Organizations & Social Change Track - PhD


PhD in Business Administration

This program centers around issues at the intersection of business and society, such as sustainability, workforce diversity, economic development, globalization, and more. Harnessing the resources and techniques of business and entrepreneurship, often in partnership with the public and nonprofit sectors, can generate innovative solutions to these concerns.

This interdisciplinary PhD track leverages the department’s reputation and distinctive vision to prepare graduates to be active academics and leaders in meeting these complex, global challenges. The track will provide a mix of rigorous training in theory and research methods, as well as opportunities to apply this expertise to contemporary issues at the interface of business and society. Organizations structure every aspect of our society, from workplaces to the natural environment; they can reproduce problems but also be an innovative force for change. The OSC track will focus on the internal dynamics of organizations and on the wider economic, social, and political context in which organizations operate. 

Who should apply?

The Organizations and Social Change program track is designed for students who are interested in pursuing a full-time doctoral program specializing in areas such as:

  • social responsibility and sustainability
  • social entrepreneurship
  • sustainable economic development
  • stakeholder engagement in corporate governance
  • contemporary human resource management, such as diversity and contingent labor
  • cultural and economic impacts of globalization
  • transnational identities of consumers and employees
  • urban redevelopment
  • gender equality and organizations
  • multi-sector partnerships for poverty alleviation and development

How will my learning experience impact organizations, society, and future global challenges?

The OSC PhD track will prepare students to:

  • Apply theoretical frameworks to understand business practices, as well as their economic, social, cultural, environmental, and political impacts;
  • Conduct qualitative and quantitative research;
  • Critique policy and articulate policy recommendations on issues at the interface of business, government, and critical social issues; and
  • Conduct research on applied business issues with an emphasis on highlighting problems and providing solutions to issues that promote social and economic development in regional economies situated within a global context.

What are the career opportunities for me when I graduate?

Students in the OSC track will be positioned to pursue academic careers in research-oriented business schools.  Increasingly, PhDs are also viewed a valuable qualification for those in senior research, management, and administrative positions in the nonprofit, private, and governmental sectors. Graduates will be prepared to:

  • Conduct academic research and teach in business schools in fields such as organization theory, business and society, business ethics, international business, and social issues marketing.
  • Play leadership roles involving research and administration in government, multilateral agencies, consultancies, NGOs, and think tanks; and
  • Hold pivotal positions within private corporations in various industries, such as energy or healthcare.

What kinds of research are faculty engaged in now?

The PhD faculty possess international reputations in their fields and are actively engaged in research, publishing, and presenting at conferences. Their interests in organizational and social change bring them into close contact with business, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and nonprofits. You can learn more about the OSC research group and their interests from the Organizations and Social Change blog.

The PhD program involves close, apprentice-like working relationships with faculty members and students are introduced early to the world of conferences and publishing. A sampling of faculty projects includes:

  • Examining the adoption of global standards, such as fair trade, how these affect organizations, and what impact they have on social issues.
  • Understanding new “hybrid” organizational forms that combine mission-driven elements of nonprofits and revenue-generating orientation of for-profit businesses.
  • Investigating how new businesses are created, particularly in urban areas or with immigrant or transnational founders.
  • Exploring how women use networks in distinctive ways, which may enhance or impede their careers and their ability to be change agents in organizations.
  • Examination of economic and social impacts of increasing risks to coastal urban areas from climate change, and analysis of private sector, government, and community response strategies. The College of Management is a partner in a $3.1 million NSF award that will fund two students a year for five years in the OSC PhD from Fall 2014 who wish to study the economic, organizational, policy, and scientific aspects of complex environmental issues.

Why UMass Boston?

UMass Boston is recognized as a world-class research university with a reputation for linking research to economic development and community well-being. The campus is part of the University of Massachusetts system, which was ranked 72 in the world in 2012/13 according to the Times Higher Education survey. The College of Management holds the selective AACSB accreditation and has been recognized by the Aspen Institute’s Business & Society program as among the top 75 business schools in the world for leadership in researching and teaching about the social impacts of business. The college is home to the Entrepreneurship Center, the Financial Services Center, the Center for Sustainable Enterprise and Regional Competitiveness, and the Center for Collaborative Leadership. The location, breadth, and depth of university offerings, and faculty expertise, all offer doctoral students the chance to maximize their investment in their education.

Specialization: Doctoral students will have the choice to create their own specialties in conjunction with their interests and faculty expertise. The various university centers and programs serve as additional resources for students as they craft their particular course of study. A wide variety of relevant electives are also offered through other doctoral programs on campus, particularly in public policy and global studies, as well as a program of courses at Boston area universities, for example, attending research seminars such as the Economic Sociology series hosted by Harvard and MIT or participating in the Graduate Consortium on Women’s Studies of which UMass Boston is a member.

Location: The College of Management at UMass Boston is centrally located in one of the world’s premier cities for finance, technology, health care, social services, not-for-profits, education, consulting, and the arts. The opportunities for study, research, and outreach by doctoral students are in abundance in the Boston area. Students will be able to leverage relationships among faculty and industry leaders, while conducting their own research. Learn more about campus life.

What are the general costs of the program?
Full scholarships and annual stipends of up to $25,000 are available for students who are admitted to the program.