Science: Technical Work in U.S. Settings Barley, S. R., Whalley, P. edited by Barley, S. R., Orr, J. ILR Press. 1997: 20–52
  • Institutionalization and structuration: Studying the links between institutions and actions. Organization Studies Barley, S. R., Tolbert, P. S. 1997; 18: 93-117
  • The neglected workforce: An introduction Between Craft and Science: Technical Work in U.S. Settings Barley, S. R., Orr, J. edited by Barley, S. R., Orr, J. ILR Press. 1997: 1–19
  • Between Craft and Science: Technical Work in the United States edited by Barley, S. R., Orr, J. ILR Press. 1997
  • Technicians in the workplace: Ethnographic evidence for bringing work into organization studies ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCE QUARTERLY Barley, S. R. 1996; 41 (3): 404-441
  • Organizations and social systems: Organization theory's neglected mandate ADMINISTRATIVE SCIENCE QUARTERLY Stern, R. N., Barley, S. R. 1996; 41 (1): 146-162
  • Redefining success: Ethnographic observations on the careers of technicians Broken Ladders: Managerial Careers in Transition Barley, S. R. edited by Osterman, P. Oxford University Press. 1996: 185–214
  • Commentary on Pentland Technology Studies Barley, S. R. 1996; 2: 89-92
  • The New World of Work Barley, S. R. National Planning Association. 1996
  • Preface Talking about Machines: An Ethnography of a Modern Job Barley, S. R. ILR Press. 1996
  • In the backrooms of science: Notes on the work of science technicians Work and Occupations Barley, S. R., Bechky, B. 1994; 21: 85-126
  • Design and devotion: The ebb and flow of rational and normative ideologies of control in managerial discourse Administrative Science Quarterly Barley, S. R., Kunda, G. 1992; 37: 1-30
  • Strategic alliances in commercial biotechnology Networks and Organizations: Structure, Form and Action Barley, S., Freeman, J., Hybels, R. edited by Norhia, N., Eccles, R. Harvard Business School Press. 1992: 311–345
  • Obsession and naivete in upstate New York: A Tale of research Exemplary Organizational Research Meyer, G., Barley, S. R., Gash, D. edited by Frost, P., Stablein, R. Sage. 1991: 22–35
  • Contextualizing conflict: Notes on the anthropology of disputes and negotiations Research on Negotiations in Organizations Barley, S. R. 1991; 3: 165-199
  • At the intersection of organizations and occupations Research in the Sociology of Organizations Barley, S. R., Tolbert, P. S. 1991; 7: 1-15
  • Toward a cultural theory of stress complaints Research in Organizational Behavior Barley, S. R., Knight, D. K. 1991; 14 (1-48): 1-48


    This paper outlines a role-based approach for conceptualizing and investigating the contention in some previous research that technologies change organizational and occupational structures by transforming patterns of action and interaction. Building on Nadel's theory of social structure, the paper argues that the microsocial dynamics occasioned by new technologies reverberate up levels of analysis in an orderly manner. Specifically, a technology's material attributes are said to have an immediate impact on the nonrelational elements of one or more work roles. These changes, in turn, influence the role's relational elements, which eventually affect the structure of an organization's social networks. Consequently, roles and social networks are held to mediate a technology's structural effects. The theory is illustrated by ethnographic and sociometric data drawn from a comparative field study of the use of traditional and computerized imaging devices in two radiology departments.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1990CV83400004

    View details for PubMedID 10106582

  • The strategic analysis of inter-organ¬izational relations in biotechnology The Strategic Management of Technological Innovation Freeman, J., Barley, S. R. edited by Loveridge, R., Pitt, M. Wiley. 1990: 127–155
  • Co-optation and the legitimation of professional iden¬tities: human resource policies in high technology firms Organizational Issues in High Technology Management Hybels, R., Barley, S. R., Lawless, M. edited by Gomez-Mejia, L. R. JAI Press. 1990: 199–213
  • Images of imaging: Notes on doing longitudinal field work Organization Science Barley, S. R. 1990; 1 : 220-247
  • Careers, identities, and institutions: the legacy of the Chicago School of Sociology The Handbook of Career Theory Barley, S. R. edited by Arthur, M., Hall, T., Lawrence, B. Cambridge University Press. 1989: 41–65
  • On technology, time, and social order: Technically induced change in the temporal organization of radiological work Making Time: Ethnographies of High Technology Organizations Barley, S. R. edited by Dubinskas, F. A. Temple University Press. 1988: 123–169
  • Technology, power, and the social organization of work: towards a pragmatic theory of skilling and deskilling Research in the Sociology of Organizations Barley, S. R. 1988; 6: 33-80
  • The social construction of a machine: Ritual, superstition, magical thinking and other pragmatic responses to running a CT scanner Biomedicine Examined Barley, S. R., Lock, M. edited by Gordon, D. Kluwer. 1988: 497–539
  • Technology as an occasion for structuring: Observations on CT scanners and the social order of radiology departments Administrative Science Quarterly Barley, S. R. 1986; 31: 78-108
  • Cultural organization: Fragments of a theory Organizational Culture Van Maanen, J., Barley, S. R. edited by Frost et al., P. Sage. 1985: 31–54
  • Codes of the dead: the semiotics of funeral work Urban Life Barley, S. R. 1983; 12: 3-31