I study questions of work and employment in the context of economic development using the theoretical lens of sociology and organization behavior. By applying novel methods that combine field-experimental and quantitative research designs with ethnography and interviews, my research seeks to advance the design of labor-market institutions for the developing world by investigating how low-income occupations seek meaning through their work. I explore these and related questions in my dissertation and previous work, details of which are included below.

Choosing Meaning Over Money?
Evidence from a Field Audit Study with Handicraft Artisans in Southern India

(Honorable Mention, Ron Burt award for outstanding student paper in Economic Sociology)

Detailed description

A Handicraft Artisan in Channapatna in Southern India

Pictured above: An artisan in Channapatna, India. When each product is crafted with so much care and attention, artisans want more than just a fair price for them; they also want their products to find the best "home".

Abstract: Using 8 months of ethnographic data and a field experiment, I investigate the price-setting behavior of handicraft artisans (like the one in the picture below) and traders in Channapatna, India. Specifically, I find that artisans provide 25-50% discounts to foreign auditors and buyers wearing handicraft products in comparison to a baseline group of buyers, despite being poor themselves. The paper clarifies the importance of meaningful work even in the context of workers facing poverty, arguing that artisans become attached to their hand-crafted products and derive meaning from the selling process beyond its narrow financial incentives.

Refereed Publications

Professionalization and Market Closure: The Case of Plumbing in India

Industrial and Labor Relations Review (July, 2013) | Download PDF

This paper outlines the conditions under which efforts to professionalize an occupation might be resisted by documenting the case of plumbing in India where professionalization threatened pre-existing ethnicity-based market closure.

Globalization and Outsourcing: Confronting New Human Resource Challenges in India's BPO Industry

Industrial Relations Journal, 2010 (with Sarosh Kuruvilla) | Download PDF

In this article, we argue that the demographic profile of employees in India's Business Process Outsourcing industry - young, upwardly mobile college graduates - is prone to high turnover and presents new managerial challenges. We document the range of novel HR strategies being crafted to address the needs of this new workforce.

Economic Development Strategies and Macro and Micro Level Human Resource Policies: The Case of India's Outsourcing Industry

Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 2009 (with Sarosh Kuruvilla) | Download PDF

This paper outlines four interrelated human resource policy challenges that threaten the growth of India's outsourcing industry: two macro problems (current skill shortages and the inability of the country to produce higher levels of skills in the long run), and two micro problems (high levels of employee turnover and rapidly increasing employee costs).

See my CV for a complete list of publications.