The doctoral program places primary emphasis on the development of high-quality scholarship, focusing first and foremost on research competence and secondarily on teaching, as a vehicle to academic professionalism. The mission of the program is to provide an environment that is conducive to the development of scholars who are prepared to assume the diverse responsibilities of tenure-track faculty positions at leading research universities.


Students usually specialize in one or more of the following areas: organizational behavior and strategic management. Students with specific interests in operations management, purchasing management or logistics management may want to consider a concentration in supply chain management.

Organizational behavior is concerned with the study of individuals and groups within organizational contexts. Examples of major topics studied in this area include:

  • Individual characteristics such as values, personality, attitudes and beliefs
  • Individual processes such as motivation, decision-making, and attitude formation
  • Group characteristics such as size and composition
  • Group processes and practices such as feedback and appraisal systems, task design, reward systems, goal setting, and the influence of these processes on individual outcomes such as turnover, performance and job attitudes
  • Organizational cognition (knowledge, information, and learning)
  • Organizational culture, climate, and identity

Strategic management is concerned with the roles and problems of general managers — those who manage businesses or multifunctional business units. Examples of major topics studied in this area include:

  • Strategy formulation and implementation
  • Strategic planning and decision-making
  • Competitive strategy
  • Composition and processes of top management teams
  • Governance and Board of Directors
  • Executive compensation
  • Diversification
  • Industry analysis
  • Mergers and alliances

Plan of study

Students start broadly by taking a wide variety of theory-based and methodological classes and working with several faculty members on a diverse set of research projects (typically no more than three at a time). Over time, the student's focus begins to narrow in scope, until you have developed a clear research agenda, and are ready to complete a dissertation and compete for assistant professor positions at leading research universities.

The W. P. Carey School of Business PhD consists of a minimum of 84 semester hours of approved graduate coursework beyond the bachelor's degree — in addition to the information below, consult the PhD manual for specific details regarding program requirements and coursework.

Basic program

The courses comprising the basic program are intended to provide the foundation for advanced study in the management area of concentration and supporting coursework. As such, the student's first 24 credit hours in his or her plan of study should consist of at least 12 credit hours from the basic program.

According to W. P. Carey School of Business guidelines, the basic program consists of a minimum of 12 credit hours of coursework. This requires at least:

  • Three credit hours of graduate-level coursework, depending on specialization
    • In economics (for strategy students)
    • In a foundational discipline such as psychology, sociology, or communication (for organizational behavior students)
  • Six credit hours of coursework in quantitative methods
  • Three credit hours of coursework in the behavioral sciences* — this requirement is normally fulfilled by taking courses outside of the department in foundational disciplines such as psychology

*For organizational behavior students, this is in addition to the required three hours of graduate-level coursework, completed in a foundational discipline such as psychology, sociology, or communication.

Advanced program

The advanced program consists of a minimum of 30 credit hours and complies with the W. P. Carey School of Business guidelines — refer to the PhD manual for more detailed information. These requirements include four management core modules, at least two specialty management modules, two research methods courses, and one research ethics course. The additional nine credit hours of supporting coursework may be fulfilled with additional specialty modules or other coursework.

All students will take the management core modules delineated below. These three-credit seminars are 15 weeks in length and are typically completed during the first two years of study.

Strategic Management Seminar

Strategic management deals with the decisions that determine the future directions of a firm and the implementation of those decisions. It asks how organizational structure, resources & capabilities, and strategic positioning help firms create, capture, and sustain competitive advantage. This course is a brief survey of some of the major theories within strategy, including structure-conduct-performance, firm capabilities (including evolutionary economics, the resource based view, and the knowledge based view), property rights, real options, transaction cost economics, network theories, population ecology, and resource dependence. We will examine the foundational assumptions of each theory as well as some of the empirical evidence for each theory. We will also examine several important phenomenon, including alliances and mergers & acquisitions, through these multiple theoretical lenses. Students from outside from the management department are welcome.

Organizational Behavior Seminar

This course is a doctoral-level seminar on the basic assumptions, concepts, and theories underlying the field of organizational theory. Organizational Theory encompasses the scholarly approaches to understanding the nature and functioning of organizations, and explores a wide range of questions about organizations, including: What are they? How do they form, change, grow, survive, and die? How do they interact with their environments and gain and manage resources? And, how do they deal with problems, both internal and external to their borders? In this course you will get exposure both to important historical contributions and to recent treatments of the topic. We will address a mix of theoretical and empirical contributions. Due to time constraints, our examination of each topic will be introductory rather than exhaustive.

Meso Organizational Behavior Seminar

The objective of this seminar is to overview theories and research that synthesize micro and macro organizational process. Meso organizational behavior theory and research simultaneously studies at least two levels of analysis including individual, group, and organizational levels and the links between these levels. The topics of this seminar include multilevel theory and statistical issues as well as topics related to research in teams, leadership, organizational culture, organizational climate, organizational identity, person-environment fit, and social networks.

Micro Organizational Behavior Seminar

The objective of this seminar is to overview theories and research on a variety of core topics in organizational behavior that focus on the individual as the primary unit of theory and analysis. Students will gain knowledge of the foundational and contemporary literatures that seek to understand and explain the feelings, thoughts and behaviors of individuals embedded in small groups and organizations. The topics of this seminar include job performance, turnover, commitment, mood and emotions, job attitudes, motivation, stress and employee well being, learning, decision-making, trust, justice, and individual differences.

