Person

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld is a professor at the Yale School of Management. He previously taught at Harvard Business School and Emory University and has written several books on corporate leadership. [1][2]

In April 2021, Sonnenfeld helped to organize a conference of more than 100 corporate executives in the United States to discuss recently implemented and proposed election-integrity laws in Georgia and several other states. The organizers pressured the participants to oppose the laws by issuing statements, suspending donations to elected officials who support such laws, and even refusing to invest in states that pass election integrity statutes. [3]

Academic Career

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld taught at Harvard Business School for a decade, and then at the Emory University business school for another decade. [4][5] In December 1997, he was forced to resign from Emory after the university accused him of vandalizing a business school building. According to Emory administrators, security footage showed Sonnenfeld defacing a hallway and entering an office without authorization. Reporters who inspected the area with permission from the university said that they found scratches on several doors and a table. Several of Sonnenfeld’s acquaintances claimed that he only knocked on the door and used a key issued to some faculty to enter the room. [6]

In the months leading up to the incident, Sonnenfeld had clashed with Ronald Frank, the dean of the Emory University Business School. Frank had announced that he would be retiring in 1998, and Sonnenfeld had sought to become the new dean but was passed over for the position. At the same time, according to some faculty members, Frank resented Sonnenfeld’s alleged talent for fundraising and alleged tendency to boast about his credentials. At one point, Sonnenfeld and several other professors tried to convince Emory president William Chace to replace Frank, but Chace sided with Frank, who then removed some of the detractors from his advisory council. [7]

The incident cost Sonnenfeld both his position at Emory Business School and his new job at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which he was supposed to start in January 1998. [8] Sonnenfeld sued Emory for wrongful termination and settled in July 2000 for an undisclosed sum, which an acquaintance of his estimated to be “in the high seven figures” due to the significant legal expenses he incurred. [9] Sonnenfeld joined the Yale School of Management in 1999, where he is currently a professor of management practices. [10]

Political Views and Involvement

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld encourages major corporations to pressure elected officials to abandon right-of-center policies on immigration, gun rights, and LGBT issues. He has defended the practices of outsourcing technology jobs to other countries and bringing foreign workers to the United States. Sonnenfeld has praised corporations that boycotted states attempting to pass laws that would bar men claiming to be transgender from entering women’s restrooms and vice versa, as well as companies that have cut ties with gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA). [11]

In April 2021, Sonnenfeld helped organize a conference of more than 100 corporate leaders, including major airline executives, manufacturing and retail industry leaders, and at least one sports team owner, to discuss strategies for opposing election integrity laws. Sonnenfeld said that the proposed approaches included ending campaign contributions to legislators advocating for the laws and refusing to do business in states that implement election integrity measures. [12] In an interview with Politico, Sonnenfeld claimed that by opposing such measures, business leaders were helping maintain “social harmony” and prevent “divisiveness in society.” He also claimed that right-of-center societal values were “100 percent at variance with what the business community wants” and that promoting left-of-center social principles was “a million times more important” to business leaders than issues such as maintaining free market policy. [13]

The Yale School of Management, where Sonnenfeld is a professor, co-sponsored the conference with Lynn Forester de Rothschild’s Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, as well as the Leadership Now Project, a left-of-center advocacy group. [14][15]

References

  1.     “Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Senior Advisor.” Atlas Merchant Capital. Accessed April 21, 2021. http://www.atlasmerchantcapital.com/our-team/jeffrey-sonnenfeld ^
  2.        “Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld.” Yale School of Management. Accessed April 21, 2021.https://som.yale.edu/faculty/jeffrey-sonnenfeld ^
  3.            “Over 100 CEOs, leaders gather to speak out against voting law changes.” Fox 5 Atlanta. April 12, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/over-100-ceos-leaders-gather-to-speak-out-against-voting-law-changes ^
  4.           “Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Senior Advisor.” Atlas Merchant Capital. Accessed April 21, 2021. http://www.atlasmerchantcapital.com/our-team/jeffrey-sonnenfeld ^
  5.        “Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld.” Yale School of Management. Accessed April 21, 2021.https://som.yale.edu/faculty/jeffrey-sonnenfeld ^
  6.             Timothy D. Schellhardt and John Helyar. “How an Academic Star Could Fall Mysteriously From Top of His Field.” Wall Street Journal. December 22, 1997. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB882745188277842000 ^
  7.        Timothy D. Schellhardt and John Helyar. “How an Academic Star Could Fall Mysteriously From Top of His Field.” Wall Street Journal. December 22, 1997. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB882745188277842000 ^
  8.              Timothy D. Schellhardt and John Helyar. “How an Academic Star Could Fall Mysteriously From Top of His Field.” Wall Street Journal. December 22, 1997. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB882745188277842000 ^
  9.           Joann S. Lublin. “Sonnenfeld, Emory Settle Wrongful-Termination Suit.” Wall Street Journal. July 18, 2000. Accessed April 21, 2021.https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB963886239412079394 ^
  10.   “Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Senior Advisor.” Atlas Merchant Capital. Accessed April 21, 2021.http://www.atlasmerchantcapital.com/our-team/jeffrey-sonnenfeld ^
  11.        Zack Stanton. “The GOP-Big Business Divorce Goes Deeper Than You Think.” Politico. April 15, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021 https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/04/15/republican-party-big-business-georgia-voting-rights-conservative-481978 ^
  12.             “Over 100 CEOs, leaders gather to speak out against voting law changes.” Fox 5 Atlanta. April 12, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/over-100-ceos-leaders-gather-to-speak-out-against-voting-law-changes ^
  13.       Zack Stanton. “The GOP-Big Business Divorce Goes Deeper Than You Think.” Politico. April 15, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2021/04/15/republican-party-big-business-georgia-voting-rights-conservative-481978 ^
  14.      “Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld.” Yale School of Management. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://som.yale.edu/faculty/jeffrey-sonnenfeld ^
  15.        “More Than 100 Business Leaders Join Call To Discuss Non-Partisan Action Against Restrictive Voting Law Proposals.” Associated Press. April 10, 2021. Accessed April 23, 2021.https://apnews.com/press-release/pr-newswire/legislature-lynn-forester-de-rothschild-democracy-legislation-elections-92e338feade2315cf692b2bb01fbb26e ^
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