Carnegie Mellon University

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Ph.D. Program in Organizational Behavior and Theory

Interdisciplinary Approach & Methodological Rigor

Understanding human behavior in organizations and solving problems requires the integration of a variety of social science and related disciplines. A distinguishing feature of the Tepper School's OBT Ph.D. program is the broad interdisciplinary training it provides across an array of areas (e.g., psychology, sociology, economics, strategy, and computer and data science). Not only do OBT doctoral students interact with other students and faculty within the Tepper School of Business, through cross-registration in courses and participation in colloquia, OBT doctoral students also have opportunities to interact with students and faculty in departments such as Engineering and Public Policy, Human-Computer Interaction, Social and Decision Sciences, Psychology and a variety of departments at the University of Pittsburgh. A cornerstone of the OBT Ph.D. program is its methodological training and rigor. From computer science courses in machine learning and AI to courses in advanced statistical methods, students develop a deep understanding of analytical methods and tools.

Collaborative Culture

A small number of students are accepted into the group each year, with a total of about 10 OBT doctoral students in residence. Student-faculty relationships are close, which permits the tailoring of the program of study to fit the background and career goals of the individual.

Course of Study

Our program emphasizes preparation for careers in scholarly research, and graduates of the program usually pursue careers in academic or research institutions. During their course of study, students have the opportunity to engage with faculty in doctoral seminars and joint research, meet with visiting scholars, and interact with other faculty and students across campus. We prepare our graduates to be competitive on the academic job market by getting them involved in research from Day 1.  Program requirements include the successful completion of two research-based papers in the first and second years of the program, qualifying exams, a “minor” area requirement and a doctoral dissertation.  

Research Specializations

Diversity, Inclusion, and Human Capital

Diversity is at the core of many important organizational problems and many of our OBT faculty make important contributions to the growing knowledge base on diversity and its impact on individual, group, and organizational outcomes.

FACULTY RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Rosalind Chow: gender and promotion processes
  • Oliver Hahl: gender, race, and cultural capital effects on supply and demand for human capital in markets (i.e., hiring and career outcomes)
  • Denise Rousseau: the employment relationship, evidence-based management
  • Catherine Shea: gender issues in management, advice seeking, interpersonal dynamics
  • Laurie Weingart: gender and non-promotable tasks in the workplace, gender and negotiation, interdisciplinary teams
  • Anita Williams Woolley: gender diversity, cognitive diversity and team collective intelligence

Ethics and Justice

Unethical and unjust behaviors are costly to organizations and society. The OBT group in the Tepper School has three members with expertise in the areas of business ethics and social justice (Aven, Chow, and Cohen). The Tepper School is also home to ethics scholar Tae Wan Kim, whose research takes philosophical perspectives on business ethics.

FACULTY RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Brandy Aven: relational attributes of fraud and corruption
  • Rosalind Chow: perceptions of and responses to social inequality
  • Taya Cohen: interpersonal misconduct, workplace deviance, moral character, guilt, shame, trust and trustworthiness
  • Tae Wan Kim: artificial Intelligence ethics, future of work, business ethics

Groups and Teams

The OBT group in the Tepper School houses three scholars who are leaders in the areas of groups and teams (Argote, Weingart, and Woolley) and others whose work is directly relevant (Aven, Chow, Cohen, and Hahl). The Tepper School and Carnegie Mellon more broadly host several other faculty who work in this area (Carley, Kiesler, and Krackhardt). We regularly graduate students who conduct research on groups and teams.