Other modules are offered that cover more specialized areas in management. Students must take a minimum of three one-credit seminars (five weeks in length) within the first two years of study. Examples of modules that have been offered include:

  • Organizational attachment
  • Emotion in organizational life
  • Organizational culture
  • Leadership in organizations
  • Organizational withdrawal
  • Compensation management
  • Organizational learning, change, and innovation
  • Role of occupations in organizational life
  • Organizational sensemaking
  • Coping with change
  • Strategy development and implementation
  • Alliance and network strategies
  • International strategy
  • Corporate governance
  • Economic theories of organization
  • Institutional theory

Students are required to write one major paper in each of their first two years, either sole-authored or coauthored with a mentor or colleague. The papers are intended as: (1) a developmental vehicle for the student that (2) will result in publication in top quality journals (although credit is not dependent on publication). Students should individually decide (perhaps in collaboration with the plan of study advisor) what topic they will work on.

Given that most of the research papers will be collaborative, and given that these papers may involve lags and delays in data collection, the supervising faculty member(s) involved with the project will determine when there has been adequate progress to assign a grade.

The Department of Management and Entrepreneurship offers two three-credit seminars in research methods: Research Methods I and Research Methods II and a one-credit seminar in Research Ethics.

These courses introduce a variety of research designs, methods, and ethics commonly used in management and organizational research. The topics covered include the scientific process and philosophy of science, formulating research questions, measurement validity and reliability, laboratory and quasi-experimentation, survey research, case study research, qualitative methods, longitudinal designs, cross-level designs, measurement issues in cross-cultural and international management research, and various data analysis techniques.

A minimum of nine credit hours of coursework must be taken to support the student's advanced plan of study. All supporting coursework must be in graduate (502 and above) level courses. Only three credit hours of supporting coursework in 590, 592, 790, or 792 courses will count towards the nine-hour minimum./p>

Supporting courses depend on the student's chosen area of specialization and should be used to support that choice. Courses may be taken in any department or college within the university. Many students find supporting coursework in economics, psychology, sociology, communications, and marketing. In addition, some courses at other universities may be taken with approval by the PhD coordinator.

Once minimum program requirements are met, remaining credit hours may be taken with elective courses. Students with a previous graduate degree may use up to 30 credit hours of that coursework to satisfy these requirements, subject to the approval of the PhD committee and ASU Graduate Education.

Note: these are 30 semester or trimester credit hours. For students transferring in credits from quarter programs, the credit hours may not be equivalent.

The dissertation represents a major research project of an original and creative nature that will advance the state of theory in the student's major field, while meeting the requirements of ASU Graduate Education. Given the emphasis on research in the program, the dissertation should not be viewed as the student's first research project. However, when the dissertation is completed, it signifies individual competence as a researcher.

The dissertation process is supervised by a dissertation committee composed of at least three people: a chair and two other faculty members. In the case of two co-chairs, at least a third faculty member is required. The student should select a chair from the list of eligible faculty in the department, based on mutual research interests. The selection of additional members of the committee should be based on the contributions they might make to the final product. The student, in selecting members, should consider the mix of knowledge and skills across the committee. In order to make informed judgments in this area, students should make substantial effort to interact with faculty to become aware of their research interests and areas of expertise.

The comprehensive examination is taken by each student upon completion of all or most coursework and is meant to demonstrate competence in the general field of management and in the student's area of specialization.

The exam is administered by the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. It is an open-book, written exam, 15 hours in length, and divided into two separate exam days. The first day is nine hours long and consists of three questions. One question covers research methods and the other two questions cover organizational behavior and strategic management/organization theory, identified by the Graduate Committee as those that every management student should know. The second day is six hours long and consists of two questions covering the student's area of specialization. One specialty item will be in the student's general area (e.g., OB, strategy), and the other specialty item will be more narrowly defined. The student will negotiate with his/her comprehensive exam committee to identify his/her specialty domain.

Program timeline

The ideal timeline for a management PhD spans five years, although some students have completed the program in four. The following example is based on a typical five-year program.

Complete a full roster of required and elective courses:

  • Three core courses within the department — two theory-based seminars and one methods seminar
  • Two statistics courses outside the department
  • One elective outside the department

Student is supported as a research assistant, working with two professors — the primary purpose of the research assistantship is to develop mentoring relationships and to guide students toward doing publishable research.

Summer of year one:

  • Continues working on research projects in process
  • Completes first-year research paper

By the end of year one, each student should have initial exposure to doing management research (both organizational behavior and strategy) and have gained the building blocks to a solid foundation of theoretical and methodological knowledge within the management field.

Complete a full roster of required and elective courses:

  • One core methods seminar within the department
  • Four to six elective seminars (five weeks each) within the department
  • One behavioral science/economics course from outside the department
  • One to two electives from outside the department

Student is again supported as a research assistant, working with two professors.

Summer of year two:

  • Continues working in research projects in process
  • Completes second-year research paper
  • Takes written comprehensive exams

By the end of year two, each student has had significant research exposure and should have a solid foundation of theoretical and methodological knowledge within the management field.

  • Student continues to be a research assistant, working with one professor
  • Student also begins learning the craft of teaching by serving as a teaching assistant (TA) for one core MBA class
  • Should be firmly involved in conducting research not only with assigned RA professors, but also beginning to develop independent research ideas and relationships
  • Begins thinking about dissertation topic/idea and putting together a dissertation committee
  • Student continues to be a research assistant for one professor
  • Student also continues learning the craft of teaching by taking responsibility for teaching two undergraduate classes
  • Dissertation proposal submitted and defended by end of year four
  • Continues to work on non-dissertation research projects
  • Starts to consider options for post-graduation career and prepares to enter the job market
  • Student continues to be a research assistant for one professor
  • Student continues teaching two undergraduate classes
  • Works toward completion of dissertation project by end of year five
  • Continues to work on non-dissertation research project
  • Applies for assistant professor positions and engages in on-campus interviews for open positions