July 7, 2021

"Overload" Wins Max Weber Award for Distinguished Scholarship

The book "Overload: How Good Jobs Went Bad and What We Can Do About It" by MIT Sloan Professor Erin L. Kelly and University of Minnesota Professor Phyllis Moen is one of two winners of the 2021 Max Weber Award for Distinguished Scholarship. This prestigious award is given by the Organizations, Occupations and Work Section of the American Sociological Association to a book that makes an “outstanding contribution to scholarship on organizations, occupations, and/or work,” according to the Organizations, Occupations and Work Section website.

"Overload," which was published in 2020 by Princeton University Press, won this year’s Max Weber Award along with the book “Privilege and Punishment: How Race and Class Matters in Criminal Court,” by Matthew Clair, which was also published by Princeton University Press in 2020.

“Overload” draws on research Kelly and Moen conducted over a five-year period as part of the interdisciplinary Work, Family, & Health Network. Kelly and Moen's research involved a major work redesign experiment at the IT division of a Fortune 500 company. In their study, Kelly and Moen found that more flexible work practices that gave employees more control over when and where they worked had beneficial results all around: for employees and managers, their families, and the company.

More generally, Kelly and Moen argue in "Overload" that, in many of today's professional and managerial jobs, "the way we work is not sustainable." The reasons include long hours, multitasking, and pressure to be always available via digital technologies. However, Kelly and Moen find, such jobs can be redesigned to make them more manageable—in ways that benefit both employees and companies.

Kelly is the Sloan Distinguished Professor of Work and Organization Studies at MIT Sloan and Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research (IWER), as well as a Faculty Director of the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan. Moen holds the McKnight Endowed Presidential Chair in Sociology at the University of Minnesota.

Earlier, “Overload” won a silver medal in the Axiom Business Book Awards competition, which honors the year's best business books.  "Overload" won the medal in the business theory category of that awards program.



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