Hui Sun

Hui Sun

Ph.D. candidate in Management & Organizations

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management


I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Management & Organizations Department at Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. My research is at the intersection of managerial cognition and organizational learning, with a strong influence from computational cognitive science. My dissertation combines computational modeling with a longitudinal qualitative study to explore how founders’ knowledge structure interacts and co-evolves with their pursuits of behavioral capabilities. In my prior work, I study how mental structure of knowledge, independent of its content, leads to differential returns in social networks. In simpler words, independent of what you know, how you mentally organize what you know matters.

In a related stream of research, I theorize language systems, both natural languages and artificial languages (e.g., programming languages), as enacted knowledge structures. Leveraging insights from game theory and computational linguisitcs, I explore the role of language systems in firm cooridnation and shed new light on the questions of bounded rationality.

As a mixed-methods scholar, I use a combination of quantitative, qualitative and computational methods. You can find resources on automating surveys (Javascript), interactive network analysis (R), and network learning experiments (Python) on my Github. I am a keen advocate for women in coding and reproducible research.

Prior to graduate school, I was a member of Professor Cleotilde (Coty) Gonzalez’s Dynamic Decision Making Lab at Carnegie Mellon University.

When I am offline, I have fun playing pipa and cello.


  • Organizational Search and Learning
  • Cognitive Science
  • Social Networks
  • Computational Methods


  • PhD in Management & Organizations (minor in Computational Cognitive Science), 2022

    Northwestern University

  • MS in Management & Organizations, 2019

    Northwestern University

  • BS in Experimental Psychology, 2016

    Tsinghua University

  • BA in Game & Interactive Media Design, 2016

    Tsinghua University

Publications and Working Papers


  • Sun, H., Brashears, M. E., & Smith, E. B. (forthcoming). Network Representation Capacity: How Social Relationships are Represented in Human Mind. In Small, M. L, Perry, B. L., Pescosolido, B., & Smith, E. B. (Eds.), Personal Networks: Classic Readings and New Directions in Ego-centric Analysis. Cambridge University Press.

Working Papers

  • Cognitive Search and Social Networks (with Edward B. Smith)
    • “The Cognitive Underpinning of Social Networks” Symposium. Academy of Management Meeting. Chicago, IL. 2018.
    • “Networks in Cognitive Science”. NetSci. Burlington, VT. 2019.
  • From Material Reproduction to Cultural Elaboration: Revival of Classical Chinese Furniture Making (with Lantian Li)
    • EGOS Colloquium. Edinburgh, UK. 2019.