Dr. Rick Cotton

Dr. Rick Cotton
Assistant Professor


BS in Management Information Systems and Marketing, Syracuse University; MS and PhD in Organization Studies, Boston College

Office: BEC 242


  • Career success and extraordinary career achievement
  • Mentoring and developmental networks
  • International human resource management, talent management and workforce analytics
  • International management

Dr. Rick Cotton began teaching at the Gustavson School of Business in 2015, bringing a passion for understanding how individuals thrive in their careers and how HR and talent management practices can foster organizational and individual success in a variety of country, industry and occupational contexts. He teaches undergraduates, MBA students, budding entrepreneurs and executives in talent management and human resource management courses and also enjoys consulting with organizations to help them be more successful.

His first research stream focuses on understanding how individuals can better thrive in their careers and how they can better handle challenging work situations and contexts. One of the ways Rick studies extraordinary career achievement is by collecting and analyzing data on more than 25,000 individuals from more than 240 professional and occupational halls of fame ranging from baseball to business, automotive to consumer electronics and from teachers to tow truck drivers. Alternatively, Rick also looks at how individuals in challenging situations survive and thrive by studying unique populations including Australian women miners, serial entrepreneurs, employees in organizations recovering from scandal and chronic HR downsizers who have had to lay off hundreds or even thousands of employees. This research helps to highlight how human capital, social capital and positive psychological capital come together to foster success and resilience, particularly by leveraging workforce analytics and network analysis, including through studying individuals’ developmental networks (a.k.a., their ‘personal boards of advisors’).

The second primary focus of Rick’s research is in studying higher level influences on career success including HR and talent management practices in different country contexts. Rick's research in these two streams encourages leaders, managers and HR practitioners to find new ways to foster individual, team and organizational excellence and to help people find enhanced meaning and impact in their careers. His research has appeared in the Academy of Management Journal, Harvard Business Review, MIT Sloan Management Review, Human Resource Management, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Entrepreneurship Theory & Practice, Career Development International, Journal of Management Inquiry, and the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. He has won four Academy of Management Best Paper awards and has eight articles that earned Academy of Management Proceedings honors in addition to being recognized six times as a ‘Most Memorable Professor’ for his teaching prior to coming to UVic.

Rick has nearly 20 years of experience from his work as a change management consultant with Accenture, as an independent consultant and as a Senior Vice President of Learning and Development at a Fortune 500 financial services firm.  Rick earned his PhD at Boston College before working as an assistant professor in the University of North Carolina system prior to coming to UVic. His past consulting clients have included Aetna, CNA Insurance, General Electric, the Hay Group, Pepsi, Putnam, Sapient, United Technologies and several other primarily services-based firms and MNCs.  

Wang, L. & Cotton, R.D. (Forthcoming). Beyond Moneyball to social capital inside and out: The value of differentiated network ties to performance. Human Resource Management: Special Issue on Workforce Analytics.

Parker, P., Cotton, R.D., Yates, M.S., Baxter, J. & Arend, S. (Forthcoming). Developmental network structure and support: Gendered consequences for work-family and work-parenting strain in the Australian mining industry. The International Journal of Human Resource Management.

Hsu, D.K., Wiklund, J., & Cotton, R.D. (2017). Success, failure, and entrepreneurial re-entry: An experimental assessment of the veracity of self-efficacy and prospect theory. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 41(1): 19-47.

Cotton, R. D., Stevenson, W. B., & Bartunek, J. M. (2017). A way forward: Cascading ethical and change leadership, values enactment and group level effects on commitment in corruption recovery. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 53(1): 89-116.

Clair, J. A., Ladge, J. J., & Cotton, R. D. (2016). This is how we do it: How perceived prosocial impact offsets negative personal outcomes associated with carrying out necessary evils. Journal of Management Inquiry. 25(3): 301-321.

Clair, J., Ladge, J., & Cotton, R.D. (2016). Coping with the effects of emotionally difficult work. Harvard Business Review.  

