Office hours: Assistant Professor Liz Lyons

The GPS faculty member opens up about some of the dearest objects that adorn her office, painting a picture of her professional backstory and personal interests

By Sarah Pfledderer | GPS News

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Peep into Liz Lyons’s office at the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS), and you initially may write off the assistant professor as being of the old school. 

An archaic chalkboard, with actual chalk and erasers, hangs on the wall opposite her bookshelf, which houses physical books and paper notes from graduate school she regularly references. In addition, Jane Austen memorabilia sits on a shelf above her desk as a nod to the 18th century author who was her favorite growing up.

Lyons, however, is by no means behind the times.

In fact, her research in innovation and entrepreneurship is often ahead of the curve — and acknowledged for it, per the Kauffman Junior Faculty Fellowship award atop her desk.

A faculty member of management at GPS, Lyons’ research hones in on the intersection between technology and innovation strategy, as well as international management and organizational economics. A Canadian transplanted to San Diego, her current projects include using field observational data to analyze firm hiring and organization in international labor markets. She uses experimental lab evidence to analyze the relationship between organizational authority and production decisions, and uses data collected over four years to study the effects of entrepreneurship training on career decisions.

During spring quarter, we rapped on Lyons’s office door and asked her to point out a few meaningful items and quirky objects — consider a mattress and hockey stick — in her workspace that correspond to these endeavors. Hover over the image above for the big picture on her professional backstory and personal interests.

3 questions with Assistant Professor Liz Lyons 

What are the real-world impacts of your research?
My intention is to help inform first, how firms can improve adoption and use digital technologies in management of workers and how workers can improve response to the introduction of digital technologies that impact their work; and second, how organizational and public policy can better encourage successful innovation.

What skills or understanding do you hope students leave your class with?
I hope my students leave with a better understanding of how to think critically about issues firms face, particularly when confronting uncertain environments for the purposes of becoming better managers, workers, policymakers and regulators. I also hope they develop practical life skills, including how to effectively and logically engage in discussions, improve their public speaking and presentation skills, and how to present evidence concisely and accurately.

What is your academic focus?
I study organizational and innovation economics, with labor markets and management as a common underlying theme across my projects.