Elena Obukhova

Assistant Professor, Strategy & Organization
Elena Obukhova
Contact Information
Email address: 
elena.obukhova [at] mcgill.ca
Alternate email address: 
darlene.fowler [at] mcgill.ca

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


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

Strategy & Organization

Elena Obukhova is an Assistant Professor in Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University. Obukhova is an economic sociologist with interests in labor markets, social networks, and culture. One stream of her research investigates the value of social connections in job search. A second stream examines what enables individuals and organizations to act in non-conformist fashion. With Daphne Demetry, she is currently conducting research on entrepreneurial resilience during Covid-19 pandemic.  Her work uses a variety of methods, including survey research, simulations, experiments and big data.

Obukhova is a recipient of Insight Development grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Education, and two Fellowships from the Social Science Research Council. She currently serves on editorial boards of Organization Science and Management and Organization Review

Obukhova is passionate about teaching International Business and has taught courses in this field at BCom, MBA and PhD levels. Her innovative NAFTA & Fake News assignment has been featured in the McGill Reporter and on the McGill Teaching and Learning Services Blog.

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

Tenured & Tenure Track
Research areas: 
Economic Sociology
Future of Work
Labour Force & Labour Market
Organizational Theory
Social Networks
Women as Global Leaders & Managers
Selected publications: 

2020   Obukhova, E. and A. M. Kleinbaum.  Scouting and Schmoozing: A Gender Difference in Networking during Job Search.  Academy of Management Discoveries

2020   Obukhova, E. and B. Rubineau. Market Transition and Network-Based Job Matching in China: The Referrer Perspective. Industrial Labor Relations Review.

2017   Obukhova, E. and L. Zhang*.  Social Capital and Job Search in Urban China: The Strength-of-Strong-Ties Hypothesis Revisited.  Chinese Sociological Review 49(4): 340-361.

2016   Zhang*, J., E. Zuckerman and E. Obukhova, A Lack of Security or of Cultural Capital? Acculturative Conservatism in the Naming Choices of Early 20th-Century U.S. Jews.  Social Forces 94(4): 1509-1538. 

2014   Obukhova, E., E. Zuckerman and J. Zhang*. When Politics Froze Fashion: The Effect of the Cultural Revolution on Naming in Beijing.  American Journal of Sociology 120(2): 555-583.

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.

* co-author is a student at the begining of the project 

2011  Culture and Economics: On Values, Economics and International Business, by Eelke De Jong. Routledge, 2009.  Reviewed for Administrative Science Quarterly, 56(2): 310-311.

2006  The Making of the State Enterprise System in Modern China: The Dynamics of Institutional Change, by Morris L. Bian.  Harvard University Press, 2005.  Reviewed for American Journal of Sociology, 112 (2):  629–631.

2005  Obukhova, E. Redefining State Embeddedness for the Global Economy: The Rise of China’s Silicon Valley.  Proceedings of 2005 Chinese Economists Society International Conference on Sustainable Economic Growth in China.  Volume I-B, p. 3-8. 

2004  Red Capitalists in China: The Party, Private Entrepreneurs, and Prospects for Political Change, by Bruce J. Dickson.  Cambridge University Press, 2003.  Reviewed for Economic Development and Cultural Change, 52 (4): 901-903.

2002  Obukhova, E. and J. Guyer.  Transcending the Formal/Informal Distinction: Commercial Relations in Africa and Russia in the Post-1989 World.  In Theory in Economic Anthropology, J. Ensminger, ed.  Alta Mira Press: Walnut Creek, CA.

2002  Obukhova, E. Living and Trusting in the Economy of Debt: The Distribution of Newspapers and Magazines in Ibadan.  In Money Struggles and City Life: Devaluation In Ibadan and Other Urban Centers in Southern Nigeria, 1986-96, J. Guyer, L. Denzer, and A. Agbaje, eds. Heinemann: Portsmouth, NH.  

Awards, honours, and fellowships: 


Honorable Mention Award, Gender and Diversity Division, Administrative Sciences Association of Canada

Li Ka Shing Faculty Exchange Award, Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University

Honorable Mention for Clifford Geertz Prize for Best Article, Culture Section, American Sociological Association

Finalist for Best Overall Paper Award of the Careers Division, Academy of Management


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

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

Markovitz Dissertation Writing Fellowship, University of Chicago

Pre-dissertation Fellowship, Social Science Research Council

Blakemore Foundation Fellowship for Study of East Asian Languages




Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada

Social Sciences and Humanities Development Grant, McGill University

Current research: 
  • Zhang, LT, H-J Cho, and E. Obukhova. Awards as Shields: The Effect of Managerial Award-Winning on Strategic Change (In the review process).
  • Obukhova, E. and F. Tian. Referrals in China and the US (data analysis).
  • Kim, MJ. and E. Obukhova. Staying out of Scandal’s Shadow: Categorical Ambiguity as a Competitive Advantage (data collection).
  • Demetry, D. and E. Obukhova.  Entrepreneurial Pivoting During Covid-19 Pandemic (data collection). 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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