PhD Program in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management

University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School Organizational Behavior PhD Program Video

The OBHR doctoral program focuses on preparing students to impact the study of people, process and outcomes within the fields of organizational behavior and human resources management. Through research, collaboration and dissemination of knowledge, students understand how to impact organizational effectiveness in a variety of different environments, industries and across multiple levels of analyses. Our expectation is that students within the OBHR major will craft a program of research that is built upon rigorous theory as well as strong methodological skills that are both necessary for effective scholarship. We encourage collaboration with OBHR faculty that has a proven track record of publishing within a variety of top outlets (Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Journal of Labor Research, Harvard Business Review; Human Resource Management; Industrial and Labor Relations Review; Sloan Management Review).

Organizational Behavior/Human Resources Management PhD Program Curriculum

  • Behavior Systems and Management Thought
    The objective of this course is to explore the evolution and development of management theory with particular emphasis on the design of behavioral systems in organizations. It is a core premise of the course that the design of systems to manage people in organizations is based on a set of assumptions about humans that are part of the managerial theory that guides the formation and operation of complex organizations. Management theory and the models of human beings that are incorporated in them need not be formally articulated statements. They are often implicit as values, assumptions and beliefs that form the basis for organization and action. This seminar will examine a range of formal and informal management theories and the various models of human beings that are explicit and implicit in them. Such models, as noted, form the basis for the design of systems to manage organizational personnel. We will begin with the classical industrial engineering model as a concept for shaping and influencing human behavior and we will trace and explore the evolution of management thought to the current emphasis on people as "human resources" in organizations. The basic writings, research and theories relevant to these and other models will be explored in depth.
  • Foundations of Human Resources Management
    The purpose of this seminar is to offer a rigorous and intensive introduction to some of the basic functions and issues in area of Human Resources/Personnel Management (herein after referred to as HRM). The emphasis will be on mastering a number of core concepts that drive research and practice, developing an understanding of the research foundations that underpin the field, and building an appreciation for the intellectual history and evolution of HRM as a key management function. While the main goal of the course is to enhance our scholarly insight and understanding of the development and knowledge in the field, we also want to do two additional things: (1) sharpen our abilities at critical thinking and the generation of creative ideas and (2) develop an appreciation for the practical application of this knowledge.
  • Groups and Social Identity
    This doctoral seminar is designed to provide students with an in depth look at some of the major topics of interest concerning groups, teams and social identity in organizations. We will draw on research and theory across a number of areas including organizational behavior, social psychology, sociology, sport psychology and public affairs. Our emphasis will be on topics that help to better understand the structures, processes and/or outcomes at the group level including topics such as cohesion, team composition, identity formation, diversity, and identity measurement. The goal is to stimulate thinking about the dynamics of identity at the group level it applies to students' own area of research
  • International Management
    This doctoral seminar covers the foundations of the field of international management drawing on multiple theoretical perspectives: economics, strategic management, and organizational behavior and theory. The goal of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the intellectual lineage and behavioral assumptions underlying the different approaches to studying international management. We explore why firms choose to invest overseas and what determines their selection of location and ownership structure. We look at the role that firm capabilities play in the international context, the influence of regional differences on organization design choices, as well as the nature of comparative management. The goal of the course is to explore the intellectual foundations of the key questions in the international management literature and to explore the ways in which the theories can be useful in undertaking empirical studies. Additional time will be devoted to specific international management topics that most closely match students' interests.
  • Leadership in Organizations
    This seminar involves and exploration of theoretical and empirical research on leadership in complex, dynamic and global organizations. Our emphasis will be on understanding classic and contemporary theories and methodologies of organizing, managing, and leading of people, systems and organizations. We will also explore the contextual effects of leadership in such areas as diversity, organizational change, teams & group dynamics, ethics and the role of culture. Additional exploration of the connection between leadership and student areas of research interest will also be included in this course.
  • Work and Organizations
    This seminar is intended for Ph.D. students who wish to develop an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of research on the management of knowledge and work in organizations. It reviews the major theoretical perspectives, but places a particular emphasis on the current empirical literature related to Human Resource Management. Because of the multi-disciplinary nature of this research space, readings draw on a broad range of material including studies from sociology, organization theory, strategy, economics, and policy. These are used to develop an integrative understanding of the underpinnings of work and employment-related research published in top tier management journals.
  • OBHR Research Workshop I & II
    The primary objective of this course is to provide a hands-on experience in the development, design and execution of rigorous behavioral science research within the fields of organizational behavior and human resource management. We will review a variety of trends and issues facing the management of people and process in organizations and require students to identify a critical area of interest or research to pursue across this two semester course. As a class, we will explore a variety of different methodological approaches and discuss the fit between students' specific research questions and different techniques. Our goal is two-fold: (1) to help students develop a sophisticated understanding for what constitutes rigorous research within the field; and (2) to coach students through the research process in order to create an empirical or theoretical paper that can be used to shape a future program of research.
  • Seminar in Organizational Behavior
    This seminar focuses on individual and group behavior in organizations. We will be exploring the primary topics in organizational behavior, including person-organization interactions, motivation, employment relationships, affect and cognition, and leader-member influences. We will focus on identifying underlying theoretical and conceptual frameworks characterizing organizational research, and helping you develop a sense of the issues and questions that organizational behavior addresses.
  • Social Capital: Theory and Applications
    Social capital consists of the resources embedded within and available through relationships. It is a construct that has received wide attention from scholars from a variety of disciplines including sociology, psychology, political science, and economics. Within organizational studies, social capital has been studied both as an attribute of an individual actor and as a characteristic of a social unit as a whole. These different approaches have sprung from different conceptualizations of the construct and have yielded a growing and diverse research literature on the topic.

    In this seminar we will examine social capital in its various forms along with its effects on behavior within and between organizations. We will draw on literature from sociology, organizational studies, economics, and business strategy. We will cover the basic theoretical models of social capital and investigate different methods that have been used in social capital research. We will approach our investigation from multiple levels of analysis and will incorporate guest lecturers from Katz and CMU faculty who are doing research in social capital. We will discuss various applications of social capital dependent on the interests and background of students.

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