Professor of Organisations and Impact
Saïd Business School
University of Oxford
Park End Street
Marya Besharov is a Professor of Organisations and Impact at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford.
She was previously on the faculty of the ILR School at Cornell University. An organisational theorist with a background in sociology, she studies how organisations and their leaders navigate competing strategic priorities to achieve both social impact and commercial success. Marya received a BA in Social Studies, an MA in Sociology, and a PhD in Organisational Behaviour from Harvard University. She also holds an MBA from Stanford University.
- Social innovation and impact
- Hybrid organisations
- Organisation theory
- Qualitative research methods
Marya’s research examines how organisations and their leaders navigate competing goals.
This work has a particular focus on hybrid organisations such as social enterprises and mission-driven businesses that seek to address deep-rooted societal challenges while also making a financial profit. She uses qualitative, inductive methods and often employs longitudinal research designs. This approach enables her to develop insights that are both theoretically novel and practically relevant.
Her research has been published in leading academic journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, and Academy of Management Review, as well as practitioner outlets such as Harvard Business Review and Stanford Social Innovation Review.
Unpacking Variation in Hybrid Organizational Forms: Changing Models of Social Enterprise Among Nonprofits, 2000-2013(opens in new window)
Managing Value Tensions in Collective Social Entrepreneurship: The Role of Temporal, Structural, and Collaborative Compromise(opens in new window)
Bowing before Dual Gods: How Structured Flexibility Sustains Organizational Hybridity*(opens in new window)
THE RELATIONAL ECOLOGY OF IDENTIFICATION: HOW ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTIFICATION EMERGES WHEN INDIVIDUALS HOLD DIVERGENT VALUES(opens in new window)
Marya engages with business and social sector leaders through publications, webinars, executive education, and board service.
Insights from her research on leadership and social innovation have appeared in Harvard Business Review, Stanford Social Innovation Review, and outlets such as The Conversation and Huffington Post. She conducts webinars and executive education sessions on organisational design, culture, and change, managing competing demands, and pursuing dual business and social missions. She currently serves on the board of the Women’s Opportunity Center, a social enterprise in Ithaca NY that helps low-income women become financially stable and self-sufficient.
In her academic engagement, Marya aims to build and maintain vibrant, supportive, and productive intellectual communities. At Cornell, she served as an Ashoka U Change Leader, developing a campus-wide network and support structures for faculty, staff, and students involved in social entrepreneurship and innovation.
She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Academy of Management Annals and is on the editorial boards for Academy of Management Journal, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, and Organization Theory. She is also a representative-at-large for the Organization and Management Theory (OMT) Division of the Academy of Management.
Marya’s teaching draws inspiration from the work of early organisational theorists who recognised that organisations are complex social systems.
Within these systems there is not a universally correct approach to management and leadership. Contingencies abound, tensions arise between technical and symbolic aspects of organisations, and decisions are constrained by political, historical, and cultural factors.
Managing and leading such complex social systems requires navigating seemingly competing demands. Marya’s courses provide students with analytical frameworks for doing so. Through case discussions and experiential exercises, students gain practical experience applying these frameworks to address real-world problems.