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Academic Biography

I came to MIT to develop MIT Sloan's Managerial Communication curriculum starting in 1980. From 2007-2012 I served as Deputy Dean for programs at MIT Sloan, then spent a year at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford in 2012/2013.

I have two primary streams of research and am now starting a new one. One stream is historical. My best known historical book is Control through Communication: The Rise of System in American Management (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989) Structuring the Information Age: Life Insurance and Technology in the Twentieth Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), provides insight into the largely unexplored evolution of information processing in the commercial sector and the underrated influence of corporate users in shaping the history of modern technologies. I recently collaborated with my husband, Craig N. Murphy, professor of international relations at Wellesley College, on a study of the history of private consensus-based standard setting. We published an initial, short book on one of the key organizations in this sector, ISO: Craig N. Murphy and JoAnne Yates, The International Organization for Standardization (IS0): Global Governance through Voluntary Consensus (London: Routledge Press, 2009). A much longer book, Engineering Rules:  Global Standard Setting since 1880, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2019.

A second stream, pursued from the early 1990s until I went into the Dean’s Office in 2007, examined contemporary communication and information technology use. In this work I collaborated with Wanda Orlikowski (of MIT Sloan’s Information Technology group) and various students and researchers to study how groups and organizations use communication and information technologies, and how that use shapes their work. Specific studies have looked at the use of technologies such as electronic mail, instant messaging, the BlackBerry, and corporate blogging.

In a third stream, I am now currently also working with a team of faculty from Sloan’s Work and Organization Studies Group on a social-psychological intervention to improve academic performance of underrepresented minority students.


My husband Craig Murphy and I have two cats: Spencer, a large gray and white cat weighing 25 pounds, and Beeb, a small black cat weighing 7-8 pounds. They provide lots of entertainment.

Beep                                                                      Spencer

We have a cabin on Mt. Desert Island in Maine, near Acadia National Park. We try to get up there as often as possible to enjoy the peace and wildlife. The cats like it up there, too, because we let them go outside there, but not at our home in Watertown, MA.

View out the cabin window in late fall, with turkeys and deer.
  • JoAnne Yates

    Sloan Distinguished Professor of Management, Emerita

    MIT Sloan School of Management

    100 Main Street

    Cambridge, MA 02142

    Office Number E62-335
    Phone Number (617) 253-7157

    Support Staff

    Jessica Lipsey

    (617) 253-5701
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