The PhD Program in Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business emphasizes preparation for careers in scholarly research. Graduates of the Program usually pursue careers in academic or research institutions.
A variety of social science disciplines and topic areas are relevant to the study of human behavior in organizational settings. A distinguishing feature of Stanford's PhD Program in Organizational Behavior is the broad interdisciplinary training it provides. The field is often broken down into two broad subareas.
Micro Organizational Behavior
The study of how individuals and groups affect and are affected by organizations. Drawing primarily on psychology, this area includes such topics as cognition, decision making, learning, motivation, negotiation and bargaining, cooperation and altruism, emotions, impressions management, group processes, stereotyping and injustice, power and influence.
There is also a formal institutional link between the behavioral side of marketing and the micro side of OB, which is called Behavioral Interest Group. The GSB Behavioral Lab links this group. This lab fosters collaborative work among the behavioral people across field boundaries.
Macro Organizational Behavior: Organizational Theory and Economic Sociology
Dedicated to training students who will be leading researchers in the fields of organizational theory and economic sociology. Our faculty members are among the foremost scholars dedicated to bringing a sociological approach to the study of organizations and markets. The training provides a deep grounding in the study of organizations as social systems; the dynamics of change in organizations, industries and markets; and the relationships between organizations and their environments. Faculty study a range of topics, ranging from the role of identity in organizational processes; change in cultural categories and markets; social movements and their influence on firms and markets; firm strategies and the effects of long-run histories of strategic interaction; the impact of workforce demographic change and labor market inequality; organizational learning processes; social networks; and entrepreneurship and firm formation processes.
Doctoral students in the program benefit from their interactions in the broader inter-disciplinary environment of the GSB, as well as from Stanford University’s long-standing strength in the study of organizations and economic sociology. Strong relations with the Department of Sociology mean that students can build their careers on the foundation of strong disciplinary training in sociology. The doctoral program places a heavy emphasis on training students through active engagement in empirical research; students work closely with faculty starting in the first year, in addition to developing their own, independent research projects. In addition to formal seminars with invited presenters, an informal weekly “Macro Lunch” provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and advice related to research in progress by both faculty and students.
Unique Aspects of the Stanford Program
The interdisciplinary resources available to students in the Stanford program are unique. The faculty of the Graduate School of Business have a reputation for excellence in fields such as accounting; economics; finance; marketing; and operations, information, and technology. Doctoral students in the organizational behavior program have frequent contact with faculty and students in these fields, many of whom show an interest in topics germane to organizational behavior.
A second source of interdisciplinary contact is colloquia presented by visiting scholars, seminars, off-campus conferences, and many other informal opportunities for interaction between faculty and students. The result is intellectual stimulation and active research collaboration across traditional disciplinary boundaries - a phenomenon that is unfortunately rare, yet obviously essential to the study of organizations.
Interdisciplinary contact is a natural extension of the fact that Stanford University as a whole emphasizes interdisciplinary cooperation. Cross-registration in courses, access to faculty, and participation in colloquia are encouraged by such Stanford departments as Psychology, Statistics, and Sociology. Students in the Organizational Behavior PhD Program have ease of access to a unique range of interdisciplinary resources. The GRE is required for admission.
A small number of students are accepted into the field each year, with a total of about 19 organizational behavior students in residence. Student-faculty relationships are close, both professionally and socially. This permits the tailoring of the program of study to fit the background and career goals of the individual.
Preparation and Qualifications
All students are required to have, or to obtain during their first year, mathematical skills at the level of one course each of calculus and linear algebra, probability, and mathematical statistics.