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Elena Obukhova

Elena Obukhova
Assistant Professor, Strategy and Organization

PhD, Sociology, University of Chicago, USA
MSc, Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences, Northwestern University, USA
BA, Anthropology, University of Florida, USA

Strategy and Organization
Email Address: 
elena [dot] obukhova [at] mcgill [dot] ca

Bronfman Building, [Map]
1001 rue Sherbrooke Ouest
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1G5


Elena Obukhova is an Assistant Professor in Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management of McGill University. She teaches the core International Business course in the BCom program. 

Professor Obukhova’ research investigates when and how social networks benefit individuals and organizations, with particular attention to China. Her first stream of research explores the role of social networks in labor markets. In a series of papers, she reveals the benefits job seekers receive from using social connections in their job search. In her second stream of research, she uses social networks as a theoretical lens to focus on Chinese returnee-entrepreneurs, or Chinese nationals who start new ventures in China after studying or working in developed economies. In particular, her research seeks to unveil the conditions under which the networks these entrepreneurs have in China and abroad affect firm performance.

A native of Russia, Professor Obukhova is also professionally fluent in Mandarin and has been intensively conducting research in China since 1995. Prior to joining Desautels, Professor Obukhova has been a faculty member at the MIT Sloan School of Management.


MGCR 382 International Business 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer


Curriculum Vitae: 
Research Areas: 
Labour Market
Organizational Theory
Social Networks
Selected Publications : 

Papers in Peer-Reviewed Journals

2014: Obukhova, E., E. Zuckerman and J. Zhang. When Politics Froze Fashion: The Effect of the Cultural Revolution on Naming in Beijing.  Forthcoming in American Journal of Sociology.

2013: Obukhova, E. and G. Lan. Do Job-Seekers Benefit from Contacts? A Direct Test with Contemporaneous Searches.  Management Science 59(10): 2204-2216.

2012: Obukhova, E. Motivation vs. Relevance: Using Strong Ties to Find a Job in China. Social Science Research 41(3): 470-480.

Working papers

Zhang, J., E. Zuckerman and E. Obukhova.  A Lack of Security or Cultural Capital? Acculturative Conservatism in Immigrant Naming. Under review.

Obukhova, E. and A. Sterling.  It is Not All about Networking: The Value of Social Embeddedness in Job Search.  Under review.

Obukhova, E. and L.T. Zhang.  The Strength-of-Weak-Ties Hypothesis in China Revisited: Evidence from Within-Individual Fixed-Effects Models.  Under Review.

Obukhova E., Y. Wang and J. Li.  The Value of Local Embeddedness: Understanding Returnee Firm Performance in China. 

Obukhova, E. The Limits of Borrowing Institutions: The Adoption of Stock Options in Chinese Returnee Firms. 

Awards, Honours, and Fellowships: 


2006: Markovitz Dissertation Writing Fellowship, University of Chicago

2003: Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad Fellowship, US Department of Education

2003: Corporation as a Social Institution Program Dissertation Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

2000: Century Fellowship, Social Sciences Division, University of Chicago

1998: Pre-dissertation Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

1998: Blakemore Foundation Fellowship for Study of East Asian Languages


2012: Research Support, Junior Faculty Fund, MIT Sloan

2010: Research Support, Edward B. Roberts Entrepreneurship Center Fund, MIT Sloan

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