When Tom Lee received the news that he had won the 2019 Excellence in Reviewing Award from the journal Human Resources Management Review, he did a doubletake.
“I was quite surprised because such awards typically don’t go to old guys like me,” says Lee, the Hughes M. Blake Endowed Professor of Management at the UW Foster School of Business. “More often they recognize young firebrands in the prime of their careers.”
He may be closer to the autumn than the springtime of his celebrated career, but Lee remains remarkably productive well into his fourth decade at Foster.
Since joining the school’s Department of Management and Organization in 1983, Lee has been a veritable publishing powerhouse. He has co-authored more than 90 papers that have appeared in his discipline’s top peer-reviewed journals, and profoundly shaped the way that scholars and managers understand employee turnover and retention.
One of Lee’s most recent papers distills the wisdom from 100 years of research on voluntary job turnover into a set of best practices for managers.
His enormous body of research has earned Lee a long list of accolades, including the 2013 Scholarly Achievement Award from the Academy of Management’s Human Resources Division for the 2012 study, “When employees are out of step with coworkers: how job satisfaction trajectories and dispersion influence individual- and unit-level voluntary turnover.” The article—finding that job satisfaction, over time and in context, is the best predictor of voluntary turnover—is co-authored with Lee’s former students Dong Liu and Brooks Holtom and frequent collaborator Terence Mitchell, professor emeritus of management at Foster.
Lee’s 2006 paper, “Increasing human and social capital by applying job embeddedness theory” (with Holtom and Mitchell), was named the Outstanding Practitioner Oriented Publication in Organizational Behavior for 2006.
And Lee earned the 2001 Outstanding Organizational Behavior Publication award from the OB Division of the Academy of Management for “The unfolding model of voluntary turnover and job embeddedness: foundations for a comprehensive theory of attachment” (with Mitchell).
Other recent publications include findings that a work environment empowering autonomy is key to retaining high-value employees, and that local college basketball recruits tend to be better performers, provided there’s stability in the coaching staff. In 2017, Lee collaborated with the world’s foremost organizational behavior experts in developing an evidence-based guide to greater government efficiency.
Of course, Lee has been much more than a remarkable scholar. A 2013 Journal of Management Inquiry article offered him as an exemplar of the “academic triathlete” who excels at research, teaching and service—often concurrently, in his case.
While building his prolific track record of publication, Lee also has served as editor of the preeminent Academy of Management Journal and on the editorial boards of eight other journals. He’s a fellow of the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
He has taught every level of student at the Foster School—undergraduates, MBAs, executives and especially PhDs, whom he has mentored by the dozen.
Regarding academic and administrative duty, Lee served as associate dean for academic & faculty affairs at the Foster School for over a decade, and has led or contributed to scores of task forces, councils and committees. He filled a variety of offices for the Academy of Management from 2004-2010, including a year as president (2007-2008).
In 2015, the HR Division of the Academy of Management honored him with its Herbert Heneman Jr. Award for Career Achievement.
The Academy went even further in 2016, bestowing upon Lee its Career Achievement Award for Distinguished Service.