As we are training the next generation of managers, I hope they see connections between disciplines and that they develop a genuine concern for social issues in the organizations where they work.

Neil Boyd

Think about your work environment. It's likely that you spend a great deal of time there and have expectations about how it is managed, by you or by others. Ever since his first job, Professor Neil Boyd, management, has wondered what made managers tick. "I am interested in why people behave the way they do, and even at a fairly early age I was fascinated with managerial behavior," he says. "That curiosity eventually led me to seek degrees in psychology, business administration, and public administration, all of which co-mingle today as I study human and social issues in organizations."

Boyd is especially interested in human resource and sustainability interventions that help managers run innovative and effective organizations. "I'm concerned about sustainability broadly speaking, but social justice in organizations is a central aspect of my work," he says. "Are people being treated fairly and with respect, and are they really seen as partners in driving the direction of the organization?" Boyd says that both manifest and latent injustices exist in organizations, and ironically, his work shows that these problems exist in human resource management. "It worries me because HR is typically thought of as a place where employee advocacy and protection would occur. In addition, I'm worried about both types of organizational injustice, but I'm especially concerned about latent problems where a managerial practice causes harm for employees without explicit recognition by the manager." He says research shows that employees may need to be seen as strategic partners to help mitigate employee psychological contract violations, and at the same time help the organization function at its highest level.

Boyd, the C. Graydon and Mary E. Rogers Faculty Fellow for 2013-16, also conducts research on sense of community in organizations. He and a colleague have published theoretical work and gathered empirical evidence confirming that important human and organizational outcomes are achieved when employees experience a sense of community and a sense of community responsibility at work. The research produced the first academic paper in the field of management on sense of community, and it showed that sense of community has utility in a number of management inquiry areas.  He says, "Do employees need sense of community – a sense that they belong to the organization, a sense that they want to give to others in their organization? So far, it looks like the data say yes, but we don't know all of the answers yet.  It will be fun trying to find out."

Boyd's research is fundamentally interdisciplinary – and so is his approach to teaching. He is determined to help students understand the interdisciplinary nature of virtually everything around them. "As we are training the next generation of managers, I hope they see connections between disciplines," he says, "and that they develop a genuine concern for social issues in the organizations where they work." 

Posted October 10, 2013


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