From her days of participating in team sports to her new position as an assistant professor of management at Syracuse University’s Whitman School, Jamie Lyn Perry has always been interested in how people work together in teams.
Her research focuses on how teams composed of individuals with various differences, ranging from race or gender to prestige or resources, work together to achieve common goals. She has a specific interest in understanding which characteristics influence team performance and how those characteristics are distributed across team members.
Perry joined the faculty at the Whitman School this fall, after seven years of teaching human resource management and managing and leading teams at Cornell University.
She was impressed by the Whitman School a few years ago after presenting some of her research at an event on campus. “The faculty was very helpful and thought deeply about the issues,” she says. “They really cared about and valued scientific study, which is not something you find everywhere. I was so impressed by the consistent messaging about culture and inclusivity throughout the entire University at large.”
When a position opened up in the Department of Management recently, she applied and was hired by the Whitman School. This spring, she will be teaching classes in organizational behavior.
While Perry stresses the importance of working as a team in her classes, she also wants students to understand who they are as individuals, including their strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities. She asks them to look closely at what they can contribute to group work, which Perry believes ultimately shows students how to effectively aggregate the varying qualities of each individual into better performance within an organization.
Perry is teaching this subject matter to students at a very interesting time, given that many employees are still working remotely due to the pandemic.
“We are preparing Whitman students for a workplace in a different type of world, with more focus on a virtual environment than ever before,” she says. “On the one hand, our students need to think about starting a job that might not provide a great deal of personal connection. That can be challenging, since part of the promotion process is people seeing your input and output. Students need to think about how to navigate with management so they are not overlooked. On the other hand, working virtually opens up opportunities to connect with people they might not normally come in contact with, which can be very beneficial.”
Perry predicts that each type of business or industry may vary in how engrained remote work will remain post-pandemic; she is interested in how that might impact the “new normal” in the workplace.
“There’s a difference between a job in tech, for example, or at a hotel in terms of whether working remotely is going to be successful,” Perry says. “And, there’s the added issue of some employees wanting to go back to the office, while others want to remain remote. How do we address this while being fair and giving all people equal access? All of this does factor into how diverse teams work together. But, we have a year-and-a-half’s worth of evidence behind us now, and our Whitman students are sure to play a part in this as businesses figure it out.”
A graduate of the University of Houston with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, Perry earned a master’s degree in psychology and a Ph.D. in organizational management from Rutgers University. In 2015, she received the S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award for the best dissertation in industrial/organizational psychology from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Her research has appeared in various academic journals, including Academy of Management Annals, American Psychologist, Group & Organizational Management, and Psychological Bulletin.