Patricia H. Thornton is Visiting Distinguished Professor, HEC, Paris Strategy, Regents Grand Challenge Faculty and Professor of Sociology and Entrepreneurship, and Adjunct Professor of Management at Texas A&M University. She formally held positions in Sociology and at the Fuqua School of Business, Duke University and Sociology at Stanford University. She has been a visiting scholar at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France and at Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University. She has been previously affiliated with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke University Fuqua School of Business and the Program on Organizations, Business, and the Economy in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University.
She has received scholarly awards including the best paper award by the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management, the W. Richard Scott award by the Organizations, Occupations and Work section of American Sociological Association, and the George R. Terry award, the highest honor granted by the Academy of Management for outstanding contribution to management knowledge. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology in 1993 from Stanford University.
Her research interests focus on how institutions and organizations affect attention and behavioral strategy in three domains, innovation and entrepreneurship, inclusiveness and diversity, and the solution to grand challenges.
She is a pioneer in developing the action learning approach leveraging practitioner-academic partnerships to teach entrepreneurship using live business plans, entrepreneurs, and investors. She developed the entrepreneurship curriculum for the Markets and Management Program at Duke University and most recently spearheaded the development of the interdisciplinary minor in innovation and entrepreneurship open to all students at Texas A&M University.
Professor Thornton has written extensively on the topic of institutional theory and in particular how institutional logics affect individual and organizational attention and behavior. Her research with colleagues William Ocasio and Michael Lounsbury is the basis of a key research paradigm, the institutional logics perspective, in management and other disciplines in the social sciences and professions, including, sociology, communications, entrepreneurship, strategy, marketing, public policy, non-profit management, construction management, engineering, urban planning, and education.
Patricia co-founded and wrote the original business plan to raise seed capital for Interim Inc., a successful non-profit organization providing transitional and assisted living facilities and services to individuals with mental health disabilities.