Dr Sarah Otner


I am a behavioral scientist focused on how individuals gain and maintain social status for themselves, and how they judge deservingness to allocate social status to others. My principal research interests combine organization theory, strategy, networks, and innovation; I use approaches from economic sociology, social psychology, and economics. I adopt interdisciplinary research tools – including experimentation, computational social science, and mixed-methods approaches. Building on Robert K. Merton's theories of status and competition, I endeavor to identify pathways to impact for society to solve its "wicked problems", especially inequality.

Academic responsibilities

Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour


  • Ph.D.
  • FHEA
  • CMBE
  • FRSA

Teaching and learning

I teach courses at all levels (Undergraduate through Executive MBA) in organizational behavior, strategy & organization theory, negotiations, networks, innovation, and leadership.

Undergraduate courses taught


My  research  focuses  on  awards  and  prizes.  I  study  the  design  of,  and  the  mechanisms  that  drive,  competitions.  My  current  work  involves  peer  effects  among  elites,  and  invisible  status  effects  during  blinded  judging.  A  second  stream  of  my  research  examines  innovation  tournaments,  and  particularly  Grand  Challenge  prizes.  My  ongoing  projects include:  prize  scarcity,  prize  sharing,  establishment  of  new  prizes,  and  prize  refusals.

Keywords: Status, Prizes, Hierarchy & Networks, Culture, Evaluation, The Matthew Effect, Elites, Innovation, Expertise, Meta-Research

Social media

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