Doctoral Student

Curtis Kwinyen Chan

Curtis K. Chan is a Ph.D. student in the Organizational Behavior program jointly offered by Harvard Business School and the Department of Sociology at Harvard. Curtis’s research interests include the social and cultural processes of inequality, dissatisfaction, and meaning-making as they relate to the lived experiences of workers within the context of organizations and occupational groups.

Currently, Curtis has research in two streams of work. His first stream considers processes of inequality. In an inductive, qualitative case study of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), he theorizes a mechanism called task segregation, where a subgroup of workers is disproportionately allocated to spend more time doing particular tasks within a job. The basis of this theorization is the observation of gender inequality between female and male security screening officers at the TSA, and the disproportionate allocation of female screeners to the task of conducting passenger pat-downs.A paper from this research was given the 2014 Best Student Paper Award from the Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division of the Academy of Management (AOM). His second stream of research considers cultural processes of dissatisfaction. In an ongoing ethnographic case study of a consulting firm, he theorizes micro-institutional processes of meaning-making in a firm undergoing isomorphic change.

Curtis K. Chan is a Ph.D. student in the Organizational Behavior program jointly offered by Harvard Business School and the Department of Sociology at Harvard. Curtis’s research interests include the social and cultural processes of inequality, dissatisfaction, and meaning-making as they relate to the lived experiences of workers within the context of organizations and occupational groups.

Currently, Curtis has research in two streams of work. His first stream considers processes of inequality. In an inductive, qualitative case study of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), he theorizes a mechanism called task segregation, where a subgroup of workers is disproportionately allocated to spend more time doing particular tasks within a job. The basis of this theorization is the observation of gender inequality between female and male security screening officers at the TSA, and the disproportionate allocation of female screeners to the task of conducting passenger pat-downs.A paper from this research was given the 2014 Best Student Paper Award from the Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division of the Academy of Management (AOM). His second stream of research considers cultural processes of dissatisfaction. In an ongoing ethnographic case study of a consulting firm, he theorizes micro-institutional processes of meaning-making in a firm undergoing isomorphic change.

Before joining the doctoral program in 2011, Curtis worked in the management consulting industry. Earlier on, he graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 2008 with an A.B. in social anthropology and a secondary field in psychology, and he was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society since his junior year. In college, he conducted ethnographic research on the cultural values of street dancers in New England and Miami, and the undergraduate thesis he wrote on this topic under the advising of Professor of Anthropology Michael Herzfeld was awarded a Thomas T. Hoopes Prize. 

  1. Recipient of the Best Student Paper Award, Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division, Academy of Management (AOM), 2014.

  2. Awarded a 2008 Thomas T. Hoopes Prize for his undergraduate thesis based on ethnographic research on the cultural values of street dancers (specifically, "b-boys" or "break dancers") in New England and Miami.