Eric R. Kushins graduated with Honors from Wesleyan University in 2002 with a B.A. in the College of Social Studies, an interdisciplinary program combining history, government, economics and philosophy. After graduation, Eric worked in New York as an Editor on a start-up magazine for young adults and as a Researcher and Program Coordinator for NYC Arts Coalition, an arts advocacy and public policy development organization. Upon moving to Chicago in 2004, he began working for a family-owned retail chain where he served as a store manager and buyer. He helped expand operations through the development of new concept stores. With growing curiosity about interpersonal interactions and decision making within organization settings, Eric returned to academia and joined the Sociology Department at Rutgers University in 2007 and was awarded an Excellence Fellowship to pursue his Ph.D.
At Rutgers, Eric is engaged in two streams of research. The first focuses on family businesses. His research employs a mixed methods approach (interviews, surveys and network analysis) to investigate how cognitive constructs of family and of business are successfully/unsuccessfully negotiated within family businesses and between family businesses and nonfamily businesses. He has primarily investigated second-generation owned and managed chemical distributors in the Northeast. His advisors on this research include Paul McLean, Lee Clarke and Phaedra Daipha.
His second line of research examines voice perception and mental imagery. In 2009 Eric was awarded a three-year National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support this work. Eric is interested in how our personal biographies influence the ways in which we form images of people we hear, but do not see. He is primarily concerned with how these perceptions, or implicit stereotypes, affect our attitudes toward the speaker. He is investigating this phenomenon through a laboratory experiment that is set up as a job hiring scenario. Eric’s advisors on this research include Karen Cerulo, Deborah Carr and Ben Zablocki.
He is looking to expand this project to include a cross-national comparative component. Eric is working with Karen Gonsalkorale at the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney in Australia to determine if voice-based stereotyping is common across countries or is instead a function of the unique social role that specific minority groups play in each country.
Alongside his work in Sociology, Eric enrolled in the Joint Program at the Rutgers Business School (RBS) in Fall 2010 to pursue a Ph.D. in Organization Management. This opportunity will enable Eric to gain expertise in the core areas of management. Coursework at RBS and advising by Jeffrey Robinson will add depth to his research interests and situate his work in current organization management debates.
Eric will also be completing a Certificate in Cognitive Science. He has been working on decision making research based on some initial findings from his research on family businesses and voice perception/mental imagery. This interdisciplinary research is being conducted with a graduate student in the psychology department, and advised by Gretchen Chapman.
Upon completing his joint PhD in Sociology and Organization Management and a Certificate in Cognitive Science, Eric plans to pursue a position at a business school.