Shen, Y., Cotton, R. D., & Kram, K. E. (2015). Assembling your personal board of advisors. MIT Sloan Management Review56(3): 81-90.

Cotton, R.D. & Shen, Y. (2013). The company you keep: The relational models and support expectations of key developer relationships. Career Development International, 18(4), 328-356.

Cotton, R. D. (2013). Going global: The historical contingency of baseball hall of famer developmental networks.  Career Development International, 18(3), 281-304.  

Cotton, R. D., Shen, Y., & Livne-Tarandach, R. (2011). On becoming extraordinary: The content and structure of the developmental networks of Major League Baseball hall of famers.  Academy of Management Journal, 54(1), 15-46.  

Book Chapters and Reprints

Shen, Y., Cotton, R.D., & Kram, K. (2015). Reunir un consejo asesor personal. Harvard Duesto Business Review (Harvard Business Review - Spanish Translation), 247: 6–17.

Dries, N., Cotton, R. D., Bagdadli, S., de Oliveira, M. Z. (2014). ‘Talent’ across cultures: Meanings and mindsets.  In A. Al Ariss (Ed.), Global Talent Management – Challenges, Strategies, and Opportunities.  Houten, Netherlands: Springer.

Cotton, R. D., Shen, Y., & Livne-Tarandach, R. (2013). On becoming extraordinary: The content and structure of the developmental networks of Major League Baseball hall of famers.  Reprint in G. Cunningham (Ed.), Sport Management. Cheltenham, England: Edward Elgar Publishing, Ltd.

  • Representative-at-Large, Academy of Management Careers Division
  • Ad-hoc reviewer for Academy of Management Journal, Career Development International, Human Resource Management Journal and Journal of Applied Behavioral Science
  • Ad-hoc reviewer for Academy of Management annual meetings
  • Faculty advisor to eight graduate research assistants and 25 undergraduate research assistants, Extraordinary Career Achievement Research Project, 2010-2014
  • Faculty internship advisor to 47 management and HR majors at companies including: Automatic Data Processing (ADP), Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Holiday Inn, KPMG, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Sherwin-Williams, Subway, and many other small/medium sized enterprises and government entities 
  • Faculty advisor for Fudan University/Appalachian State University annual cross-cultural program international travel, business and cultural visits, classroom and project work and presentation to Shanghai Forum, 2012 & 2013
  • Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Careers Division Outstanding Reviewer (2016, 2017)
  • Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Careers Division Reed Centre Best Applied Paper (2014)
  • Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) Best Paper Award - Honorable Mention (2013)
  • Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Careers Division Best Overall Paper (2012)
  • Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Careers Division Best Student Paper (2010)
  • Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Organizational Development & Change Division, Best Interactive Paper (2008)
  • Academy of Management Proceedings Best Paper (Top 10%) Recognition (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)
  • Appalachian State University, ‘Most Memorable Professor’ teaching award (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)
  • Leading People & Organizations (BCom)
  • Service Management – HR/Talent Management (BCom)
  • Managing People & Organizations (MBA)
  • Driving Performance through Human, Social and Positive Psychological Capital (TELUS MBA)
  • Values and Passion (Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs (NW-ACE) Program)
  • BCBusiness. DIY Management: Smart and Smarter – How do you manage an employee who is more experienced or knowledgeable than you are? (October 2017).
  • Peter B. Gustavson School of Business Year in Review 2016. Meaningful Research - Research in Motion. (January 2017).
  • CHEK News. 42% of Canadian jobs are at risk of becoming automated. (Wednesday, July 06, 2016).
  • CFAX 1070 Victoria. Team dynamics in sport. (Thursday, April 14, 2016)
  • Toronto Star. Who inspired hall of famers to greatness? Choose your spouse wisely, says researcher. (Tuesday, March 15, 2011).
  • hbr.org. Baseball stars thank friends not coaches. (Thursday, March 03, 2011).
  • The Globe & Mail. Thank you speeches and what they show. (Saturday, February 26, 2011).
  • United Press International. Elite players thank family, friends most. (Thursday, February 24, 2011).