SOM to fund leadership research

With the help of a $1 million donation, the School of Management will launch a three-year initiative this July to fund faculty research in leadership and organizational behavior.

The Initiative on Leadership and Organizational Performance will provide funding for professors to investigate the ways in which people work most effectively, especially in the context of teams and organizations, and will encourage professors to apply their findings to projects at SOM and elsewhere. The initiative will also sponsor conferences on the research topics and facilitate the creation of research databases that could be shared with outside organizations, SOM Dean Edward Snyder said. James Baron, an SOM professor involved in planning the initiative, said he hopes SOM faculty will “undertake ambitious projects difficult to conduct elsewhere” as part of the initiative.

“In the modern economy, human capital typically organized in teams and organizations is the most important type of capital,” Snyder said. “So the question becomes — how do we make people work more effectively together?”

Organizational behavior professors at SOM held their first meeting to discuss the initiative Thursday, Baron said, adding that he cannot yet discuss specific projects the faculty might undertake because the initiative is in its earliest stages. Participation in the initiative will be voluntary, and SOM will offer to collaborate with scholars from other parts of the University. Snyder said the school is hoping to include faculty like Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Marc Brackett and President-elect Peter Salovey, who are involved with emotional intelligence research.

David Bach ’98, SOM senior associate dean for executive MBA and global programs, said the faculty will most likely integrate conclusions from their research projects within the school’s curriculum, adding that professors will use their findings to expand the content of their courses.

“We want to continue to make [SOM] a place where scholars want to come by lowering the cost of scholars being ambitious and collaborative in their research, and we also want to be able to share the results of the work we are doing here with the world at large,” Baron said.

Snyder said the initiative will most likely engage firms interested in using the faculty’s research and expand opportunities for SOM students to work on faculty-supervised projects with outside organizations. Snyder said participating faculty will have the option to collaborate with professors from schools participating in the Global Network for Advanced Management, a partnership between SOM and 21 international business schools. He added that research questions within the initiative will often touch upon issues such as team diversity and engage multinational organizations.

The initial plan for the project came quickly after the school added its new Leadership Development Program — a two-year program that aims to teach MBA students leadership skills through a combination of academic course work and practical experience — to its core curriculum at the beginning of the 2012–’13 academic year. Though the two initiatives are distinct, Snyder said both aim to study ethical and effective teamwork.

Thomas Kolditz, a former brigadier general in the U.S. Army who joined SOM last year to run the Leadership Development Program, said he looks forward to integrating the two initiatives. The leadership program will benefit from the strong research component of the new initiative, he said.

“Although SOM has a long-standing track record of research in organizational behavior, this initiative will really turn the school’s emphasis toward leadership in a way that hasn’t been done in the past — through leadership research,” Kolditz said.

SOM’s new campus, slated to open in January 2014, will contain an organizational behavior lab in which faculty will be able to conduct research for the initiative.

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