December 16, 2020
Continuity and Change in Management Science
Linda Argote, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Research; Sunkee Lee, Assistant Professor of Organizational Theory and Strategy; and Jisoo Park, doctoral candidate, collaborated on a research paper for the 65th anniversary of Management Science.
By Aubrey Buberniak
Since the 1950s, the Tepper School of Business has been at the forefront of management science and analytics-based business education.
In 1954, two Carnegie Mellon professors — William W. Cooper, a founding faculty member of the Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA) and founding dean of the School of Urban and Public Affairs (now known as the Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy), and Abraham Charnes, a mathematics professor at Carnegie Tech — came together with other leaders in the field to form The Institute of Management Sciences, a precursor to the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS). The organization developed Management Science, the academic journal that publishes scientific research on the theory and practice of management, at a time when there was great need for a forum to promote and publish research on the scientific approach to management launched by GSIA.
Throughout the early years of the journal, Carnegie Mellon faculty, including Herb A. Simon, Harold J. Leavitt, and Richard M. Cyert, served as officers of The Institute of Management Sciences, strengthening the university’s role in the development of management science.
“Management science is the approach that we are known for – bringing the study of science to the study of management, and building on the fundamental disciplines of psychology, economics and mathematics, to develop the science of management,” said Linda Argote, Senior Associate Dean, Faculty and Research; the Thomas Lord Professor of Organizational Behavior and Theory; and Director, Center of Organizational Learning, Innovation and Knowledge.
“It’s the approach that Carnegie Mellon pioneered, and many of our founding GSIA faculty were involved in the start of the journal and also the professional society.”
Continuity in Management Science and Celebrating INFORMS 65th Anniversary
Tepper School graduates and faculty continue to play leadership roles in the journal and the professional society. For example, the current President of INFORMS, Pinar Keskinocak, the William George Professor of Industrial Engineering and Systems Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, received her Ph.D. in Operations Research from the Tepper School. Linda Argote served as Departmental Editor of the Department of Organizations, Strategy and Design at Management Science and as Vice President of Publications at INFORMS.
With the Tepper School’s historical influence and ongoing contributions to the journal, editors reached out to Argote to contribute to a special anniversary edition.
“I had been asked to write an overview of the past, present, and future of organizational learning research for the 65th issue,” said Argote.
Argote asked fellow Tepper School faculty member Sunkee Lee, Assistant Professor of Organizational Theory and Strategy, and doctoral candidate Jisoo Park to co-author the paper with her. Both accepted, with gratitude and clear admiration for Argote’s work.
“The most amazing part of writing this paper, to me, is that my name is next to Linda Argote as an author,” said Lee. Arriving at this moment was years in the making.
“The first time I read one of Linda’s papers, I was a master’s student, and my mind was blown. It was and still is one of my favorite papers. Then I had a chance to meet and interview her at a conference as a doctoral student, and a few years later she also happily agreed to be on my dissertation committee. I joined Tepper in 2017 – it was like a dream come true for me – and became a colleague with Linda. We worked on this project together, and are now finally coauthors,” he said.
Park had a similar journey.
“I lived in South Korea until I was 18 and came to the United States to do my undergraduate study at Cornell. Then I lived and worked in Singapore and am now a fourth-year doctoral student studying organizational behavior and theory,” she said.
“I chose to come to Tepper mainly because of the existence of Linda, as she’s the most prominent figure doing research in organizational learning, the topic that interested me. I was also really excited about how interdisciplinary the department is because I could benefit and learn a lot from different perspectives.”
The collaboration between the three continued as they found their groove over the next several months.
“I knew both Sunkee and Jisoo were interested in the topic, which is why I invited them to join,” said Argote. “We worked hard, built on each other’s ideas, and had a lot of fun. It was truly a collaborative effort and interdisciplinary, which is something that we value here at Tepper.”
The paper, “Organizational Learning Processes and Outcomes: Major Findings and Future Research Directions,” assesses the four processes of organizational learning: search, knowledge creation, knowledge retention, and knowledge transfer, and concludes with a discussion of research directions that are likely to be productive in the future, such as how new technologies and new organizational forms are likely to affect organizational learning.
“It’s a great honor to write a paper with Linda, and the field of organizational learning has come a long way since 2010 when I was a master’s student. I think this review captures the recent research findings on the topic,” said Lee.
Welcoming Change and the Future of Management Science
While their paper reflects the Tepper School's continuing intellectual influence on the field of management science, their paper also reflects changes in the demographic composition of that leadership.
When The Institute of Management Sciences (and later, INFORMS) was formed, leadership roles were traditionally held by white males. Now, the organization’s board is diverse, as well as leadership within the field. The school has also increased its diversity at the Tepper School, as reflected in the authors of the anniversary article.
Argote notes, “We want to continue to have an internationally diverse faculty and to increase the number of faculty who are women and from underrepresented groups. Members of diverse groups bring different perspectives and different information to the conversation, which is especially valuable for solving problems and creating innovations.”
Park hopes to promote that change in the future, after earning her Ph.D., by being the same type of faculty mentor that Argote has been to her.
“Learning from faculty is the most important part of any educational training,” she said.
“I am an Asian woman, coming from a hierarchical culture, so interacting with a faculty member as a colleague had a huge impact on me. I remember this moment, while we were working on this paper in the Tepper Quad. We were in a conference room with all the windows open and it was beautiful fall weather outside. We were writing and celebrating almost finalizing the paper, taking selfies with our draft, and that summarizes my doctoral program experience: working with prominent scholars who are friendly and encourage you, and treat you as a colleague,” she said.
The baseline collaborative effort that went into the researchers’ paper can be boiled down to a fundamental philosophy: practice what you research.
“I like to look at the microfoundations of organizational learning. My research ends up talking about the people at the organizations and how the design of the organizations influences how people transfer and create knowledge,” Lee said.
“At the end of the day, organizations are composed of people, and thus how organizations are designed to bring the best out of people really matters. That’s what I really appreciate about the Tepper School. If you have colleagues, like Linda, who are supportive of you, it makes a big difference.”
“Our paper outlines what we have learned in the past and what we can expect in the future in research in management science,” said Argote, “The fact that we, as a white female, Asian male, and Asian female, contributed to the 65th issue sends a nice message about Management Science and the Tepper School in the present. But, we have much work to do to attract and retain members of underrepresented groups.”