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Organizational Behavior

The organizational behavior group researches fundamental questions in organizational behavior, from both a social psychological and a sociological perspective.

A distinguishing feature of Stanford’s PhD Program in organizational behavior is the broad interdisciplinary training it provides. Doctoral students in the program benefit from their interactions in the broader inter-disciplinary environment of Stanford GSB, as well as from Stanford University’s long-standing strength in the study of psychology, organizations, and economic sociology.

Cross-registration in courses, access to faculty, and participation in colloquia are encouraged by other Stanford departments, such as sociology and psychology. Strong relations with these departments mean that students can build their careers on the foundation of strong disciplinary training in psychology and sociology, respectively.

A small number of students are accepted into the field each year, with a total of about 22 organizational behavior students in residence. The doctoral program places a heavy emphasis on training students through active engagement.

In addition to formal seminars with invited presenters, an informal weekly lunch provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and advice related to research in progress by both faculty and students.

The organizational behavior program 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
  • Impression 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 organizational behavior, which is called the Behavioral Interest Group. The Stanford GSB Behavioral Lab links members of this group. This lab fosters collaborative work across field boundaries among those with behavioral interests.

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
  • The relationships between organizations and their environments

Faculty study a range of topics, such as:

  • 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
  • Entrepreneurship and firm formation processes
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.

Recent Journal Articles in Organizational Behavior

Peter Belmi, Jeffrey Pfeffer
Journal of Applied Psychology. May
2016, Vol. 101, Issue 5, Pages 702-720
Amir Goldberg, Michael T. Hannan, Balazs Kovacs
American Sociological Review. April
2016, Vol. 81, Issue 2, Pages 215-241
Justin M. Berg
Administrative Science Quarterly. March
25, 2016

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