Professors Cristina Giannantionio, Ph.D. and Amy Hurley-Hanson, Ph.D. have taught courses in management at the Argyros School for over 25 years. Something people may not know about Professor Giannantionio and Professor Hurley-Hanson is their important research about autism in the workplace. The Argyros School recognizes World Autism Awareness Day this April 2nd by highlighting some of our professors’ compelling work.

Could you tell me more about yourselves and how you joined Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics?

We are both from the East Coast. Cris did her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland in College Park. Amy did her Ph.D. at New York University. Before coming to Chapman, Cris was a professor at the University of Notre Dame and Amy was a professor at the Catholic University of America. Cris has been at Chapman for 27 years and Amy for 25 years.

What can you tell me about your research on Autism in the Workplace?

We both have published a lot of research on careers and we became interested in studying the school-to-work transition of individuals with autism. We began researching this topic several years ago with faculty from the Attallah College of Educational Studies and the Thompson Policy Institute on Disability. We are the first researchers to introduce the term Generation A into this literature, which refers to the 1.5 million individuals with ASD who will reach adulthood in the next decade and who will be poised to enter the workplace in unprecedented numbers. Having students with Autism Spectrum Disorder in our classes also sparked our interest in this topic and we began to examine the literature on the role of universities and corporations in helping young adults who are members of Generation A find employment.

What is the most important takeaway or takeaways that you hope readers walk away with from your research?

The cost of not creating employment for individuals with ASD is staggering. In the United States, these costs are projected to reach 461 billion dollars by 2025. Our research on organizations’ attitudes towards hiring people with autism revealed that many organizations are not aware of the financial and non-financial benefits of hiring individuals with ASD. There are numerous benefits for organizations that hire individuals with autism. These include gaining a workforce with desirable knowledge, skills, and abilities, increasing the pool of intellectual capital associated with a more diverse workforce, and enhancing a company’s reputation and social capital through its diversity initiatives. Having meaningful employment may give individuals with ASD the opportunity to be able to support themselves and gain financial independence. The employment of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) offers numerous positive work and life outcomes to these individuals, the organizations that employ them, and society as a whole.

Where can readers get a copy?

Our current book, Generation A: Research on Autism in the Workplace, may be found here on Amazon. We also published an earlier book, Autism in the Workplace: Creating Positive Employment and Career Outcomes for Generation A with Amy Jane Griffiths, which may be found here on Amazon.

Are there any other accomplishments that you want to share in your career or what other upcoming publications do you have coming up?

In addition to our research on careers, we wrote a book on Extreme Leadership: Leaders, Teams, and Situations Outside the Norm, which included material on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition. The recent discovery of his ship, Endurance, which was crushed by the pack ice and sunk to the bottom of the Weddell Sea has generated renewed interest in leadership lessons from Shackleton. We were recently interviewed on Good Day LA to share our research in this area. See the Good Day LA featured video here.

We were selected to be Series Editors for a new book series, Emerald Studies in Workplace Neurodiversity by Emerald Publishing Company. The first two books in the series will be published in 2022. We have worked together at Chapman for 25 years. We feel we are fortunate to be friends who work together and colleagues who are friends.

 Any parting thoughts you would like to share with us?

It is important that individuals with ASD have the opportunity to gain full employment. There are several opportunities for universities to partner with organizations to ease the school-to-work transition for these individuals and throughout their careers.