Elena Obukhova

Associate Professor
Elena Obukhova
Contact Information
Email address: 
elena.obukhova [at] mcgill.ca
Alternate email address: 
lijuan.xue2 [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 Associate Professor in Strategy and Organization at the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University. Obukhova is an organizational scholar whose research identifies mechanisms leading to inequality in hiring, focusing on networking and referrals. Her work strives to provide science-based tools for designing organizational practices that facilitate diversity, equity and inclusion.

Obukhova's research has been published in top Management and Sociology journals, including Management Science, American Journal of Sociology, Journal of International Business Studies and Social Forces. Her recent publication on gender differences in networking has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post, and the Academy of Management Insights.

Obukhova is a recipient of several Insight Development grants 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 the editorial board of Organization Science.

Obukhova is passionate about teaching International Business and has taught courses at BCom, MBA, and Ph.D. levels. The McGill Teaching and Learning Services features her innovative NAFTA & Fake News in several online resources for teaching.

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

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

Janani Ramesh

Selected publications: 

Forthcoming. Obukhova, E. and F. Tian. Referral bonuses in global talent acquisition: The role of social networks in China and the US.  Journal of International Business Studies.

2022  Obukhova, E. and A. M. Kleinbaum.  Scouting and Schmoozing: A Gender Difference in Networking during Job Search.  Academy of Management Discoveries

2022   Obukhova, E. and B. Rubineau. Market Transition and Network-Based Job Matching in China: The Referrer Perspective. Industrial Labor Relations Review 75(1): 200-224.

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 beginning 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 (PI), Canada, 2021

Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (PI), Canada, 2018

Social Sciences and Humanities Development Grant, McGill University


Obukhova, E., H-J Cho*, and L.T. Zhang. Working paper under review.

Obukhova, E., and S.E. Koppman. Who gets a referral in Big Tech (working paper).

H. Bui*, E. Obukhova and D. Demetry. Authenticity and strategic change during COVID-19 Pandemic (working paper).

Obukhova, E., B. Bond, J. Ramesh*. The effect of bonuses on pro-social motivations in referring (data analysis stage).

Ramesh, J.*, E. Obukhova and S.E. Koppman. Gender, networks and belonging in Big Tech (data analysis).

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

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