Organizations and Social Change (OSC)

The Organizations and Social Change (OSC) track in UMass Boston's Business Administration, PhD Program, has gained a strong international reputation for its distinctive focus on issues at the intersection of business and society and its explicit commitment to diverse perspectives, theories, and methodologies. The program examines how business and organizations structure societies, economies, and our identities, sometimes in harmful ways, but also how business and organizations can be engines for positive change. 

This full-time, on-campus program is led by a high-quality faculty who are committed to supportive supervision and mentoring of students. Students are eligible for four years of financial support and enjoy opportunities to collaborate with faculty on research projects. Graduates of the program, which is primarily designed to train students for academic careers, have secured positions in well-known universities, while others have pursued successful careers in consulting and nonprofits. 

The program is part of the AACSB-accredited College of Management at UMass Boston. The university is guided by a mission of social justice and community involvement. It is an extraordinary place to learn about the relevance of business and organizations in addressing societal issues.

We are not accepting applications for fall 2022. 

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

Prospective students with prior degrees in management, sociology, economics, political science or other relevant areas are encouraged to apply. Most successful applicants have a master’s degree. Prior research experience (e.g., data analysis, literature reviews, academic writing) is highly recommended. Support of up to $25,000 is available for admitted students without other sources of funding.


What documents do I need to apply?

Applicants need to submit a current résumé or CV, a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, official transcripts of all prior academic work, a writing sample, official GMAT or GRE scores, and, if appropriate an official TOEFL or IELTS score. Provide these materials directly to the Graduate Admissions Office. 

Statement of Purpose:
With your application, please submit a statement of purpose, including a mini-research proposal, on an OSC topic that reflects the goals of the program. Your mini- proposal should be about 5 pages long, and it should include the following elements:

  • Why do you want to study for a PhD in Organizations and Social Change
  • A specific research topic/problem and its significance;
  • A compelling research question;
  • A review of previous work relevant to the research question, i.e. what we know so far;
  • The methods you propose (data collection, analytical techniques) to answer your research question;
  • A summary of expected results/outcomes, and their potential significance

Note that you are not committing to a PhD topic at this point; your goal is to demonstrate your current thinking and capabilities in research.  The mini-proposal will help us determine some of your potential interests and your aptitude for doing research. 

Writing Sample:
Please submit with your application one or two selected samples of prior academic writings. Such writings could include course papers from your Master’s program, research papers, conference papers, or other types of manuscripts. Length is not important, but these typically range between 2,000 and 10,000 words. Please select papers that are written by you (solo-authored), and which best showcase your ability to tackle a relevant research topic by using or developing analytical frameworks or theories, referencing other people’s work, and using empirical evidence (if applicable).


Student Impact and Achievements

The OSC PhD track will prepare students to pursue academic and research careers and have a broader impact on the world by engaging with the media and organizational practice. Students will learn how to:

  • apply theoretical frameworks to understand business and organizational practices, as well as their economic, social, cultural, environmental, and political impacts
  • conduct qualitative and quantitative research and identify problems and solutions
  • critique policy and articulate recommendations on issues at the interface of business, government, and critical social issues; and
  • translate research into more practice-oriented articles, media coverage, and organizational interventions

OSC Student Achievements 2019-2020


Kinds of Research

The OSC track involves close, apprentice-like working relationships with faculty members, and students are introduced early to academic research and publishing. Current and former PhD students of the OSC track regularly publish in highly regarded journals, typically together with faculty, and have been involved in impactful community projects and action-oriented research.

Faculty of the OSC track possess international reputations in their fields and are actively engaged in academic and practice-oriented research, and publishing in highly regarded outlets. Their expertise in organizations and social change brings them into close contact with business, entrepreneurs, government agencies, and nonprofits.

The research interests of our faculty include (but are not limited to):

  • how current business-society interactions challenge existing management and organization theories
  • how companies, communities, and industries strategize for climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • new trends in the workplace relating to diversity, inequality, and employee involvement
  • the causes, characteristics, and consequences of employee ownership for workers, firms, and society
  • how social movements influence corporate behavior and the diffusion of new corporate practices
  • development of labor and sustainability standards, local geographic clusters and global production networks, and local/global governance processes
  • the dynamics and implications of socio-economic crises, financialization, and inequality
  • how entrepreneurs and established firms work to address local and global challenges through their missions, business models, products, and strategies
  • diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship ecosystems, and drivers of inclusive economic development and growth
  • using organization and network theory to understand the emergence, operation, evolution, and sustainability of creative geographic clusters and project networks

Career Opportunities

Students in the OSC track will be positioned to pursue academic careers at universities and research institutions. Our program graduates have successfully published in highly regarded academic journals and found excellent academic positions at institutions in North America and Europe. Graduates of the OSC Track have been hired as faculty in a range of great universities (in alphabetical order):

  • Bentley University (Massachusetts),
  • Birmingham University (UK),
  • Elon University (North Carolina),
  • Ohio State University (Ohio), and
  • University of San Diego (CA). 

The OSC PhD degree has qualified students for faculty positions in various departments, including entrepreneurship, strategy, management, and public affairs. They teach courses in organization theory, strategy, business and society, sustainability, business ethics, and international business. Several graduates have taken leadership positions in nonprofit organizations, research centers, and consulting.



Sample Program of Study

Year One


Required Courses

BUSADM 700 Business in Context: Markets, Technologies, Societies
BUSADM 750 Foundations of Organization Theory
PPOL-G 604 Stats I

Students with strong quantitative background may start with PSYCH 770 or PPOL-G 6O5 Stats II

Elective Courses

BUSADM 897 Special Topics: Organization Theory
BUSADM Field Research
BUSADM 896 Independent Study
Elective course in topical area


Required Courses

BUSADM 754 Organizations and Social Change
BUSADM 751 Mapping the Landscape of Contemporary Organization Theory
BUSADM 755 Qualitative methods

Elective Courses

BUSADM 897 Special Topics: Organization Theory
BUSADM Field Research
BUSADM 896 Independent Study
Elective course in topical area


Summer Project

Year Two


Required Courses

BUSADM 770 Introduction to Research Methods for the Social Sciences
BUSADM 760 Global and Political Economy & Dimensions of Organizations
PPOL-G 6O5 Stats II
Other course with pre-approval

End of Fall Semester

Admission to Candidacy Exam


Required Courses

BUSADM 775 Teaching and Professional Development
BUSADM 891 Dissertation Seminar

Elective Courses

BUSADM 897 Special Topics: Organization Theory
BUSADM Field Research
BUSADM 896 Independent Study
Elective course in topical area


Proposal Defense


Faculty Profiles

More than a dozen dedicated faculty members are devoted to student learning in the OSC track, with the opportunity to engage with faculty in related fields such as public policy, economics, and sustainability. Faculty are leaders in their fields who regularly publish scholarly articles in top academic journals on inequality, sustainability, social entrepreneurship, and diversity. 

This year, Professor Maureen Scully was awarded the highly prestigious Joanne Martin Trailblazer Award from the Organization and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management (2020). She also won the Donald Shephard Endowed Award for Research, College of Management, UMass Boston (2020). Please feel free to browse the faculty profiles below.

Doctoral students are paired with faculty advisors based on their area of interest. This intense mentorship program allows students to learn the crafts of research and teaching in a highly collaborative environment.

Current faculty include:

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