FACULTY RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Linda Argote: learning, transactive memory and knowledge transfer within and between groups
  • Brandy Aven: networked teams
  • Rosalind Chow: power and status within/between groups, impacts of diversity on group functioning and performance
  • Taya Cohen: cooperation and conflict within and between groups, pathways to status and leadership in groups
  • Oliver Hahl: perceptions of status, authenticity and identity within/between groups
  • Laurie Weingart: conflict in teams, multiparty negotiation, negotiation and group dynamics
  • Anita Woolley: collective intelligence, team strategic orientation, team performance

Knowledge Transfer and Learning in a Technologically-Driven World

The OBT group in the Tepper School includes scholars whose work has been foundational to the field of organizational learning (Argote) and includes four other scholars who are substantially engaged in the growing body of work on knowledge transfer and learning (Aven, Hahl, Lee, and Woolley). Reflecting the Tepper School's focus on the intersection of business and technology, faculty research involves responses to rapid change, coordination of work distributed across time and place, organizational learning. Our work also connects to scholars working in related areas in Information Systems (Mukhopadhyay and Singh) and Economics (Epple) at the Tepper School, as well as researchers at Heinz (Krishnan), Engineering (Fuchs), and Computer Science (Carley, Dabbish, and Rose) at Carnegie Mellon, also conduct research relevant to learning.

FACULTY RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Linda Argote: transactive memory systems, knowledge transfer, organizational learning, the effects of technology on learning and knowledge transfer
  • Brandy Aven: transactive memory systems, the effects of technology on networked systems for learning and knowledge transfer
  • Oliver Hahl: learning and knowledge transfer, effect on firm performance
  • Sunkee Lee: organizational learning, effect of the spatial design of workplaces and incentive systems on organizational learning, knowledge transfer, exploration vs. exploitation, learning from own and others’ experiences
  • Anita Woolley: learning and collective intelligence in groups and organizations, increasing collective intelligence in human-computer systems

Networks and Organizations

Research on the formation and consequences of social networks in organizations and markets have become central to our understanding of how organizations and markets work. The OBT group in the Tepper School hosts four scholars who work on important areas related to the role of social networks in organizations (Argote, Aven, Hahl, and Shea). Researchers at Heinz (Krackhardt) and Computer Science (Carley) at Carnegie Mellon, also conduct research in areas that inform our knowledge of social networks as well as the methodologies employed to distinguish their antecedents and effects.

FACULTY RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Linda Argote: learning and knowledge transfer through social networks
  • Brandy Aven: formation of social networks, persistence (or not) of social networks, learning and deviance within social networks, knowledge sharing in social networks
  • Oliver Hahl: identity in social networks, perceptions of brokers in networks, organizational networks and individual performance
  • David Krackhardt: social network analysis theories and methods, informal organizations
  • Catherine Shea: social network cognition, network formation, experimental methods in social networks

Entrepreneurial and Organizational Strategy

The “Carnegie School” has long influenced research on strategy, particularly by looking at the microfoundations of strategic selection, implementation, and performance. The OBT group in the Tepper School hosts four scholars who work on important areas in firm strategy (Argote, Aven, Hahl, and Lee) that all tie back to the Carnegie School’s foundations in the Behavioral Theory of the Firm. Additionally, scholars in Economics and Marketing (Miller, Epple and Derdenger) at the Tepper School and in the Engineering and Public Policy school at Carnegie Mellon (Fuchs and Armanios) also collaborate in research with Tepper faculty and students research in areas that inform organizational theory, entrepreneurial strategy, firm strategy selection and implementation, and firm performance.

FACULTY RESEARCH INTERESTS

  • Linda Argote: organizational learning and capability development, micro foundations of strategy and firm performance, behavioral theories of strategy
  • Brandy Aven: entrepreneurial strategies, entrepreneurial teams, behavioral theories of entrepreneurship and strategy
  • Oliver Hahl: identity-based strategies, categories, diversification, status and authenticity in markets, human capital management and firm performance, microfoundations of strategy and firm performance, behavioral theories of strategy
  • Sunkee Lee: organization design, exploration/exploitation, incentives, spatial design, response to performance feedback, firm acquisition behavior and performance, microfoundations of strategy and firm performance, behavioral theories of strategy

Please visit our Ph.D. Student Profiles page to view the profiles of our current doctoral candidates.