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Name: Hongseok Lee
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Department of Public Administration and Policy

What brought you to Rockefeller and how long have you been here?

I began my work as an assistant professor in the fall of 2018 after completing my PhD in Public Affairs at Indiana University Bloomington. During my PhD program, I heard many good things about Rockefeller College’s strong programs and academic reputation. This became my dream job.

Tell us about your research interests and why you are passionate about this topic?

My research broadly covers human resource management in the public sector. I am particularly interested in how workforce diversity in terms of various characteristics—gender, race, age, opinions, and so forth—impacts organizational and employee outcomes. I am passionate about this topic because organizations face growing needs to manage and leverage workforce diversity to enhance organizational performance while ensuring fairness among different employee groups. I also do research on ethical issues in the workplace, like whistleblowing, sexual harassment, and discrimination.

What do you want the public to know about your research? Why is your topic important?

Some of my research shows that simply hiring more ethnic/racial minorities in public organizations is not sufficient to realize the positive outcomes expected from increased workforce diversity. To promote such outcomes, public organizations should create an inclusive workplace environment in which employees, particularly those with disadvantaged backgrounds, can raise their voices safely and learn from each other. This finding aligns with the growing emphasis on designing and implementing effective diversity and inclusion programs in organizations. In designing and implementing such programs, it is important for public managers to consider the public sector context and to tailor their approaches to different employee groups.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Among many advantages, my job allows me to learn and hone new knowledge and skills continuously through research, teaching, and collaboration with colleagues. It also allows me to use my time flexibly. I am also excited to meet new students every semester, help them learn, and learn from them.

What are your favorite hobbies?

I enjoy taking walks. When I am on the downtown campus, I often take walks around the Washington Park with colleagues or alone. Recently, I have become interested in workouts without weights or equipment. During the summer, I took personal training classes to learn equipment-free exercises that I now do at the gym or at home.

What is your favorite motto?

I like the passage “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” from the 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18. I do my best, though it is not always easy, to remember this message in my work, life, and relationships with others.

What is your best travel story?

My best travel experience was visiting Key West. My wife and I left a very cold winter behind us on a trip to Key West. We very much enjoyed the warm and sunny weather there. One of the best parts of the trip was driving along the overseas highway (the southernmost leg of U.S. Highway 1) that connects Miami to Key West.

What’s your favorite food to eat or cook?

One of my favorite foods is spring rolls. I make them for myself often and I have tried many combinations of vegetables, fruits, meats, and dressings.

What is your favorite song?

My favorite song is “Man in the Mirror,” by Michael Jackson. I like the song’s message that one must change oneself first if one seeks a better world. I saw that many people in audition TV shows sang this song, and I enjoyed listening to their different versions.