Diversity and Inclusion in Law School and Higher Education


How Institutional and Ecological Forces Shape the Career Profiles of Organizational Leaders: An Analysis of US Law School Deans, 1894–2009

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



diverse campus environment, faculty diversity


How do macro social forces shape the career profiles of organizational leaders? The aim of the article is to answer this question by examining how institutional and ecological forces have influenced the careers of law school deans in the US from the late 19th century to the present. Specifically, we focus on the coexistence of two social forces—professionalization and the diversity of an organizational population. On the one hand, we view professionalization as a converging institutional force that promotes homogeneity among leader career profiles. The diversity of an organizational population, on the other hand, is viewed as a diverging ecological force that increases heterogeneity among leader career profiles. We show how these two opposing forces have left different imprints on leader career profiles with a unique career data of 1396 deans in American law schools from 1894 to 2009. We utilize optimal matching analysis to assess the degree of similarity (or dissimilarity) among deans’ career sequences and test our hypotheses. This study contributes to our understanding of the link between macro social transformations and leader career profiles.