Homophily Research in the E/M Department

Posted on January 13th, 2022 by

Professor Kathy Lund Dean

Professor Kathy Lund Dean and senior Cat LaCasse’s paper,Not even trying to be innovative? Network ties and homophily in management research leadership,” was accepted for presentation by the Western Academy of Management. The Academy is an affiliate of the National Academy of Management and promotes research, advancement, and the application of knowledge in the field of management. They will present their research at the Western Academy of Management Conference in Hawaii this March.

The research began with Kathy’s theory that lower levels of innovation and creativity in management research is a result of homophily, the unconscious tendency to interact with those like yourself. She shared her idea with Cat and invited her to assist with the project. On a college campus, research is widely associated with the sciences and the field of history. This was Cat’s perspective before. “I had not heard of any research in the Economics and Management Department involving students,” she said, “I honestly had no idea what to expect.” The pair studied a data set of professional academics through a method of social network analysis. This involved examining how individuals were connected through attributes like race, gender, and the universities they attended. Lots of connections between individuals with similar attributes signals a lack of diversity and may be stunting innovation and creativity.

Cat LaCasse ’22

After data collection and lots of trial and error, Kathy and Cat developed a coding system that identified connections between individuals. This information was used to create a visualization of the research and evaluate the results. Their research did not identify any cliques or find significant evidence of homophily based on sex. There was a difference when examining race, however. “Our data shows evidence of race-based homophily as there are more ties among non-people of color,” Cat said. “We also found members entirely disconnected from the network, all of which are women, people of color, or both.” 

Cat is a senior majoring in Public Accounting. She had little exposure to Management before this semester, but considers her outside perspective an asset in the research process. Her point of view complemented Kathy’s deep understanding of the topics at hand and the two formed a successful team. “This process was very impactful and helped me grow tremendously outside of my own major,” said Cat. She encourages other students to explore opportunities, even if they don’t seem applicable to their major or areas of study. “As long as you are open to learning and willing to try, you will be successful.”



Cat LaCasse is a senior Public Accounting major from Buffalo, Minnesota. She is heavily involved with music on campus, playing trombone in the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra, as well as running the Jazz department’s social media pages. Cat loves to explore activities outside of accounting, such as this research project and working on the Gustie Cup.

Professor Kathy Lund Dean joined Gustavus Adolphus College as the inaugural Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Leadership and Ethics in 2012. Kathy is founding Co-Editor in Chief of the Management Teaching Review and in 2014-2021, served as Co-Editor in Chief of the Journal of Management Education. She is coauthor of The Ethical Professor: A Practical Guide to Research, Teaching, and Professional Life (Routledge, 2018), an interactive resource on the ethical pitfalls that challenge academic professionals. Her newest book, Course Design & Assessment is due out in early 2022, part of the engaged learning in business series from Edward Elgar press. Kathy was twice named Erskine Fellow and Adjunct Professor at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand, where she advises and collaborates with students and faculty. She is also Honorary Professor at the University of St. Andrews in the U.K. Her major research streams include academic career evolution, network analysis of influential organizational actors, and experiential learning scholarship. 


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