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Organizational Behaviour

The doctoral program in Organizational Behaviour is designed to train students for an academic career with an emphasis on research. The field of OB focuses on understanding the behaviour of individuals, groups and organizations. This field uses theory and methods from a wide variety of disciplines including psychology, sociology, political science, anthropology, statistics and economics.

The research of our faculty and doctoral students reflects a wide range of interests, including: leadership, personnel selection, gender and diversity in the workplace, discrimination and prejudice, expatriate management, goal-setting, group learning and team processes, errors, high performance work systems, and organizational mindfulness.

Doctoral students take the full spectrum of PhD Foundation courses and Organizational Behaviour Special Field offerings. Courses offered by other non-business programs such as economics, psychology, statistics and sociology may be taken to augment the student’s knowledge of both methods and substantive areas. Other aspects of the program are tailored to fit the student’s own research, teaching and professional interests.

Areas of Research Focus

  • Leadership and leader character
  • Gender and diversity in the workplace
  • Discrimination and prejudice
  • Group learning and team processes
  • Errors and experiential learning
  • High performance work systems
  • Organizational identity and legitimacy


PhD Student Opportunities

The doctoral program in Organizational Behaviour is recruiting students with the following research interests.


Professors Fernando Olivera, Hayden Woodley and Martha Maznevski are recruiting PhD students with an interest in studying complex teams. Most organizational work is conducted in some configuration of teams, and most organizational members belong to two or more teams. Team research so far has provided us with a good understanding of the important elements of teamwork: inputs, processes, and emergent states. In our research, we seek answers to how these elements evolve and influence each other over time, especially as teams work on multifaceted tasks in dynamic environments. We welcome PhD students interested in pursuing research related to themes we are currently examining, including:

  • Emergent states – their measurement and development
  • Team composition – effects of the intersections of different sources of diversity
  • Distributed teams – teams that cross geographic and organizational boundaries
  • Learning systems – how teams manage their own interactions to improve over time
  • Leadership dynamics in teams – how effective leaders influence their teams over time adaptively, as the team evolves

Professor Gerard Seijts is recruiting PhD students with an interest in leadership and leader character. Gerard is the executive director of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership. The Institute is home to faculty, post doctoral fellows, and PhD students who aspire to have a deep impact on individuals, organizations and societies through the creation and application of new knowledge on leader character. Our aim is three-fold. First, to be recognized by researchers and practitioners as a globally leading Institute for research, teaching and outreach regarding the awareness, assessment and development of leader character. Second, to elevate the importance of character alongside competence in the practice of leadership. And third, to develop global citizens who have strength of character, strive to make a difference, and contribute to the flourishing of teams, organizations, communities, and societies. My specific research interest lies in the development of leader character and how character helps build individuals, organizations, and countries. You can learn more about the Institute here;


PhD Graduates

The doctoral program in Organizational Behaviour is designed for those interested in pursuing academic careers in organizational behavior at top business schools. 

Dr. Ellen Choi (2017 PhD)

Assistant Professor, Ryerson University

PhD Dissertation:

Mindfulness and Individual Error Orientation in High Reliability Organizations

Mindfulness is a concept drawn from the contemplative traditions that refers to present-moment, non-judgmental awareness. Exactly how applicable mindfulness is in the workplace requires further empirical validation, particularly on outcomes immediately relevant to organizations. This study contributes to literature examining the effects of mindfulness in organizational settings by considering the effects of an 8-week workplace mindfulness training program in a high-reliability organization (hospital) on individual error orientation, an individual’s propensity to learn from error, worry about error, or hide error. This study adds to the current state of knowledge by providing further insight into why one holds a particular error orientation and what can be done to encourage productive responses to error... Read more about this thesis

Faculty Advisor(s):


Dr. Meredith Woodwark (2015 PhD)

Assistant Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

PhD Dissertation:

Working Harder, Working Smarter, or Doing Both? How the Interpretation of Combined Learning and Performance Goals Affects Complex Task Performance

Goal setting research has shown that on novel, complex tasks people perform better with learning than performance goals. In practice, people must often learn and perform at the same time. Does setting both types of goals simultaneously enhance performance compared to singular goals? This dissertation consists of two studies using a complex business simulation that examine setting simultaneous learning and performance goals (“combined goals”) for highly complex tasks. The first study is a cognitive interview study where I examine how people interpret assigned singular goals (learning or performance) and combined goals at various difficulty levels. The second study is a laboratory experiment which examines how combined goals affect performance under dynamic conditions. The results of both studies suggest that... Read more about this thesis

Faculty Advisor(s):

Discipline Coordinator

Fernando Olivera

Fernando Olivera is an Associate Professor in Organizational Behavior at the Ivey Business School. He joined the Ivey Faculty in 1998. He earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Industrial Administration from the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University and a B.S. in Electronics Engineering from the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico.

Olivera's primary research interests are in the areas of organizational memory, group and individual learning, and the impact of communication technology on group work. His work has been published in the Academy of Management Review, Small Group Research, the Journal of Management Studies, the Research on Managing Groups and Teams book series, and other books and conference proceedings. He co-edited the volume Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management: New Directions. He has presented his work at various academic conferences, including the Academy of Management Annual Meetings, the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences. He is a member of the editorial review board of the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Professor Olivera teaches courses in Organizational Behavior and Interpersonal Negotiations in Ivey's MBA, EMBA and Ph.D. programs.

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