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Associate Professor of Organizational Studies and Adjunct Associate Professor of Sociology

Office Location(s): 725 Dennison
Phone: 734.615.9059
vjohnsn@umich.edu
Personal Website
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  • Affiliation(s)
    • Organizational Studies, Ross School of Business, Program in the Environment
  • About

    I am an Associate Professor of Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan and hold courtesy appointments in the Sociology Department and the Department of Management and Organizations at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. From 2002-2005, I was a fellow in the Society of Scholars at the Ross School and a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Management and Organizations.

    My research thus far has focused on the historical and cultural sociology of organizations. My first book was a study of how environmental conditions at founding influence subsequent organizational trajectories, a question I examined through an archival study of the Paris Opera from its creation under Louis XIV to its restructuring under Napoleon. This book, entitled Backstage at the Revolution: How the Royal Paris Opera Survived the End of the Old Regime, was published by the University of Chicago Press in December 2008.

    A second book project also focuses on opera. While I was doing research for my dissertation, I realized that disciplinary boundaries were discouraging exchange and collaboration among the many kinds of scholars who work on opera. I therefore proposed and organized an conference (held in 2002 in Florence, Italy, under the sponsorship of New York University and the Social Science Research Council) that brought together top opera scholars from the fields of musicology, history, literary studies, sociology, philosophy, and political science. My goal was to facilitate the exchange of the specific methods and theoretical frameworks that these scholars had found to be useful in the study of opera. The concrete result of this conference was a volume that I lead-edited (with musicologist Jane Fulcher of the University of Michigan and sociologist Thomas Ertman of New York University). Entitled Opera and Society in Italy and France from Monteverdi to Bourdieu, the volume was published by Cambridge University Press in the Cambridge Studies on Opera series in May 2007.

    In my current research, I draw on the same sociological questions concerning the impact of cultural environments on organizational forms and trajectories that informed my work on the Paris Opera to investigate how shifting understandings of the natural world from the early Republic to the present day have shaped the organizational forms taken by U.S. botanical gardens.

  • Education
    • Ph.D. Columbia University, 2002
  • Awards
    • 2011 Class of 1923 Memorial Teaching Award
  • Research Areas of Interest
    • historical and cultural sociology of organizations, environmental sociology