The Bamboo Ceiling in US Business Schools: Who Receives Tenure and Becomes Dean?

Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM)

Jackson Lu


In the US, Asians are commonly viewed as the “model minority” in business academia. Some inspiring initiatives intended to help ethnic minorities to attain tenure and deanship exclude Asians from participating, perhaps because Asians are assumed to be already successful. Jackson G. Lu challenges this assumption by revealing a “Bamboo Ceiling” in tenure, full professorship, and deanship in US business schools. He analyzes a 10-year panel of tenure-track professors and deans at top-50 US business schools. Although Asians appear well represented at first glance, a stark contrast emerges once one distinguishes between East Asians (e.g., ethnic Chinese) and South Asians (e.g., ethnic Indians): Among all ethnicities, East Asian faculty are proportionally the least likely to be tenured professors, full professors, and deans, whereas South Asian faculty are the most likely. Moreover, East Asians tend to be employed by lower-ranked schools. To understand these puzzling patterns, Lu constructs large-scale datasets to test potential contributing factors, including (a) faculty recruitment bar, (b) research productivity, (c) research impact, (d) teaching evaluations, (e) invited seminar talks, (f) social media activities, and (g) social media mentions. As one of the largest endeavors to examine ethnic disparities in academia, this research extends the diversity, equity, and inclusion literature and the “leaky pipeline” literature by uncovering East Asian faculty’s neglected challenges in US business schools.

Jackson G. Lu is the Sloan School Career Development Associate Professor in Work and Organization Studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management. He received his PhD from Columbia Business School. Jackson studies culture and globalization through two distinctive research streams. His first research stream examines the “Bamboo Ceiling” experienced by Asians despite their educational and economic achievements in the United States. His second research stream elucidates how multicultural experiences (e.g., working abroad, intercultural friendships) shape key organizational outcomes, including leadership, creativity, and ethics.

Jackson has published in top general science journals (Nature Human Behaviour, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), management journals (Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Organization Science), and psychology journals (Annual Review of Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Psychological Science). His research has been featured in over 300 media outlets (e.g., BBC, The Economist, The Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, NPR, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Washington Post).He has received prestigious awards and honors, including World’s 40 Best Business School Professors Under 40, 30 Thinkers to Watch, NLS Rising Star Award from the Academy of Management, Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science, SAGE Early Career Trajectory Award from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Early Career Award from the International Association for Conflict Management, New Investigator Award from the Behavioral Science & Policy Association, and the Best Senior Editor Award from Management and Organization Review.

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