PhD in Business Administration

Organizational behaviour specialization


Explore the dynamics of people and organizations

The PhD Program in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources (OBHR) is designed for research-oriented academics who want to study issues related to people and organizations. In the program, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the effects of management practices on people, between people within organizational settings, and between organizations themselves. (Note that the program is not intended for the development of consultants or managers.)


The program will prepare you for a career in research and teaching in business schools at leading research universities around the world.

OBHR PhD graduates have academic positions at

  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Singapore Management University
  • Queen's University
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Washington
  • Western University
  • University of Michigan
  • York University

Program content

Students in the OBHR program are typically required to take required and elective courses for two years.  Students prepare a "Summer Research Paper" the summer after your first year.  An example from a 2017 summer paper is here

You are expected to engage actively in research with one or more faculty members from the outset of the program and to present some of that research in the OBHR Speaker Series during your second year of study.  You are required to take a course on teaching methods for business and to teach at least one section of an undergraduate course, usually during your fourth or fifth year in the program.

The final stage of the program is independent study in the form of a dissertation. The program is designed to be completed within five years, although more time may be required.

OBHR Course Schedule

For a PhD student in OBHR, a typical course schedule could be:

Year 1 Fall - COMM 525 Research Methods, COMM 625 Advanced Topics in Organizational Behaviour,  PSYC 546A Statistics, COMM 693 Research Methods (elective courses may be included in any term)
Year 1 Spring - COMM 621 Doctoral Seminar in Human Resource Management, COMM 626 Organizational Theory, PSYC 546B Statistics
Year 1  Summer - Research Paper

Year 2 Fall - COMM 623 Qualitative Research Methods in Organizational Behaviour, PSYC 546C Multivariate Statistics, COMM 622 Seminar in Classics and Theory Construction in Organizational Behaviour.  Present your summer research paper in the OBHR Speaker Series
Year 2 Spring - COMM 627 Advanced Behavioural Research Methods, Psychology, Teaching Seminar
Year 2 Summer - Comprehensive Examination

Year 3 - Preparation and Presentation of Dissertation Proposal

Year 4 - Preparation of dissertation, may teach a course

Year 5 - Preparation of dissertation, may teach a course, final defence of dissertation


Our OBHR Division professors are internationally recognized scholars who represent an array of academic disciplines, from sociology to organizational behaviour and human resource management. They have won awards for their research and for their innovations in teaching and pedagogy. Plus, they have earned some of the highest faculty ratings at UBC Sauder.

The following faculty (listed with their active research projects) are currently seeking new PhD students for September 2021:

    • Innovation Ecosystems
    • Technological Evolution
    • Interorganizational Networks
    • Organizational Learning
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Emotions (particularly self-conscious emotions like shame and guilt)
    • Social shaming
    • Leader humility and authenticity
    • Occupations and work
    • Creativity
    • Social norm enforcement
    • Qualitative research methods
    • Dysfunctional behaviour: Do "bad actors" in organizations hurt or help themselves?
    • Territoriality: What can we learn from theories of territoriality to reduce racism?
    • Trauma and death reflection: How does this influence attitudes and behaviors?
    • Employee Selection
    • Employee Turnover
    • Incentives Design
    • Machine Learning Applications in HRM
    • Distributed trust technologies such as blockchain
    • Innovation
    • Emergence of innovation ecosystems
    • Customer mistreatment/customer incivility: how do employees cope with and react to mistreatment and incivility from customers?
    • Strategic human resource practices: how do the choices organizations make in how them manage employees (e.g., hiring, training, compensation) affect organizational performance and innovation?
    • Compensation: to what extent do: a) types of incentives (e.g., collective or individual) and b) workforce characteristics influence the relationship between pay dispersion and organizational performance?
    • Dark side of OB
    • Abusive supervision
    • Unethical behaviors (i.e., workplace deviance, social undermining)
    • Emotions (i.e., workplace envy)
    • Mindfulness (i.e., team mindfulness, mindfulness meditation)

Our OBHR Division is characterized by highly collaborative and collegial relationships that contribute to the learning culture of the PhD program.  This means you can participate in a broad interdisciplinary, research-oriented program.


Admission to the OBHR PhD program is highly competitive.  Students are admitted into the program with Master's or undergraduate degrees with first class standing.  The majority of incoming students have academic backgrounds in business administration, social sciences and the humanities.  Admission details can be found here.


All students admitted to the OBHR PhD program are provided funding for 5 years that includes a minimum of $30,000 per year plus payment of all tuition for the first 5 years.  Funding details can be found here.

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