Dr. Kurt Sandholtz
Dr. Sandholtz is a sought-after professor in both the Marriott School of Business and the Honors Program. In his research, he investigates how occupations influence and are influenced by organizations and institutions.
Dr. Sandholtz teaches the HONRS 227: The Comedy of Life: Exploring Social Structures through Humor.” This course will cover the general education credits for both Social Sciences and Arts.
Honors classes were my favorites when I was a BYU undergrad. They pushed me. I study how traffic across social worlds spurs innovation, so the opportunity to teach an interdisciplinary course was irresistible. Long live the BYU Honors Program, guardians of an authentic liberal arts education!
Tell us about your journey to your current field of study and professorship.
Lots of twists and turns in my journey to professorship. A key factor was an undergrad Honors seminar I took from Bonner Ritchie. The topic was organizational behavior, and Bonner taught it using novels as texts: My Name is Asher Lev; The Trial; Cry, the Beloved Country. I was hooked. After a gap year teaching English in Spain, I did a Master’s in Organizational Behavior at BYU (the MOB degree—best acronym ever). It took me 20 years in journalism and management consulting to realize I wanted to be a professor when I grew up. So in my late 40s, I went back to school for a Ph.D. in Organization Studies at Stanford. I highly recommend doctoral studies as an antidote to a midlife crisis (though, as my wife points out, buying a sports car would be cheaper).
How has your research on organizations changed the way you interact with the world?
Doing research in general has humbled me. I used to think I was reasonably clever. The academic publishing process has cured me of that illusion. And the more I study about organizations, the more deeply I appreciate their enormous power for good and their almost inevitable tendency to abuse some of their members. It’s a theme Dr. Ritchie emphasized in that undergrad Honors seminar. As he put it, if we can’t make organizations safe for people, we can strive to make people safe for organizations.
What do you wish your students knew about you that doesn’t usually come up in class?
I make a mean vindaloo – better than Bombay House, IMHO.
What are three things that can always be found in your refrigerator?
Leftovers, salad makings, and spicy condiments (Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp, Cholula, homemade chutney, lime pickle, sriracha, you name it).