In the field of Organizational Behavior, researchers draw on the methods and concepts of psychology and sociology to examine complex organizations and the ways that people behave within them.
Scholars in the doctoral program in Organizational Behavior at Harvard Business School are prepared to pursue an interdisciplinary inquiry into issues that are broadly related to the functioning of individuals within groups, at either the micro or macro level. Graduates of our program go on to become the leading researchers and thinkers in organizational behavior, shaping the field and advancing theoretical understanding in posts at schools of management or in disciplinary departments.
The Organizational Behavior program is jointly administered by the faculty of Harvard Business School and the Department of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and students have the opportunity to work with faculty from both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School.
Curriculum & Coursework
Our program offers two distinct tracks, with research focused either on the micro or macro level. Students who choose to focus on micro organizational behavior take a psychological approach to the study of interpersonal relationships within organizations and groups, and the effects that groups have on individuals. In macro organizational behavior, scholars use sociological methods to examine the organizations, groups, and markets themselves, including topics such as the influence of individuals on organizational change, or the relationship between social missions and financial objectives.
Your core disciplinary training will take place in either the psychology or sociology departments, depending on the track that you choose. You will also conduct advanced coursework in organizational behavior at HBS, and complete two MBA elective curriculum courses. Students are required to teach for one full academic term in order to gain valuable teaching experience, and to work as an apprentice to a faculty member to develop research skills. Upon completion of coursework, students prepare and present a dossier that includes a qualifying paper, at least two other research papers, and a statement outlining a plan for their dissertation. Before beginning work on the dissertation, students must pass the Organizational Behavior Exam, which presents an opportunity to synthesize academic coursework and prepare for an in-depth research project.
Research & Dissertation
Throughout the program, students will produce original research both independently and in collaboration with Harvard faculty members. You will also work with your faculty mentors to identify and refine a topic that will constitute the central piece of your dissertation research. Students will then prepare a dissertation prospectus, which must be reviewed by a prospectus committee typically comprised of at least three faculty members. The dissertation requires students to develop substantial original contribution to the field of Organizational Behavior; it can take the form of an extended study of one topic or a set of three or more related research papers.
Examples of Doctoral Thesis Research
- Cross-group relations, stress, and the subsequent effect on performance
- Internal group dynamics of corporate boards of directors
- Organizational mission and its effect on commitment and effort
- Psychological tendencies and collaboration with dissimilar others