Laura Sonday

Faculty Affiliate, Center for Positive Organizations

Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Laura Sonday studies the meaning of work and how it can change over time. She analyzes it at multiple levels of analysis: what work means to an individual, a group, and society at large.

She teaches courses in management and global business.

Dr. Sonday’s research includes a longitudinal study of the social movement “Financial Independence, Retire Early” (FIRE). Members of this movement use a bold personal financial strategy to reduce their financial reliance on formal employment so that they need not work for money and may retire decades earlier than the norm.

She has used data from this group to theorize how perceptions of autonomy change via social influence and how people attempt to shift away from dominant ways of relating to work within a given society. In addition to this research, she also studies why individuals in organizations are reluctant to see themselves as leaders, as well as social problems and change related to contemporary employment in the U.S.

Much of Dr. Sonday’s interest in organizational behavior stems from her work experiences both within and outside of the U.S. She started her professional career at an economic development nonprofit that specialized in alleviating poverty in developing countries through education, food and housing programs.

She then spent several years working for Google, Inc., first in San Francisco and then in Santiago, Chile, as a strategist for several of Google’s fastest growing, high-potential clients.

While in graduate school, she co-developed and co-led an urgent response team in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to support local immigrants in crisis. The structure of that team has been used as an exemplar for effective community-based organizing by advocacy groups in Detroit and Chicago.

These experiences have shaped Dr. Sonday and inspired much of her research on the meaning of work and organizational behavior.

She received her PhD in management and organizations and her BBA with high distinction from the University of Michigan.

Pronouns: she/her
Pronunciation: Lor-uh Suhn-day