Nelson Lim

Photo of Nelson Lim
Adjunct Senior Sociologist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
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Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology, University of California, Los Angeles; B.A. in economics, University of California, Los Angeles

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Nelson Lim is an adjunct senior sociologist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His research interests include military manpower analysis, diversity management, victim service providers, and police recruiting. Lim served as the research director for the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which conducted a comprehensive evaluation and assessment of policies that provide opportunities for the promotion and advancement of minority members of the Armed Forces, including minority members who are senior officers. In addition, Lim is leading the development of the National Survey of Victim Service Organization (NSVSO), a national survey conducted by Bureau of Justice Statistics to systematically collect information from victim service providers. He has conducted studies of military recruiting and retention of active-duty as well as reserve components for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force (USAF). He has also conducted research on the most effective diversity practices by Fortune 500 companies, and on barriers to improve diversity among the leadership of various government agencies and corporations, including the National Security Agency, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Army, and USAF. Lim also led studies specifically designed to assist police departments, including the San Diego Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, in alleviating recruiting difficulties. Lim received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Recent Projects

  • Improving diversity among the military leadership
  • Effective practices of diversity management in the private sector
  • Impact of military service on employment condition of military spouses
  • Improving police department recruiting practices

Selected Publications

Nelson Lim, Louis T. Mariano, Amy G. Cox, David Schulker, and Lawrence M. Hanser, Improving Demographic Diversity in the U.S. Air Force Officer Corps, RAND Corporation (RR-495-AF) (forthcoming)

Nelson Lim, Abigail Haddad, Dwayne Butler, and Kate Giglio, First Steps Toward Improving DoD STEM Workforce Diversity: Response to the 2012 Department of Defense STEM Diversity Summit, RAND Corporation (RR-329-OSD), 2013

Nelson Lim, Abigail Haddad, and Lindsay Daugherty, Implementation of the DoD Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan: A Framework for Change through Accountability, RAND Corporation (RR-333-OSD), 2013

Kirsten Keller, Nelson Lim, Lisa M. Harrington, Kevin O'Neill, and Abigail Haddad, The Mix of Military and Civilian Faculty at the United States Air Force Academy: Finding a Sustainable Balance for Enduring Success, RAND Corporation (MG-1237-AF), 2013

"State and Local Law Enforcement," in Jessica Saunders, Carl Matthies, and Nelson Lim, Debates on Immigration, Sage Academic Publishing, 2012

Nelson Lim, Carl Matthies, and Kirsten Keller, Workforce Development for Big-City Law Enforcement Agencies, RAND Corporation (OP-357), 2012

Jessica Saunders, Nelson Lim, and Donald Prosnitz, Enforcing Immigration Law at the State and Local Levels: A Public Policy Dilemma, RAND Corporation (OP-273), 2010

Nelson Lim, Carl Matthies, Greg Ridgeway, and Brian Gifford, To Protect and To Serve: Enhancing the Efficiency of LAPD Recruiting, RAND Corporation (MG-881-RMPF), 2009

Honors & Awards

  • President's Award, 2004, RAND
  • PAF Research Excellence Award, 2009, RAND
  • IACP/Sprint Excellence in Law Enforcement Research Award, Honorable Mention, 2009, IACP


  • Police form a line after a grand jury returned no indictment in the shooting of Michael Brown, Ferguson, Missouri, November 24, 2014

    Progress After Ferguson? Good Ideas Need Good Implementation

    President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing has done a great service by providing dozens of sound recommendations—good ideas that could help avoid another Ferguson. Now we need good implementation to go along with them.

    Mar 9, 2015 The RAND Blog

  • A man holding a 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' pose and wearing an 'I Can't Breathe' mask outside City Hall, New York City, December 10, 2014

    Can Big Data Help Build Trust in the Police?

    After two controversial grand jury decisions not to indict police in the deaths of unarmed African Americans, a White House task force has 90 days to provide recommendations for promoting accountability among law enforcement agencies to cultivate trust between police and communities. The timeline may seem impossible, but, sadly, these issues are old and the solutions are well known.

    Dec 11, 2014 Newsweek

  • Young man working at computer outside

    The Realities of Silicon Valley's Lack of Workforce Diversity

    Major Silicon Valley tech firms have released statistics indicating their workforces are largely made up of white men. Corporate America is on the receiving end of a complex chain of social and educational factors that continue to leave minorities behind in terms of college graduation, and both minorities and women behind in terms of STEM degrees.

    Oct 2, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle

  • Pickpocket stealing a woman's wallet

    Crime Victims: Silicon Valley Tech Industry Can Get Them the Help They Need

    A broader approach is needed to better address the needs of millions of American victims of crimes like sexual assault, family violence, financial exploitation, gun violence, identity theft, burglary and stalking. And that's where Silicon Valley's tech community can step up.

    Aug 11, 2014 San Jose Mercury News

  • The Decline of Racial Profiling

    President Obama called the arrest of Professor Henry Gates a "teachable moment." This is a moment to learn the facts of race and policing these days. Racial profiling has indeed been an ugly reality for many years. But our research finds little evidence that it continues to be a major problem, write Greg Ridgeway and Nelson Lim.

    Jul 30, 2009