We provide broad, interdisciplinary training with Carnegie Mellon's engineering, public policy, human-computer interaction, social and decision sciences, and psychology departments.

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In the short history of organizational research, one important point of view is often called the "Carnegie School". We are that "Carnegie School."

Groundbreaking Research

In 1958, James G. March and Herbert A. Simon (who later won the 1978 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on decision making) published Organizations, a book that fundamentally influenced how everyone thinks about organizations and established the foundation for the Carnegie School. In 1963, Richard M. Cyert and James G. March built on this foundation in their influential book, A Behavioral Theory of the Firm. The history of organizational research at Carnegie Mellon is one of path-breaking, highly influential, interdisciplinary research and the Ph.D. Program in Organizational Behavior and Theory (OBT) at the Tepper School continues in this tradition.

Interdisciplinary Approach

A variety of social science disciplines and topic areas are relevant to the study of human behavior in organizational settings. A distinguishing feature of Tepper’s OBT Ph.D. Program is the broad interdisciplinary training it provides. Cross-registration in courses, access to faculty, and participation in colloquia are encouraged by departments such as Engineering and Public Policy, Human-Computer Interaction studies, Social and Decision Sciences, and the Psychology departments at both CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.

Class Size

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. Our program emphasizes preparation for careers in scholarly research, and graduates of the program usually pursue careers in academic or research institutions.

Research Specializations

The field is often broken down into two broad subareas: micro and macro. The OBT group has strengths in topics that span both subareas.

Groups & Teams

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

Faculty Research Interests

  • Linda Argote: learning and knowledge transfer within and between groups
  • Brandy Aven: networked teams
  • Rosalind Chow: power and status within/between groups
  • Taya Cohen: conflict between and within groups
  • Oliver Hahl: perceptions of status, authenticity and identity within/between groups
  • David Krackhardt: emergent teams
  • Bob Kraut: technology and teams
  • Laurie Weingart: conflict in teams, multiparty negotiation
  • Anita Woolley: collective intelligence, team strategic orientation, team performance

Organizational Learning

The OBT group in the Tepper School hosts three scholars who study group and organizational learning (Argote, Aven, Woolley). Scholars in Information Systems (Mukhopadhyay, Singh) and Economics (Epple, Kryukov) at Tepper as well as researchers at Heinz (Krishnan), Engineering (Fuchs) and Computer Science (Carley, Dabbish, Herbsleb, Kraut) at Carnegie Mellon University also conduct research on learning. 

Faculty Research Interests

  • Linda Argote: Social networks, transactive memory systems, knowledge transfer, exploitation vs. exploration, and group performance
  • Brandy Aven: Social networks,transactive memory systems, and group performance
  • Anita Woolley: Learning and collective intelligence in groups and organizations

Networks, Organizations and Strategy

Key foundational questions for scholarship on organizational theory and strategy, such as why firms exist, which strategies they pursue, and the boundaries of a firm are direct outgrowths of tenets developed by Nobel Prize-winning scholar Oliver Williamson (CMU Ph.D.,1963) and Cyert and March’s A Behavioral Theory of the Firm, both of which are firmly entrenched within the “Carnegie School” tradition. In this tradition, scholars in strategy have continued to consider the micro or behavioral foundations of strategy. The OBT group in the Tepper School hosts three scholars who work on important areas in firm strategy (Argote, Aven, Hahl). Scholars in Economics and Marketing (Miller, Epple, Derdenger) at Tepper as well as researchers at Heinz (Krackhardt), Engineering (Fuchs) and Computer Science (Carley) at Carnegie Mellon University also conduct research in areas that inform organizational theory, strategy selection and implementation, and firm performance. 

Faculty Research Interests

  • Linda Argote: Social networks, transactive memory systems, knowledge transfer, exploitation vs. exploration, and organizational learning
  • Brandy Aven: Social networks,transactive memory systems, entrepreneurial teams, and organizational learning
  • Oliver Hahl: Market perceptions, identity-based strategies, categories, status and authenticity in markets, and social networks

Ethics & Justice

The OBT group in the Tepper School has three members with expertise in the areas of ethics and justice (Aven, Chow, Cohen). Complementing the OBT group’s focus on ethics and justice, the Tepper School has business ethics scholar Tae Wan Kim whose research is focused on philosophical perspectives. Kim’s position in business ethics reflects the growing interest in the fields of ethics and justice, and how critically important these topics are for top-tier institutions like the Tepper School.

Faculty Research Interests

  • Brandy Aven: Relational attributes of fraud and corruption
  • Rosalind Chow: Perceptions of and responses to social inequality
  • Taya Cohen: moral character, workplace deviance, guilt and shame
  • Tae Wan Kim: Confucianism, authority, rights, rites, team/joint production

Intersection of Business & Technology

Endemic to Tepper’s focus on the intersection of business and technology are critical behavioral issues. Relevant faculty research involves responses to rapid change, coordination of work distributed across time and place and continual organizational learning. The OBT area’s research centers focus on critical aspects of the business technology-interface.

Faculty Research Interests

  • Linda Argote: learning and knowledge transfer in distributed groups, the effects of technology on learning and knowledge transfer
  • Brandy Aven: the effects of technology on networked systems for learning and knowledge transfer
  • Anita Woolley: increasing collective intelligence in human-computer systems

Organizational Roles and Relationships

OBT faculty research also focuses on the relationships between people that span organizational or role boundaries. Relevant research includes customer-supplier relationships, employer-employee relationships, and the examination of role expectations aligned with gender.

Faculty Research Interests

  • Mark Fichman: dynamic decision making, customer-supplier relationships, evidence-based management
  • Denise Rousseau: the employment relationship, evidence-based management
  • Laurie Weingart: gender and favors in the workplace; gender and negotiation

Current Doctoral Candidates